by Jason Cohen
SAN ANTONIO -- "Game Zero" of the playoffs didn't disappoint.
With first place in the Central Hockey League Southeast
division at stake and a best-of-five postseason series
looming, the Austin Ice Bats and San Antonio Iguanas
continued a rivalry that has seen five of 10 games decided
by one goal. The Bats won in overtime, 6-5, erasing
San Antonio leads of 3-1 and 5-3 to do it.
With nearly 200 Austin fans cheering "Let's Go Bats"
and the San Antonio crowd attempting to silence that
with boos, Gerald Tallaire got the winner 84 seconds
into the extra frame. The stage was set for that by
Kelly Smart, who made it 5-4 with less than three minutes
remaining, and Bobby Brown, who scored with Austin goalie
Bryan McMullen pulled for the extra man with 19 seconds
"Chalk it up to lucky breaks, but we never quit," Brown
said. "It gives us confidence to know that no matter
what time of the game it is we can always find a way
to score. That's a good feeling going into the playoffs."
With the win, Austin (42-15-5, 89 points) ties a ribbon
on the Southeast crown, the first division title in
"We got a banner," Ryan Anderson, the only member of
all six Ice Bats teams, said. "It's a pretty nice feeling.
I don't think any of us thought we'd do it at the end
of the third there, but we've been pulling out games
like that all year. It's hard to come back once in a
game, let alone twice. We found the character to do
It was a 1-1 game when the Iguanas seized control on
Scott Green's breakaway at 7:16 of the second period,
followed by Johnny Brdarovic's backhander at from inside
the right circle at 9:39.
But when referee Paul DePuydt called an interference
minor on Clay Awe, Tallaire golfed one off Brent Belecki's
right pad at 12:38 of the second.
50 seconds later, Austin defenseman Greg Willers fired
a wide shot that bounced off the boards and right back
to his stick blade for an unassisted goal from the left
But with the game tied 3-3, San Antonio's Matt Van Horlick
and Scott Green scored 16 seconds apart early in the
"When we get down, we seem to get better," Austin head
coach Brent Hughes said. "Now I just need to create
that atmosphere before the games."
Note: The playoff series will follow a 1-2-1-1 format,
with Game 1 at San Antonio Friday, March 22rd, Game
2 in Austin Saturday, March 23rd. and Game 3 in Austin
Friday March 29th. Game 4, if necessary, would be in
San Antonio on the 30th, with Game 5 in Austin the 31st.
Tickets for Games 2 and 3 go on sale at all Star Ticket
outlets at 10am this morning.