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.