Greenville Grrrowl (30-10-5)
at Augusta Lynx (16-25-3)
When: 7:35 p.m.
Where: Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center
Radio: WGOR-FM 93.9
TV: Comcast Sports South, Channel 6
Grrrowl -- In second year under veteran coach John Marks, who engineered team's turnaround after missing playoffs in inaugural season. ... Despite recent three-game losing streak, Grrrowl still boast second-best record in the ECHL. ... C Sean Venedam leads team in scoring (21 goals-30 assists-51 points). ... RW Scott Kirton (18-29-47) second on team in scoring and penalty minutes, with 101. ... Defense allowing an average of 2.76 goals a game, 4th in the ECHL. ... Team a bit banged up, with C Dana Mulvihill on injured reserve and D Eric Van Acker day-to-day with a broken jaw. ... Nick Vitucci, the ECHL's all-time winningest goaltender, is 8-3-2 with 1.98 goals-against average and leads league with .933 save percentage since coming out of retirement in December. Vitucci retired after last season to become a Grrrowl assistant coach. ... Power play ranks fifth in ECHL (22 percent), while penalty-killing ranks sixth (84.4 percent).
Lynx -- Looking for first win over Greenville this season (0-6-0). ... LW Dean Tiltgen (18-11-29) has 10 goals and six assists in past 12 games entering Thursday's game vs. New Orleans. ... C Lars Pettersen (20-37-57) has at least one point in 11 of past 12 games, and has six goals and 16 assists in that span. ... RW Chris Thompson (14-19-33) has four goals, nine assists in past 10 games. ... D Clint Cabana had four points (1-3) in first three games since being re-assigned from Syracuse. ... RW Louis Dumont has 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points in first 19 games with Lynx, is second in ECHL in shooting percentage (27.3 percent). ... Power play ranks 16th in league at 19.1 percent, has seven goals in past 16 chances. ... Penalty killing dropped to 22nd in league at 78.6 percent, has allowed four goals in past 15 short-handed situations.
NOTES AND QUOTES
When the Lynx showed up for their pre-game morning skate on Thursday, team officials were upset that the Civic Center ice wasn't ready following Wednesday night's Champions on Ice show.
Upset, but not really surprised.
General manager Paul Gamsby and Civic Center officials have been at odds the past two seasons, as problems with changeovers at the rink have caused the Lynx to reschedule practices or, as was the case on Thursday, cancel a scheduled skate altogether.
The New Orleans Brass were a bit less understanding.
After playing in Greenville on Tuesday, nearing the end of a 2 1/2 -week road trip, the Brass were given a day off on Wednesday and counted on skating in Augusta on Thursday morning.
But even as early as 2 a.m. Thursday, Brass trainer Pete Carson had a feeling New Orleans' scheduled 11:15 a.m. skate was in jeopardy.
Carson and his assistant Ted Ochoa were at the Civic Center to unpack the team's gear late Wednesday night after their bus rolled into Augusta.
"We got here around 11:15 and left at around 2 a.m., and we both thought it was kind of a scarce crew working here," Carson said. "They had half the glass up, but we didn't see the Zamboni out there, and there was still a lot of work to be done."
In order to get the rink ready for Champions on Ice earlier this week, the ice had to be built up and painted white to cover up the lines and logos. The plexiglass around the rink was also taken out.
After the show, which ended at around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the painted white ice needed to be shaved back down to the original surface so that the lines and logos were again visible.
Civic Center operations manager George Kroft said the changeover should have taken around six hours, but cited problems with the Zamboni's blades as the main reason why the ice wasn't ready.
The ice wasn't ready until around 5 p.m., just two hours before gametime.
"They were supposed to start running (the Zamboni) at around 2 a.m., but I'm not sure what happened overnight," Kroft said.
Lynx coach Dan Wiebe said when he arrived at the Civic Center at around 8 a.m. on Thursday, there was no evidence that the ice had been significantly shaven down.
The snow that accumulates inside the Zamboni is unloaded near the players' entrance to the Civic Center, and Wiebe said there was "very little snow" when he arrived Thursday morning.
Carson said the Brass could have made other arrangements if only they had known that the ice would not be ready.
"We could have stayed in Greenville a little longer and skated there," Carson said. "That affects a hockey team. You need that time (morning skate) to get guys mentally and physically prepared on the ice. Neither team had that opportunity. Fortunately (Brass coach Ted Sator) stayed at the hotel."
"In my heart of hearts, I felt it would be ready to go this morning. I don't know what happened. Unfortunately I wasn't here overnight to see what happened. If I could work 24 hours a day, I would."
Gamsby commended Civic Center Zamboni driver Kelli Bulcak for her efforts to get the ice ready for hockey.
"What happened here is not a reflection of Kelli," Gamsby said. "She does a great job. If anything, she saved us today."
With the game being televised regionally on Comcast Sports South, the Lynx are encouraging fans attending tonight's game to wear white -- a tradition in hockey known as a white out.
The tradition is believed to have started in the 1980s when fans of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets (now Phoenix Coyotes) wore white to home playoff games.
The Lynx got a good response to their first white out last season, in Game 1 of the Southern Conference wild card playoffs vs. Baton Rouge.
-- Rob Mueller
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