AUGUSTA, Ga – The Augusta RiverHawks put together their best home effort of the season to date on Thursday, November 29th at the James Brown Arena and it was nearly enough for the home team to knock off the top team in the SPHL. However, a break-down late in the third period and a couple of bad penalties led to the Fayetteville FireAntz edging the RiverHawks 4-2.
It was the RiverHawks’ first game since making a change behind the bench, as they relieved Rob Miller of his coaching duties and handed them to Team President Mark Richards. It was a strong effort for the RiverHawks against a FireAntz team who had been dominant in SPHL play over the first month of the season.
The RiverHawks looked strong early in the first period, but were unable to capitalize on a pair of power play opportunities in their favor. With just over nine minutes left in the period, Fayetteville’s Bobby Reed set up the first goal of the game as Josh McQuade snuck the puck past RiverHawks’ goalie Robby Moss. The RiverHawks kept pressing for a goal, led by Captain Matt Auffrey who three shots on goal on his own, but were unable to solve Fayetteville goaltender Marco Emond.
The RiverHawks dug themselves into a hole in the second frame. Less than two minutes into the period, Fayetteville’s Bobby Reid set up a quick goal for Kyle Frieday into the right side of the net. The RiverHawks were able to apply some pressure to try to narrow the lead, firing 14 shots at Emond in the period but they were once again unable to beat him.
The RiverHawks needed a spark in the third period to grab the game’s momentum, and they got just that when Taylor McReynolds got the better of Kyle McNeil in a spirited fight just two minutes into the period. The RiverHawks were clearly energized by their teammate’s effort, and finally were able to solve Emond. Forward Chad Zeigler passes across the slot to Patrick Schafer, who hammered a one-timer into Fayetteville’s net for the RiverHawks’ first goal. Less than twenty seconds later, Shawn Skelly found defenseman Drew Baker alone at the point. Baker blasted a slap-shot through traffic in front of Emond, and forward Kyle Watson was able to get a stick on it and deflect it past the FireAntz’ net-minder for the goal.
The RiverHawks carried the play for most of the third period, putting the FireAntz on their heels. However, McQuade, the SPHL’s leading scorer, somehow found a way to sneak a harmless-looking shot past Moss and barely over the RiverHawks’ goal-line for the go-ahead goal. The RiverHawks were unable to help themselves as time ticked off the clock, with Baker and Ian Watters each taking ill-advised penalties within the last 2 minutes to give the FireAntz a 5-on-3 power play. McQuade took advantage, firing home his third goal of the evening to create the final score.
Contact the photographer at firstname.lastname@example.org