Augusta-GA--With a depleted roster heading into Friday night's game against the Knoxville Ice Bears, the Augusta RiverHawks had their work cut out for them. Despite playing 40-plus minutes of solid hockey, the RiverHawks' few mistakes cost them dearly, and they fell to the Ice Bears 5-2. The Ice Bears scored three goals within a six minute span in the second period to take control of the game and eventually come out on top.
The RiverHawks had the opportunity to jump out to an early lead in the first period, as they were awarded back-to-back power plays. Despite generating plenty of shots on goal, Ice Bears' goaltender Connor Toomey was up to the task turning away all of the RiverHawks' advances. The first period ended in a scoreless tie.
It took a power play in the second period for the scoreless tie to finally be broken. RiverHawks Captain Matt Auffrey picked up the puck in his own zone and skated it all the way down the ice, weaving his way through traffic. He eventually found himself at in the Ice Bears' slot and fired it past Toomey for the 1-0 lead.
The RiverHawks skated with the lead for nearly 10 minutes before the game was tied. The Ice Bears took advantage of the man-advantage as Jeremy Klaver took a pass from Tyler Fernandez at the point and rifled a shot towards the net. RiverHawks' goaltender Austin Lee was screened on the shot and could not see it as it wizzed by him and into the back of the net.
The Ice Bears used the goal as a momentum changer and blew the game open minutes later. First it was forward Eric Satim stripping a RiverHawks defenseman of the puck in Augusta's zone, and putting it on goal. Lee made the original save, but Berkeley Scott found the rebound and fired it just underneath the crossbar to take the lead.
Less than a minute later the Ice Bears made it a two-goal game. Once again Fernandez forced a turnover deep in the RiverHawks zone. Lee again made the first save, but the rebound came out to Zach Tatrn, and he made no mistake firing past the sprawled out Lee.
Down a pair of goals, the RiverHawks came out firing in the third period. They fired shot after shot at Toomey, and they were finally rewarded. Augusta-native Drew Slaton picked up his first career pro-point as he forced a turnover deep in the Ice Bears' zone. The puck came straight out to Taylor McReynolds who hammered a slapshot past Toomey to narrow the lead to one goal.
Despite the momentum, it was the Ice Bears who got back on the board next. Mark Van Vliet got a step on the RiverHawks defenseman guarding him and drove to the net. With a teammate crashing the goal Van Vliet slipped it past Lee to give his squad the 4-2 lead.
The Ice Bears closed out the scoring with less than five minutes remaining in the game as Eric Satim and Brett Valiquette combined on a pretty passing play, with Satim hammering a one-timer past Lee to make it a 5-2 final.
The RiverHawks will be on the road Saturday night to meet up with the Fayetteville FireAntz for their final game of the week.
Additional information on the Team, tickets, and schedule can be found on the RiverHawks' home on the web, www.augustaRiverHawks.com, or by calling 706-993-2645.