Don’t give Matt Auffrey any open ice.
The Mississippi RiverKings learned that lesson the hard way this weekend as the Augusta RiverHawks team captain scored twice Saturday night in a 4-2 win.
Both goals came when Auffrey was given space to create in front of the net, and the reigning Southern Professional Hockey League MVP took full advantage. His sixth consecutive game with at least one goal was enough to help the RiverHawks sweep a three-game weekend for the third time this season.
Auffrey scored four goals in the three games and raised his season total to 10.
“You give him the puck, and there’s a good chance he’s going to do something special with it,” said linemate Neil Graham, who assisted on both goals. “He can make something happen out there.”
The first-place RiverHawks (17-3-1) won their sixth in a row with their team captain leading the way.
Forward Aaron McGill chipped in with an unassisted, short-handed goal to tie the game at 1 in the first period, and league-leading goal scorer Jim Gehring extended his scoring streak to five games with an empty-net goal on a shot from the faceoff circle in his defensive zone.
In between, Auffrey scored twice, once on a power play late in the second period and again with a hard wrister with five minutes left in the third.
The 25-year-old forward scored just one goal in his first 11 games but has exploded for nine goals in the last 10.
“Matt lives here, and he’s got a full-time job in the summer, so it’s to be expected it’s going to take him a little while,” head coach Brad Ralph said.
“I knew I was going to stick with him and keep putting him in a position to succeed, and he had a great game tonight.”
RiverHawks goalie Jon Olthuis made 30 saves for his fifth win in six starts.
The last-place RiverKings (4-10-2) remained winless on the road and lost their seventh game in a row.
Augusta’s Dustin Cloutier assisted on Auffrey’s power-play goal to extend the rookie forward’s points streak to 16 games.
An announced crowd of 2,580 arrived on a night when the team honored slain Richmond County deputy J.D. Paugh, who was shot and killed earlier this year during a traffic stop.