Failed comebacks haunt Lynx

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Once again, the Augusta Lynx fell behind early in all three games this weekend. Only one game, Saturday's 4-1 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays, saw them come back to win.

The other games followed the pattern of failed rallies that have plagued the Lynx for most of the season. Augusta (26-23-1-3) has a problem with giving up the lead early. They've been outscored 60-36 in the first period this year.

They've given up too many goals too early in games, and it's a problem Lynx head coach Bob Ferguson can't stand.

"It's definitely frustrating. One night they go out and play so well like on Saturday, then the next night it's completely different. I'm as frustrated with our inconsistency as I've ever been," he said. "As a coach, I've addressed it with the team. When it's all said and done, it all comes down to an athlete being mentally prepared."

The slow starts have been around virtually all season, but they haven't always been a problem. When the Lynx had scorers like forwards Aaron Slattengren and John Laliberte , a comeback victory was always possible.

The Lynx still rank as one of the top come-from-behind teams in the league. They've outscored their opponents 62-40 in third-period play this season. The late-game heroics have kept them in the hunt for home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs.

But Slattengren and Laliberte are in the American Hockey League. The Lynx, with 56 points, are tied for sixth in the ECHL South Division. They need a fourth-place finish for home ice. The Florida Everblades, with 67 points, have a strong grip on that spot with 19 games remaining.

UP NEXT: The Lynx hit the road for a pair of games this week with talk of must-win situations picking up steam. They'll have their work cut out for them when they face the South Carolina Stingrays today and Sunday before returning home to face the Texas Wildcatters a week from today. That's followed by three straight games against the Gwinnett Gladiators.

LYNX LEGEND: Lynx captain Louie Goulet scored the go-ahead goal in a 4-1 win over the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday. The goal was his 13th of the season and moved him to within one goal of tying the Lynx career goal scoring record. Former Lynx Jonas Soling holds the record with 90 career goals.

RETIRED : ECHL All-Star defenseman Brian Yandle has hung up the skates after seven weeks with the Lynx. Ferguson said the third-year hockey pro announced his intention to retire Friday to "pursue a business opportunity outside of hockey."

Yandle, in 18 games with the Lynx , had one goal and seven assists with a plus/minus rating of -9. He represented his former team, the Phoenix Roadrunners, in the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game in January.

PLAYOFFS: Texas, South Carolina and Gwinnett have clinched playoff spots in the ECHL's South Division. The Florida Everblades, in fourth place, could clinch a playoff spot Friday with a regulation win over the Pensacola Ice Pilots.

BIG CROWDS: The Lynx played in front of more than 3,000 people in each of their home games this past weekend. Augusta has increased its attendance numbers by 16.5 percent compared to last season. The average attendance through 26 homes games this season is 2,824.

Reach Billy Byler at (803) 648-1395 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com

AUGUSTA LYNX GAMENIGHT

AUGUSTA LYNX AT SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS

WHEN: 7:05 tonight


WHERE: North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, S.C.


RADIO: WRDW-AM 1630


RECORDS: Augusta (26-23-1-3, 56 points), T-6th South; South Carolina (34-18-2-1, 71 points), T-2nd South


KEY PLAYERS: Augusta- C Louis Goulet (13-31-44), F Matt Auffrey (19-18-37), D Adrian Veideman (7-23-30), F Matt Christie (9-18-27), G Gerald Coleman (2-2-0-0, 2.24); South Carolina- C Travis Morin (27-34-61), C Chris Chaput (17-26-43), C Pierre-Luc O'Brien (8-34-42), F Marty Guerin (14-22-36), G Davis Parley (15-7-2-0, 2.41).


NOTES: Augusta beat South Carolina 4-1 on Saturday at James Brown Arena ... Lynx captain Louie Goulet needs only one goal to tie the Lynx all-time goal-scoring record ... The Lynx and Stingrays are 3-3 against each other this season.

-- Billy Byler


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