- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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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.
Background on Dallas Stars prospect Austin Smith.