Playoff spot within reach for RiverHawks entering final week

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The final month of the SPHL season has been a roller coaster toward a potential playoff berth for the Augusta RiverHawks.

Entering the last week of February, the RiverHawks trailed the Huntsville Havoc by three points for the eighth and final playoff spot. By the first week of March, they were seven back.

After going 3-3-2 this month, the RiverHawks are again three points back. Augusta has four games left and Huntsville has three.

“We’re showing good balance now, and we’re still alive,” RiverHawks coach Mark Richards said. “I’ve been saying it a lot, but the next game is our biggest game of the season.”

Augusta travels to Fayetteville today, which has been an unfavorable matchup for the RiverHawks this season. They are 2-8 against the FireAntz.

The FireAntz are 6-4 in their past 10 games, while the RiverHawks are 4-4-2. Their most recent meeting was Feb. 17, a 3-2 win for the FireAntz.

Augusta’s final two home games come Thursday against Columbus and Friday against Fayetteville. The RiverHawks’ regular-season finale is Saturday at Columbus.

“It’s like I’ve said before, once you get in, you never know what will happen,” Richards said. “We’ve learned from experience that anything can happen in the playoffs. We just have to get there. We’ll see how it goes.”

Huntsville plays host to Knoxville on Thursday, followed by its last road game at Knoxville on Friday. The Havoc finish at home against Fayetteville on Saturday.

WILD WEEK: A nine-goal performance against first-place Louisiana on Saturday capped what has been a wild stretch for Augusta.

The RiverHawks scored 18 goals in their past three games, highlighted by a 9-4 win Saturday. The nine goals set a league high for the season, as well as tied for the most points accumulated in a game this season at 23.

On Friday against Pensacola, the RiverHawks set a league high with 55 saves, all by goalie Brandon Foote. Despite his efforts, Augusta fell 4-3 in a shootout.

The RiverHawks matched their own league high in goals for one period with six Thursday, scoring all in the second period in a 6-2 win over Huntsville.

They also scored six in the third period Dec. 6 against Fayetteville.

SCORING OUTBURST: Defenseman Drew Baker entered last week with two goals in 47 games. Three games later, Baker has seven goals.

Baker scored two goals each Thursday and Saturday, adding one Friday, for five in three games. His three-game total is more than he had in 37 games in 2010-2011, and more than half his total the following season. He’s one goal away from matching his career-high eight goals scored last season.


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