As his team prepares to open the season later this week, Augusta RiverHawks first-year coach Rob Miller finalized the roster Wednesday.
Captain Matt Auffrey is one of eight returners coming back to a squad that last season posted the best regular-season record in the Southern Professional Hockey League. In the off-season, the RiverHawks traded for right winger Dennis Sicard, one of 11 newcomers.
Sicard, Augusta’s alternate captain, was second in the league last season in penalty minutes with 209 in 34 games in Huntsville.
Sicard also added 14 goals and nine assists.
“He plays tough. He plays physical, he fights,” Miller said. “He brings a lot to the table. He can play the game. He can score.
“I’m looking forward to him being a leader as well.”
With the addition of Sicard, the RiverHawks will have one of the toughest teams in the league. Branden Kosolofsky and Kyle Watson were Nos. 6 and 7, respectively, in the league last season in penalty minutes, while Drew Baker was 11th.
While Augusta lost its leading scorer in Jim Gehring, the league’s fourth-leading scorer last season with 65 points, Auffrey (63 points) is back to help with the offense.
Drew Slaton, of Martinez, was cut from the training camp roster, but Miller said he still has Slaton on his radar. Slaton was a victim of the current NHL lockout, Miller said.
“He can play hockey,” Miller said. “But with all the guys being sent down, there was a trickle down all the way to us. We have between four and six guys that we normally wouldn’t get.
“With injuries and things like that and him being local, I told him he could probably get into some games this year. It’s not like there’s hockey players right around the corner.”