Originally created 04/02/00

A season of highs and lows for Lynx



The Lynx close out the regular season today at home against the South Carolina Stingrays.

The operative word here is regular.

Just a few months ago, you would have been looking ahead to April 2 on the schedule as the day the team's second season in Augusta would finally and mercifully come to an end.

Remarkably, almost miraculously, the once left-for-dead Lynx find themselves gearing up for the ECHL playoffs.

Today, The Augusta Chronicle looks back at the highs and lows of the season.

MVP ON OFFENSE

Lars Pettersen: The third-year center has established career highs in ever major category, set a franchise record for goals and is in the top three in the ECHL in scoring.

Already the consummate playmaker, the 22-year-old Okotoks, Alta., has rounded off his game, becoming one of the most complete players in the league. His vision and passing touch make the Alberta Connection line go. Not only has he made his linemates better, but he also has played responsibly at both ends of the ice.

MVP ON DEFENSE

Judd Lambert: For two year running, the 25-year-old goaltender has been the glue that holds the Lynx together.

As his defense has stumbled around him, Lambert never complained or changed his approach. He has made more than 30 consecutive starts, breaking many of the records he set during his iron man run last season.

The Lynx would not even be thinking playoffs right now without him.

MOST IMPROVED

Chris Thompson: Mucking and grinding and being a superpest will always be a big part of the 21-year-old Thompson's game.

But this season, the gritty second-line left winger rounded out his game by becoming more of an offensive force.

Thompson is fourth on the team in scoring and goals, third in penalty minutes, and also has been a key player on special teams. The Prince Albert, Sask., native has established career highs in goals, assists and points.

In the second year of his contract with the New Jersey Devils, Thompson never pouted when it became clear that he would spend a second season in Augusta rather than with Albany of the AHL.

He instead embraced the idea of helping the Lynx turn their season around, and has been one of the more vocal guys in the dressing room despite being the youngest player on the team.

TOP NEWCOMER

Louis Dumont: Since his arrival in December, the 27-year-old has been a star in every sense of the word.

Dumont is second on the team in goals and scoring despite playing in only half the team's games, but has brought so much more to the mix.

His upbeat attitude and playfulness helped transform a dressing room full of moody, malcontented players to a harmonious group.

Dumont exudes that spirit on the ice, as well. His animation makes the game fun for his teammates. His antics, both during and after games -- he rides his stick like a horse when he is named one of the stars of the game -- has endeared the fans to him.

TRADE OF THE CENTURY?

The Lynx traded Jessie Rezansoff to Louisiana for Mike Murray in November, then traded the rights to the AWOL Murray back to Louisiana for the rights to Dumont, who started the season in Scotland.

Taking nothing away from Jessie Rezansoff -- one of the nicer guys you'll find off the ice and a respected enforcing-type winger on the ice -- Lynx coach Dan Wiebe gave up a role player for one of the league's marquee players. Enough said.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Corey Smith: When the Lynx were at their lowest in mid November, the diminutive Smith was signed to help stop the bleeding after playing the past two seasons in Germany.

Wiebe later asked the 5-foot-7, 170-pounder to move from forward to defense, and Smith has delivered, emerging as one of the team's most reliable blueliners.

The 24-year-old also isn't afraid to take the body, dishing out his share of punishing checks despite his stature.

BIGGEST WIN

Jan. 7, 12-5 over Greensboro: The record-setting offensive performance snapped a six-game losing skid, marked the debut of the Alberta Connection line, and served as a huge confidence booster. The Lynx have gone 23-10-2 since.

WORST LOSS

Nov. 6, 8-3 to Greensboro: The Lynx had their doors blown off by the lowly Generals, sending shockwaves throughout the organization. The demoralizing defeat sent them into a tailspin, as they dropped the next seven contests.