Dallas Stars: Austin Smith

Prospect update: Austin Smith

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
11:52
PM CT
The latest in a series on the top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at forward Austin Smith, who played his final year of college hockey at Colgate last season and then played 12 games with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

At the college level, the Dallas native had a spectacular season. He registered 57 points (36 goals, 21 assists) in 39 games. The 36 goals were tops in the nation and the 57 points ranked third. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey. He was named the College Hockey News National Player of the Year and was the ECAC’s Player of the Year.

“It was a great year. It was really fun,” Smith said. “At the end I was disappointed I didn’t win the Hobey. I pretty much got every other award I could have for the year. That says a lot about our program and our team. Not for me, but I kind of wanted to win the Hobey for my school and for Texas hockey. It really had nothing to do with me; I just wanted to have it for those two things.”

After his college career ended, Smith signed a two-year entry level contract with Dallas that will kick in next season. He also joined the Texas Stars on an amateur tryout contract, registering three assists in 12 games. Smith had plenty of scoring chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

“I think it’s a good test for me early in my career to learn what it takes to get the puck in the net, and to know that you are going to go through some hot streaks and some streaks where it really doesn’t go,” Smith said. “It’s a really good experience in that regard.”

The Stars also saw that time in Texas as a good experience for Smith, a speedy, skilled forward that the team selected in the fifth round (128th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft.

“I think it was a good opportunity for him to play and see what that level was all about,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He did especially well in playing for Texas. The only thing he didn’t do was score and that was frustrating for him. I think it is just a matter of time; he has a history of scoring.

“I think it was good for him. A lot of young guys come in from playing at different amateur levels and think they are close to the NHL, and they find out the AHL is a good league and that you have to be a good player there to make the NHL. I think that was his own college lesson to the play there to find out what he is up against and what he has to do to prepare for next year.”

The 23-year-old Smith is expected to play with Texas next season.

CEDAR PARK, Texas -- Austin Smith was almost a goal a game guy in college this past season, but the goals didn’t come easy when he joined the Texas Stars for the final three weeks of the AHL season.

“I’ve had plenty of opportunities, hit a couple of posts, couple of good saves,” Smith said as the Texas Stars were preparing to play their final home game of the season. “Chances are coming and I am creating a lot. That’s what they are looking for and that is good. I’ve just got to keep plugging away.”

Smith, the Dallas native selected by the Dallas Stars in the 5th round (128th overall) of the 2007 draft, couldn’t find the back of the net in Texas’ final two games. He ended up with three assists in 12 games in his first taste of AHL action after a four-year college career at Colgate.

“I think it’s a good test for me early in my career to learn what it takes to get the puck in the net, and to know that you are going to go through some hot streaks and some streaks where it really doesn’t go,” Smith said. “It’s a really good experience in that regard.”

The 12 AHL games were a good experience in many regards for the 23-year-old Smith, a speedy, skilled right wing who signed a two-year entry-level deal with Dallas after wrapping up his college career, and then joined Texas on an amateur tryout contract.

“There’s more structure. In college we were go, go, go all the time and here I’ve got to learn to stay back and feed into the system,” Smith said. “It’s been kind of difficult for me, but I am learning it and adjusting. I am learning where I can use my speed, too, and insert my game into the system.

“I don’t know if it’s much faster, but you have to know where to be and turnovers are huge at this level. You turn it over and it is in the back of your net,” Smith said. “It’s just the little things you have to do every night, and really paying attention to detail. And the goalies are a little better, so you’ve really got to bear down around the net.”

Although Smith couldn’t find the back of the net, Texas Stars GM Scott White liked what he saw from Smith.

“Smitty has been good. Snake-bitten if you asked him. If he wasn’t getting the chances then I’d have issues, but he’s getting chances,” White said. “He’s learning how to play the American League game, big men, good defensemen night in and night out. I like his energy. He hunts pucks, he tracks back and he doesn’t quit. The goals will come. He’s hit about eight or nine posts.”

