John Marks has experienced the best and worst of minor league hockey.
In his first year with the Lynx and 15th in the ECHL, Marks coached in his 1,000th game Sunday afternoon at James Brown Arena.
"I've seen the ups and downs of sports," he said. "The key is you can't get too high and can't get too low. That's what I've learned."
The 60-year-old coach saw his team swing to its lowest point of the season in a 4-0 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays.
Marks was recognized prior to the game for hitting the coaching milestone, and the 1,942 fans on hand honored him with a standing ovation. That's as loud as the home crowd got on an afternoon that saw South Carolina dominate from start to finish.
The Stingrays, who spoiled Augusta's 2-0 lead in a best-of-five playoff series last season -- sweeping the final three games to eliminate the Lynx -- played the role of spoiler again. This time, South Carolina handed Marks, the ECHL's winningest coach, a loss on a day that was supposed to be a celebration.
"We showed up kind of flat-footed, came out slow, and they jumped right on us," Lynx defenseman Brock Wilson said after the team spent 20 minutes in the locker room after the game.
"We were doing a little soul searching. This is our job, and if guys don't want to show up and play the game, then this isn't where they need to be."
Marks criticized his team's effort against an opponent playing its third game in four nights. The Lynx managed only two shots on five power-play opportunities and gave up three even-strength goals.
"Our intensity level wasn't there, and if the intensity level isn't there, you're not going to be able to do anything," Marks said.
South Carolina's Michael Dubuc scored two goals in the Stingrays' victory. Goaltender Bobby Goepfert, who played for the Lynx last season, was in uniform but served as a backup to starter Michael Neuvirth, who stopped all 25 shots for his second win of the season.
The Lynx's loss kept them two points behind the idle Florida Everblades for first place in the ECHL South Division standings.
South Carolina leap-frogged the Lynx to grab second place with 12 points on the season.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.