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IceCats exhibit some preseason offense

Sunday, October 4, 1998

By Paul Jarvey

IceCats 4 Lock Monsters 3
FITCHBURG-- The IceCats got everything they wanted from their trip to
Fitchburg, including a one-goal win for 1,341 fans who chose
exhibition hockey over the Red Sox in the playoffs.
Rookie wing Derek Bekar scored a pair of goals, his first of
the preseason. Andrei Podkonicky had a pair of assists. Brent Johnson
made 33 saves. Reed Low got blood on his uniform. All were pluses as
the IceCats built a four-goal lead, then held on for a 4-3 win over
the Lowell Lock Monsters at the Wallace Civic Center.
“You get the big lead and you think it's going to be a
cakewalk and all of a sudden the other team is back in it,” IceCats
coach Greg Gilbert said. “You start playing a little more fancy than
you need to, but the guys battled hard.”

With the win, the IceCats evened their exhibition record at
2-2 and snapped a five-game losing streak at Wallace. They will play
their final preseason tuneup at 4 p.m. today at Springfield. The
'Cats' fifth season opens Saturday at the Worcester Centrum against
Springfield. “We've got a lot of work to do,” Gilbert said.
There will be some player changes, but Gilbert figures the
roster he used last night will basically be the one that starts the
He's looking forward to a week of practice, installing
systems to get ready for the season.
Gilbert was pleased with his squad's performance last night.
It didn't matter that the 'Cats were outshot, 36-15, or allowed the
Lock Monsters to score three unanswered goals to make the game close.
Lowell, in its inaugural season and an affiliate of the New
York Islanders, is 1-2 in the preseason.
The 'Cats took command in the first period when they outshot
the Lock Monsters, 8-7, and scored three goals.
Bekar, who played for the University of New Hampshire last
year, found the net twice. His first goal came on a power play midway
through the period. Bekar swung around from behind the net and beat
Lowell's Marcel Cousineau from in close.
Three minutes later, veteran wing Aris Brimanis was on the
scoring end of a 2-on-1 break with Stephane Roy. Cousineau went with
Roy, but the 'Cats center slipped the puck to Brimanis, who steered it
into an empty net.
Bekar found the net again with 1:36 left, taking a pass from
Andrei Podknocky and skating in alone on Cousineau and depositing the
puck in the top part of the net.
Moving from college to the pros is a big jump, but Bekar made
the transition look smooth last night.
“It's definitely a step,” Bekar said. “There are no bad
players at this level. It's intense, it's fast.”
The 'Cats made it 4-0 four minutes into the second period
when Tyson Nash swung the puck to Shayne Toporowski behind the net and
Toporowski flipped a backhand past Cousineau.
Lowell outshot the Cats, 15-5, in the period, but the Lock
Monsters couldn't find the net until Dane Jackson beat Brent Johnson
on a rebound with three seconds left.
Johnson made several fine stops in the period, including one
from point blank to rob Steve Webb.
Most of the second-period action involved fighting. Low
squared off with Lowell's Mike Mader after the period ended,
continuing nastiness that had started earlier when Low sent Mader
flying with a hard check and Mader retaliated with a cross check.
Mader was a factor in the third period as well, socring
midway through the period on a fed from Buddy Wallace. Wallace made it
4-3 15 seconds later when he broke in alone on Johnson.
“We stopped doing what we were doing in the first period,”
Bekar said.
The 'Cats ratcheted up the intensity over the last five
minutes, though, making sure they went home winners.