Dan Sullivan always thought that if he was playing hockey at the ECHL level, it would be with the Augusta Lynx.
But after a season and a half as one of Augusta's most popular players, Sullivan won't be returning in a black and blue jersey this season.
The Lynx announced Thursday that Sullivan has been traded to the Pensacola Ice Pilots for all-star goaltender Brett Jaeger in a move that takes care of Augusta's most glaring off-season need.
"Unfortunately, to get good players you have to give up good players, and we were very reluctant to give up a guy like Sully," Augusta coach Bob Ferguson said. "We all know what he meant to the team.
"But the goaltending position is very important for us, and when we had a chance to get a guy like Brett, we knew we had to give up something good to get him."
Sullivan, a gritty, physical player who was acquired by Augusta in January 2005, racked up 275 penalty minutes in becoming a fan favorite for the Lynx. He served as a captain and last year tallied career highs in goals (18), assists (23) and points (41).
"Obviously, it was a big shock to me first of all," Sullivan said. "I always thought that if I played in this league I'd be in Augusta. But Bob Ferguson was the best thing in hockey for me last year, and I think I was good for him.
"I think everything starts with goaltending, and if you're going to win, you have to have that," he added. "And the fact that they got who they did for me, hopefully that says a little about me."
Jaeger, who was traded to Pensacola earlier in the off- season, posted a 21-6-8 record last year with a 2.63 goals against average and a .912 save percentage with the Fresno Falcons, earning him his first all-star selection. Jaeger compiled a 40-15-14 record in two seasons with Fresno.
"(Jaeger) is a proven winner at this level, and he's only a third-year guy, so he'll continue to get better," Ferguson said.
Jaeger joins Ryan Lang, Louis Goulet, Eric Lundberg, Mathieu Walthier, and Phil Cole as players heading to training camp in October.
"Things are really starting to come together for us," Ferguson said. "... and I really like the way things are starting to look for next year."
Augusta opens the season Oct. 20 against the Columbia Inferno.
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.