Photo of Austin Smith: Courtesy of the Colgate Raiders & Alliance Bulldogs Website.
This will make him the first Texan to ever make his Pro Debut and only the 2nd Player overall to make his Debut after Edmond's Matt Donovan made his AHL Debut last spring around this time and is in the middle of his first full AHL Season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NY Islanders Affiliate).
Smith is ending a very long 5 year journey that was filled with doubts and him looking to presence of looking to show that he is a worthy prospect in the Dallas Stars Sizes. Doubts contained everything from his size where he was a very small but very fast 5'5" frame when he was playing for Gunnery Prep School in Connecticut during his Junior & Senior Years of High School before he was taken in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Stars. The doubts continued over the course of his career while at Colgate which isn't known as a great hockey team for the most part & including Smith never getting the Raiders to the NCAA Hockey Tournament during his Career.
After playing his final games of his NCAA Career at the ECAC Hockey Conference Championship and his frustrations when the game began to slip for the Colgate Raiders in their Conference Semifinal against the Eventual Champion Union College describing what his emotions were at that time. "I've never given up in a game before, ever. I always compete to the end," said Smith. "When it hit 5-1, I was trying to hold the tears back. The rest of the game I was circling and I had a million things going in my head. I wasn't very effective."
He told the College Hockey News' Rob Moore after the game ended. Smith went on to say, "I thought we dominated the first period and were with them for most of the second period. When we got that goal to make it 2-1, I believed more then anyone that we could win," said Smith. "By the middle of the third period though, he was beginning to think different thoughts. "That [fifth goal] was the goal for me where I realized it was the end of my career."
If Smith is looking to show the Stars that he is a strong prospect going forward, he needs to have a strong end to the American Hockey League Season where the Texas Stars are out of the playoff race and have been at or near the Bottom of the Western Conference for most of the last 2 months by providing a fresh energy and challenging some of the team's top prospects like Brendan Dillion & Matt Fraser as well as others like Colton Sceivour who's been getting the bill as one of the more underrated players in the AHL this season.
He will have 12 games to show the Stars that he can thrive in the Pro Game and be a force to be reckon with at the AHL Level and looking to show that he can be worthy of a Call Up next season. With the Stars having nothing to play for the rest of the season, Smith needs to show that he can make the Stars a hard team to play against as the Stars lost their 5th in a row with a 5-2 loss against Abbotsford last night and went just, 2-5, on the 7 game home stand that wrapped up last night.
Even though it took 5 years to get him from the Draft to signing with the Stars, he's still got a mountain of a journey in front of him as he looks to shine in Austin and show the Stars that he is worthy of playing for Dallas in the near future. With upcoming prospects like Rielly Smith, Scott Glennie, Jack Campbell, Matt Frasier & Brendan Dillion possibly on the horizon.
He will really have to work hard to stand out among the Stars improving Prospect Pool to earn a spot in Dallas in the future. With Austin's Speed, determination & scoring ability, he has spent his entire career to this point defining the odds and proving people wrong and he is looking forward to doing it again to play for his hometown Stars.
Here's the Remaining Texas Stars Schedule
3/23: @ Oklahoma City Barons 7:00 PM
3/25: @ Toronto Marlies 2:00 PM
3/27: @ Lake Erie Monsters 6:00 PM
3/29: VS. Hamilton Bulldogs 7:30 PM
3/31: VS. Lake Erie Monsters 7:00 PM
4/1: VS. Lake Erie Monsters 5:00 PM
4/4: @ Grand Rapids Griffins 6:00 PM
4/5: @ Peoria Rivermen 7:00 PM
4/10: VS. Chicago Wolves 7:30 PM
4/13: @ San Antonio Rampage 7:00 PM
4/14: VS. Oklahoma City Barons 7:00 PM
4/15: @ Houston Aeros 5:05 PM
Hockey's Future has him ranked #13
Yesterday, Hockeys Future came out with their Dallas Stars Top 20 Prospects for the Spring as the NCAA & Canadian Hockey League Season is coming to an end. Smith has taken a strong jump from #18 to #13 after his strong season and being a Top 10 Candidate for the Hobey Baker Award which will be cut from 10 to 3 on March 29.
Here's Hockey's Future comments from Mike Farkas. You can see the Full Top 20 & comments on each player by clicking on the Hockey's Future Link. Here's the Austin Smith Comments.
"What a year it has been for senior Austin Smith at Colgate University. After posting a career worst 10 goals last season, Smith exploded this season for a nation high 36 goals and a career best 57 points (four off the country's top spot). After offseason surgery, Smith has comeback healthy and confident and flying. He continues to be an all situation player with good speed and tremendous work rate, he has skated circles around the ECAC This season.
While he's not projected to be an elite scorer at the NHL level by any stretches of the imagination, he has a future as a quality utility man. He's not particular big or strong but he makes up for it with world class determination and a swagger that's hard to match. Smith will also certainly be signed after his collegiate career ends and will likely finish the year in Texas if the Stars management so chooses."