The Augusta Lynx coaches have a plan to trick the players into thinking tonight's game against the South Carolina Stingrays will not be played at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
"We're going to take a bus ride to Columbia," assistant coach Chuck Weber said.
The trip to South Carolina and back might be just long enough to convince the Lynx players they aren't playing on the ice where they own a meager 2-7-2 record.
The coaches won't really load the players on a bus this afternoon, but if the Lynx (8-15-3, 19 points) don't figure out how to win at home soon, such drastic measures might be necessary.
"We need to start winning games at home, bring the fans back," forward Jim Shepherd said.
The Lynx management certainly wouldn't mind a few wins at the civic center.
After opening the season with a pair of games that drew more than 5,000 fans, the Lynx have drawn more than 3,000 at home only twice.
The Lynx have given the fans plenty of reasons to save their money, including losing in back-to-back shutouts.
A win tonight against the fifth-place Stingrays (12-12-3, 27 points) would mark the first home win in five tries in December.
The Stingrays come to Augusta 0-1-2 in their past three games and were the Lynx's last victim at home. Jason Saal made 35 saves for the Lynx in the Nov. 30 game and likely will start in the net for the first time since suffering an injury Dec. 11. Rookie forward Ken Magowan, who leads the Lynx with 11 goals, recorded a hat trick against the Stingrays in a fairly easy 4-1 Lynx win.
Shortly after that win, though, the Lynx spiraled into a seven-game tailspin, which included four home losses. Augusta finally ended its losing ways on the road Sunday, with a 5-4 win against Charlotte, following a weeklong break.
"Losing seven in a row was just killing our confidence," Magowan said after practice Wednesday. "It was almost like a snowball getting worse and worse and worse and there's no way out of it. Just to have that break was great and then to get a win out of that was awesome."
An overtime loss to Greenville on Tuesday gave the Lynx points in consecutive games for the first time since they shut out Columbia after their last win against South Carolina.
"We feel like we turned a page over the break and this is our new season," Magowan said. "Hopefully we can get a good start at home."
Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHEN: 7:05 tonight, Stingrays at Lynx; 6 p.m. Friday, Lynx at Pride; 7:35 p.m. Saturday, Gladiators at Lynx
WHERE: Today and Saturday, Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center; Friday, Florence City-County Civic Center
RADIO: WRDW 1630 AM
TICKETS AT HOME: Available at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center, by calling (706) 724-4423 or going online at www.ticketmaster.com.