In Pensacola, Fla., the Augusta RiverHawks had the rare opportunity to get to know their opponent over the course of two games. After an overtime loss Friday, Augusta struck back with a record-breaking performance Saturday.
“The guys didn’t come out to play Friday,” coach Brad Ralph said. “We worked all week on the game plan, and it took us the better part of two periods to figure out how to play them.”
The RiverHawks took the ice looking for revenge Saturday, and they got it in an 11-2 blowout that broke a franchise record for goals scored in a game, topping last season’s 10-3 victory over Louisiana.
“You kind of have mixed feelings in a game like that, because you don’t want to see things get out of hand or anybody lose control,” Ralph said. “But it was nice to see the guys get rewarded and have an easier night, so to speak.”
In the eight-year history of the Southern Professional Hockey League, only five other games have seen one team score 11 or more goals. Fayetteville and Columbus each tallied 12 twice in the 2004-05 season. Those teams each scored 11 in games during the 2005-06 season.
SHARING: The RiverHawks spread the scoring out in the record-breaking win. Their three-goal first period gave way to four-goal frames in the second and third.
No player scored more than two goals. Jim Gehring, Brendan Taylor and Neil Graham each scored twice.
Ralph said the shared offensive production is a welcomed sign, considering the loss of some top scorers.
“We lost (Chris) Doyle and Dustin (Cloutier) and our secondary scoring became a bit of a concern,” Ralph said. “It’s good to see everyone chipping in. That’s what we’re going to need.”
The RiverHawks (24-8-3) extended their lead atop the SPHL standings to five points over the second-place Knoxville Ice Bears (22-8-2), who lost twice last week.
STILL NO. 1: Gehring’s two goals added to his league-leading numbers. His 30 goals in 35 games put him three ahead of Knoxville’s Emery Olauson.
Matt Auffrey, the reigning league MVP, moved into a tie for fifth with his 16th and 17th goals in Friday’s overtime loss.
ROAD WARRIORS: The two road games in Pensacola marked the beginning of a long stretch away from James Brown Arena. With the Augusta Futurity in full swing, the RiverHawks won’t be able to touch their home ice until next month, sending the team on the road for five consecutive games.
Ralph said the team will practice at the Augusta Ice Sports Center three times this week to prepare for Saturday’s game in Huntsville, Ala. The team will play in Columbus, Ga., on Feb. 3 and in Fayetteville, N.C., on Feb. 4
before coming home Feb. 10.
STILL OUT: RiverHawks defenseman Curtis Megginson missed out on the weekend’s games. The second-year skater is still recovering from blows to the head and neck suffered in a home game two weeks ago.
Megginson was placed on the 30-day injured reserved list last week and won’t be eligible to play until Feb. 17 at the earliest.