The Augusta RiverHawks practiced 90 minutes Tuesday morning, their first work under interim coach Mark Richards.
The team announced coach Rob Miller had been relieved of his duties after the RiverHawks’ 1-9-1 start to the season. Richards, the team president, will lead Augusta into action in its two home games later this week.
“Ownership and us wanted to give Rob as much of a thorough evaluation as we could,” Richards said. “Rob’s a good coach. For some reason, it just didn’t connect here. I don’t know why. The guy’s been successful in the past. It’s just one of those things where he had a bad run.
“It’s a tough day for us.”
Miller, the Federal Hockey League’s 2010-11 coach of the year in his first of two seasons with the Brooklyn Aviators, replaced Brad Ralph in July. Ralph led the RiverHawks to the Southern Professional Hockey League finals in their inaugural season and won the regular season championship this past year. Despite going 36-13-7 last season, Augusta could not build off that success, and RiverHawks captain Matt Auffrey said Miller is not solely to blame for the team’s slow start.
“It doesn’t mean it’s always the coach,” Auffrey said. “There were a lot of games we could’ve won, but the pucks are not bouncing great for us.”
Richards said there’s no firm date for having a new coach in place, but resumés will be evaluated following this week’s contests. Augusta plays host to SPHL leader Fayettevile at 7:35 p.m. Thursday before facing Huntsville the same time Friday.
“I just want to win,” alternate captain Dennis Sicard said. “Whatever the organization needs to do to get us to that point, we’ll do our job and they’ll do theirs.”
The RiverHawks, who also waived center Matt Puntereri and right winger Justin Daniels, sit in last place in the SPHL. Richards said with the RiverHawks just four points back of seventh place, there’s plenty of time to make the playoffs.
“If you look at our players’ resumés, we can certainly compete in this league and do well,” he said. “Obviously, it hasn’t translated into our performance on the ice. We hope a new voice will do that.”