Originally created 10/31/06

Lynx .500, but playing catch-up

As of now, 17 teams in the 25-team ECHL have more points than the Augusta Lynx.

But Augusta coach Bob Ferguson isn't that worried about it, maybe because 15 teams have played more games than the Lynx (2-2-0).

That will change this weekend, when Augusta begins a stretch of four games in five days, starting Friday and Saturday at Pensacola (0-6-0).

The Lynx then visit South Division-leading Gwinnett on Monday and Columbia on Tuesday.

"I like where we're at right now. We're much improved from last year, but so is the entire league," Ferguson said. "We've seen some pretty good teams to this point, so it looks like parity may be the key word this season."

Augusta is .500 but tied for sixth in the eight-team South Division. And even though the Lynx are much improved, they rank toward the bottom of the league in nearly every category.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Lynx's penalty kill improved in their split of two road games at Columbia and South Carolina during the weekend, though it still ranks last in the league.

Augusta has allowed 10 power-play goals on 39 penalty kill chances this season.

That might be because of the success rate of other South Division teams on the power play. The division boasts the league's top five power-play teams.

"Since (special teams) are such a bigger part of the game this season, that's where you have to capitalize and keep teams from capitalizing," defenseman Ken Scuderi said. "We allowed a couple of 5-on-3 chances Saturday, and in the end they really got to us."

The Lynx rank 21st on the power play (4-for-37).

J.J. RETURNS: Forward Jamie Johnson debuted for Augusta this season in Friday's victory and needed just 76 seconds to notch his first goal, assisted by J.B. Bittner and Nathan Saunders.

"It was nice to get started. I've been skating since Sept. 10, so I was glad to finally get back out there," said Johnson, who missed Augusta's first two games because of immigration clearance delays.

"I need to get into game shape, but I thought it went pretty well."

Ryan Lang (3-2-5), Louis Goulet (1-3-4) and Dirk Southern (1-3-4) lead the team in scoring, but Johnson already is sixth on the team with two points.

IN NET: Rookie David McKee moved to 2-0 by stopping 37 of 38 shots and four of five shooters in the shootout in Friday night's win. He has a 2.81 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.

Brett Jaeger, a former ECHL all-star, hasn't fared so well. In two starts, Jaeger is 0-2 with a 6.33 goals against average and a .792 save percentage.

But Augusta's special teams haven't played as well in front of Jaeger. Seven of the 10 goals Jaeger has allowed have come on opponents' power plays.

COLE TRADED: The Lynx traded 24-year-old defenseman Phil Cole to the Victoria Salmon Kings during the weekend for future considerations.

Cole (6-4, 197) spent most of the past two seasons with the Lynx and had one point and six penalty minutes in two games this season.

Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or steven.l.sanders@augustachronicle.com.

Team PPG Opp.

*Charlotte 13 52

*Gwinnett 11 49

*Texas 14 67

*Columbia 9 44

*So. Carolina 12 59

Johnstown 9 51

Alaska 6 35

Victoria 8 49

Cincinnati 6 38

Phoenix 11 71

Wheeling 5 34

Fresno 7 48

*Pensacola 10 69

Stockton 5 38

Las Vegas 6 46

Utah 8 62

*Florida 4 33

Long Beach 6 50

Bakersfield 7 61

Trenton 4 37

*Augusta 4 37

Reading 5 47

Idaho 4 44

Dayton 1 17

Toledo 1 39

*South Division


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