By Steve Sanders
© 2006 The Augusta Chronicle
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Dave McKee has never felt out of place between the goal pipes. He’s been sprawling in front of a net in skates since the age of 11.
But on most hockey rosters, McKee sticks out.
That’s because McKee, the 22-year-old rookie goaltender for the Augusta Lynx, isn’t from Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario or Minnesota, like most of his teammates and most of the entire North American hockey world.
He’s from Irving, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys, the heart of high school football mania and mild temperatures in December.
“Most guys don’t really think about it. A lot of times they ask me if I’m really from Texas, but it’s not a big deal at all,” McKee said.
McKee (6-foot-1, 190) has all four victories for the Lynx heading into the team’s three-game weekend, which starts tonight against South Carolina at James Brown Arena. He might not start tonight after starting the team’s past four games.
Augusta coach Bob Ferguson said having a player from the South would have been unusual 10 years ago but expansion in the past decade has made it less uncommon. Still, McKee is one of only eight players in the 25-team league from the southern United States, Arizona or California.
“I’m sure he hears an odd joke about it every now and then,” Ferguson said. “But we’re starting to see more and more players like places from Texas and California.
“It shows the commitment of players like (McKee), because in those areas, there is so much more pressure, peer pressure, to play other sports. Especially in Texas, where if you’re a great athlete, you’re expected to play football.”