With the season on his stick, Jonas Soling pulled out another miracle for the Augusta Lynx.
With his team facing elimination for the fifth time this postseason, Soling scored his fourth goal of the playoffs just 3:08 into overtime to lift the Lynx to a 4-3 victory over the Greenville Grrrowl in Game 3 of their best-of-five ECHL Southern Conference semifinal series Thursday night at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
Soling took a feed at the left faceoff circle from Likit Andersson -- who was making his first playoff appearance after sitting out Augusta's first 10 playoff games -- and ripped a shot past Grrrowl goalie Nick Vitucci, to send the crowd of 3,614 fans into a frenzy.
"I think that probably was the biggest goal of my career," said Soling, who had been held scoreless in five previous games before Thursday. "Obviously, that was a huge game. It feels great to be able to help us pull out a victory."
Andersson, the 27-year-old defenseman born in Thailand and raised in Sweden, made a huge impact in his first crack in the postseason. Playing at forward in place of winger Chris Thompson, Andersson recorded a pair of assists and had several scoring chances throughout the night.
"It's not easy getting back into the flow of the playoffs after sitting out for a while," Andersson said. "I just wanted to do whatever I could to contribute."
Now, the Lynx will try to keep the momentum going tonight, when their backs are to the wall once again with Game 4 of the series at the civic center.
Greenville took a commanding two-games-to-none lead in the series with a 2-1 win in Game 1 on Monday and a 4-2 win in Game 2 on Tuesday at the Bi-Lo Center.
With another win tonight, the Lynx will force a decisive Game 5 on Saturday night at the Bi-Lo Center.
Only three teams in ECHL history have rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to win a best-of-five series. One of those comebacks, though, belongs to the Augusta franchise, as the Raleigh IceCaps overcame a 2-0 deficit in the 1994 quarterfinals to beat the Greensboro Monarchs three games to two.
The series winner advances to face the Louisiana IceGators in the ECHL Southern Conference finals.
The Lynx got the start they needed when Sam Ftorek opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the playoffs at 8:57 of the first period, giving the Lynx their first lead of the series. Andrei Chouroupov, who recorded two assists Thursday, won a faceoff in the Greenville zone, drawing it back to the top of the circle where Ftorek blasted a slapshot past Vitucci.
But the Lynx got into penalty trouble midway through the period, opening the door for Greenville to take a 2-1 lead on a pair of power-play goals by Charlie Paquette at 10:23 and Scott Kirton at 14:08. Both goals came with the Grrrowl on a two-man advantage.
With 1:01 remaining in the first, the Lynx pulled even on Lamarre's sixth goal of the playoffs, then grabbed a 3-2 lead just 13 seconds into the second period when Kopec threw a shot in from the point that deflected off Greenville's Dana Mulvihill and past Vitucci. It was only the third goal of Kopec's three-year ECHL career.
Greenville tied it at 3 when Masa took a feed from Mulvihill behind the net and buried a one-timer from 10-feet for his sixth goal of the playoffs with 4:24 left in the second period.
After a wide-open first 40 minutes, the third period was a tight-checking chess match, with both teams seemingly fearful of making the game-breaking mistake.
And on the few scoring chances each team mustered, Lynx goalie Judd Lambert and Vitucci came through to keep the game tied 3-3 and send it to overtime for the first time in the series.
"This was a huge overtime victory for us," Lynx coach Dan Wiebe said. "The guys in the locker room said you've just gotta believe, and go out there and play our game. We did and came through with a big victory."
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.