The Augusta RiverHawks began their nearly month-long road trip mirroring their troubles from most of the season: Struggling to score goals and letting penalties halt any momentum gained during games.
The RiverHawks lost three of four to begin the road trip, scoring a total of seven goals while allowing 16. Two of the losses came to the Columbus Cottonmouths, who the RiverHawks defeated three times entering the week.
During the stretch, Augusta was forced to defend 29 power plays, averaging 38 penalty minutes on 11 infractions in the four games.
The penalty struggles came to a head in Friday’s 7-2 loss to the Knoxville Ice Bears, when the RiverHawks recorded 70 minutes on 17 infractions.
There were four fights in the game, all coming in the second period.
Despite missing five games because of a suspension, right winger Dennis Sicard leads the team with 150 penalty minutes. He was given two game misconducts for his role in fights against Knoxville. However, RiverHawks coach Mark Richards said Sicard brings energy and veteran presence to his line.
The RiverHawks’ schedule slows down this week as they visit Knoxville on Friday for their only game.
ROSTER CHANGES: Richards has acknowledged difficulty in stringing together wins when faced with a shuffling roster. The RiverHawks faced no greater task than when leading scorer Shawn Skelly was loaned to the ECHL’s Alaska Aces this past Wednesday. This was coupled with the loss of Chad Ziegler to the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors on the same day. Ziegler was tied for second on the team in goals.
Augusta responded by signing center Taylor Larsen that day. Larsen has since played three games, getting off five shots but failing to score.
“He is a guy that had a lot of college success, and had a solid first half in the Federal League,” RiverHawks vice president Ken Vezina said of Larsen. “We obviously have a few holes up front, so he’ll have a great chance to prove himself.”
The news of signing Larsen was followed by Drew Baker’s return from the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators on Thursday.
Baker played three games for Gwinnett before returning on loan. The defenseman has played all three games since his return, getting off six shot attempts.