Going through the motions of an eliminated team, the Augusta RiverHawks trailed late and couldn’t catch up in their final home game of the season.
After a competitive first two periods, Augusta fell flat in the third in a 7-2 loss to the Fayetteville FireAntz on Friday night at Augusta Ice Sports Center.
Augusta (19-31-5), knocked out of playoff contention Thursday night, managed 23 shot attempts as the team lost its third game in a row.
“We got behind the 8-ball late, and they’re a good team. We had to play catchup and it didn’t work out,” RiverHawks coach Mark Richards said.
Fayetteville’s John Clewlow and Brett Liscomb scored two goals each to lead the FireAntz, who went 10-2 against the RiverHawks this season.
Fayetteville (34-18-3) scored the first goal less than two minutes into the game when Liscomb deked Augusta goalie Brandon Foote to slip it past.
The RiverHawks tied it with 4 minutes left in the period on Drew Baker’s sixth goal in six games. However, the tie was short-lived as the FireAntz took a 2-1 lead just 10 seconds later on a goal by Clewlow.
Augusta was again outscored 2-1 in the second period. The FireAntz took a two-goal lead on Clewlow’s second consecutive goal, followed by a RiverHawks goal from Jay Pietrasiak to cut the lead to one. Fayetteville took a 4-2 lead late in the period on a breakaway power-play goal by Andrew Smale.
The FireAntz broke the game open in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals. Liscomb recorded his second of the game, while Bobby Reed and Brandon Richardson added one each for a five-goal lead. At one point, the FireAntz had three consecutive power-play goals, and ended the night 3 for 3 in the category.
“Some of the goals probably shouldn’t have been in, and it changed the game,” Richards said. “It’s a tough mountain to climb when you get down that much.”
Richards remained confident in his team despite being eliminated the night before. The RiverHawks ended 9-15-4 at home this season.
“I don’t think we played as bad down the stretch as the record indicates,” he said. “We just ran out of gas pushing for the playoffs.”