On a day when the Augusta Lynx re-acquired fan favorite Chris Thompson from the Dayton Bombers, minority owner Mark Vieira gave local hockey fans an even bigger reason to celebrate.
Vieira said Tuesday he recently notified Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center officials of the team's intent to renew its lease for another five years, meaning the Lynx will stay through the 2007-08 season.
"We haven't signed a lease yet, but the first step was to notify the civic center in writing that we want to renew," Vieira said by phone from his office in Binghamton, N.Y. "We wanted to get this done now so we can begin moving forward. It's been a difficult year for the hockey team, but we're committed to once again making the Lynx one of the premier teams in the East Coast Hockey League."
Vieira said he is scheduled to come to Augusta on Monday to sign the lease. The Lynx signed a five-year deal with the civic center when it came to Augusta from Raleigh, N.C., in 1998. The team is exercising its option to renew the deal after five seasons.
TRADE REACTION: Few players were surprised by the news of the trade that sent Patrick Yetman and Lance Galbraith to Dayton for Thompson and all-star forward Andrew Ianiero.
Lynx leading scorer Andrew Williamson, who was acquired from Dayton in December, was especially excited about reuniting with his former Bombers teammates.
"I think Augusta's going to see a different Chris Thompson than the last time he was here," said Williamson, who will likely play on a line with Thompson and Mike Legg. "He's still the same gritty, hard-nosed player, but he's improved all-around as a hockey player. I loved playing with Tommer. He's a great team guy and exactly the kind of player we need."
Williamson is also high on Ianiero.
"He's a big kid who can score," Williamson said. "And he was picked for the all-star team as a rookie. He'll help our club."
PHIL IT UP: Lynx coach David Wilkie said the sleeper of the several moves made on Tuesday could be defenseman Philippe Roy, whom the Lynx acquired from the Johnstown Chiefs for future considerations.
In 56 games for Johnstown, Roy scored 17 goals and 16 assists, including seven power-play goals.
"He's a No. 1 or 2 defenseman," Wilkie said. "He moves the puck well and can score, and that's a void we needed to fill on our team."
Lynx veteran Jim Shepherd, who played with Roy in Johnstown last season, agreed that Roy is an impact player.
"He's a great defenseman," Shepherd said. "That's a big pickup for us. He's going to really help us down the stretch run."