The Augusta RiverHawks were tasked with facing one of the hottest goalies in the SPHL in what was essentially a must-win game Friday night.
The RiverHawks exposed Huntsville Havoc goalie Dan McWhinney for four goals, beating the Havoc 5-3 at Augusta Ice Sports Center.
McWhinney stopped 50 shots in 50 attempts in Huntsville’s 1-0 win over Columbus the previous night. But Augusta (17-27-4) flipped the script on the goaltender, doubling his average goals allowed for the night.
“He has a high save percentage and battles, but we got to him early on the breakaway, and that helped our confidence,” coach Mark Richards said. “I thought it was a solid game for us.”
RiverHawks captain Matt Auffrey recorded two goals, giving him 14 on the season.
“We switched lines in the third period (Thursday), putting (Alex) Morton, (Kyle) Watson and Auffrey together,” Richards said. “They played well together. They puck-protect well, and they work well with their skill sets.”
The win kept the RiverHawks alive for a playoff spot, sitting six points behind the Havoc with eight games left.
The scoring started 8 minutes into the game when Augusta’s Marcus Pryde deked McWhinney for an unassisted goal. The RiverHawks added a second goal in the period when Auffrey found the puck off a block from McWhinney and laced it past him, giving Augusta an early 2-0 lead.
Huntsville (19-24-6) climbed back to within one early in the second period on a goal by Ian Boots. But the RiverHawks regained a two-goal lead with 4 minutes left in the period when Watson took advantage of a 5-minute boarding penalty by Huntsville’s Corey Fulton, scoring a power-play goal within the final minute of the advantage.
After Auffrey’s second goal to begin the third period, Huntsville tacked on consecutive goals to bring the Havoc back to within one at 4-3. But Augusta gained breathing room before time expired, as Jason Price scored on an empty net.
RiverHawks goalie Robert Moss stopped 32 of 35 shots, limiting the Havoc to just one goal through the first two periods.