Recent scoring struggles led Augusta RiverHawks coach Brad Ralph to take action over the weekend, signing a second-year pro out of the Federal Hockey League.
Justin Levac, a 22-year-old left wing, tallied 90 points in 67 games over the past two seasons for the 1000 Islands Privateers. He has scored multiple goals in a game seven times this season, and Ralph said he hopes the forward will bring some of that scoring prowess to Augusta.
“One of the reasons we’ve been struggling a bit offensively is the guys aren’t going to the net,” Ralph said. “Justin is willing to get in there and go to the dirty areas. He’s got a good nose for the net, and that’s what we need.”
The RiverHawks lead the Southern Professional Hockey League in scoring with 154 goals in 40 games, but they haven’t come near their 3.85 goals per game average recently, scoring just 11 times in their past five games.
ALSO ADDED: Joining Levac on his trip to Augusta was 1000 Islands teammate Chad Bazin. The 24-year-old defenseman signed a three-game contract Monday.
“He’s got good speed and will be a help on the defensive end,” Ralph said.
Bazin, in his second year as a pro, played one season at Utica College before beginning his professional career with the Akwesasne Warriors of the FHL in 2010.
STILL RECOVERING: Bazin’s presence will help fill the defensive gap left by Curtis Megginson, who remains sidelined after dealing with concussion symptoms during a home game last month.
Megginson was placed on the 30-day injured reserve list Jan. 16 and is eligible to return to the roster in time for this weekend’s games, but Ralph said he might need more time off the ice.
UNBEARABLE: The RiverHawks (27-9-4) sit comfortably in first place with a six-point lead over second-place Knoxville, but the Ice Bears sent them home last weekend frustrated once more.
In five meetings, the RiverHawks have yet to beat Knoxville this season. The most recent and painful loss came Saturday on the road in a 1-0 shutout. Augusta was held scoreless for the first time since it wrapped up last year’s regular season with a meaningless 5-0 road defeat to Fayetteville.
“Yeah, there’s definitely some concerns there,” Ralph said. “When are we going to figure it out? When are we going to beat them? All you can do at this point is keep working and try to outwork them.”
SITTING OUT: Forward Justin MacDonald went on the 30-day injured reserved list Monday. The 21-year-old rookie won’t be eligible to return until the final two weeks of the season.
“He’s taken a couple of hits, and we’re just being cautious with him,” Ralph said. Since arriving from the Fayetteville FireAntz in late December, MacDonald has tallied three goals and two assists in 14 games
TRY AGAIN: Augusta failed to clinch a playoff spot in its first opportunity Friday when it gave up a point to last-place Fayetteville in an overtime win. The teams play again tonight in Fayetteville, and Augusta has another opportunity to lock up a playoff spot with an outright win.