The smallest player on the ice continues to come up big for the Augusta Lynx.
Diminutive center Louis Goulet had a huge first period Saturday, as he helped set up the game's first goal and later scored the eventual game-winner in a 3-1 victory over the Reading Royals at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
With goals from Goulet, rookie Scott Corbett and Scott Kelman, and another strong performance in net by Jason Saal, the Lynx (8-7-1) bounced back from a 4-3 loss Friday at Columbia and gave them their fifth win in six games.
"Louis will get better every day - he's a guy who just battles and competes," Lynx coach Stan Drulia said. "We're a little bit banged up right now with the flu bug going around the team, but our guys played really well tonight."
Saal, the ECHL Goalie of the Week, made 33 saves, including three stops on full or partial breakaways and two more on Reading odd-man rushes. Reading's only goal was a power-play marker by Nick Lent that made it 2-1 at 13:26 of the first period.
The 28-year-old Saal improved to 7-4-0 and lowered his goals-against average to 2.25, earning a much-deserved day off today in the rematch with Reading (9-6-3). Drulia said rookie Peter Hamerlik will get the start in net today, his first action since Nov. 7.
Corbett scored his first goal since Oct. 25, his third of the year, after Goulet won a faceoff back to defenseman Shawn Weiman, who fed Corbett at the right post to give the Lynx a 1-0 lead 4:36 into the game.
After Reading's Cory Rudkowsky (36 saves) stoned Greg Jacina on a partial breakaway five minutes later, Goulet flipped in the rebound for a 4-on-4 goal, his sixth of the year, to make it 2-0.
Lent's power-play goal cut the lead in half, and less than a minute later, Royals veteran Brad Church had a chance to tie it up on a breakaway.
Saal delivered as he has all season with a spectacular pad save.
"Saaly's been unbelievable for us," Goulet said. "He puts un in a position to win every night."
Kelman sealed the win when he answered at 10:06 of the second with his team-leading eighth goal of the year. The second-year center picked up the puck on a rebound off the end boards, then wheeled in front and buried a wrister from the right post for a power-play goal and as 3-1 lead.
The loss was Reading's third straight at the front end of a five-game southern road swing.
"They (Reading) have been on the road here for a while and they have guys on IR and called-up, and we have to take advantage of those kinds of things," Drulia said.
NOTES: Aiken County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Michael Frank worked the game as a fill-in linesman. Frank is a longtime youth and adult league hockey official at the Augusta Ice Sports Center. ... Ken Tasker was a healthy scratch for Augusta. Josh Bennett served as an assistant captain. ... An equipment bag and several pairs of shoes were stolen from the Royals' dressing room at the civic center sometime on Thanksgiving Day. Reading arrived in Augusta on Thursday and stayed and practiced here despite playing at Florence on Friday.