Hicks is following in father's skates


Twenty-six years later, Alex Hicks has followed in his father's footsteps to Baltimore.

Wayne Hicks played for the Baltimore Clippers in 1968-69 and 1969-70, the last of his 10 seasons in the American Hockey League. On the eve of his final season here, Sept. 4, 1969, Alex, the last of his four children, was born in Calgary, Alberta.

"Alex was about two months old when my wife brought him and his brother and two sisters to Baltimore," said the elder Hicks, who works in real estate in Phoenix.

And now here is Alex, playing for the Bandits in their inaugural AHL season. Like his father was in his final Clippers season, Alex is the team captain.

"It's kind of neat, following Dad here," Alex said as he prepared for tonight's road game against the Hershey Bears. "When I signed with Anaheim [NHL's Mighty Ducks], my mother and father said it was nice I was starting my AHL career in the same town where he ended his. Funny how things come full circle."

There is another coincidence. Just as Alex spent part of his first year on earth in Baltimore, so will his daughter, Madison, born July 8.

When Alex was 6, an age when many Canadians start playing hockey, the family was living in Phoenix.

"He played a lot of roller hockey on the street on regular roller skates, but it wasn't the same," Wayne said. "When we went back to Canada in 1977 for a time, he did see some ice time."

Alex was a late bloomer, late to learn to ice skate and small for his age, 135 pounds, although he has filled out to 6 feet 1 and 195 pounds. His father remembers him as "feisty and determined."

After a stretch in junior hockey in Canada, Hicks played four years for Division III Wisconsin-Eau Claire, paying his own way and majoring in marketing.

He spent two years in the minors, including last season with Las Vegas of the International Hockey League, where he collected 24 goals and 42 assists in 78 games. A versatile player, Hicks can play center, left wing or defense.

"Alex competes every night," said Bandits coach Walt Kyle, who was with San Diego of the IHL last season and coached against Hicks. "He wins his one-on-one battles. You know you're going to get everything out of him. I'm expecting a lot of leadership out of him, to the point where by example he almost forces the others to compete as hard as he does."

Baltimore fans may get only glimpses. The Mighty Ducks could beckon at any moment.

"He's the closest player to the NHL that we have," Kyle said. "I expect he'll see a lot of time with Anaheim as the season progresses."

Bandits tonight

Opponent: Hershey Bears

Site: Hersheypark Arena, Hershey, Pa.

Time: 7:30

Radio: WITH (1230 AM)

Outlook: The Bandits are 0-2-0 in the American Hockey League's Western Conference Southern Division and have been outscored Peter Leboutillier scored the Bandits' inaugural goal, against the Carolina Monarchs, and Mike Maneluk had the other two against the Adirondack Red Wings. Mike O'Neill, who started against Carolina, will open in goal. Hershey leads the Southern Division with a 1-1-1 record. The Bandits' AHL predecessors in Baltimore, the Clippers and Skipjacks, considered Hershey their

chief rival.

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