Sick and tired of being bullied by the nemesis Florida Everblades in recent weeks, the Augusta Lynx looked like they had enough on Friday night.
Augusta scored a pair of second-period goals, and rookie goaltender Dave McKee was stellar in net to give the Lynx a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the first-place Everblades.
The win, in front of Augusta's largest reported crowd of the season at James Brown Arena (3,449), was Augusta's first this season over the Everblades, who entered the game 6-0 in the season series. Florida had beaten the Lynx twice in the previous week and five times since Feb. 1.
Joe Pereira and Aaron Slattengren scored Augusta's goals three minutes apart in the second period, and McKee made 26 saves to lead the Lynx. McKee was just 2:57 from his first career shutout when Dustin Johner scored on a slap shot.
The fourth-place Lynx (31-23-3) moved four points ahead of fifth-place Charlotte, which comes to town tonight for another critical game.
Florida (35-17-2) was first in the ECHL's South Division, mostly because of dominant wins over the Lynx last Saturday and Tuesday.
Despite significant call-ups that produced a short roster, the Lynx ended a three-game losing streak and won for the first time in regulation since Feb. 17. McKee, who had been 0-5-1 with a 5.02 goals against average vs. Florida this season, picked up his 24th win of the campaign, good for second in the league. He helped end Florida's four-game road winning streak.
The Lynx had a couple of scoring chances early and a couple of power plays, but they couldn't get the cycle going or net a goal against Florida goaltender Craig Kowalski. The crisp first period ended scoreless.
Augusta's continued high energy paid off in the second period.
Pereira slapped in a Dirk Southern feed into the slot, beating Kowalski at 4:54 for a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Eric Lundberg's slap shot rebounded off Kowalski in front, and Slattengren deposited the rebound for a 2-0 lead.
The Lynx had another opportune chance with 2 :30 left in the second period, but Brian Passmore's shot, which beat Kowalski, ricocheted and slid to a stop about an inch short of the goal line.
McKee made several big stops in the third period and was closing in on the shutout when Johner ripped a slap shot in stick side from the high slot to make it 2-1.
Tempers flared between the teams in the final 90 seconds, and a couple of small scuffles broke out between the benches even after the final horn had sounded.
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.