The Augusta RiverHawks return for their first home game in a month after being subjected to three consecutive road games this past weekend.
In a three-game stretch coach Mark Richards called “a huge weekend” beforehand, the RiverHawks took two of three to slowly inch closer to eighth place in the SPHL standings.
Augusta swept the Mississippi Surge in consecutive games Friday and Saturday, totaling 10 goals in the two games. The 10-goal total is the second-most points scored for the RiverHawks in a two-game stretch this season.
However, the RiverHawks traveled to Columbus, Ga., for a Sunday afternoon game, and the team appeared sluggish, snapping its two-game winning streak while not scoring a goal against the Cottonmouths.
“We played solid all three games this weekend,” Richards said. “Obviously, it was a difficult loss to Columbus, but we played hard for all three games with a tough travel schedule. We were tired, but tip your hat to Columbus and (goalie Andrew) Loewen, who had to play very well to win that game.”
Eight teams make the playoffs in the SPHL.
The RiverHawks are now four points out of eighth, trailing Huntsville 35-31, after the Havoc lost two of three over the weekend. The two teams have three more meetings this season, all coming between Feb. 28 and March 8.
Augusta plays host to Pensacola on Saturday and Fayetteville on Sunday.
MAKING THEIR MARK: Richards said last week that many of the players brought in to replace those who moved up have been solid contributors and have done good things in a short period of time. That was certainly the case over the past weekend.
Defenseman Joe Schiller notched his first goal as a RiverHawk in Friday’s win. Jesse Echternach, who played a full season with the RiverHawks last year, has played just 14 games with them this season. He recorded his second goal Friday.
A big part of Saturday’s win was Taylor Larsen’s two goals, his first two in 10 games with Augusta. Larsen is a 24-year-old SPHL rookie after playing 23 games in the Federal Hockey League last year.
Along with newcomers making a difference in the absence of the team’s top scorers and defensemen, one full-time RiverHawk has stepped up in the second half.
Taylor McReynolds had two goals and one assist in the first 23 games of the season. In his past 18 games, the 26-year-old forward has six goals and three assists.
While McReynolds got off to a slow start in his rookie season, the RiverHawks have stuck with him, playing him in all 41 games to this point. His progression in the second half has proven beneficial to a team scrambling for a playoff spot.