RiverHawks crush FireAntz

Augusta 7, Fayetteville 2

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Any offensive funk the Augusta RiverHawks were mired in to end 2011 has been solved in 2012.

The recently upgraded RiverHawks turned in their highest offensive output in a month with a 7-2 rout of the Fayetteville FireAntz on Saturday night.

Augusta matched a Southern Professional Hockey League record with three short-handed goals. Two came in a 27-second span early in the second period to give the RiverHawks a 5-0 lead.

“Those are momentum changers, for sure,” head coach Brad Ralph said. “We played a pretty solid game. We’re a well-balanced team now, and that makes you a tough team to play against.”

Ralph’s shuffling of the roster last week saw three players leave and four newcomers added, but it was the veteran skaters who provided most of the boost Saturday. Jim Gehring took over the league lead in goals with two scores. Branden Kosolofsky ended a nine-game scoreless drought with a short-handed goal in the second period.

“The new guys have given us a boost, and everyone who has been here has been working hard to keep their spot,” Kosolofsky said. “We were told everything is a battle for us, and you want to keep your spot. Everyone’s been doing that lately.”

Fayetteville (9-18-2) has lost six of its past eight, while Augusta (21-6-2) has won three of four and reclaimed sole possession of first place with Knoxville’s overtime loss at Pensacola.

Fayetteville goalie Erik Hudson allowed three goals on Augusta’s first 10 shots.

Augusta’s Peter Skoggard made 25 saves for his first win since October.

RIVERHAWKS 7, FIREANTZ 2

PLAY OF THE GAME: With Augusta leading 4-0 in the second period, Fayetteville goalie Erik Hudson fell down trying to play the puck behind his own net. Branden Kosolofsky fired a pass to Jim Gehring for a wide open goal for Augusta’s second short-handed score in 27 seconds.

STAR OF THE GAME: Gehring’s 26th and 27th goals launched him ahead of Knoxville’s Emery Olauson for first place in the league scoring race.

NEXT: Augusta RiverHawks at Fayetteville FireAntz, 4 p.m. today

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