By Thomas Pope, Fayetteville Observer
The Fayetteville FireAntz started the Southern Professional Hockey League season with a 12-1 record.
In their last 16 outings, including Saturday night's 5-2 loss to the Mississippi Surge, they're 6-9-1.
"It doesn't matter who you're playing, you can't be chasing all night long," coach Mark DeSantis said. "You've got to be ready from the start and that's the thing about being a pro. You've got to bring it every night.
"You can't worry about getting to the next level. You're here. The only way you're going to get there is do well here. You've got to want to win more for your teammate than yourself. That's what good teams do and winning teams do. "
The Antz (18-10-1, 37 points) dug a hole from the get-go by allowing two quick goals, then turned it into a grave at 4-0 just 4:23 into the second period. Reid Emondson scored a pair fo the Surge, with Joe Harcharik, Kyle Kudroch and Nicholas Kuqali also chipping in to make it 5-0.
It wasn't until Ben Contini scored twice in 3:22 that the FireAntz began to try to claw their way out of abyss, but it wasn't to be. They managed a measly four shots in the final 20 minutes as Mississippi evened its record at 12-12-4.
"We weren't picking up their sticks early," Contini said. "We weren't tough enough in our own end. We just kind of were just watching, sitting back, expecting us to let them have a couple and we wind up spotting them two. The first couple of minutes of each period killed us tonight."
Contini's hustle produced a steal in the Surge zone, and though Dan Clarke blocked his first shot, Contini fired another that found a hole for an unassisted goal. Contini added a power-play score at 14:03 on assists from Brandon Richardson and Brock Sawyer.