Smith joined Texas after putting together a spectacular senior season at Colgate University in upstate New York. He led the nation in goal scoring with 36 in 39 games and finished third with 57 points. He was the ECAC Player of the Year and College Hockey News National Player of the Year.

Smith, who played his youth hockey in Dallas and played for two years at Dallas Jesuit High, was one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey.

“It was a great year. It was really fun,” Smith said. “At the end I was disappointed I didn’t win the Hobey. I pretty much got every other award I could have for the year. That says a lot about our program and our team. Not for me, but I kind of wanted to win the Hobey for my school and for Texas hockey. It really had nothing to do with me; I just wanted to have it for those two things.”

With the college career behind him, Smith is now looking ahead to a professional career. He’s got his goals set for the offseason. Like most young players, getting bigger and stronger are at the top of the list.

“It was a long year. I lost 10-12 pounds. I need to put on some weight and I need to learn how to keep it on,” said Smith, who was listed at 5-11, 180 pounds at the start of the season. “It’s all part of being at this level, learning how to maintain your body. That’s got to be my biggest focus, go home and put on some weight. I don’t think strength has been a problem for me at this level, I think my quickness kind of helps me out but I want to put on that strength.”

He’s expected to play with the Texas Stars next season and he’s already got some goals in mind, and one of them is showing that he can put the puck in the net at the AHL level.

“I still believe I am a goal scorer and a great playmaker,” Smith said. “I want to make those plays and I want to continue to be successful that way at this level.”
Dallas Stars prospect Austin Smith is among the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey. The three finalists were announced today. Smith, who wrapped up his college career at Colgate earlier this month, is now playing for the Texas Stars of the AHL.

Smith also was named the College Hockey News Player of the Year today. You can read the article on Smith here.

Here's the release on the three finalists for the Hobey Baker.
The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation on Thursday announced the three Hobey Hat Trick finalists for the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, honoring college hockey’s top player. Alphabetically, they are: Spencer Abbott, senior forward from the University of Maine; Jack Connolly, senior forward from the University of Minnesota-Duluth; and Austin Smith, senior forward from Colgate University.

The three finalists were selected from the initial list of Top Ten candidates by the 23-member Selection Committee and an additional round of online fan balloting to determine this year’s Hobey Baker winner. Criteria for the award includes: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.

This year’s Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced Friday, April 6, 2012 from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL during the NCAA Frozen Four. The 32nd annual announcement will be aired live on the NHL Network at 6:00 p.m., ET, and at the Hobey website, www.hobeybakeraward.com. Here is more on this year’s three finalists:

Spencer Abbott – University of Maine, Senior, Forward, Hamilton, Ontario
From a recruited walk-on four years ago to a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, Spencer Abbott has had a remarkable four-year collegiate career. Already recognized as the Player of the Year in Hockey East as well as a First Team all-star, the Black Bear assistant captain leads the nation in scoring and in assists. In 39 games this season, Abbott scored 21 goals, assisted on another 41 for 62 total points. His unselfish scoring exploits earned him the conference scoring title and he was named player of the month twice while piling up 18 multiple-point games. Abbott is a Family Relations major and has been on the Dean’s List three times. Spencer is active in the community helping with Special Olympics, assisting at youth hockey clinics and participating in charity games. Abbott, a pro hockey free agent, just signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jack Connolly – University of Minnesota-Duluth, Senior, Forward, Duluth, Minnesota
A repeat Hobey top ten finalist, the Bulldog captain had a fantastic season winning the WCHA scoring title, being named a First Team all-star for the third straight season and capped it off as the league’s Player of the Year. A two-time All American, Connolly is second in the nation in points and assists accumulating 20 goals and 40 assists for 60 points in 41 games. Duluth was the second highest scoring team in the nation this past season and Connolly never missed a college game, having played in 164 straight. He was held pointless in consecutive games only twice in his illustrious four-year career. The hometown hero is active in community endeavors helping with trash clean-up in the Adopt-A-Highway program, visiting Duluth hospitals, volunteering with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and working with various cancer fund-raisers. He’s a Communications major with a 3.3 GPA. He is a pro hockey free agent. Hockey runs deep in the Connolly family as Jack’s older brother Chris, was the captain and second leading scorer for Boston University this past season.

