By Thomas Pope, Fayetteville Observer
Sean Edwards was no stranger to pregame butterflies as a pro hockey player. Tuesday night's stint as a head coach was an entirely different matter.
Called on to run the Fayetteville FireAntz with Mark DeSantis suspended by the Southern Professional Hockey League, Edwards' jitters were eased a bit with a 4-0 lead after one period. It got a little shaky down the stretch, but the Antz (14-5-0, 28 points) remained atop the standings with a 4-3 victory over Augusta.
"It's completely different because at least when you're a player and get butterflies, you can work through it physically once the game starts," said Edwards, who had three stints with the Antz as a player. "It's completely different standing back there."
Edwards had 25 minutes' experience in that role Saturday, when DeSantis was ejected from a game in Biloxi, Miss. One of the players on the bench threw a water bottle on the ice after a fight, and DeSantis was assessed a game misconduct penalty. Though the decision to suspend DeSantis for the Augusta game was delivered to the team Monday, it wasn't announced by the league office until Tuesday afternoon.
The FireAntz eased Edwards' nerves in short order in the first period. Mike Gurtler's power-play score at 7:54 got Fayetteville on the board first, and that was followed by an outburst that included the game-winning goal.
Brian Elser scored at 13:27 to make the score 2-0, and Brandon Richardson increased the margin less than two minutes later. Forty-five seconds later, Josh McQuade scored his league-best 17th goal to pad his SPHL scoring lead.