Iguanas 1 at Austin IceBats 4
By Jason Cohen, ITC Staff Writer
- Book it now; Game 4 will be a one-goal game. Double
overtime. After all, these two so-called evenly matched
teams are bound to play a tight one sooner or later.
Austin took its
turn on the offensive seesaw Friday, earning the first
home win of the CHL first-round series, 4-1.
The Bats prevailed
in Game 1 by that same score, while the Iguanas won
Game 2, 5-2. Both times, quick or early goals overshadowed
every other aspect of the game.
In the opener,
Austin lit the lamp 16 seconds in. One night later,
San Antonio took a 2-0 lead on goals 69 seconds apart,
then made it 4-0 on goals 39 seconds apart.
Bats got a pair before all three forward lines had taken
a full shift. Austin led 3-0 by the end of the first
spot a team three goals, and thats what we did,
Iguanas coach Chris Stewart said. We werent
as alert as we should have been to start the game.
the best-of-five series 2-1, with Game 4 in San Antonio
Saturday. If necessary, Game 5 would be back in Austin
Easter Sunday afternoon.
For Bats head
coach Brent Hughes, a week of practice after Game 2
meant motivational tactics were unnecessary. Any
time you have a loss you want to get back at it right
away, he said. Our guys showed how fired
up they were. Weve been chomping at the bit all
His Bats chewed
through their muzzles at 1:36 of the first period. Rookie
defenseman Darryl McArthur put on a dashing offensive
display, going left to right across center ice to lead
a three-on-two deep into the zone.
With a quick
flick of McArthurs wristA shot? A pass?the
puck hit Brent Belecki in the pads and sat immobile
in the slot, batting its eyelashes until Bobby Brown
could pick it up. Brown, in his first postseason game
after yet another Houston Aeros call-up, finished off
the play going hard to net. 1-0 Bats.
later, Belecki had trouble tracking down Greg Willers
left-point floater. The Iguanas goaltender flopped to
cover the loose rubber, but Ryan Anderson beat him to
it. Again the puck seemed to pause, just outside the
post. This time Ian Larocque responded to the come-hither
glance, sliding it around the pole and behind Belecki,
who was still far out in front.
Hughes is fond
of the coaching aphorism that says 2-0 is the worst
lead in hockey, but tonight, the Bats never lost their
our objective, to play 60 miles and come hard,
Hughes said. I thought we did a great job making
them work for everything they got.
Work would be
a generous description of the Iguanas first-period
early lead put them in a metaphorical fog to go along
with the actual one. Its springtime in Austin,
and that means humid air and soupy ice at the climate-uncontrolled
Travis County Expo Center. Late in every period the
friction was so strong that clearing passes often died
inside the blue line.
the first time Ive ever seen anything like that,
Stewart said, before offering the obligatory its
the same for both teams.
Not when one
team has a two-goal lead it isnt. And should Austin
make it to the next round, Hughes may be at a disadvantage
in his own building - hes got himself a good
ice team, whereas Odessa and El Paso are more
accustomed to a grinding game.
At any rate,
the ice didnt stop CHL regular-season scoring
champ Dan Price from delivering a rocket pass from behind
the net at 14:23 of the period, setting up Mike Gaffney
in the high slot during four-on-four play.
After the first
intermission, the Iguanas got back in touch with their
game as well as their ill tempers, racking up 28 penalty
minutes in the final two periods. Bats goalie Bryan
McMullen was immune to their antagonism, as well as
their attempts to score. Mully didnt
even see a puck in the first five minutes of the game,
but he made a nice save on Mark De Santis, breaking
down the left face-off circle, when the Iggies finally
registered a shot. And he epitomized your goalie
is your best penalty-killer in the second period,
when San Antonio had two four-on-three power plays.
great in the first game and he played great tonight,
Hughes said of McMullen, who missed Game 2 due to illness.
Hes definitely been the key to the series.
scored 26 seconds into the third period, while Blair
Manning converted the rebound of a Johnny Brdrarovic
shot that came off the post at 8:44 of the third for
San Antonios only goal.
By the time they
hit the showers, both teams had their minds firmly on
we had to win two [in Austin] when we lost the first
one in our building, so thats basically how it
stands right now, Stewart said.
not going to get too high because its not over,
Ian Larocque offered. If we let up tomorrow, theyll
jump right on us. The teams are so evenly matched.
So play an even