Wins have Lynx prowling

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A pair of wins over the weekend did plenty to lift the Augusta Lynx's morale. The Lynx entered the weekend losers of 10 of their past 12 games. They embarked on a two-game road trip in Pensacola on Sunday with a two-game winning streak.

"It was good to get a couple of wins like that finally," Lynx forward Matt Auffrey said. "When we play physical and shoot the puck, we can play with anybody and we can beat anybody."

Auffrey provided the improbable, game-winning goal Saturday night by bouncing a puck off the head of Gwinnett goaltender Craig Kowalski .

The puck found the net with only 30.4 seconds left in a tie game.

Though both wins were worth two points apiece, Saturday's victory over Gwinnett trumped Friday's win over Pensacola in regard to playoff implications.

With only five games remaining in the regular season, the seventh-place Lynx likely will face second-place Gwinnett Gladiators in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Lynx head coach Bob Ferguson said Saturday's win over Gwinnett was a nice reminder for many of his young players that the potential is there for a first-round upset.

"Now they know if we play this team somewhere down the road, we can play with them," Ferguson said.

"We're trying to finish as high as we can. We're not worried about matchups. We've proven this year we can beat anybody."

PLAYOFFS: The playoff teams have been decided in the ECHL's South Division, though the seedings are still up in the air. The Mississippi Sea Wolves clinched the eighth and final postseason spot over the weekend, leaving the Pensacola Ice Pilots as the lone South Division team out of the playoffs this season.

The Lynx could finish as high as fifth place and as low as eighth. The first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs will take place from April 8-16.

INJURY UPDATES: Lynx defenseman Ken Scuderi remains on rehab after suffering a punctured lung in a game against Texas three weeks ago. Ferguson said a full recovery is still a couple of weeks away, but he hoped to have the third-year Lynx veteran back for the final weekend of regular-season play.

- Another Lynx defenseman, Jamie McKinven, completed his rehab from a knee injury and returned to the ice last weekend for the first time since Nov. 8.

"It's been a long five months, but he's been around every day and he stepped right back in there," Ferguson said. "I know the guys were glad to see him back. With Scuderi still out, the timing was good to get him back."

- Lynx goaltender J.P. Levasseur had to leave Thursday's game at Charlotte early because he was suffering from dehydration.

Bobby Goepfert filled in during the third period and remained in net for both home games the rest of the weekend.

Ferguson said Levasseur could have played Saturday night and that both netminders will see playing time for the rest of the season.

WEEKEND WARRIOR: No Lynx player had a better weekend on the ice than Auffrey. Over three games, the rookie tallied two goals and two assists, including the game-winning score in the final minute of a 2-1 victory over Gwinnett on Saturday. Auffrey entered the week leading active Lynx players with 23 goals on the season. Aaron Slattengren , now in the AHL, has the high for the season with 28 goals for the Lynx.

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


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