Defending SPHL champion Columbus Cottonmouths edge Fayetteville FireAntz 2-1
By Al Myatt, Fayetteville Observer
Fayetteville FireAntz coach Mark DeSantis says there is a reason that Columbus is the defending champion in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The reason the Cottonmouths emerged with a 2-1 win at Crown Coliseum on Monday night may have been some good fortune in regard to the officiating.
The Antz had two apparent goals wiped off in their second straight home loss, the latter coming after the red light went on in the third period and the goal was signaled by an official.
Fayetteville (17-6-1, 35 points) was on a five-on -three power play early in the third period when a shot by Josh McQuade, who had the only FireAntz goal in the first period, sent a shot in from the left that caromed down from the top of the goal with an audible clang.
"It bounced down, right on (Brandon) Richardson's stick, and he put it in the back of the net," McQuade said. "It was underneath his (Columbus goalie Andrew Loewen) pad. It was under his pad and across the line.
"It's a heartbreaker."
The goal was disallowed after the officials huddled.
DeSantis said he wasn't interested in the explanation.
"I had two of my guys tell me it was in," he said.
The league-leading FireAntz also thought a second-period shot by Mike Kavanagh went into the goal and popped back under Loewen's pads.
Despite the apparent bad luck, DeSantis said the FireAntz still had their chances. Fayetteville stepped up its offensive pressure in the final 20 minutes, outshooting Columbus 16-6 in the last period, but even after pulling goalie Marco Emond for the final 1:40, the Antz couldn't muster a goal that met the approval of the SPHL crew.