By Thomas Pope, Fayetteville Observer
The best team in minor league hockey got a rude awakening Thursday night - an ice water in the face-type come-uppance.
The Fayetteville FireAntz, 12-1-0 entering their fifth game against Augusta, went to the locker room with a 4-1 lead after two periods. But in the final 20 minutes, a major defensive meltdown allowed the last-place RiverHawks to score six times and stun the Antz, 7-4.
And quite naturally, coach Mark DeSantis was fuming afterward. As his team skated off the ice, DeSantis held his position on the bench before heading to the locker room to tear into his players.
"These guys want to play their way, we're going to lose games like that. That's what happened," he said. "It was a joke, an absolute joke. . But we were due to blow a game like that. Hopefully, that's the wake-up call they need."
Things were going according to form through the first 40 minutes. Even though the FireAntz were a tad sluggish out of the gate, they jumped all over Augusta in the second period, with Mike Gurtler scoring just 30 seconds in and Brian Elser netting his first pro goal, at 4:01 to give Fayetteville a two-goal edge.
The margin widened to three with 4:14 to play in the period, as Josh McQuade, the league's leading scorer and its player of the month, collected his 14th goal of the season and chased Augusta's starting goalie, B.J. O'Brien, to the bench.
But that's when the FireAntz let the RiverHawks off the ropes in the third, and they paid for it.