The Augusta Lynx began their home-heavy second quarter of the season Friday night looking to start "making a little hay," as coach Bob Ferguson said earlier this week.
They got the harvest off to a good start and remained perfect at James Brown Arena with a hard-fought, 3-2 victory over the Mississippi Sea Wolves.
After playing 13 of their first 18 games on the road, the Lynx began a stretch where 16 of of their next 20 will be at home, and staved off a physical Mississippi team to keep the ECHL's best home record intact in front of 3,016 fans.
Augusta, which held two-goal leads of 2-0 and 3-1, improved to 6-0 on its home ice and can move into a third-place tie in the South Division with a victory tonight at Columbia.
After today's game, the Lynx play seven of eight at home, where they've outscored their opponents 28-17.
The line of Matt Christie, Matt Auffrey and Ryan Dingle combined for two goals and six points, and goaltender J.P. Levasseur was stout in net, particularly in the third period. Auffrey and Dingle each had a goal and an assist, and Christie tallied two assists. Defenseman Nick Toneys added a goal for the Lynx (10-7-2, 22 points).
The Sea Wolves (5-14-1, 11 points) opened a 10-game road trip on a sour note, although they made the Lynx earn the win.
The Lynx dominated the first period, holding the Sea Wolves without a shot on goal for the first 15 minutes, but they couldn't put the puck past Mississippi goaltender Morgan Cey until the last four minutes of the frame.
Auffrey scored when his cross-ice pass intended for Christie was deflected over Cey's glove at 16:41, putting the Lynx up 1-0.
With 12 seconds left in the first period, Toneys scored his first goal for the Lynx this season, whipping a wrist shot through traffic and past Cey for a power-play marker that made it 2-0 entering the middle frame.
Augusta wasn't as crisp in the second period, allowing the Sea Wolves to narrow the deficit. Mississippi's Stanislav Lascek cut the lead to one on a wrist shot over Levasseur's right shoulder at 8:11.
With 6:34 left in the second period, Dingle fired a one-on-one shot that trickled under Cey's pads to extend the lead to 3-1, but Travis Lisabeth scored through traffic just 21 seconds later to pull Mississippi within 3-2 entering the third period.
Mississippi made it clear the third period would be a battle, engaging a fight in the first 11 seconds and several more throughout the final frame. But the defense held up, even on a couple of big penalty kills, and Levasseur held his ground.
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.