top penalty-killer wasn't playing. The #2 guy was in
the box. But with Jeff Greenlaw in street clothes and
Tab Lardner serving a double minor, the Ice Bats didn't
give the Memphis River Kings an inch. Leading 2-1 in
the middle of the second period, Austin killed off all
four minutes of Lardner's high-sticking penalty, while
Dan Price scored on the next shift, giving his team
a decisive grip on a game it won 5-1.
The Bats tend to play their best against the best, and
this may have been the season's finest effort.
"That's the key to a good team, rising to the occasion
against other good teams," Bats goalie Bryan McMullen
Lardner set the tone early with a shorthanded goal two
minutes and thirty-nine seconds into the game, and the
Bats outshot Memphis 18-7 in the first period.
CHL goals leader Don Parsons only needed one to tie
it up, netting his 18th of the year at 14:57. But after
that the Bats stymied Memphis all night long, controlling
play at the boards and never slacking in their puck
"We knew we had to step it up, that they had a really
fast team," Bats defenseman Daniel Tetrault said. "We
played a simple game and worked real hard. Then our
forwards started flying."
Indeed. Price's offensive magic closed the deal. The
Austin winger set up the go-ahead goal with a sweet
backhand pass through traffic to Brett Seguin, who deked
goaltender Mark Richards with quick hands to make it
2-1 at 17:40 of the first. Gerald Tallaire also assisted;
he began the sequence with a savvy kick of the puck
to win a draw.
McMullen faced just 7 shots in the first period and
9 in the second, but made the big saves at key times
- immediately after Lardner's early goal, and at the
end of the double-minor, when he took one off the chest
and poked the errant puck out of harm's way with his
stick, then cut off the angle perfectly to take away
a point-blank follow-up. McMullen was also steadfast
in the final period, when desperate Memphis put up 14
Price's goal at 15:49 of the second was head-in-your-hands
wicked, a perfect sharp-angle shot snapped under the
crossbar in the only spot that Richards couldn't cover.
Austin poured it on with scores by Tetrault and Ryan
Anderson in the final two minutes of the game. The Bats
(17-6-1, 35 points) continue to own the most points
in the CHL.