"Slap Shot" meets "A Season on the Brink" in this twisted tale of minor league hockey in the place with more pro teams than any place in North America: TEXAS!

Bat Droppings 12/08/02

By Jason Cohen

Break out the crockpot and the Zatarain's spice mix - after seven consecutive losses to Bossier-Shreveport, including two this season, the Austin Ice Bats finally boiled the Mudbugs Friday, earning a 5-3 win at the Travis County Exposition Center.

It wasn't easy. After taking a 3-1 lead in the second period, Austin allowed Mudbug Dave Lemay to score 62 seconds into the third. Greg Willers answered to make it 4-2 less than a minute later, but at 7:42 of the period a Trevor Buchanan power-play tip trickled softly past Austin goaltender Dan McIntyre.

But the Bats held on, and that combined with San Antonio's loss to Corpus Christi means Austin (15-5-1, 31 points) has a three-point edge on the Iguanas for first place in the CHL Southeast Division.

"It feels (darn) good, let me tell you," Bats coach Brent Hughes said. "When we lost to these guys last time I was so sour. I think about beating [Bossier-Shreveport] all the time. They're not doing that well this year, but they've beat us. Tonight they didn't play their best, but we made them not play their best."

Until Buchanan's goal, Austin's penalty kill was especially strong, and had to be. With the Bats leading 2-1 during a Jeff Greenlaw double-minor that straddled the first and second periods, the only notable play was Mudbugs goaltender Pascal Gasse's dramatic stop of Bat penalty-killer Tab Lardner. Gasse, making his first appearance of the season, stopped Lardner again in a nearly identical situation in the third.

When Lardner went away for tripping at 10:14 of the second, the Bugs were called for icing twice, then got manhandled at even-strength by Dan Price, Brett Seguin and Gerald Tallaire.

Tallaire hit a post, the Bats continued to pressure and soon Seguin had control behind the net, with Price standing in the heart of the slot, as untouched as Britney Spears on her 18th birthday. Price's team-leading 13th goal, his seventh in seven games, made it 3-1 at 12:57 of the second.

The trio is playing as well as any line in the CHL.

"Most definitely," said Hughes. "Price is driving the puck to the net and has come a long way defensively. Tallaire's hustling all over the ice, taking hits, getting knocked down, getting back up, forechecking, backchecking."

As for Seguin, "he's the best playmaker in the league," said Tallaire, who had an empty-net goal and three assists.

In a foggy building that required several skating breaks to clear the air early on, a 1-0 Bossier- Shreveport lead on Derek Kups' goal at 9:22 of the first period didn't bode well for Austin. But the contest evolved into a chippy thriller, with Bossier giving up more real estate than it customarily allows, and the Ice Bats skill players made use of it.

Ian Larocque's faceoff win set up a Daryl McArthur goal to make it 1-1 at 13:21 of the first, while Bobby Brown made a nice pass to set up Seguin's one-timer on the rush for a power-play goal at 16:45. Tallaire started the play by hitting Brown.

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