Ice Bats Swoop Into New Bat Cave as 2006-07 Season Looms

There's activity aplenty within the Ice Bats organization, but no news is more exciting than its move into Austin proper. While they made some improvements to the barn commonly known as the Travis County Expo Center, and it had a certain charm, relocating to the Chaparral Ice Arena may be the biggest news from the Ice Bats since they first dropped the puck 10 years ago. The new Bat Cave is located on I-35 North between Howard Lane and Wells Branch Parkway and has seen several improvements in the last year in preparation of hosting the Bats. Among the many renovations is the addition of a new ritzy club seating level. Here's a description: “The new second-tier Center Club and Balcony Club sections will be complete by the opening of the team's training camp. The new seating levels will comprise a private club on the arena's north side. Ticket holders in those sections will receive exclusive amenities including full wait service at their seat, a private entrance and exit, and reserved, close-in VIP parking.” Pretty sweet. Let the pampering begin.

For Ice Bats' roster moves, affiliations, and schedule ...

Roster moves: Last May the Bats announced that Bill McDonald will return as head coach/director of hockey operations and also acquired center Tim Earl from the Oklahoma City Blazers. Last season's two top scorers – right-winger John McNabb and C Aaron Davis – will return. Also coming back are RW Mike Tucciarone (coming off an impressive rookie campaign), left wing Britt Dougherty (who led the team with 146 penalty minutes last year), goalie Miguel Beaudry, forward Julian Smith (who had 38 points in 46 games for the Bats' last season), and defensman Adam Holmgren. Some new faces on the roster are G Andrew Martin (born in England raised in Plano), RW Jordan Bianchin, and defensemen J.F. Picard, Aaron Wilson, Damir Brujic, and Terry Virtue (who has five NHL games on his résumé). On Sept. 19 they obtained RW Henry Kuster from Tulsa (an offensive threat who scored a career-high 75 points last season) in exchange for D Kevin Harris and future considerations and F Mike Possin also from Tulsa and also for future considerations.

Affiliations: On June 29 the Ice Bats announced the renewal of an affiliation agreement with the Minnesota Wild of the NHL and their top affiliate, the American Hockey League's Houston Aeros. This association resulted in goalie Miroslav Kopriva being called up by the Wild near the end of the NHL season last April, thereby becoming the first Ice Bat to graduate to the NHL.

Schedule: The Ice Bats start their preseason this Thursday in College Station against the Laredo Bucks and then play two at home, facing Laredo again on Friday and the Corpus Christi Rayz on Saturday. Both home games start at 7:30pm. Their regular season begins the following Saturday (Oct. 21) against the hated Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs with the opening face off commencing at 7:30pm. See their Web site for more.

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