COLUMBUS, GA – Stirring fininshes have become a hallmark of the Columbus Cottonmouths over the years and this season is no exception. On Friday, January 31st, the Cottonmouths used a big third period comeback to defeat the Huntsville Havoc 6-4 in front of a crowd of 2,617 at the Columbus Civic Center.
The star of the game for host Columbus was Preston Shupe who registered a hat trick and one assist. Neilsson Arcibal contributed a goal and two assists to the cause for the Snakes.
The opening period certainly was not an indicator of how close the game was. Columbus was able to dominate on the scoreboard, taking a two goal lead into the first intermission. Arcibal got the scoring started at the 12:23 mark off of assists from Shupe and Andy Willigar. A little over four minutes later, the Cottonmouths power play struck when Sam Bowles and Tom Maldonado set up Jason Gray for a man advantage tally.
The middle frame was a wide open affair as the two goalies – Kevin Genoe for Huntsville and Andrew Loewen for Colmbus – came under a siege that saw the teams combine for 36 shots on net. Five goals were scored in the stanza, all of the after the midpoint of the period.
Huntsville got on the board when Ray Ortiz took a pass from Josh Harris and beat Loewen. Just under three minutes later, the Havoc evened the score when Nick Lazorko and Sam Cannata combined to set up Justin Cseter for a tally.
Columbus went back in front on Shupe’s first goal of the game at the 15:05 mark but the lead was short lived as Eric Alexander once again knotted things with a goal at 15:18. The Havoc then took the lead for the first and only time in the contest when Alexander set up Lazorko with less than two minutes to go before the break.
The Cottonmouths regrouped at the intermission and came out ready to take the game back in the third. Shupe knotted the score at the 11:19 mark with his second goal of the game off an assist from Arcibal. Less than a minute later, Matt Gingera and Jordan Draper set up Bowles for what proved to be the game-winning tally. The game stayed tight until Shupe finished off his hat trick by beating Genoe with 1:02 left on the clock.
Loewen finished the game with 39 saves on 43 shots to earn the victory while Genoe stopped 40 of the 46 shots he faced in suffering the loss.