"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!

Iguanas Storm Bat Cave to Even Series
By Jason Cohen, ITC Staff Writer

Ladies and gentleman, we have a series. Not that there was ever any doubt.

In a mirror image of the previous night's contest, the San Antonio Iguanas stormed into Austin Saturday and took Game Two of the Central Hockey League first round tilt, 5-2.

"We played a lot more intelligent game tonight," Iguanas coach Chris Stewart said. "This is the best series you're going to see in the first round of the playoffs. To think it would be over after two games, it's not that way. Now it's a best-of-three."

As with Friday's opener, an early lead allowed one team to control the tempo while a five-on-three opportunity closed the door for good. The Iguanas were already the stronger-looking squad when they scored twice during the same four-on-four, starting with Jonathan DuBois's textbook deflection of Mark DeSantis' shot from the high slot at 13:09 of the first period.

Dubois also won the draw that began the play. He got the better of Austin faceoff men Brett Seguin and Kelly Smart all night, in addition to being his usual agitating self.

"We needed this game," Dubois said. "The first goal gave us momentum, and we kept working from that."

"They played a real good game," Bats captain Jeff Greenlaw said. "They took it to us. They really took it to us.

Greg Gatto made it 2-0 at 14:18, staying with the puck around the slot as Austin turned it over, then regained it, then turned it over. Finally, Gatto wheeled to the right post, brought Bats goaltender Dan McIntyre down with a first shot and converted his own rebound for the unassisted score.

In the second period, the Iguanas had 69 seconds of five-on-three and used it well, with Scott Green tallying early in the advantage at 8:00 of the period. That left plenty of time for Ken Richardson to make it 4-0 before the rest of the power play expired, converting backdoor off an assist from Henry Kuster.

The game ended with the obligatory rough stuff, including a brawl that led to San Antonio's fifth goal and a game misconduct for Iggies defenseman Jeff Parrott. But the showman of the evening was Austin coach Brent Hughes, who was on young referee David Banfield all night long. Banfield let a lot more go than Gord Dwyer had on Friday, though both teams ended up with five PP opportunities.

Ultimately, Hughes received an unsportsmanlike condcut penalty at 3:14 of the third period.

"That tilted the apple cart right there" the fiery coach said. He began throwing water bottles onto the ice, five in all, then accepted his game misconduct and exit with all the triumphant defiance you'd expect of a former NHL grinder. The crowd went nuts as Hughes raised his arms to pump them up. The players took something from the display as well.

"It's always good to see Hughesy yell at somebody else other than you," Dan Price cracked.

Price scored a third-period goal, but the "STP Fuel Line" was kept under control. "They're playing us pretty hard, which is to be expected in tight checking games like this," Price said. "It's tough to get it going. We just gotta find that rhythm again."

"I expected better of them," Hughes said. "They didn't turn in the effort or emotion."

Head cooler - and wallet possibly a bit lighter - after a postgame meeting with CHL director of officials Leon Stickle, Hughes said he did not receive the unsportsmanlike for jawing, but rather, for sending Eric Labelle out in place of McIntyre for an offensive zone faceoff. With more than three minutes left in the game, Hughes felt Banfield didn't realize the situation, and penalized him for trying to make a late substitution on the draw.

5373 fans were on hand for the first hockey at the Travis County Expo Center since February 17th. Game Three is March 29th in Austin, with Game Four on the 30th in San Antonio.

NOTE:

McIntyre started in place of Bryan McMullen, who missed the game completely due to illness. Emergency back-up Rob Galatiuk wore McMullen's #35, with a strip of white tape covering the name. He would not have been allowed to play unless McIntyre was injured.

Galatiuk's presence on the Austin roster is an interesting bit of gamesmanship - he appeared in 26 games for San Antonio this season before being waived February 7, and could be useful to the Ice Bats simply as a scout. Galatiuk did not sign with any other team after that, making him a free agent. The Iguanas actually listed him as their own emergency netminder without consulting him, only to be told by the CHL that he was not available.

Iggies goalie Brent Belecki stopped 37 shots, with the most serious of that action coming from Austin's desperate third-period play. Darryl McArthur was the other scorer for the Bats.


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