Paying the Price for Misbehavior

Saturday, December 18, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

SOUTHEASTERN HOCKEY ODYSSEY, CHAPTER 5
  
Game 5: Augusta RiverHawks vs. Mississippi Surge in Augusta
  
Rain was our constant companion on our drive from Charleston to Augusta.  With only 150 miles to travel, we arrived in Augusta in the early afternoon.  With several hours to kill before the evening game, we set out to search for some letterboxes.
  
Though it lacks the beautiful setting of Charleston's graveyard of the same name, the Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta was the site of some very interesting letterboxes.  Two were planted by an Asheville letterboxer who goes by the trailname of Dixie.  A skilled carver and storyteller, Dixie loves mysteries and legends.  She specializes in cemetery letterboxes and always tells a fascinating story to go with her beautiful stamps.  
  
To complete the perfect letterbox combination, she also creates clues that are challenging and thought-provoking.  The backstory for her "Curse's Key" letterbox in Magnolia was a tale about a local Augusta legendary character.  A wealthy but controversial businessman, Wiley Barron lived in fear of a curse by a rival predicting that Barron would lose his fortune and not have a grave to shelter him.  The mogul ordered the construction of a mausoleum and instructed in his will that his body should be placed in the vault, the door sealed and the key thrown into the Savannah River.  

This decree was carried out upon his death, so the stamp in the letterbox was the "key" to Barron's mausoleum.  Also inside the box was a clue for another letterbox hidden in the cemetery.  Both boxes were worth sloshing through rain to search for, even with the temperature at 36 degrees.

2010-11 marks the inaugural season for the SPHL Augusta RiverHawks.  Though the city had a previous minor league team, hockey had been gone a few years, so the new owners are eagerly trying to build up local support to make good on their investment.  Before the game and between periods, they were active on the concourse, talking to fans, answering questions, handing out programs, and thanking their visitors for attending.
  
Hockey is back in Augusta.
To this point, the team has won as many games as it lost, and the RiverHawks gave Biloxi's Mississippi Surge, one of the league's leading teams, a run for their money tonight.  Both teams played well but Mississippi outscored the Augusta 4-3, due mostly to Augusta's excess penalties, including three game misconduct infractions handed out to two players and the RiverHawks coach.

Kevin Fukala, a bully acquired with much hoopla from a league two levels above the SPHL, was the subject of a recent article in the local newspaper: "Fukala has a faith as strong as his fists." Maybe so, but his on-ice behavior seems completely at odds with what he claims to be his religious beliefs.

Fukala went through pre-game warm-ups without his helmet to ensure that fans could see his trademark mohawk. At a critical juncture of the game when his team still had a chance to win, Fukala foolishly tried to instigate a fight with a Mississippi player, who did not respond.  When an official tried to restrain him, Fukala repeatedly tried to break free to resume his attempt to fight with an unwilling opponent.  His egregious behavior resulted in his ejection from the game and being assessed a total of 29 penalty minutes for various infractions.  (In contrast, the entire Mississippi team had 10 penalty minutes in the game.)  As a result, the Augusta team played short-handed for the remainder of the game and lost any opportunity to win.

We sincerely hope that the RiverHawks owners aren't pinning their hopes on Fukala as a way to bring fans into the James Brown Arena.  His belligerent combativeness is an extreme example of the type of misconduct that has led many to believe that hockey is a game of skirmishes, not skating and skill.

GAME STATS
  • Mississippi 4, Augusta 3
  • Shots on goal:  81
  • Penalty minutes:  64
  • Attendance:  1,137
  • Broken sticks:  2
  • Flying pucks:  4
  • Overall Experience:    2.0

TRIP STATS
  • Miles driven:  2,679
  • Goals scored:  26
  • Shots on goal:  315
  • Penalty minutes:  196
  • Letterboxes found:  51
  • Temp range:  14° to 64° F.
SATURDAY, 18 DECEMBER 2010