When the top team in the Southern Professional Hockey League plays host to a mediocre team without its starting goalie, nights like this tend to happen.
The first-place Augusta RiverHawks scored a season-high eight goals, broke a franchise record for margin of victory and got their first shutout of the season in an 8-0 win over the Huntsville Havoc.
Rookie forward Chris Doyle extended his goals scored streak to seven games and added two assists in Augusta’s fifth win in six games.
Huntsville (7-7-3) was playing without SPHL goalie of the year Mark Sibbald, who was suspended by the team Wednesday “for a breach of team rules,” head coach Randy Murphy said. Backup Corey Milan took his place and allowed eight goals on 34 Augusta shots for his fourth loss in seven games.
Seven different RiverHawks scored, including Doyle, who got his 12th goal of the season and ninth in seven games with a wrister six and a half minutes in off a pass from Branden Kosolofsky.
Ed Snetsinger, who was on the ice for all eight goals, was the only Augusta skater to score twice. He was also the defensive anchor on a four-forward power play unit that converted on 4 of 7 opportunities with a man advantage.
“That’s been the strength of our team all year, the depth,” head coach Brad Ralph said. “It’s nice to see the guys get rewarded.”
With three minutes left in the first period, Augusta (13-3-1) had twice as many goals (4) as Huntsville shots (2).
Kyle Watson got his first professional goal during a three-goal second period. Fellow rookie Dustin Cloutier added a power play goal and an assist to extend his consecutive points streak to 12 games.
Jim Gehring scored the final goal of the second period on an unassisted, short-handed backhand.
Augusta goalie B.J. O’Brien skated off the ice with the game-used puck in his glove after securing his first professional shutout on 27 saves.
“The last period we were just playing for him and the shutout,” player-assistant coach Jason Price said. “It’s good to see him get it.”
The RiverHawks extended their lead atop the league standings to five points ahead of second-place Knoxville.