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    The Fayetteville FireAntz opened 2009 at home against their I-95 rival, the Richmond Renegades. It was the seventh contest between the familiar opponents, with the FireAntz holding a slight 2-1-3 advantage over the Renegades this season.
    In front of 3,025 hockey fans at the Crown Coliseum, the FireAntz looked to get off to a fast start in the New Year ... and they did just that.
    Rookie Chris Leveille got the FireAntz on the scoreboard first, scoring at 7:18 of the first period with a goal set up by a great pass from defenseman Lawne Snyder. Team leading-scorer Rob Sich followed with a goal of his own a little over 4 minutes later to give the club a two-goal cushion. It would not be the last that Leveille and Sich would be heard from on the night as the FireAntz took a 2-0 lead to the locker room at the end of the first period.
    {mosimage}The FireAntz continued to pressure in the second frame and extended their lead. Goals by Rob Colangelo and Sich (2) were scored in the first 5 minutes of the period. Richmond’s Beau MacLauglin narrowed the lead to 4-1 with a power play goal at 6:14; however, Fayetteville’s Sich completed his hat trick with a power play goal of his own at 11:06, to give the FireAntz another four-goal advantage going into the third period.
    Richmond’s MacLaughlin (2) netted his second goal of the game, at 1:52, to shrink the FireAntz’ lead to 5-2. But the FireAntz speedy rookie, Leveille, was not done. On back-to-back shorthanded situations Leveille was able to split the Renegades’ defense and score twice, giving him a hat trick to match that of Sich. It was Leveille’s first professional hat trick and the first time in team history that a player had two shorthanded goals in a game. He was also named the “1st Star of the Game.”
    Goaltender Chad Collins was also stellar between the pipes for the FireAntz, turning aside 35 of the 37 shots he faced.
    Expect more of the same from your hometown hockey team the remainder of the season as they look to climb the Southern Professional Hockey League Standings and capture another championship.

Contact Jason Fleming at editor@upandcomingweekly.com 

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