Staring at a wide open net with no one in front of him in sudden-death overtime, Jim Gehring completely missed.
He didn’t waste his second chance.
The Augusta RiverHawks forward picked himself up, crouched back into position and slammed home the game-winner in a 4-3 overtime victory against the Columbus Cottonmouths on Wednesday night at James Brown Arena.
“I was angry,” he said. “It all started when we gave up the third (and game-tying) goal, so I was already in a mood. Then when I missed the first attempt, that made me even more mad. It was bad. I just got too anxious and ended up tripping over my own feet while I was shooting. When I got the second opportunity I just had to bear down, grip my stick hard and let it go.”
Redemption came seconds after the miss when Branden Kosolofsky regained possession and passed across to an open Gehring.
The Southern Professional Hockey League’s leading goal scorer smashed a one-timer that gave first-place Augusta (22-7-2) a thrilling victory in front of an announced crowd of 2,103 spectators.
The RiverHawks’ struggling power play unit finally produced enough offense to get them to overtime.
Ed Snetsinger and Matt Auffrey each converted with the man advantage to enter the third period tied at 2. Augusta had previously gone 0 for their past 20 on the power play.
Jason Price’s shot from the blue line found its way through traffic early in the third to give the RiverHawks their first lead, but Columbus’ Jordan Baird scored his second goal of the night with two minutes left in regulation.
Though the Cottonmouths (16-9-5)
lost, they still got a point and strengthened their hold of third place in the standings.
“They’re a good hockey team, and this was a great game,” Augusta coach Brad Ralph said. “They keep it simple, and they’re a low-risk hockey team. We had to make some adjustments.”
Peter Skoggard made 27 saves for the win, while Ian Vigier stopped 36 of 40 shots to lose for only the second time in his past eight starts.
RiverHawks defenseman Curtis Megginson was injured early in the second period after being checked from behind and had to be helped off the ice. Ralph said he was taken to the hospital with concerns about his head and neck.