Amazing what a little constructive criticism, a little confidence and a few wins can do for a hockey club.
The Augusta Lynx discovered that this weekend, which they closed out Sunday afternoon with their third straight victory at home - a 4-2 decision over the Columbus Cottonmouths.
Sure, their perfect weekend came at the expense of three struggling opponents - Greensboro, Richmond and Columbus have a combined mark of 46-60-14. Sure, there remains much work to do, particularly on defense.
But for the first time in a long time, the Lynx (19-16-6) believe they are heading in the right direction.
"Things are really starting to click," said center Jeff Bes, whose assist on Sunday gives him 15 points in his past 11 games, moving him into third place in the ECHL in scoring, with 50 points.
"There's a lot of peaks and valleys over the course of the season," Bes added. "But, now, I think we believe if we go out and work hard for 60 minutes, we believe we'll win every game."
Contributions from all three lines Sunday and a steadily-improving power play that went 2-for-5 further validated that belief.
The Lynx took a 2-1 lead on power-play goals from two likely sources, veteran Guy Larose (13th) and all-star rookie Patrick Yetman (19th), but help also came from an unlikely source
After Columbus (14-22-5) tied the game at 2 on a goal by Nick Lent at 10:17 of the third period, rookie Josh St. Louis scored the game-winner with 1:40 left in regulation, just his third goal of the year.
Fellow third-liner Lance Galbraith, who logged some rare minutes with the power-play unit Sunday, chipped in two assists and set up St. Louis' decisive tally.
"These are three big wins, and they're confidence builders," Galbraith said.
To a man, the players link their new-found confidence to a team meeting held on Jan. 3 prior to the first of back-to-back games on the road against the Florida Everblades.
The following night, the Lynx turned in their most complete performance of the season in a 4-2 win over Florida, and have won four of five games since the two-hour meeting.
"(The meeting) defined everyone's expectations for every player, and I think it got everyone on the same page," player/assistant coach David Wilkie said. "Whenever you sit down and air everything out, good things are going to happen."
Said St. Louis: "I feel like ever since we had the little meeting in Florida, we're all playing with a little more confidence. I know I am."
NOTES: More news on the baby front for the Lynx. Captain Scott Morrow and his wife, Mikell, are expecting their first child in August. Veteran Guy Larose recently learned his wife, Jennifer, is expecting, and trainer Brian Patafie's wife, Dawn, is due to have their second child.
Lynx 4, Cottonmouths 2
Star of the game: Rookie Josh St. Louis scored the game-winning goal with 1:40 left in regulation, his third goal of the season.
Key play: Tied 2-2, rookie Lance Galbraith left a drop-pass to St. Louis inside the right-wing blue line, and St. Louis beat a defender wide and fired a wrist shot from the circle that beat goalie Alex Fomitchev for the decisive goal.
Plus: The much-maligned Lynx power play delivered again, scoring twice on five opportunities.
Minus: The Lynx squandered a third-period lead, allowing Columbus' Nick Lent to walk in along on goalie Cris Classen and get off a backhander that beat Classen high glove side. for the tying goal with 9:43 left.
Next game: vs. Columbia Inferno, Friday, 7:35 p.m., Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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