By Christa Turner
Center Mike Bishai should have been a huge complement to a Columbus team which had already established several key players early in the season.
Instead, he’s had to step up quickly and become a go-to guy after the Cottonmouths lost their leading scorer, Jeff Zehr, just a week after Bishai’s arrival. Bishai has stepped in admirably since his arrival, scoring 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 14 games.
He has tallied a point in all but four of the games he has played for the Cottonmouths since being assigned on Nov. 10 from Hamilton of the American Hockey League.
Unfortunately for the Snakes, it hasn’t been enough. The Cottonmouths have gone 4-8-1 during that span, and are tied for fourth place in the ECHL’s Southeast Division.
“I want to do the best I can to help the team win; it’s kind of frustrating that since I’ve been here, we haven’t won too much,” Bishai said. “That’s just the way things are going. The work ethic is there, but the bounces aren’t going our way. We’ve got to bear down as a team and as players and overcome this.”
Bishai, a rookie out of Western Michigan University, is among the top 10 in the league for rookie scorers. He spent the first part of this season with Hamilton, but didn’t play in any games before being sent to Columbus for some ice time.
“That’s frustrating as a player, but you have to put it in the back of your mind and try not to let it bother you,” Bishai said. “It doesn’t matter which team you play for; you have to help that team win.”
In Hamilton, Bishai was the odd man out at his position and while he was there, there were no call-ups or injuries which would have got him into the lineup. He has played extensively at Columbus and said the transition was no problem once he got back in game shape.
“You’re not going to get any better just practicing,” Bishai said. “You develop much more playing games, so it’s not a bad move. I didn’t play for close to two months, so coming down here, it took me a couple of games to get in playing shape. I knew a lot of the guys from Hamilton, so it made it a lot easier.”