Austin Smith – Colgate University, Senior, Forward, Dallas, Texas
Austin Smith completes the trifecta of Hobey scoring whizzes as the nation’s top sniper with 36 goals to go along with 21 assists for 57 total points, third best in the country. Dangerous at all times, Smith leads the nation in short-handed goals with six and scored seven power play goals as well. Winning the ECAC scoring title this past season, Smith was named the conference Player of the Year and a First Team all-star. Along the way, Smith scored 30 goals this season faster than any college player in the last 12 years and is currently third in the nation with a plus-25. A Sociology and Anthropology major, Smith helps out with the Hamilton, NY Food Cupboard, assists with food and toy drives during the season and is involved with the local Goals for Good program. He is a fifth round draft pick of the Dallas Stars.
Dallas Stars goaltending prospect Jack Campbell stopped 32 of 35 shots in professional debut Friday night, but the Texas Stars lost 3-1 at Oklahoma City.

Campbell, Dallas' first round pick (11th overall) in 2010, was particularly sharp in the first period when Oklahoma City, the top team in the AHL's Western Conference, outshot Texas 15-5. Campbell stopped 14 of 15 shots in the period, only getting beat by a point shot through traffic.

Campbell had several nice saves in the game, including a slick kick save in the first period and another in the third where he moved post-to-post to deny a chance from the left circle with Oklahoma City on the power play.

Dallas prospect Austin Smith, a fifth round pick (128th overall) in 2007, also made his pro debut for Texas Friday night. The Dallas native had no points, three shots on goal and minus-two rating. Smith played most of the time on a line with Francis Wathier and Colton Sceviour. He also saw time on the power play. Smith had a couple of good chances in the game, including a close range backhand shot in the final minute.
The Dallas Stars made it official this afternoon -- they've signed forward Austin Smith, the team's fifth round pick (128th overall) in 2007 to a two-year, to a two-year entry-level contract.

Smith, a Dallas native, just wrapped up his college career at Colgate, where he scored 36 goals in 39 games this season. He is among 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey.

Smith will play the rest of the season in the AHL, where he signed an amateur tryout contract with the Texas Stars yesterday.

Here's the release from the Dallas Stars:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has signed forward Austin Smith to a two-year entry-level contract. Smith, 23, reported on Tuesday to the Texas Stars, Dallas' primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), after completing a four-year career at Colgate University.

The 5-11, 180-pound forward from Dallas, TX led the NCAA this season in goals (36) and ranks third in overall scoring with 57 points. He is also one of 10 student-athletes nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in NCAA Division I hockey.

"Austin Smith is one of the best young prospects in the NCAA and we are very excited for his future in this organization," Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. "Austin is a tremendously gifted player and is a testament to the growth of hockey in the North Texas area."

Dallas' fifth-round selection (No. 128 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Smith was born in Dallas and grew up playing hockey in the Dr Pepper StarCenter Youth Hockey system. Smith was the first native Texan drafted by the Dallas Stars organization and attended Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas for his first two years of high school prior to playing for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League.

During his senior season at Colgate, Smith led the Eastern College Athletic Conference in points (57) and goals (36). He also notched 16 multi-point games and nine multi-goal games during the 2011-12 campaign. Over his four-year career at Colgate, Smith appeared in 153 games, collecting 79 goals and 81 assists for 160 points.
The Texas Stars have signed Dallas Stars prospect Austin Smith to an amateur tryout contract. Smith will join Texas for the rest of the American Hockey League season.

Smith said on his Twitter account today he has signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars. That contract will kick in next season.

Smith, a Dallas native, was the Stars' fifth round pick in 2007. He just wrapped up his collegiate career at Colgate University, where he led the nation in goal scoring this season (36 goals in 39 games) and is one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey.
Here are some notes and a statistical update on Dallas Stars prospects playing junior hockey, in Europe and in college.

*Dallas Stars prospects F Austin Smith (5th round/2007) and F Reilly Smith (3rd round/2009) are among the 77 players on the ballot as fan voting has opened for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey.

