Originally created 03/16/05

Augusta shuffles its lines yet again



Phil Cole was a little worried about the Augusta Lynx - more specifically his mates on the blue line - when he got the call up to the AHL's Albany River Rats on Friday.

His departure coupled with defenseman Evan Nielsen's decision not to report despite being traded from Trenton, left the Lynx's oft-injured blue line short staffed yet again.

The Lynx went into a three-game weekend with just five true defensemen and Louis Goulet, who has filled in when needed on defense.

When forward Todd Bennett suffered an injury in Saturday's game against Greenville, Goulet switched back to forward and left the defense with five players for the remainder of that game and Sunday against Texas. The Lynx went 2-1 despite being short-handed.

Augusta was still short-handed Tuesday - Bennett was held out again - but Cole was back from Albany and the Lynx had enough players to run three lines.

"Fifteen, that's perfect to play with anyway," coach Stan Drulia said Tuesday. "The 'D' know they're going, the forwards know they're going."

Cole played in two of Albany's three games over the weekend and managed to keep an even plus-minus rating. He got back to Augusta late Monday and was at the Tuesday morning skate.

"I think I did well when I was up there, but I'm happy to be back right now and help the Lynx try and make the playoffs," he said.

Cole has played in 33 games for Augusta and 16 for Albany this season.

BIGGER, QUICKER: Cole and rookie forward Ken Magowan have both played with Albany in the past four weeks and noticed a difference in the size and speed of players in the AHL vs. the ECHL.

At 6-foot-2, Magowan is one of the taller players on the Lynx, but said he's in the middle of the pack with Albany.

That didn't hurt him any during his four-game stint with the River Rats in February. The Lynx's lone All-Star representative scored two goals and four points before being sent back to Augusta.

"I know I can play up there, and getting a few points, it really helps your confidence," he said. "It's the second taste I've had of it, and it just makes you hungrier and want to work even harder."

Magowan played in five games for Albany last season after finishing his college career at Boston University. He scored two goals in his first six games back with the Lynx and has 17 on the year.

TWO-FOR-NONE: In last week's trade between Augusta and the Trenton Titans, the Lynx sent forward Jarrett Thompson and defenseman Steve Munn to the Titans for Nielsen. Thompson and Munn reported as scheduled to Trenton, but Nielsen called Drulia to tell him he was going home instead of reporting to the Lynx, leaving Augusta empty handed.

Drulia said he hopes this off-season the league and the coaches can come up with a way to hold players responsible for not reporting after trades.

CAT SCRATCH FEVER: Heading into Tuesday's game against Texas, the Lynx had won a team-record eight in a row at home and were unbeaten in nine straight. The Lynx needed three more wins to break the franchise record of 11 straight home wins set in 1994 when the team played in Raleigh, N.C. But the Lynx lost 6-2 to the Wildcatters at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center on Tuesday. Augusta is 12-4-2 since starting the year 2-7-2 at home.