GREENVILLE, S.C. - For the first time in five seasons, the final regular-season game of the season means nothing to the Augusta Lynx.
In a game they had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Lynx fell to the Greenville Grrrowl 7-3 Saturday night before an announced crowd of 8,199 fans at the Bi-Lo Center.
With the loss, the Lynx were eliminated from the East Coast Hockey League playoff race.
After falling behind 1-0 after one period, the short-staffed Lynx collapsed early in the second, as the Grrrowl seized control with four goals in the opening 4:34 of the period.
Rookie Peter Flache scored two goals in his second professional game, as did Mike Henderson. Chris Wismer, Chad Theuer and Chris Lynch also scored for the Grrrowl, who clinched the fifth and final playoff spot in the Southeast Division with the victory.
Flache, who was signed last week by Greenville after concluding his junior career with Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League, is the twin brother of Grrrowl defenseman Paul Flache.
The defending Kelly Cup champion Grrrowl improved to 27-36-7 heading into the season finale today against Greensboro. Greenville advances to face the Florida Everblades in the Southeast Division wild-card game Tuesday at TECO Arena in Estero, Fla.
Andrew Williamson, Jeff Szwez and Jim Shepherd scored goals for the Lynx with the game out of reach in the third period. Greenville was ahead 6-0 when Williamson's 29th goal of the year with 6:40 remaining in the game ended the shutout bid for Grrrowl goaltender Michael Garnett.
Augusta outshot the Grrrowl 41-24 but Garnett was up to the test, making 38 saves to improve to 16-15-3 including 3-0-1 in four starts vs. the Lynx this season. Greenville won the seasons series against the Lynx 5-2-1.
Tom Draper started in net for the Lynx and gave up three goals on 12 shots before being replaced by Curtis Cruickshank early in the second period. Cruickshank finished allowing four goals on 12 shots to take the loss and fall to 7-8-1.
The Lynx (26-39-6) close out the season today at home against the Pee Dee Pride. After making the ECHL playoffs in their first three seasons in Augusta, the Lynx have missed the postseason for the second straight year.
Last season, Augusta entered the final game of the season needing a victory to make the playoffs, but came up short with a loss to Florida.