As of early Tuesday evening, Austin Smith, who leads the nation in goal scoring, was tied for first in the fan voting.

The vote of fans accounts for 1 percent of the total ballot in each phase in selecting this year’s award recipient. The top ten candidates will be announced March 15, the three finalists are announced March 29 and the Hobey Baker Award announcement is April 6.

The explanation of the fan voting portion of the Hobey Baker Award is here and the voting link is here.

*Austin Smith was named the ECAC’s Player of the Month for December after registering four goals and six assists in four games during the month. For the season Smith has 20 goals and 13 in 20 games, and leads the nation in goals and is tied for first in points.

*D Jamie Oleksiak (1st round/2011) and RW Brett Ritchie (2nd round/2011) both have been traded to Niagara within the Ontario Hockey League within the past week. Oleksiak was traded from Saginaw and Ritchie was traded from Sarnia. Niagara is one of the top teams in the OHL.

*RW Matej Stransky (6th round/2011) recently put together a run of nine goals over nine games for Saskatoon of the WHL. Stransky leads his team in scoring with 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists) in 39 games.

*LW Alex Guptill (3rd round/2010) had one goal and two assists in two games for Michigan over the weekend. Guptill leads all CCHA freshman in scoring with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 24 games.

DALLAS – It’s break time in college hockey and that may be the only way to keep Dallas Stars prospect Austin Smith off the score sheet right now. Smith, a Dallas native and senior at Colgate University, leads the nation with 18 goals and is tied for second with 28 points in 17 games played.

It’s been a big bounce back season for both Smith and the Colgate Raiders, who had a down season in 2010-11. But tough times can make you stronger, and that’s been the case for Smith and Colgate.

“It’s a ginormous turnaround from last year,” said Smith, who attended Monday night’s Dallas Stars-Anaheim Ducks game at American Airlines Center. “It was a tough season. We had a lot of adversity. I was coming off hip surgeries and I learned a lot.”

Smith, 23, felt he might have rushed back from hip surgeries last season, and it took a toll. He got off to a slow start and the team struggled as well. Smith ended the season with 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 41 games and the Raiders finished with an 11-28-3 season.

“At the end of the day, I learned how to play through it, which is important,” said Smith. “We had a good stretch run at the end of last year and learned a lot. I had a lot of adversity, which will help me later in my career. It’s helped me so far this year.”

Smith, a speedy, skilled forward, has registered points in 16 of 17 games this season and Colgate, currently 11-4-2 on the season, is ranked 11th nationally in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and 12th by USCHO.com.

“I’ve been more determined every day, shooting the puck more and playing with a lot more confidence,” said Smith. “I’m finding a way to score goals and helping my team win, which is the ultimate goal. It’s been fun and hopefully we’ll make it into the tournament this year.”

While this is his final season of college hockey, Smith can’t resist thinking what is ahead next season. The fifth round pick (128th overall) in 2007 was the first player born and raised in the Dallas area to be selected in the NHL draft, and next season he’ll embark on his professional career with the Dallas Stars organization.

“It’s hard not to think about it, but I try to stay in the moment,” he said. “I try to stay focused, but obviously I am excited being a Texas kid coming back here, whether it is starting in Austin (with the Texas Stars) or making it here on the big stage at some point. I’m excited. I’ll have a good opportunity down there to work hard and eventually work my way up. The opportunity is going to be there. I just have to work hard and make the most of it.”

Stars prospects: Notes and Stats

Here are some notes and a statistical update on Dallas Stars prospects playing junior hockey, in Europe and in college.

*Most of the players in juniors, Europe and college are on a break for the next week or two. Prospects Jack Campbell (USA), Jamie Oleksiak (Canada), Patrik Nemeth (Sweden) and John Klingberg (Sweden) will begin play in the World Junior Championship on Monday.

*RW Matej Stransky (6th round/ 2011) has scored goals in five of his last six games for Saskatoon of the WHL. Stransky has 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 34 games.

*RW Brett Ritchie (2nd round/2011) remains out for Sarnia (OHL) due to a hip injury.


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