The previous two goalies of the week in the East Coast Hockey League play for the Augusta Lynx. The next one might be the man in net Tuesday night for the Roanoke Express.
The Lynx and their franchise-high winning streak ran into a buzzsaw, as veteran Daniel Berthiaume recorded 31 saves to lift the Express to a 4-2 victory before a crowd of 3,017 fans at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
Despite dominating the contest early and outshooting the Express 8-0 in the opening 7:30, the Lynx had their seven-game winning streak stonewalled by the 35-year-old Roanoke netminder.
"We worked hard, they worked hard, it was a great hockey game, and we just came out on top," said Berthiaume, who posted a 2-0 shutout win against the Lynx in his only other start in Augusta - Jan. 8, 1999. "Some buildings I play well in. Some buildings I suck in. I've done OK in this building. I'm on a roll right now, so tonight I just tried to keep it going."
The Lynx did all they could to keep their streak rolling and they didn't go quietly, rallying with third-period goals by Sandy Lamarre and Paul Vincent to cut the deficit in half. But Berthiaume - the 15-year pro who played 215 games in the NHL - shut the door over the final 13:57. He made a huge save on Lamarre at the left post with 1:05 left in the contest to thwart one last Lynx push.
The loss drops Augusta back to the .500 mark at 24-24-5 with a crucial road swing looming. The Lynx play back-to-back games against Florida Friday and Saturday and take on Tallahassee on Sunday.
"I thought we were past that stage where he have letdowns like that," Lynx coach Jim Burton said. "Until we get the right mix to be able to compete every night, I'm not going to be happy. That was an important game for us tonight with three tough games on the road coming up."
With reigning ECHL goalie of the week Judd Lambert on the bench, last week's top netminder Erasmo Saltarelli probably wished he was the one enjoying a night off. Roanoke jumped to a 4-0 lead at 17:00 of the second on goals by Adam Dewan, all-star defenseman Calvin Elfring, Mike Peron and Jeff Sproat.
The first two - Dewan's at 16:51 of the first and Elfring's at 5:47 of the second - came on Roanoke's first two power-play chances against Augusta's woeful penalty kill.
And for Berthiaume, a cushion that big is like money in the bank - the Express are 24-1-3 when leading after two periods this season.
The 35-year-old veteran, who entered the game third in the ECHL with a 2.21 goals-against average, lowered that mark Monday night in a 2-1 victory over Northeast Division rival Richmond and again on Tuesday.
The victory for Roanoke (29-23-4) ended a six-game road winless skid and kicked off a critical seven-game road trip for Roanoke (29-23-4), which now has won four in a row and eight of its past 11.
Lambert took home co-goalie of the week honors Tuesday after going 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .974 save percentage, including a 1-0 shutout win over Greensboro Feb. 16. He shares the award with Greenville's Tyrone Garner. Saltarelli took goalie of the week honors for the week of Feb. 5-11. ... Defenseman Likit Andersson did not return after the first intermission because of a stomach virus.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
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