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Smith hopes to make history with Stars

Saturday, 07.12.2008 / 11:42 PM / Feature
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Smith hopes to make history with Stars
Austin Smith grew up cheering for the Stars. Nearly a decade later, the goal-scoring forward has an eye on becoming the first hometown player to don the Dallas sweater.

Austin Smith made history in 2007 when he became the first Dallas native to be drafted by the Stars.
Like many aspiring hockey players, Austin Smith would like nothing more than to take the ice for the NHL team he grew up watching as a youngster.

While it’s not unusual for kids in cities such as Toronto, Montreal or even Boston to put on the sweater of their hometown team, Smith would be the first Dallas-born player to play for the Stars.

Smith made history in 2007 when he became the first Dallas native to be drafted by the Stars, who took the right wing in the fifth round (No. 128) after a superb season at the Gunnery School, a Connecticut prep school, in which he scored 25 goals and 63 points in 30 games. Before that, he had played locally for youth and travel teams in Dallas, and then for two years at Jesuit High.

“I would have been happy to go anywhere, but to go to a home place, where you grew up and played your youth hockey, is pretty exciting,” he said. “I watched them win the Stanley Cup when I was growing up, and they were always my favorite team. It’s something to work for in the future.”

Smith was 10 when the Stars won their lone Stanley Cup by beating Buffalo. It’s a night he’ll never forget.

“I was pretty young, but I definitely remember all the celebrations going on,” he said. “I remember Game 6 and how it played out in overtime -- I remember it all. Jamie Langenbrunner was my favorite player. He played gritty, tough, and he could score. As a player, I model myself after him and (Brenden) Morrow.”

Smith, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound speedster, has shown he can score.

After his big year in prep school, he signed with Penticton in the British Columbia Hockey League, a Tier II Junior A league, a move that allowed him to keep his college eligibility. Smith put up 32 goals and 67 points in 62 regular-season games, then had 11 goals and 22 points while being named MVP of the playoffs and helping the Vees win their first league championship in 22 years.

“Playing in different places makes you realize there are different ways to do things -- you get exposed to different things and different coaches,” he said. “I had already gone out there and met some of the guys, so I felt right at home. From there, we had an unbelievable year and a great playoff run.”

Smith will be on the move again in the fall. After taking part in the Stars’ development camp for the second year in a row, he’s heading to Colgate University in upstate New York in the fall.

 “I looked at a lot of schools, and Colgate had the right environment,” Smith said. “I really liked the campus. When I was choosing, school was a big part of it. Now the hockey is bigger, but academics are still important. It’s a good school. It combines both, and the hockey team is usually pretty good. It will be a good experience. The school is only about 3,000 people. It will be a fun place to play.”

Changing teams for the fourth consecutive year won’t be easy, but Smith says the toughest move came when he left home to go to prep school.

“The first year I went away was pretty tough,” he said. “When I went away to Connecticut, the first month was a very new experience. I didn’t know anyone. Obviously, when you go into a new environment, it’s kind of a rough start until you get to know people.

“I would have been happy to go anywhere, but to go to a home place, where you grew up and played your youth hockey, is pretty exciting.” - Austin Smith
“In prep school, you don’t start playing hockey until November, so that was two months of mostly working out and getting to know people. It would have made it a little easier transition if hockey had started right away. It was a little different in that respect.”

To Smith, the time at development camp has been invaluable in learning what he needs to do to realize his dream of becoming the first Dallas native to dress for an NHL game with the Stars.

“Every day, especially here at camp, you see the level that everyone’s at, what you’ve got to work toward,” he said. “It will be a long road, going the college route, but (getting to the NHL) is definitely more tangible each year. College is the best thing for me. I’ll get more of a chance to develop.”

If he makes it, Smith will be the first fruit of the Stars’ efforts to build a young hockey base in the Dallas area.

“When I first started, there were only a couple of rinks,” he said. “Now there are probably 12-15 in the area, and it’s growing every year. There are better players coming out, and there will be more, for sure. It’s definitely growing in that regard.”

Contract John Kreiser at

Author: John Kreiser | Columnist




1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46


J. Benn 61 23 37 -1 60
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 61 14 37 -3 51
E. Cole 56 18 14 4 32
J. Klingberg 47 10 22 4 32
T. Daley 58 16 15 -11 31
A. Hemsky 55 9 17 -7 26
A. Goligoski 61 2 24 4 26
C. Eakin 58 12 13 -3 25
A. Roussel 59 11 11 -11 22
K. Lehtonen 25 13 9 .906 2.96
J. Enroth 13 24 2 .900 3.31
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