Entering last week, Augusta trailed Huntsville by three points for the eighth and final SPHL playoff spot with 12 games left in the season. The RiverHawks now begin a four-game stretch with seven points separating them from playoff contention.
After having to reschedule two home games last week because of ice issues at James Brown Arena, Augusta played just one game, a 6-2 loss at Huntsville on Friday. The Havoc followed with a 6-2 win over Pensacola the next night, increasing their advantage over Augusta.
“They played well this weekend, obviously,” RiverHawks coach Mark Richards said. “(Goalie Dan McWhinney) played well. (Augusta goalie Robert) Moss had an average performance for a guy that’s been above average all year. They took advantage of it.”
The RiverHawks have 11 games left this season, one more than Huntsville. They face each other two more times: Friday and March 14 in Augusta.
“Until the time comes where our backs are truly against the wall, I still believe we can make it,” Richards said. “We have to win games, especially against them. We have them two more times here. We have to win games.”
TOUGH SCHEDULE: The RiverHawks are not making excuses with their home ice situation, but their schedule this week could be a daunting task.
With last Saturday’s game against Knoxville moved to Tuesday, the RiverHawks have four games this week, marking the second time this season they have four games within six days.
Augusta played four games in six days in January, managing just one win and seven goals over that span.
This time, the RiverHawks play one game against a team that has clinched a playoff spot (Louisiana), two games against a team on the verge of clinching (Knoxville), and one against the team Augusta is chasing for eighth place (Huntsville).
Richards said practice could be affected this week with such a heavy schedule.
“As far as rotating players during games, no,” he said. “Probably, practice will be pretty easy, if we have them at all. We’ll try to save our energy for the games.”
Richards said backup goalie Brandon Foote should see his first RiverHawks start this week. He appeared in Friday’s loss in relief of Moss, stopping seven of eight shots.
COSTLY PENALTY: Augusta forward Dennis Sicard has been suspended by the league for three games for his actions during an altercation during Friday’s game against Huntsville.
Sicard was penalized five minutes for fighting Huntsville forward and former RiverHawk Aaron McGill, as well as two minutes for instigating.
He will miss the first three games of the four-game stretch this week, beginning Tuesday.