RiverHawks drop 1st game at home

Michael Holahan/Staff
Augusta's Brett Dickenson (right) and Fayetteville's Brett Needham battle for control of the puck on Saturday night.

Augusta hockey fans got their first look at the new minor league hockey team in town, just as head coach Brad Ralph got his last look at his players' on-ice effort against an opponent Saturday night in a RiverHawks' exhibition game against Fayetteville.

The preseason game, played in front of a crowd of 674 spectators at James Brown Arena, ended in a 7-3 FireAntz win, their second over the RiverHawks in as many nights. The game was the final exhibition before Augusta opens its inaugural season in the Southern Professional Hockey League this week.

Ralph said he wasn't satisfied with the results.

"It's early, and we were playing guys to try to give them an opportunity to show what they have," Ralph said. "I'm not overly happy with what I've seen."

Ralph said there's a possibility he will add a few more names to the training camp roster before whittling the list down to 18 for the season opener Thursday at Fayetteville.

"We will straighten this up by next week," he said.

The 20 prospects who dressed for Saturday's game included newcomers Tony Iaquinto and Tyler Czuba.

Ralph paired the two on the team's second line, which produced the RiverHawks' first goal of the night five minutes into the first period.

Czuba's score tied the game at 1, but the FireAntz reclaimed the lead with three goals in a row. Augusta was outscored 4-2 over the final two periods.

Jonathan Olthuis started the game in goal for Augusta and made 11 saves on 14 shots in almost 30 minutes of play. Jordan McLaughlin took over in the second period and allowed four goals on just nine shots.

The two teams played fight-free through the first two periods after a Friday night exhibition game that saw 27 infractions result in 141 penalty minutes.

Ralph said forwards Mike Byrd, Bryan Black and Dave Lawrence and defenseman Derek Robinson were released after the game.

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