Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beefed-Up Lizard Kings Open Season Tonight

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beefed-Up Lizard Kings Open Season Tonight

Article excerpt

After watching his defensemen get pushed around more than he

felt was acceptable, Jacksonville Lizard Kings coach Bruce

Cassidy has put together a much bigger defensive lineup. Five of

his eight defensemen are 6 feet 2 or taller and weigh at least

205 pounds.

"You can't have all big strong guys, but I wanted to have at

least three in the lineup -- right now we have a few more big

bodies," Cassidy said as the Lizard Kings prepared for tonight's

season opener in Tallahassee. "But they've got to be able to

play, too."

That's the key question. Do their skills match their physiques?

Cassidy won't know until he sees a few regular-season games,

but defenseman Dan Brierley, a 6-3, 218-pounder who played 60

games with the Lizard Kings last season, believes they do.

"We have a lot of talent -- the guys just happen to be big," he

said. "We're a lot bigger this year than last year, but we're a

lot deeper, too. We have six defensemen who can really play,

where he had only about four last year."

One of those is Sean Halifax (6-3, 217), who played for

Knoxville (now Pee Dee in Florence, S.C.) last season and joined

the team in a July trade. The first time he stepped on the ice

in training camp he noticed the size difference.

"We do have size and strength and toughness, but we have the

skill to go with this," Halifax said. "We have a lot of skill

for our size."

Cassidy sees a good combination of talent among his defensemen,

which includes returner Ronalds Ozolinsh (6-0, 192), one of just

three defensemen shorter than 6-2.

"You've got to have some offense and Harold Shock [the smallest

defenseman at 5-11, 193] gives us that," Cassidy said. "You've

got to have some size and Kam White [6-4, 205], and Sean Halifax

give us that. Dan Brierley gives us another element. He can play

in any situation.

"That's a good mix of guys right there."

Cassidy wanted bigger defensemen in part because he believes

that will give the Lizard Kings the best chance to win in the

Coliseum, one of the East Coast Hockey League's smaller rinks. …

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