Originally created 04/21/00

Lynx mission for Kelly Cup just begun



There was no loud music, no hootin' and hollerin', no champagne shower in the Lynx dressing room at TECO Arena. Outside the room, Lars Pettersen was doing his customary push-ups, Clint Cabana was riding the bike, and coach Dan Wiebe was being interviewed by the local media.

It was your typical Lynx postgame routine -- even though they had just pulled off a victory that was anything but routine, a 4-2 triumph over the Florida Everblades in the decisive Game 5 of the ECHL Southern Conference quarterfinal series.

"That's the greatest thing about this bunch of guys," said winger Dean Tiltgen, whose two goals Wednesday helped the Lynx complete the third-biggest upset in ECHL playoff history, as Augusta overcame a 2-1 deficit in the series.

"The thing is that we're not satisfied with this. We believe the next series is going to be tough, but we also believe we have every capability of winning that series too."

The next series will be a showdown with the Greenville Grrrowl in the best-of-five Southern Conference semifinals. The series begins Monday night at the Bi-Lo Center.

"I'm not going to blow my own horn yet," Wiebe said, moments after the Game 5 victory that left the Everblades and their crowd of 7,181 fans in a state of stunned disbelief. "We knocked off the biggest team in the league, and that's great. But each series, each game is important and you can't look past your next game."

Wiebe remained straight-faced until someone asked whether he was going to savor the victory, or at least smile and enjoy the moment.

"Yeah, I'm going to enjoy it," Wiebe said, with a sheepish grin. "Wahoo. ... Yahoo. Supercalifragilistic something something excitement."

Translation: beating Florida was nice and all, but their mission has just begun.

"We'll take a day to enjoy this win, but then we'll get right back to work," Wiebe said. "Greenville's an outstanding hockey team, and we'll have our work cut out for us."

Indeed they will. Greenville finished the regular season with the third-best record in the league at 46-18-6 and defeated the Lynx six times in eight tries this season.

Augusta, however, won the final two meetings, including the final contest -- an ultra-physical 7-4 win Feb. 25 at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. The game featured 120 minutes in penalties, and defenseman Wes Swinson sent Grrrowl defenseman Yanick Jean to the hospital with one punch moments after Jean deliberately fired a puck at the Lynx bench.

The game also is remembered as the night Grrrowl goalie Sergei Tkachenko gave up the game-winning goal while taking a drink of water. Pettersen fired a dump-in from center ice and scored on Tkachenko, whose back was turned to the play.

"It's going to be a tough series, no doubt," Tiltgen said. "But we're looking forward to it."

The Grrrowl endured a major scare in the conference quarterfinals, falling behind 2-1 in the series, but came back to beat the Mobile Mysticks three games to two, advancing to the conference semifinals.

Left winger Martin Masa led the Grrrowl in the series with four goals, including the game-winner in Games 4 and 5, while veteran goalie Nick Vitucci -- the ECHL's all-time leader in victories and games played -- posted a 3.00 goals-against average and .913 saves percentage in the series.

Greenville will be without left winger Dennis Maxwell, who was suspended 15 games by the league Thursday for high-sticking an opponent before Game 5 of the Grrrowl's series with Mobile.

After Wednesday's game, Florida coach Bob Ferguson sang the Lynx's praises.

"We got sandbagged," said Ferguson, who became the only coach in league history to win back-to-back coach-of-the-year honors. "They weren't a 10-handicap (10th seed). They're a pretty damn good hockey team. They played hard and had a game plan right from day one, and they didn't crack."

But the Everblades certainly did.

Florida set league records for wins (54) and points (108) this season, but clearly did not handle the pressure of having to live up to high expectations of their fervent fans.

"We come in here and win Game 1 (at TECO Arena), and they're getting killed in the media, and their guys were down on each other," Wiebe said. "And (Wednesday), there was no pressure on us. No one expected us to be here."

But here they are, gearing up for another intense playoff series against one of the league's top teams.

"I think we're all ready and can't wait to get back out there and get that series going," Tiltgen said. "This is so much fun. This is what you play for."

Game 2 of the series will be played at he Bi-Lo Center on Tuesday night. The series then shifts to Augusta for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Friday. Game 5, if necessary, will be April 28 in Greenville.

Tickets for Augusta's two home games went on sale Thursday morning, and more than 3,000 seats were available for both games as of Thursday afternoon. Tickets can be purchased at the civic center box office and through TicketMaster.

Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.



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