RiverHawks bounced from playoffs

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An overtime loss Friday and poor night Saturday was enough to bring down the mighty Augusta RiverHawks.

Augusta's Ed Snetsinger (left) and Huntsville's Justin Fox battle for control of the puck during the Havoc's series-clinching victory over the RiverHawks.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Augusta's Ed Snetsinger (left) and Huntsville's Justin Fox battle for control of the puck during the Havoc's series-clinching victory over the RiverHawks.

The top seed in the Southern Professional Hockey League playoffs was knocked off its throne by eighth-seeded Huntsville with Saturday night’s 6-2 Havoc win in Game 3 of the best-of-three series.

After a record-breaking regular season, the RiverHawks put themselves in the record books one last time. Augusta became the first No. 1 seed in the history of the SPHL to lose in the first round.

“It was just one of those freak games,” head coach Brad Ralph said. “Usually you have one or maybe two of those games a year. You certainly don’t expect to have one in the playoffs. Everything they touched turned to gold, and every mistake we made ended up in the back of our net.”

Huntsville overcame a heart-breaking overtime loss in Game 1 with a similar overtime win in Game 2 and a dominating performance in the deciding Game 3. The Havoc chased Augusta goalie Peter Skoggard within the first seven minutes, scoring three times on just five shots for a 3-0 first-period lead.

Jon Olthuis stepped in goal for Augusta and slowed the bleeding, giving up just one second-period goal. But the RiverHawks
offense managed just 18 fruitless shots through the first two periods.

Augusta finally showed some life with a pair of third-period goals. Brendan Taylor scored on a pass from Branden Kosolofsky a minute into the period, and Jim Gehring sent in a wrister with nine minutes left.

Huntsville answered each time. Colin Reddin and Justin Fox worked a give-and-go on a 2-on-1 break after Taylor’s score, and a Drew Baker penalty led to a Havoc power play goal for a 6-2 lead with seven minutes left.

Huntsville goalie Mark Sibbald made 25 saves to beat Augusta for the second time in the series.

The series win was a first for rookie head coach Glenn Detulleo, who was a Huntsville player before head coach Randy Murphy stepped down less than a month ago. Detulleo immediately retired as a player and stepped in as interim coach with just six regular season games remaining and 13 rookies on the roster.

“When I took over my job really was to find the confidence,” Detulleo said. “I knew we had the ability in the locker room. It was just a lack of confidence, and game by game you could see every game the confidence was coming, and once they believed you could see everything start changing.”

The Havoc advance to the SPHL semifinals for the second time in three years.


PLAY OF THE GAME: Just as the RiverHawks finally showed some life with an early third-period goal, Huntsville responded by taking advantage of a defensive breakdown. Colin Reddin fed to Justin Fox, who gave it back to Reddin for a goal and 5-1 lead with 13 minutes left.

STAR OF THE GAME: Reddin tallied four goals and two assists in the series.

NEXT: Huntsville advances to the SPHL semifinals, TBA.

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hockeymann 04/01/12 - 01:45 am
I think Brad Ralph's

I think Brad Ralph's phenomenal run of player moves finally crashed to a
screeching halt, with the several of a couple of weeks ago, that saw D-man
John Kearnes, Center Lucas LaBelle, & winger Jesse Enternach released, so
new guys Wiggins, Trentkowski, & Magill had room to go on the roster. The
defense suffered a lot, and the offense wasn't as effective. Unfortunately,
this ruined the chemistry just in time for our two final games, and the
playoffs, all but one game of which was a disaster.
Overall, Brad Ralph has been a great coach for two seasons. His luck just
ran out at the end with those last three moves on players. The muscle
was not needed or used. The chemistry never appeared afterwards.
- SAM RONEY - RHawks' Fan
PS: Another great season of hockey. I renewed my season tickets today.

shelby547 04/01/12 - 08:06 am
Totally agree hockeymann.

Totally agree hockeymann. The Hawks played great all year but the last month I think Ralph got a little cocky maybe if thats what I am trying to say. The constant adding and dropping of players was getting out of hand. I can understand losing a player called up, but if you are "winning" that doesn't mean you need to bring them back. Bringing back McGill who looked extremely out of shape and getting rid of LaBelle blew my mind. Great season but goes to prove the regular season doesn't mean anything but to one team in the SPHL. The ONE team who doesn't make the playoffs. We need more teams lol.

Iwannakno 04/01/12 - 11:18 am
I agree...getting rid of guys

I agree...getting rid of guys that fly up and down the ice and replacing them with guys that skate like it is all skate at the ice forum was not smart...Mcgill brought nothing back to the team...even Justin Macdonald was better for the team than Mcgilla the gorilla...all he does is try and start crap...what a waste of a open spot on the team.

vickidu52 04/01/12 - 11:31 am
Albeit, we let Huntsville run

Albeit, we let Huntsville run over us BUT have to comment on the officials....how in the world can these guy make the calls against one team and ignore the other team! I believe Huntsville probably would have won without the officials but I sit directly behind the goalie on the glass and I promise you, we've had the worst officiating this season that I've ever seen. Last night was almost a joke. There is hardly any use to play hard when the officials are killing your game. We've had a great team this year again and I hope to see the same team we had mid season come back because they worked so well together with great chemistry and let's blow out the whole season then and show them.

akmoose 04/02/12 - 03:09 pm
Agreed vickidu52, was right

Agreed vickidu52, was right there with you seeing the unbelievably poor officiating. Would've been nice to see how we played against 5 instead of 8.

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