The Austin Ice Bats may be a new franchise in the NA3HL, but the rivalry that has blossomed between these two teams has them looking like old adversaries.
Friday’s game was back and forth, with both teams trading goals throughout the first and second periods. Ice Bats forward Lucas Helland got the scoring started at the 6:08 mark of the first. This goal was one of five on the weekend for Helland. The Jr. Stars equaled the score late in the period from a goal by Easton Walters, with assists from Kyle Russell and Hayden Russell.
In the second period, Helland collected his second goal and second of the season with under a minute played. Colton Sebastian connected with the twine at the 7:32 mark and tied the score to 2-2 until Coby Nostrant extended the lead by one over a minute later.
The third period was all Ice Bats as Coby Nostrant, Xavier Juarez, Brody Beahan, and Jerame Kennedy extended the lead to 7-2 by the end of regulation.
Assistant Coach Drew Lind spoke before Saturday’s game about the need for the Jr. Stars to match the Ice Bats physicality and come together as a team to have a chance to win the game.
The start from the Jr. Stars was slow Saturday night, going down two goals with 5 minutes remaining in the first period. At the 16:44 mark of the first, Michael Kennedy cuts the deficit in half and collects his second a minute later. A late Allen’s Construction Power Play Goal in the period by Colton Sebastian saw the Jr. Stars leading before the first buzzer.
The second period saw the Ice Bats clawing back and evening the score with two goals by Lucas Helland, who added to his tally in the first period to give him a hat trick for the night. Sandwiched between those two goals was a goal by Mid-Cities forward Dante Petrini. The physicality and penalties were plenty for both teams. That period was difficult for Mid-Cities as Colton Sebastian and Blake Lind collected major penalties and game misconducts. The Jr. Stars were shorthanded on the bench in a 4-4 hockey game.
Much like Assistant Coach Lind attested to pregame, the team needed to come together if they wanted to win. In the third period, they showed that resilience as Easton Walters and Jr. Stars’ leading scorer, Ilnur Madiarov, score in the first half of the final period. Nickolas Friedenberg tried to create a rally for the Ice Bats with his goal making it a 6-5 hockey game until Madiarov seals the game with an empty netter and even the weekend series with one win each.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s game was canceled due to unsafe ice conditions, so we will need to see the finale of the I-35 Rivalry at a later date.
The Jr. Stars head into an off weekend 2 points behind the El Paso Rhinos for the last playoff spot in the South Division with a record of 3-7-0-0. The next game will be against the Louisiana Drillers on October 29th, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.