Saturday, October 26, 2002

 

Well, first of all, congratulations to the Blazers. You guys can exhale now.

And how 'bout those Tulsa Oilers?

Here in Austin, things were crazy at the Cave. The Bats went into OT needing to kill off 80 seconds of four-on-three and, most likely, hold on for the shootout against Lubbock. Instead, Kelly Smart, the only Ice Bats forward on the ice, got a good bounce and a great jump for a shorthanded breakaway, patiently waiting out Mike Brusseau to complete a night in which he scored all of Austin's goals. Smart's hat trick in the 3-2 win also included a PP tally and an almost-PP goal (seconds after one expired). The do-everything center worked from the left point for both of those. Smart, who had 32 markers in '00-'01 but just 14 last year, now leads the Ice Bats in that category, which may not be statistically significant this early in the year, but is surely a good omen.

Blaz Emersic had two for Lubbock, which slithered up from a 2-0 hole in a choppy battle of defensive play and toughness that, like almost every game in every league these days, was decided by the special teams. Lubbock was 0-for-10, and minus-1 to boot. "Obviously our power play sucked tonight," C-Kings coach Bill McDonald said, not unpleasantly.

Both teams dodged a few officiating bullets --Mike Dawson's complaint about an early hooking call got him an extra two for unsportsmanlike, but both penalties were immediately negated by an Ian Larocque double-minor for high sticking. And with less than 10 minutes to go, Dave Ambler snookered Austin rookie Randy Ponte into an unsportsmanlike minor when he refused to drop the gloves after a face-off. Ordinarily you'd expect the older tough guy to give the naif a chance, but then again, it was a 2-2 game. "When it's the third period, you've got to make sure the other guy is ready to go too," Ice Bats coach Brent Hughes said. "I know those two were banging heads all night. Ambler had a hard time playing in this league last year, so you'd think he'd want to show what he could do, but if I was his coach, I'd take the power play."

Further comments from Bill McDonald

- His son Walker started the season in Hartford and is now with Charlotte of the East Coast league. "He's doing very well, they played tonight, in four games he's got two goals, three assists and I think a fight. Speaking selfishly, I hope he does well, but I'd sure like to have him in this line-up."

- Indeed, the coach acknowledges Lubbock could still use another 20-25 goal forward, but hey, who couldn't? "The other guys are playing well, and obviously our trademark, once 'Holly' gets back, is defense. I like what I see."

- That includes Dawson, the guy Lubbock acquired for Cosmo DuPaul. "He's a real good player, and we get a future pick in that deal too. Every time Corpus makes a roster move they've got to phone me first."

- Lubbock goes home to face the Laredo Bucks and former goalie Lance Leslie tonight. "A quality guy," McDonald said. "It was tough moving him on in the expansion draft. He'll probably go in there and try to stick it to us."

Further comments from Brent Hughes

- On Smart: "He's really well-rounded in his defensive game. When you put a forward back on D you've got to feel confident in that. I really felt he was the best player on the ice tonight, and not just 'cause he scored three goals -- he was out there winning big faceoffs, killing penalties and playing the last minutes of each period."

- On Austin's new captain, Brett Seguin. "Me and [former captain Jeff Greenlaw] decided on that together. 'Segs' carries a lot of clout in the dressing room and he's a veteran guy. He came to me afterwards and said he was honored to wear it -- I think he'll do a great job."

- The alternate captains are Smart, defenseman Mike Rees (for road games) and Dan Price (for home games). "Pricer's been around, he's seen a few things," Hughes said. "Adding the "A" will make him a better player. He's got to live up to being a leader now."

OVERTIME
I can't help it -- every time Brent Hughes says "Segs," I'm like, "who?" He'll always be "Pig" to longtime Ice Bats fans.

Guess Friday was Kori Davison's night for minors, not scoring. It's such a fine line for nasty power forwards.

Name that team: Conquistadors, Killer Bees, Revolution, River Hawks or Southern Freeze? I hate 'em all, but if I have to, go Bees!

Zambeauties, anyone? (link courtesy the Farm Report).

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