Allen, TX – A bit of Dallas sports history was brought back to life Saturday night, and a bit more was made. The Dallas Sidekicks returned to the metroplex in their home opener against the Harrisburg Heat, after eight years away. Equipped with a new location and some familiar faces, the Sidekicks came back with victory in front of a near sell-out crowd.
The 5,909 fans on hand (near capacity) were treated to as entertaining a night as they could have hoped for. The festivities were kicked off with the recognition of former Sidekicks players, and even Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki had a video message for head coach Tatu before the start.
The first quarter was filled with close calls off the feet of both sides, but both sides were scoreless thanks to a brilliant save by Sidekicks keeper Sagu while on the penalty kill. Fans were left in their seats for the majority of the first quarter until the waning seconds, when Dallas appeared to score a last second goal, but the goal was waved off as it crossed after the quarter had ended.
The Sidekicks came out firing to start the second quarter, sending several shots off the outside of the goal box. Dallas forward Carlos Videla got the Sidekicks on the score sheet first at 4:33 of the second, thanks to an assist from defenseman Kiley Couch and hard work to elude the Heat defender and goalie for a tap in goal. After killing off another penalty, Dallas tallied another score with 4:11 left in the half. This time Kiley Couch was on the receiving end of a set up from Sidekicks forward Shawn David, and Couch buried a far top corner shot he had missed moments before. The Sidekicks would notch another goal two minutes later when Videla scored his second of the evening with an artful inside-outside-inside move on the Heat defender. Dallas midfielder Ricardinho was credited with the assist on Videla’s goal over the sprawling Heat keeper. After the first two quarters Dallas had managed something they hadn’t in franchise history, keeping their opponents scoreless through halftime on the home opener.
The Sidekicks started the second half on the power play, and made use of the man advantage. Dallas showed veteran patience, and tic-tac-toe passing led to a beautiful header by returning Sidekick forward Patrick Shamu off a well placed pass from Dallas forward Renato Pereira.
After a dazzling spin move to set up what looked like a two on one scoring chance for the Sidekicks, the Heat turned a timely save into a quick counter attack for their first goal at the 13:33 mark of the third quarter.
Moments into the fourth quarter Dallas regained its four-goal edge after another series of well timed passes and a finish by Sidekicks forward Franck Mbemba past a seemingly baffled Heat keeper. Dallas and Harrisburg would exchange power play goals to close out the game, with the Dallas goal and assist coming from Renato Pereira and Patrick Shamu respectively.
The Sidekicks seemed to play the entire game with purpose and patience, a mood that emanated from the veteran knowledge of the coach and players alike. As the home team jogged around the boards waving at fans after the end of the game, you could tell their pride and appreciation were at an all time high. The players were happy to be back, and the fans were happy to have them.