Originally created 02/24/02

Augusta stings South Carolina



If consistency, or lack thereof, can be counted among the enemies the Augusta Lynx have faced all season, then adversity has been their trusty ally.

That theory was explained by goalie Zac Bierk, who has been the poster boy for overcoming hardship this season.

"I think we've come to the realization that it's now or never, and it was just a matter of coming together and playing as a team," Bierk said. "Sometimes, adversity brings that out in you."

It was out in full force Saturday, as the Lynx rebounded from a damaging home loss Friday with their most dominant performance of the season, an 8-3 romp over the defending Kelly Cup champion South Carolina Stingrays.

More than just another huge home win over one of the teams they are chasing in the Southeast Division playoff race, the win also was symbolic of how dangerous the Lynx can be when they have 18 players pulling in one direction for 60 minutes.

"We took control and buried our chance when we had them," said Lynx captain Scott Morrow, who scored his 20th goal and added an assist. "Look at (Friday night) and tonight, and it's been kind of up and down like that most of the year. But tonight we played a great all-around game. We can beat any team in the league when we do that."

Control was seized early by Martin Lapointe, who got the Lynx off and running 12:36 into the contest with his 12th goal of the year and sixth this season against the Stingrays.

Newcomer Jim Shepherd, acquired Thursday fro Johnstown via Greensboro in the Jeff Bes trade, scored his first two goals as a Lynx and added two assists. Guy Larose, Josh St. Louis, Likit Andersson and Tyson Holly had one goal each, as Augusta lit the lamp eight times for the first time this season.

"Tonight was great; a great win for our team, and I'm very happy to be able to contribute to it," said Shepherd, who flourished on Augusta's top line with Morrow and Larose.

After giving up the decisive goal on a shot from the point in their 4-1 loss to Mississippi on Friday, Bierk stopped all 24 shots he faced before getting the final 15:52 of the contest off.

The former NHL goalie tweaked a groin, and once the Lynx extended their lead to 6-0 on Shepherd's first goal at 4:08 of the third, Lynx coach Jim Burton decided to save Bierk for what will be another important contest today, when the surging Charlotte Checkers come to town for a 4:05 p.m. start.

Meanwhile, the Stingrays appear to be in a nosedive. They suffered an embarrassing 6-1 loss at home to Columbia on Friday, and the hangover was evident Saturday. The lone bright spot was Dave Seitz, who scored all three goals for the Rays - his second hat trick in as many games against the Lynx.

Augusta moved to within three points of the Stingrays (28-22-5) for sixth place in the Southeast. Combined with Columbia's 3-2 shootout loss to Greenville, the Lynx pulled to six points behind the Inferno for the fifth and final playoff berth in the division.

NOTES: Goalie Cris Classen came in cold off the bench to relieve Bierk in the third, and surrendered three goals on eight shots. ... For the second straight night, Phoenix Coyotes scout Tom Kurvers, a former NHL defenseman, was in attendance. Kurvers arrived Friday to watch the Lynx play Phoenix's ECHL affiliate, Mississippi, and returned Saturday to watch Bierk, who is under contract with Phoenix. ... Bierk classified his groin injury as minor and said he will be ready to start today against Charlotte.

GAME REPORT

Lynx 8, Stingrays 3

Star of the game: Forward Jim Shepherd, acquired by the Lynx on Thursday in the Jeff Bes trade, scored two goals and added two assists.

Key play: Josh St. Louis and Likit Andersson scored goals 32 seconds apart early in the second period to give the Lynx a 4-0 lead.

Plus: Goalie Zac Bierk recovered from a tough loss on Friday to Mississippi to stop all 24 shots he faced before being removed at 4:08 of the third period.

Today's game: vs. Charlotte Checkers, 4:05 p.m., Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.