Jason Saal was too sick to practice Tuesday. The Augusta Lynx goaltender clearly earned the extra day off.
Saal was named ECHL Saver of the Week after going 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .973 save percentage in road wins over Texas and Louisiana last weekend.
In the win over Texas, Saal made 31 saves for his second shutout in three games. In his past four starts, Saal is 4-0-0 with two shutouts, a 0.75 GAA and .977 save percentage to lead the Lynx (6-5-1) on their longest winning streak since the 2000-01 season, when they won six straight in February 2001.
"You can't say enough about what Saal has done for this team," Lynx defenseman Wes Swinson said. "In all my time here in Augusta, besides maybe Zac Bierk, Saal is the best goalie I've seen in the league."
During his recent four-game streak, Saal has lowered his goals-against average to 2.20 - 10th in the ECHL - and improved his save percentage to .933 - sixth-best in the league.
Saal was suffering from flu-like symptoms Tuesday and was given the day off by Drulia.
"He's probably worn out from the weekend," Drulia said. "He was phenomenal."
SICK AND TIRED: Like Saal, defenseman John Cronin was also sick with the flu Tuesday and did not skate.
Center Scott Kelman, who is nursing a high ankle sprain suffered in the Nov. 15 win over Columbus, is being given a few days off by Drulia as a precaution. Kelman said he will be in the lineup Friday at Columbia.
Todd Bennett also missed practice. He returned home to New Hampshire over the weekend for a family emergency. Drulia said he would be on the ice today.
Assistant coach Chuck Weber also was not with the team. He was given a few days off to return home to Orlando to visit with his father.
CALLED UP: Forward Matt Dzieduszycki was called-up by AHL San Antonio for the second time in a week. He stayed behind in Louisiana after Saturday's game then caught a flight from Lafayette, La., to San Antonio.
Drulia said Dzieduszycki's status is up in the air.
"He could be back this weekend," Drulia said. "But I'm not sure. We're waiting to hear back this week."
ACE TASKER: Assistant captain Ken Tasker made a hole-in-one Monday during a team golf outing at Jones Creek Golf Club.
Tasker's ace came on the 15th hole. He used a Snake Eyes 52-degree wedge, and celebrated by jumping into the pond fronting the green. The shot was witnessed by teammates Nick Greenough, Shawn Weiman and Cronin.
"My dad's a scratch golfer and has this trophy for a hole-in-one, and I always said it'd be a miracle to get one of those," said Tasker, who said he regularly shoots in the 90s. "I couldn't believe it. I just lost my mind. It's like having another birthday."
ONE TIMERS: Despite reports out of Reading that Lars Pettersen might be close to returning from Norway and signing with the Reading Royals, Drulia said the Lynx are not out of the running. "I'd love to have him; I'm always looking to upgrade the hockey club and Lars Pettersen would be a pretty nice upgrade. We made him a pretty substantial offer. But he hasn't contacted us. If he wants to come back to Augusta, he'll call us." ... Problems with the refrigeration system at Augusta Ice Sports Center made for slushy ice for practice Tuesday. Only two-thirds of the ice was usable. Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center ice was not ready Tuesday because of the "Christmas Made in the South" show over the weekend.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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