For Drew Baker, tonight’s home opener will have a true home feel.
The defender from Dawsonville, Ga., – the lone Georgian on the Augusta RiverHawks’ roster – will have his mother, father, brother, sister-in-law and girlfriend all cheering for him when the RiverHawks play host to Fayetteville at 7:35 p.m. at James Brown Arena.
“I’m the only person playing for their home state,” Baker said. “I’m the closet guy to home for sure. So it definitely does feel like a home game.”
Augusta protected its home ice better than any other Southern Professional Hockey League team did last season. In 2011-12, the RiverHawks went 23-4-3 at James Brown Arena.
Augusta is looking to rebound after dropping its first two games of the season last weekend at the Mississippi RiverKings. The RiverHawks have yet to lead in a game, dropping their first two contests, 5-4 and 2-0.
Left winger Branden Kosolofsky said the team is starting to jell after different pieces have been added to the corps of returners, which includes him, captain Matt Auffrey, alternate captain Jason Price and four others.
Alternate captain Dennis Sicard was added in the off-season via trade. Also, last week the team picked up center Matt Puntureri, a 67-point scorer each of the past two seasons with the New York Aviators and New Jersey Outlaws of the Federal Hockey League.
“We had a great practice session this week,” Kosolofsky said.
“Things are coming together. We’ve worked out a lot of things we needed to correct. It’s going to be positive going into the weekend.”
On Thursday, the RiverHawks released rookie goalie Alex Beaudry and picked up veteran B.J. O’Brien, who played seven games last season with Augusta.
The RiverHawks also added center Marlon Gardner, who played the past four seasons at Neumann College, and left winger Ian Watters.
Watters is a 20-year-old left winger who played last season in the Ontario Hockey League, a Junior A league.