Josh St. Louis played less like a rookie and more like a dominant power forward as the season went along.
The Augusta Lynx are counting on more of the same from the 6-foot-3, 220-pound St. Louis, who signed with the club Tuesday for the 2002-03 season.
A prolific goal scorer in junior and college, including a 57-goal campaign with Swift Current of the Western League in 1996-97, St. Louis found the going rough during the first half of his first pro season. He scored just two goals in his first 31 games and saw his ice time cut significantly.
But by the end of the year, St. Louis was one of the Lynx's most effective players down low. He scored eight goals in his final 37 games, including four in Augusta's last seven contests. He enjoyed his most success centering the "Green Line" with gritty wingers Tyler Willis and Lance Galbraith.
Overall, the Calgary, Alberta, native finished with 29 points on 10 goals, 19 assists, a plus-5 rating and 40 penalty minutes. He is the third player to sign with the Lynx for 2002-03. Galbraith and ECHL all-rookie forward Patrick Yetman also will be back next season.
GM WATCH: Still reeling from the sudden resignation of general manager Mike Pierson on Monday, Lynx owner Peter Gillespie said he is assembling a short list of candidates to become the team's next GM.
Gillespie said assistant GM and director of broadcasting Kyle Schultz was one possible candidate, but added that he would also look at several candidates from outside the organization. Among them will be Larry Kish, the Columbus Cottonmouths' director of player personnel.
Kish has more than 35 years experience as a coach and GM. He coached the NHL's Hartford Whalers in 1982 and was GM of the Gillespie-owned Wheeling Nailers and Raleigh IceCaps. His last GM post was with the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, which was found guilty of salary cap violations in 2000-01 and docked 15 points to knock the team out of the playoffs.
Pierson is leaving to become president of Emerald Coast Lending Corporation near Pensacola, Fla.
REFLECTING: So what will Pierson miss most about Lynx hockey? A certain player? A certain game? The fans? His front-office staff?
"Actually, this sounds weird, but the most favorite part of my job the past four years has been that time thirty minutes before the gates open at the civic center on game nights," Pierson explained. "After the Zamboni is run and the ice is perfect and there's nobody around. It's quiet and the only thing going on is some of the players out there taping up their sticks. I used to sit up in the seats and just stare at the ice for 10-15 minutes and just reflect and clear my head."
He added: I'll definitely miss the staff, the players and the fans. But that 15 minutes before every game is what I'll miss the most."
NEW PREZ: Trenton Titans general manager Brian McKenna was approved as the ECHL's new president and CEO. He will replace Rick Adams, who in now part of three ECHL ownership groups - Cincinnati, Johnstown and the Beaumont, Texas, franchise which begins play in 2003-04.
ONE-TIMERS: The ECHL governors meetings ended in Las Vegas last week, but there is some unfinished business that owners hope to wrap up via conference call on Friday. Among the most pressing concerns is the uncertain fate of the Louisiana IceGators, New Orleans Brass, Jackson Bandits and Greensboro Generals for next season. Once considered the ECHL's premier franchise, the a IceGators are threatening to suspend operations next season if they cannot renegotiate a split in concessions revenue with the Cajundome arena. Generals owners told the league they'd be back, but reports out of Greensboro indicate they could join the new Atlantic Coast Hockey League. ... The Macon Whoopee are out in middle Georgia but appear to be headed to Lexington, Ky. Jean Gagnon, who recently sold the Mississippi Sea Wolves and announced Monday he plans to sell the Dayton Bombers, is reportedly part of the Lexington group.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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