Gaining traction is the name of the game for the Augusta RiverHawks at this point in the season.
The RiverHawks have been unable to string together enough wins to make a run in a highly competitive Southern Professional Hockey League. After beating Knoxville 3-2 on Friday, the RiverHawks are 5-5 this month. While it’s an improvement on their 5-7 mark in December, it has done little to gain ground in the standings. The RiverHawks enter the week seven points behind Huntsville for eighth place.
The team’s inability to string together wins is a big reason why they’ve been stuck in place. Since the beginning of December, Augusta has won consecutive games just twice.
As a result, management has been busy making moves in an attempt to fill holes left by promotions, and to pick up the pace. The RiverHawks have signed six players and made one trade in January alone. The trade also filled a hole as they dealt the rights to Chad Ziegler, who was on loan, for Ricky Helmbrecht, who played right away.
“We’re not getting any traction,” vice president Ken Vezina said at the time of the trade. “Helmbrecht is a guy we’ve looked fondly on in the past. Ziegler isn’t here to help us, and we have to worry about ourselves right now. We have to start winning games.”
TALENT SPOT: Team owner Bob Kerzner said the RiverHawks are viewed by the upper leagues as one of the better teams to pull talent from. The numbers back his claim.
Since Dec. 28, the RiverHawks have had seven instances of players being loaned to the ECHL. Of those seven, only one is currently on the Augusta roster, Drew Baker, who was returned from Gwinnett on Jan. 17.
The seven additions from the past month have produced two goals and four assists, ranging from eight games played to just one.
In comparison, first-place Louisiana has had just two players loaned over the same period of time. Second-place Fayetteville has had four loaned, while fellow second-place team Pensacola has had 10 instances of players being loaned.
TIGHT RACE: The SPHL is experiencing one of its most competitive seasons. Three points separate first and fifth place, with first-place Louisiana holding a one-point lead over Fayetteville and Pensacola. Columbus and Knoxville sit two points behind second place.
Even the sixth-place Mississippi Surge are only six points out of first.
This past weekend was a crucial one in the race. Pensacola beat Louisiana in consecutive games to climb closer, while Fayetteville and Columbus split a pair of games to further tighten the standings.