PHN’s Best Shots of the Game: IceGators outbattle Cottonmouths

COLUMBUS, GA – When the Louisiana IceGators and the Columbus Cottonmouths got together on Saturday, February 15th, fans at the Columbus Civic Center expected to see a hard-fought, intense battle. They got that and a whole lot more but they left unhappy as the IceGators defeated the Cottonmouths 7-4.

Six different IceGators scored goals and Adam Stuart had four assists for the visitors. Preston Shupe led Columbus with a goal and an assist but after the contests the main talk was about the numerous fights, including a battle between goalies.

Louisiana scored the only two goals in the first period. Shawn McNeil opened the scoring at the 9:33 mark when he beat Columbus goalie Curtis Martinu. Three minutes later, Chris Wilson doubled the lead for the visitors. The goals proved to be the precursor to fight number one of the day as Cottonmouth Will Aide and IceGator Kirk Byczynski dropped the gloves before the period ended.

The middle period didn’t have any fights but it did have plenty of scoring. Columbus got on the board early as Shupe beat Louisiana netminder Kiefer Smiley 2:35 in. The IceGators scored the next two as Ron Cramer lit the goal light followed three minutes later by a power play tally off the stick of Jeff Grant.

Trailing 4-1 with time winding down in the frame, the Cottonmouths struck for a pair of goals in a three minute span to get back into the contest. Jason Gray started the outburst with an unassisted short-handed goal. Tory Allan then beat Smiley to pull Columbus within one before the intermission.

The visitors flexed their muscles and regained full control of the game early in the third. It took just 1:27 after the faceoff to start the frame for Bycyznski to score. Just a minute and a half later, one time Cottonmouth Jordan Braid bit his former team with a goal that effectively sealed the win.

Emotions boiled over midway thru the period when a big melee broke out. Aide had his second throw down of the night, this time with Greg Brown. While that was going on, Smiley and Martinu challenged each other and a fight between the two goalies ensued, bringing the crowd to its feet. Both netminders were sent to their respective locker rooms with game misconducts.

Columbus got a goal from Jordan Draper to pull within 6-4 with a little over seven minutes remaining but it would not be quite enough. Bret Peppler finished off the scoring with a tally with five seconds left to produce the final score.

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