Adding to the difficulty of playing four games in a new home venue in one week, the Augusta RiverHawks began the stretch facing the two hottest teams in the SPHL.
The RiverHawks dropped their third consecutive game but gained one point, losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Louisiana IceGators on Thursday night at Augusta Ice Sports Center.
The RiverHawks’ loss was the IceGators’ fourth win in a row, solidifying their first-place standing. Louisiana hasn’t lost in regulation in seven games.
Augusta’s Tuesday loss was Knoxville’s fifth win in a row.
Louisiana’s Jeremy Boyer, who scored the first goal of the game, recorded the game-winner in the shootout.
“I give the guys credit for coming back,” said Augusta coach Mark Richards, on the RiverHawks’ two-goal comeback in the third period. “We tried to be aggressive in overtime and take chances, but we couldn’t get the shot.”
Augusta goalie Brandon Foote, making his first pro start, stopped 29 of 32 shots but allowed two to score in the shootout.
“I thought he played well,” Richards said. “For his first pro start, it was a good showing. He had huge saves and stood tall against the first-place team. He did a fine job.”
Boyer welcomed Foote with a goal in the first 4 minutes of the game.
Augusta tied it late in the first period when Jason Price dished it down to Casey Mignone, who broke away and deked IceGators goalie Breton Lindoff for the goal.
Similar to the first, Louisiana found net early in the second period. Matt Robertson slapped one past Foote just 1 minute into the period, followed by the IceGators’ third goal just 3 minutes later, scored by Kirk Byczynski.
The RiverHawks climbed to within one at 3-2 on a goal by Luke Frey with 6 minutes to go. The game-tying goal came from Matt Auffrey with 1:39 left on the clock, eventually sending the game to overtime.
Lindoff stopped all four Augusta shots in the shootout. He stopped 27 of 30 in the game.