Well, the Snakes won our first-round series against the rival Huntsville Havoc. It was a tough series, just as we expected. They're not the same team that swept their way to the cup last season, but they're still a good team. We knew they wouldn't go down easily. We knew we'd have to play our best to beat them. They lived up to our expectations. To quote the great Dennis Green, "They are who we thought they were."
With that said, we outplayed them in both games (though they gave us a scare in Game 2). We knew they would work hard and that they wouldn't quit, but we still managed to match them blow for blow. It was a very physical series (as we expected), and I thought we won most of the physical battles (as we expected). All in all, it was a well-played series and a good example of playoff hockey the way it should be played.
So now we look ahead to the second round. By noon tomorrow (Friday, April 8th) the Snakes will be Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin'. We gonna do what they say can't be done. (to quote the great Jerry Reed from the theme song to "Smokey and the Bandit", which has been stuck in my head ever since we watched the movie on the bus last week on the way to Huntsville) By "they", of course, I mean the Augusta Riverhawks (who advanced by beating the Pensacola Ice Flyers 2 games to 1). I'd like to say that them having played 3 games in 3 nights to our 2 games in 3 nights gives us an advantage, but with nearly a full week to get ready for the second round I don't think that will be much of a factor. But, on the plus side, I don't think the regular season results between us and Augusta will be a factor either. As I said before, regular season stats mean nothing come playoff time. Essentially, we're starting with a clean slate. Nothing will matter in the end aside from who is playing the best hockey now. I didn't watch any of the Riverhawks' games, but I know we're running on all cylinders now. We're getting goals from guys who hadn't been scoring lately. We're getting pretty goals from guys who aren't known for scoring pretty goals. Case in point:
This is one of the sickest goals I've ever seen. If I'm Omar Pacha (#5 in White), I'm going home after this game and selling my equipment (if I don't go straight to the locker room, take off my skate, and try to slit my wrists with it). I can't remember seeing a defenseman made to look more ridiculous than that poor guy was on that play. And I love the reaction of Shaun Arvai (#3 in White). That pretty much says it all. The poor goalie didn't stand a chance. And you've gotta love the call by our own Mike Vee. He captures the excitement of the moment...even if I'm not really sure I get the metaphor he was weaving. He paints a picture with his words. He's not the best radio guy in the league for nothing.
Although our record against Augusta wasn't great (and we couldn't manage a win in Augusta all season) I like our chances. In two or three of the games in Augusta I thought we outplayed the Riverhawks but just couldn't catch a break. I think we have a team that can beat them, and I'm looking forward to proving it. I'm excited about this series. I can't wait. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the traffic in Augusta. Rumour has it there's some sort of golf tournament going on there this weekend (Go, Lefty!). That should make our trip very interesting. The road we normally take to the James Brown Arena takes us right past Augusta National Country Club. Obviously, we're looking at an alternate route, but still traffic is expected to be abnormally congested. Hopefully, we won't have to go back there for Game 3 on Sunday, right at the climax of the tournament. That could turn into an absolute nightmare. So, hopefully we'll take Game 1 in Augusta tomorrow (Friday) night and Game 2 Saturday night back in the Snakepit. See you there!