By Steve Sanders
© 2006 The Augusta Chronicle
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ice hockey ain’t what it used to be, and the Augusta Lynx don’t mind a bit.
The sport no longer allows the near thuggery that slowed the tempo of games for years, the clutching and grabbing that kept scorers off balance without punishment.
As coach Bob Ferguson (pictured) so eloquently puts it, “The days of the knuckle-draggers are over.”
Hockey is to be a skill game again, and the Lynx, who open the season tonight against the Columbia Inferno at James Brown Arena, are built with that in mind.
A new standard of rules enforcement is being instituted by the ECHL this season, one that cracks down on almost all forms of interference, holding and obstruction.
Speed, skill, finesse and scoring are supposed to be the results.
“What we want is to allow players to move freely about the ice and not be impeded,” ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna said. “The result is a faster pace with more flow, more scoring chances and more excitement for the fans.”