It's been a great week for the Texas Stars (6-5-0-0, 12 pts, #8 Western Conference), who returned to the Lone Star State after four on the road for contests against the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs) and in San Antonio against the Rampage (Florida Panthers). Texas won both games with key lessons learned in each.
Against a strong Marlies club, Texas allowed two early PPGs but roared back to win 4-3 in OT. The Stars showed their collective grit and character while killing a 93 second long 5-opn-3 in the second period, which was definitely the turning point of the game. "The momentum coming off that and the fans yelling pumped us up," said winger Colton Sceviour.
The Stars continued their success Sunday against San Antonio, blanking the Rampage 4-0 on Richard Bachman's second shutout performance of the season. The Stars did not allow a PPG in the game, despite 6 opportunities and are now 13/15 on the PK in their last four after early struggles. "Our penalty kill, statistically, doesn't look good, but we've been battling," said Coach Pyle.
In the win, Texas extended several streaks. First, Texas set their win streak at three games with the two victories this week and last week's win over the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators). Additionally, Tomas Vincour extended his point scoring streak to six games with a goal on Sunday. He also extended his goal scoring streak to five, tying a Stars record set by Warren Peters in 2009-10. Francis Wathier has also quietly been having a great season, currently on a five game scoring streak with a goal and assist on Sunday. He is also plus-4 on the season.
More on each game inside, including some special video of Matt Fraser's physical side...
Facing off against one of the top teams in the league, Texas had its hands full against Toronto. Recently anointed Player of the Month, Joe Colborne, had 8 goals and 8 assists coming into the game. Toronto struck early on the power play with two in the first period.
Texas came back in the second and third with goals from Scott Glennie, Tomas Vincour and Colton Sceviour. Glennie and Sceviour's goals were both their first of the year. Luke Gazdic had assists on both goals as that line finished with six points on the night. Texas allowed the tying goal in the dying seconds of the third but came back with an OT winner just 45 seconds in. Francis Wathier collected a pass from Colton Sceviour and beat Jussi Rynnas easy on the stick side for the 4-3 win.
The big comeback was fueled by a Stars PK that was victimized early but closed ranks to kill off several 5-on-3s, including a 93 second opportunity in the second. "The character and work ethic was good all night long," said Coach Pyle.
The Stars entered San Antonio looking for a third straight win against a struggling Rampage crew. They would emerge with exactly what they came for. Richard Bachman collected a shutout with spectacular saves, notably in the second and third, to blank the Rampage 4-0. Travis Morin started things off early with a goal just 1 minute in. The Stars would look back as they got goals from Wathier, Vincour and Gazdic as well. Texas went 6/6 on the PK and collected a PPG to boot.
The Stars have a bit of an anomaly going on currently: there are players on the league's goal/assist/point leaderboard. Here are your top players:
PP goals: #1 Matt Fraser (5)
PP assists: #2 Travis Morin (7)
PP points: #2 Raymond Sawada (9)
Shutouts: #1 Richard Bachman (2)
Rookie points: #3 Matt Fraser (11)
Rookie goals: #2 Matt Fraser (8)
Rookie power play points: #1 Matt Fraser (6)
Rookie shots: #1 Matt Fraser (44)
Rookie GWG: #1 Matt Fraser (2)
Defense points: #3 Philip Larsen (9), #5 Dan Spang (8)
Defense PP assists: #2 Philip Larsen (5)
Defense PP points: #2 Philip Larsen (6), Dan Spang (6)
Fraser's Physical Side
Check out the 1:23 mark of this video to see a little bit of Matt Fraser's physical side, backchecking in the zone against Toronto. Of course, you can also watch the whole video to see highlights of the game.
The Week Ahead
Texas plays its first 3-in-3 of the year this weekend with two at home and one on the road. The Stars host the Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) for two on Friday and Saturday night. Then Texas will return to San Antonio for yet another matinee game on Sunday afternoon.
Maxime Fortunus returned from injury on Sunday and collected two assists in the game. There are no other injuries at this time.