Despite loyal fans, attendance an issue

Doug Linton has traveled to so many hockey games, he's reduced two vans to scrap metal.

"Drove them right into the ground," he said.

Linton logged many of those miles following the Augusta Lynx, the team that suspended its operations on Tuesday night.

People like Linton, folks who invested a healthy chunk of their spirit into the 10-year-old franchise, found themselves mourning its loss.

"Part of the community fabric is gone," said Linton, former president of the team's booster club. "(Augusta) lost a great entertainment value and an outlet for folks in tough times to yell and cheer for something."

The Lynx, co-owner Robert Burch said, attracted plenty of fans who had never seen a hockey game. In the end, just not enough.

"A lot of people had never been to a hockey game, and they became hockey fans," Burch said. "We just couldn't get enough people in. We failed at being able to get them out at night vs. staying home and watching TV."

Nickie Wall remembers just wanting to get out of his house nine years ago, when his wife brought him a Lynx ticket. He recalled being as far away from the ice as possible.

"From then on, we were a constant," Wall said.

Wall and his grandson soon became regulars at games away from James Brown Arena. They traveled to Lynx games as far away as Fort Myers, Fla., and this year spent Thanksgiving in suburban Atlanta watching the Gwinnett Gladiators defeat the Lynx 6-2.

Bill Jones worked as the team's assistant supervisor of off-ice officials. The Warrenville, S.C., resident started going to games during the Lynx's second season. He was a season-ticket holder for three seasons before helping out the team with statistics.

Jones said he'd like to see the return of hockey to Augusta. He mentioned the Southern Professional Hockey League as a possible option, citing lower travel costs.

"I think that'd be their smartest move," Jones said. "I'd support it any way I could. I think there's some die-hard fans that would."

The status of season-ticket refunds was unclear Tuesday.

"We don't know what's going to happen there," Burch said. "We're not going to be able to answer future questions very well. We just have to deal with that this week."

Staff writer Chris Gay contributed to this article.

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.

More

Hockey comeback garners support

A push to bring minor league hockey back to Augusta in the form of a Southern Professional Hockey League team picked up momentum Monday. It was a... Read more