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Hicks Has Dream Night in His Debut With Ducks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One shift would have been enough to please Alex Hicks, but who knew about this? Two goals and an assist in his first NHL game? He must have been dreaming again.

But he wasn’t.

When Hicks awoke, providing he slept at all, he found he wasn’t in Baltimore any more. Nor Toledo. Nor Las Vegas. At last, he had made the big leagues in the Mighty Ducks’ 7-3 rout of the Pacific Division-leading Colorado Avalanche Wednesday at The Pond.

“I’m kind of in la-la land,” Hicks said. “Just to play in the National Hockey League is a dream come true. I’m really going to savor the moment.”

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Hicks’ father, Wayne, flew in from Phoenix to see the game. His wife, Sarah, and daughter, Madison, traveled from Baltimore.

Hicks, 26, came to the Ducks from some of the more remote hockey outposts imaginable. He played for Division III Wisconsin Eau Claire, then began his professional career with Toledo in the East Coast Hockey League. He spent last season playing defense for Las Vegas of the International Hockey League.

The Ducks signed him as a free agent in August and promoted him from their American Hockey League affiliate at Baltimore Nov. 8. Coach Ron Wilson put Hicks on a line with Garry Valk and Bob Corkum Wednesday.

“I just didn’t want to make a fool of myself,” Hicks said.

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Fat chance.

He looked like a seasoned veteran right from his first shift. If he was nervous, and he said the butterflies kicked in about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, it didn’t show.

Best of all for the Ducks, Hicks gave them an extra push with his aggressive, hard-working style of play. It was just what Wilson hoped for when he scratched struggling rookie Chad Kilger and replaced him with Hicks.

“He was an inspiration for the whole team,” Wilson said. “I said to him after the game, ‘We’re going to expect this every night.’ ”

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Wilson could joke with Hicks. He has known him for quite some time. Wilson’s father, Larry, played with Wayne Hicks on the minor-league Buffalo Bisons in 1960-61.

“To see a guy score in front of his dad is touching,” Wilson said.

Hicks was overwhelmed by it all. Asked his reaction to his first NHL goal, he said, “Disbelief.”

He pried the puck away from Colorado defenseman Adam Foote, then shot blindly at the net but past goaltender Jocelyn Thibault, giving the Ducks a 3-0 lead only 12:25 into the game.

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In the second period, Hicks assisted on Bob Corkum’s goal that gave the Ducks a 4-2 lead.

In the third, Hicks sealed the victory with the Ducks’ seventh goal, a wrist shot that beat Thibault from the left circle.


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