John McLean’s first start in net leads to an Ice Flyers’ victory over the Columbus Cottonmouths on Saturday night in front of the 4, 072 at the Pensacola Bay Center.
The game was set to be a battle as this was the final meeting of three games in a row between Pensacola and Columbus. The Cottonmouths took the first two games, one at home and one in Pensacola, and tensions were built quickly on both sides.
The Ice Flyers opened up the scoring with a power-play goal by Nick Lazorko from Nick Larson and Steven Bergin at the 5:11 mark of the opening period. A little bit past the midway point, Adam Pawlick ripped a backhander behind Andrew Loewen increasing their lead, but Columbus’ Will Aide got his team in the game with four minutes remaining making it a 2-1 contest.
With traffic in front of the net, Jon Puskar wristed a shot from the point and the puck found its way past Loewen to give the Ice Flyers their two-goal lead back with two minutes remaining to end the period up 3-1.
Early in the second, Patrick McCadden made it a one-goal game again for Columbus. However, Nick McParland found his way around the net and went top shelf on Loewen retaking the two-goal lead for Pensacola at the 11:23 mark.
The battle continued into the third and final period. With time running down Loewen made his way to the bench for the extra attacker for the Cottonmouths. With less than two minutes left in regulation, Shawn Bates found Ben OQuinn who popped in a shot past McLean making it 4-3. The Ice Flyers held down the fort in the remaining minute and fourteen seconds and would walk away with the victory.
In his first start in net, the 6’9″ McLean turned away 33 of 36 shots taken by Columbus.
With the win, Pensacola now holds a record of 27-17-6 for 60 points and remain in fourth place behind the RiverKings and Cottonmouths who both hold 62 points in the standing.
The two teams will meet for the fourth time in a week on Thursday at the Columbus Civic Center with a start time set at 6:30 p.m. You can watch live at Beef O Brady’s in downtown Pensacola or 9 Mile Road. All away games are also available online at SPHLLive.com.