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Wizards Spoil Stampede’s Home Opener, 2-1

By Kevin Garner

After much pre-season hype, the rivalry between the Waco Wizards and the Central Texas Stampede resumed on Saturday October 16, at the Bell County Expo Center. However, this season, the rivalry hits closer to home. The Stampede are coached by former Wizards head coach Todd Lalonde, and feature six former Wizards players, including 5 that played for Lalonde in the 98-99 season in Waco. For the Wizards, new head coach Kevin Abrams is a long time friend of Lalonde’s. The Wizards’ roster features five players who return to Waco, after playing under Lalonde last season. Both teams attempted to play down the connections during the off season, especially the friendships among players. It was evident when the puck dropped Saturday night that both teams were going to forget about the friendships for at least 60 minutes.

The game got off to a blazing start. The first penalties came just 25 seconds into the 1st period when both teams got into a 10-man scrum near the benches. Ron Newhook for the Stampede, and Chad Michalchuk for the Wizards were both assessed roughing minors and the teams skated 4-on-4. The Stampede found themselves in penalty trouble less than two minutes into the period when Jamie Hearn was given a roughing penalty after taking out Wizards goalie Todd Laurin. Laurin was again the victim of a rough play when the Stampede’s Mike Dick was given a roughing penalty for hitting Laurin in the head during play. The Wizards failed to capitalize on their first power play chance, but struck the game’s first goal during their second. Wizards’ forward Dave MacIntyre netted his first goal of the season when he tucked in a rebound off the pads of Stampede goalie Jason Carey. Wizards’ player/assistant coach Tony Cimellaro and forward Mike Taylor both assisted on the game’s first goal.

The Stampede found themselves in further penalty trouble with 6:20 left to play in the period. Stamped player/assistant coach Jaime Hearn was assessed a 5-minute major penalty for delivering a flagrant elbow to the back of the head of a fallen Wizards player. Hearn was also given a game misconduct penalty and was escorted from the ice. The Wizards could not score on the 5-minute power play. The Stampede finished the period with 19 PIMs and found themselves short-handed on seven occasions during the period. However, the Wizards were only able to net one goal, and the teams went to the intermission with the Wizards on top 1-0.

The Wizards opened the 2nd period by taking a 2-0 lead just 1:28 into the period. On an odd-man rush, Chad Michalchuk found a loose puck that eluded Stampede netminder Jason Carey. Michalchuk chipped the puck over a fallen Carey to give the Wizards the 2-0 lead. Brad Shaver and Ian LaRocque assisted on Michalchuk’s first goal of the young season. The Stampede wasted no time answering Michalchuk’s goal when former Wizard Ron Newhook blasted a slapshot past Wizards’ goalie Todd Laurin less than one minute after the Michalchuk goal to cut the lead to 2-1. Both teams fought back and forth for the remainder of the 2nd period. The Stampede managed to escape the 2nd without being penalized, but failed to capitalize on two power plays.

The Wizards were the victims of an odd play with 1:39 left in the 2nd. As the Wizards rushed into the Stampede zone, forward Dave MacIntyre fired a one-time over the shoulder of Stampede netminder Jason Carey. The puck struck the back bar of the net, and bounced directly back out of the net, over Carey’s same shoulder. Wizards’ players thought they had scored, but the goal judge failed to turn on the goal light. The referee, Barry Kennedy glanced at the goal judge before allowing play to continue. However, one of the linesmen blew the play dead and rushed in to signal the goal. After several minutes of conferencing, it was decided the goal would not count and play resumed in the Stampede zone.

As it turns out, the Wizards would not need the non-goal. Strong defense throughout the 3rd period made the 2-1 lead stand up and the Wizards walked away with the victory. Todd Laurin sparkled in the 3rd, stopping a point-blank one-time from the Stampede’s Aldo Iaquinta who was positioned high in the slot. Laurin later stopped Mike Dick on a breakaway with 6:10 left to play in the game.

Laurin was awarded the 1st star of the game, stopping 41 of 42 Stampede shots to earn the victory for the Wizards.