After defeating the top team in the league the previous weekend, the Augusta RiverHawks fell short of carrying the momentum against the second-place Pensacola Ice Flyers.
The RiverHawks suffered through crucial penalties in the third period, falling 4-1 to the Ice Flyers on Friday at James Brown Arena.
Pensacola (16-7-2) got on the board first when Ron Cramer’s one-timer slipped between the legs of goalie Austin Lee with less than 7 minutes to go in the first period. The Ice Flyers challenged Lee throughout the period, totaling 10 shot attempts.
Augusta (6-17-3) tied the game at 1 with 30 seconds left in the second period when William Lacasse found a pass from Pat Schafer and squeezed it past goalie Gerry Festa.
The goal celebration quickly turned to boos at second intermission when the RiverHawks’ leading scorer, Shawn Skelly, was given 20 minutes on two game misconduct penalties for verbal abuse of officials, essentially kicking Skelly from the remainder of the game. Interim coach Mark Richards was also penalized for abuse of officials as time expired on the period.
“It’s demoralizing,” Richards said. “He’s our best scorer and we need him in games. But our power plays weren’t great, and we don’t take advantage of our chances. From that point on, it was an uphill battle.”
Cramer gave the Ice Flyers a 2-1 lead with 12 minutes left in the game on a short-handed, breakaway goal. A third goal was scored on a 5-on-3 situation after consecutive Augusta penalties, followed by a fourth after Augusta pulled Lee.
The RiverHawks had 28 shot attempts but failed to take advantage of four power-play opportunities.
“We had really good chances,” Richards said. “We don’t have a ton of high-scoring guys here, so we have to work hard when we get chances. We’ve had missed opportunities.”
Star of the game: Pensacola’s Ron Cramer scored two goals, including the go-ahead point early in the third period.
Key play: Augusta’s Shawn Skelly was given 20 minutes for misconduct after the second period, causing the RiverHawks to play the final period without their leading scorer.
Next: Columbus at Augusta, today, 7:35 p.m.