Augusta RiverHawks show improvement after terrible start

Augusta RiverHawks interim coach Mark Richards is happy with where his team is going, despite some inconsistent play of late.


The RiverHawks have split their past their past four games, including a 4-3 loss Tuesday night at Fayetteville.

“I think we’re still moving in the right direction,” Richards said. “We just have to focus on playing an entire game.”

Augusta plays host to Huntsville at 7:35 tonight on Zombie Takeover Night at James Brown Arena. The RiverHawks then play host to Knoxville at 7:35 p.m. Saturday.

With its 4-3 start to December, Augusta (5-12-3) sits in eighth place in the Southern Professional Hockey League, two points ahead of the Havoc and two points behind Columbus. The RiverHawks went 2-1 last week, but goalie BJ O’Brien gave up four first-period goals Tuesday, three in a three-minute span to SPHL leader Fayetteville, and Augusta fell just short.

“It’s hard to spot a team four goals on the road and expect to win,” Richards said. “I give our guys credit for coming back.”

Richards said one key to his team’s future success will be getting captain Matt Auffrey on track. The right winger, who scored 63 points last season, has just six through 19 games. Auffrey posted a goal and two assists in a win last week against Columbus, but he failed to score in two road games afterward.

“I think he’s played better the past three, four weeks,” Richards said. “He’s been a little snake-bitten. Matt’s a great player. When he comes out of his funk, we’re going to be in good standing.”

Shawn Skelly has gotten in a groovem scoring a goal in each of the past three contests. The right winger leads Augusta with 15 points (seven goals) and has 19 points overall.

Augusta goalie Robbie Moss is 4-0-1 in December. He owns a 2.47 goals against average and is second in the league with a .931 save percentage.

“He’s playing really well,” Richards said. “He’s a competitor. He’s relentless in stopping pucks.”