By Jason Cohen
The Austin Ice
Bats have always performed well in the face of adversity.
It's adversity-free situations that seem to be the problem.
With that in mind,
the Bats went out and spotted last place Corpus Christi
a two-goal lead Wednesday. Only then could Austin take
it to the Ice Rays, finally prevailing in a shootout,
Mike Gaffney got
the winner in the fourth round of the extra frame, his
first goal this season in an Austin uniform. Goaltender
Bryan McMullen finished out the night with an on-the-ice
glove stop of Ice Rays All-Star Kurt Wickenheiser.
Hockey League player of the week Gerald Tallaire made
the whole thing possible, scoring a 6-on-5 goal with
89 seconds remaining in the game after former Bat Roger
Lewis won, but could not control, a defensive zone faceoff.
In the ensuing scramble, Tallaire popped on the loose
puck from the heart of the slot, with an assist by Gaffney.
The Bats (41-15-5,
87 points) now lead San Antonio by three points, and
can clinch the Southeast division with a win against
the Iguanas Friday night.
the Rays had lost nine games in a row. Head coach Taylor
Hall had even made practice sessions "optional."
But with Lewis and his fellow former Bat Matt Sharuga
setting an energetic tone, the Rays embraced the spoiler
role. Goals by Sharuga and Layne Roland gave Corpus
a 2-0 lead with less than five minutes gone in the second
power-play marker at 1:35 of the third period got Austin
back into the game, but Rays goaltender Eddy Skazyk
kept them off the board at even-strength, finishing
the game with 44 saves. On a power play at 13:48 of
the final period, the Bats also hit two posts.
Then, with McMullen
absent from the crease, Tallaire redeemed the night.