The Augusta Lynx used another third-period outburst to win another huge game Wednesday night at James Brown Arena.
Ryan Lang scored two of the Lynx's four goals in the final 11 minutes, including the game-winner with 4:39 left, to give Augusta a critical 4-3 win over the Columbia Inferno. Augusta's 38th win of the season ties the team record.
The Inferno led 1-0 through 48 minutes after scoring late in the middle frame, but Aaron Slattengren, Lang and Garrett Bembridge each notched goals in an electric third period.
Nathan Marsters picked up his second consecutive win after a five-week layoff, and it broke the Lynx out of a three-way tie for fourth place in the ECHL's South Division with five games left.
Augusta (38-26-3) now has 79 points, two more than South Carolina and Charlotte. The Lynx play host to the Stingrays on Friday and Saturday and visit the Checkers on Sunday.
The Lynx have now won five in a row overall and eight of their past 11. They picked up points in their eighth consecutive game at James Brown Arena, where they won for the 20th time this year.
The Inferno, out of playoff contention, fell to 26-32-9.
Marsters came up with several big stops in a scoreless first period.
He had to make several more in the second period, before finally surrendering the game's first goal with 1:14 left in the middle frame.
Owen Fussey was credited with the good-luck goal, which went in off an awkward bounce on a pass from the corner for the 1-0 score.
On the other end, Columbia netminder Todd Ford stopped several great scoring chances for the Lynx, who hit the post on one occasion and had several point-blank opportunities denied.
Each team found its offense in the final 11 minutes of the game, however, scoring a combined six goals.
Augusta scored three in three minutes, and Columbia answered with two in 41 seconds before the game-winner.
Augusta got on the board with 10:56 left, when Aaron Slattengren finished a cross-ice feed from a sprinting J.B. Bittner to tie it at 1.
Lang got the first of his two late goals on a quick off-angle shot under Ford's blocker with 9:23 to go for a 2-1 lead.
A little over a minute later, Garrett Bembridge slammed home a rebound for the 3-1 lead.
Fussey and Brad Ralph responded with a pair of quick scores past Marsters to tie it.
Lang notched the game-winning goal with 4:39 left on a rebound with assists from Louis Goulet and Mike Erickson.
Marsters held off the Inferno the rest of the way.
NOTES: Less than two weeks after earning his first professional shutout with the Lynx, goaltender Dave McKee earned his first one in the AHL on Wednesday night. McKee, the Lynx record holder for wins in a season (29), stopped all 17 shots in Portland's 3-0 win over Manchester. He was called up Saturday. ... Lynx captain Ryan Lang, who originally finished second by .004 seconds in the fastest skater competition at the ECHL All-Star Game in January, has belatedly been named the winner of the competition because of a timing error. ... The Pensacola Ice Pilots might decide to fold in the off-season after the Escambia (Fla.) County Commission voted to terminate their lease with the civic center there earlier this week, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.