Before this season, James Brown Arena hardly could have been considered a tough place to play.
But this year, the Augusta Lynx are doing their best to change that reputation -- if they haven't already.
"It seems like a lot of people in the past complained that we haven't been that good at home," Lynx captain Louis Goulet said. "But they don't have an excuse this year. We're 7-0."
So far, Augusta has picked up every available point at home. The red-hot Lynx (12-7-2, 26 points) are the league's only remaining unbeaten team at home, riding a seven-game home winning streak into tonight's division contest against the surging South Carolina Stingrays at James Brown Arena.
With six more home games before Christmas, including Saturday against Mississippi, general manager Dan Troutman said he hopes the team's success continues to translate into better attendance.
"Certainly, the team feeds off a big crowd, and having a good showing right now builds a better foundation for the bigger months of January and February," Troutman said. "We're really pushing December hard, doing everything we can to get the folks to come out."
Augusta has averaged 2,742 fans per game, according to the ECHL, a notable increase compared to this time last year, Troutman said. He hopes that foundation continues to grow toward the months of January and February, when the team typically sees its best numbers.
"It helps us out tremendously and is a lot more motivating when we play in front of a big crowd, so they should come out," Goulet said. "It sometimes helps push us over the edge to get those two points."
Having a division contender on the ice certainly hasn't hurt.
The Lynx were tied for second in the South Division prior to Thursday's action. They can stay within striking distance of first place with a victory tonight, which also would tie the franchise record of eight consecutive home victories.
"We're happy, but we're certainly not satisfied," Goulet said. "If you look at where we're at, it's great. Texas is in first place, and we beat them twice, so we know we can play with anybody. We've just got to keep it going."
Augusta, which has outscored its opponents 36-19 at home, is coming off a lopsided victory, 8-2, over Johnstown on Tuesday at James Brown Arena. The victory was No. 79 for coach Bob Ferguson with the Lynx, setting a new team record.
"That speaks monuments for what Bob has done," Troutman said. "We couldn't be happier with where the team is and with him holding the record. I'm just tickled to death with it."
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.