Compared with all of the teams in the ECHL South Division, the Augusta Lynx have gotten off to a decent start in the first month, with 10 points in nine road games. But Lynx head coach John Marks isn't concerned with comparing his squad to all the teams in the division.
"We've lost two games to South Carolina and two games to Florida," said Marks, comparing his club's record with the top two teams in the division. "Right now, we're getting outworked by both of those teams."
The fourth-place Lynx, who managed one point in two road games against the Florida Everblades last weekend, will get two more shots at the second-place team tonight and Saturday night at James Brown Arena, before Sunday afternoon's game against the Dayton Bombers. The Lynx are in the middle of South Division pack overall, but find themselves six points out of first place and five behind Florida.
"We need four points this weekend, and we know they're pretty good," Marks said. "We're not going to win unless we have the right mental approach. Our mental approach has got to be better than it has been."
Marks expressed concern earlier in the week about his team's physical conditioning, but he and his staff took care of that with high-energy practices.
The mental part of this weekend's matchups could come into play quickly tonight, when Florida and Augusta meet for the third time in eight days.
"It's going to be physical. There's a lot of tension between us," Lynx forward Brian Ihnacak said. "They pushed us around a little bit down there, so we're going to have to come out and battle this weekend."
Ihnacak is one of as many as three skaters who will play their first game at James Brown Arena tonight. Forward Chris Lawrence and defenseman Brent Henley, recently acquired from the American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals, have yet to play a home game for the Lynx. Lawrence will be in the lineup, but Henley, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound Canadian, might not play because of a rib injury.
Tim Branham, the Augusta team captain who missed five games with a knee injury, will also be back on the home ice.
Marks said Thursday he planned to start veteran goaltender Mike Brodeur tonight, but expected rookie Riku Helenius to see playing time at some point this weekend.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.