The Pensacola Ice Flyers (22-19-8) relied on rookie Ken Neil, playing in just his second professional game, to secure the shootout victory as the Ice Flyers downed the Columbus Cottonmouths (18-26-4) by a final scored on 4-3 inside the Pensacola Bay Center on Sunday evening.
The Cottonmouths drew first blood when Alex Kromm fired a shot past John McLean for an unassisted goal 6:51 into the first period. Almost exactly ten minutes later, the Ice Flyers got back on even footing when Roger Tagoona beat Columbus goalie Spencer Bacon with 3:06 left in the first. Louis Belisle had the lone assist on the goal. Less than two minutes later, John Gustafsson put the Ice Flyers up 2-1. Brad Bourke and Aaron Clarke assisted on the goal that was scored with 1:22 left in the opening frame.
The Ice Flyers doubled their lead to two goals when Josh Harris put in a rebound of a Nathan Bruyere shot. Tagoona had the other assist on the goal which was scored 7:06 into the second. Andy Bathgate scored on a breakaway backhander with 8:01 left in the period to cut the lead to 3-2 then tied the game at three when former Ice Flyer Zach Loesch fired a long shot that beat McLean with 4:44 left in the second period.
After a scoreless third period and five-minute overtime, the game progressed to a shootout. Bathgate and Mike Dietrich scored for the Cottonmouths in the shootout. For the Ice Flyers, Evan Moore scored in the second round, Massimo Lamacchia scored in the fourth round, and Neil scored the game winner for the Ice Flyers in the fifth round.
McLean stopped 30 of Columbus’ 33 shots on goal and three of the five shooters in the shootout. His record now stands at 9-6-0 on the season.
The Ice Flyers will hit the road next weekend to take on the Mississippi RiverKings on Saturday, March 25, and Sunday, March 26, inside the Landers Center in Southaven, Miss. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Central Time on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.