The rookie goalie made 24 saves, but he lost the support of an already limited defensive unit and the home team blew a two-goal third period lead and lost it in overtime in a 5-4 defeat to the Fayetteville FireAntz.
Mike Forgie charged in on a 2-on-1 break in overtime and beat O’Brien to the near post to snap Augusta’s five-game winning streak and prevent what would have been another undefeated weekend.
“I was pleased with our goaltending, for sure,” RiverHawks coach Brad Ralph said. “We left a young kid out there to make some tough saves. You can’t fault him.”
With defenseman Tyson Gimblett serving the second of a six-game suspension, the already-depleted RiverHawks defense was forced to move forward Jim Gehring to the back after player-assistant coach Jason Price went down with a hand injury late in the third period.
Jesse Echternach gave Augusta a 4-2 lead in the third with his third goal of the season, but Fayetteville scored twice in an 86-second span - the second after Augusta’s Kyle Watson took a costly goalie interference penalty - to send the game to overtime.
The RiverHawks (6-1-1) still finished the three-game weekend with five points and extended their lead atop the Southern Professional Hockey League standings to five points with the help of Pensacola’s win over second-place Knoxville.
“Most teams are happy with that,” forward Branden Kosolofsky said. “But we shouldn’t have blown a two-goal lead tonight. Losing Price on the back end to the injury hurt and it was our third in three, but that’s no excuse.”
Goals from Travis Dunstall and Lucas Labelle, combined with Kosolofsky’s first of the year, gave the home team a 3-2 lead through two periods.
A few third-period mistakes spoiled the advantage, and Fayetteville won the game on the only shot of overtime.
“Big picture, it’s still a good weekend, but this one is disheartening,” Ralph said. “From my end all the stuff I’m telling the guys falls on deaf ears, and it’s frustrating. This one’s tough to swallow.”
Fayetteville (2-2-1) got 27 saves from Jeff Rose for his second win in three starts. Josh McQuade scored twice.