"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 12/15/02

By Jason Cohen

OKLAHOMA CITY

The Oklahoma City Blazers entered the evening with a home power-play efficiency of 37%, a level of production tantamount to hitting .500 in baseball every night.

The Ice Bats struck 'em out.

One night after dealing the Memphis River Kings its worst loss of the season, Austin turned in another stellar defensive performance, shutting down the Central Hockey League's second-ranked offense in a 3-1 win. It was the first time Oklahoma had been held to a single goal all season.

The only power play damage done at Myriad Arena on this night was by Dan Price and Daniel Tetrault, both of whom tallied with the extra man. Tab Lardner added a big insurance goal, while Brett Seguin and Gerald Tallaire each had two assists.

Bryan McMullen stopped 36 of 37 shots for his second straight brilliant one-goal effort; it was just the sixth time this season Austin, which managed 32, had been outshot. The Bats (18-6-1, 37 points) remain the top team in the Central Hockey League.

Austin outshot the Blazers 10-3 in the first portion of the game, but still trailed 1-0 thanks to Brad Domonsky's score at 2:31 of the first, a follow-up of Hardy Sauter's bad-angle shot from deep in the offensive zone. McMullen spent the next three minutes kicking and sticking several thousand teddy bears, thrown onto the ice as part of a charity Christmas drive. If anything, the stoppage cooled off the Blazers fiery start.

Oklahoma goalie Aren Miller kept Austin off the board during a pair of early power plays, while Austin's penalty-killers were on the ice for three minutes-plus in the middle of the period, including 51 seconds of a Blazers five-on-three. The Bats remained perfect, and when Domonsky went off for high-sticking at 14:52, Bobby Brown took a hard shot from the point that Sauter got his stick on before Miller could. The defenseman, a nephew of Blazers head coach Doug, couldn't control the puck or Price, who struck in close for his team-leading 16th goal of the year, making it 1-1 at 16:17.

Seguin's face-off win allowed Tetrault to spring the puck high into the net just five seconds into a power play at 15:43 of the second period, with Tallaire also assisting. Seguin also set up Tab Lardner's insurance goal at 7:24 of the period, finding him in the heart of the slot for a shot that rang off the crossbar and in.

The 8164 Oklahoma City fans were clearly unaccustomed to seeing their heroes struggle. By the time the Blazers got a late third-period power play that might given them a ray of hope, star forward Joe Burton was shooting wide, pucks were skipping over the point man's stick and finally, McMullen made two incredible saves, augmented by a stick-block from defenseman Patrick Brownlee.


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