By Kathy Gierer, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
The first-place Fayetteville FireAntz arrive for a weekend series with the Cottonmouths with a sparkling 12-1 record and an 8-game winning streak.
The Snakes are not afraid.
Though they've gotten off to a rocky start and are only 1-4-1 at home, the Snakes enter the Friday and Saturday games with confidence.
"We're not intimidated," forward John Sullivan said. "It's still early in the season. We're confident we can turn things around."
The Cottonmouths are 3-7-1 and in 8th place in the standings, above only Augusta in the league.
This will be the first meeting of the season between the teams at the Columbus Civic Center. The Snakes dropped two games in Fayetteville last month, 2-1 on Nov. 3 and 4-1 on Nov. 24.
The Snakes raised the SPHL's President's Cup last
April, while the FireAntz failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year. This season, under new coach Mark DeSantis and featuring a host of new players, Fayetteville has taken the league by storm.
"They're a completely different team," Sullivan said. "In this league, you can change a team in a year. They have a lot of CHL players. They're well-coached, disciplined and play a physical game. The guys that are left from last year are among their better players."
Currently, Fayetteville features the league's best goaltender in Marco Emond, with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage. The Antz also boast four of the league's top 11 scorers, including reigning player of the month Josh McQuade, who has scored 24 points in 13 games. The FireAntz have scored 55 goals in 13 games, an average of 4.24.