The last line of defense for the Snakes - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

The last line of defense for the Snakes

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

It's been a tough, up-and-down year for the Columbus Cottonmouths.

As they head into the final two weeks of the season, they may be a long shot to make the playoffs, but the fact that they have any kind of shot at all is due to the guy who's been their last line of defense the past seven weeks.

Brandon Jaeger started the season as the backup... but when Shannon Szabados got hurt in last January, he moved into the starter's role, and his hot streak in February made the difference. He helped snap an 8-game losing streak and turn it into a four-game win string, giving the Snakes new life.

“With Shannon out, I've been fortunate to play a bunch of games in a row,” Jaeger said. “You kind of just get into a rhythm and I'm feeling pretty confident about my game right now, so hopefully I can bring it this weekend.”

Jaeger may only be 5-8, but he's been a giant in the net, especially over his past dozen starts. Since February 12th, Jaeger is 6-4-and-2 as a starter, with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage, as good as anyone in the SPHL. Head coach Jerome Bechard doesn’t hesitate to sing his praises.

He's a dynamic little goalie that's very athletic,” said Bechard. “He knows how to play the game. He's just a competitor. He battles and with his stature, he's very aggressive. He's not sitting back and with how small he is, that's how he has to play. I think he's had a great year.”

Team captain Kyle Johnson agrees.

“He's been our backbone all season,” Johnson said. “I think he's really coming into his own here at the end of the year. He got a little bit of a Coast call up (ECHL) this year which gave him a lot of confidence, and he came back and he's been on fire ever since.”

     The Snakes face an uphill battle.  They're seven points behind the Macon Mayhem with only five games left to play. They have to win four of their last five to earn a playoff spot, including a pair of home games this weekend.

Jaeger likes their chances.

“ I think we've been playing pretty good team defense,” Jaeger said, “keeping the pucks and shots to the outside, not giving up so many odd-man rushes and power plays and stuff like that. That's a situation when we can be successful, when we keep the opponent from doing a lot of very difficult plays and difficult shots on us.”

It all starts Friday night when they host the Macon Mayhem in a must-win game. Opening faceoff is set for 7:30 pm ET at the Civic Center.

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