The Augusta RiverHawks withstood a last-second charge from Knoxville to take their third in a row from the Ice Bears on Friday night, winning 4-3 at James Brown Arena.
The RiverHawks got on the board first with a goal by Drew Baker on a power play, assisted by Jason Price and Branden Kosolofky with 12:34 left in the first period. It was the only goal of the period.
The Ice Bears tied the game in the second period when Emery Olauson scored against the short-handed RiverHawks.
However, Augusta responded with two goals in the period, one by Matt Auffrey and the other coming 36 seconds later by Jason Price, giving the RiverHawks a two-goal lead.
Augusta added what proved to be the deciding goal in the third period with the team’s second power play goal, and Baker’s second, at the 8:34 mark. Knoxville added its second goal with 3:45 to go from Kyle VanderMale, and the Ice Bears brought it back to within one with 1:25 to go with a goal from David Segal. However, time ran out on the Ice Bears as RiverHawks goalie Jon Olthuis saved two potential game-tying shots in the final minute.
“We had mental lapses in the third period,” RiverHawks coach Brad Ralph said. “Often when that happens we tend to fall into their style, and there were momentum swings. But it was a good win.”
Baker led Augusta with two goals and one assist, and Taylor added two assists. Auffrey and Price added a goal each for the RiverHawks, who have won three consecutive games.
“We’ve had battles with (Knoxville) all year,” Baker said. “But the last eight to 10 games, we’ve been buying in, and we definitely need more wins against them. We had their number for much of the game.”
VanderMale, Olauson and Segal had one goal each for the Ice Bears, who dropped to 41/2 games and 10 points behind the RiverHawks for first place.
“I feel like we played more to our style against them, and four points is a huge weekend for us,” Ralph said.