Augusta RiverHawks stay alive in playoff race with blowout win

RiverHawks 9, IceGators 4

The Augusta RiverHawks set a season high with nine goals against the first-place Louisiana IceGators on Saturday night, remaining alive in the playoff race for the final week of the season.


The RiverHawks also tied the season-high margin of victory to rout the IceGators 9-4 at Augusta Ice Sports Center.

With the win, Augusta (19-28-5) moved to three points back of Huntsville for the final SPHL playoff spot with four games left. The Havoc lost 4-1 to Fayetteville.

Taylor Larsen led the RiverHawks with a hat trick, scoring three goals and totaling three points. Marcus Pryde added three points on one goal and two assists. Drew Baker had two goals.

The RiverHawks have scored 18 goals in their past three games.

“Since the move with (Kyle) Watson the other week, we’ve had two legitimate lines,” coach Mark Richards said. “We’re showing good balance, and it showed with a big night offensively.”

Goals by Larsen and Baker opened the scoring in the first period, giving Augusta a 2-0 lead after one.

Marcus Pryde started a scoring barrage in the second period, which was aided by consecutive goals from Larsen to record his hat trick halfway through the period. Dennis Sicard added a goal for a 6-0 lead.

Jonathan Juliano, who was signed to a three-game tryout prior to the game, scored his first goal for Augusta for a 7-0 lead. Clark Byczynski scored for a 7-1 RiverHawks lead after two periods.

Baker added his second goal in the third period, which included a goal from Kyle Watson. Louisiana (34-14-5) scored three consecutive goals in the final 7 minutes to cut the lead to 9-4, where it remained.

“We’re giving teams a hard matchup,” Richards said. “They have to worry about all three lines now. Nine goals is a bit of a fluke, but we’ll take them all. It feels good.”

IceGators goalie Breton Lindoff, who entered with a .920 save percentage, passed his goals against average mark in the first period alone. He was relieved after allowing his fourth goal in the second period. The loss was his first in seven games this season.

The RiverHawks play four games in the final week of the regular season, starting Tuesday at Fayetteville.

RiverHawks 9, IceGators 4

Star of the game: Augusta’s Taylor Larsen scored three goals for a hat trick.

Key play: Larsen’s consecutive goals early in the second period opened up a 4-0 RiverHawks lead.

Next: Augusta at Fayetteville, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.