Saturday, February 6, 2010

Vengeful Stars hang five on Rivermen in shutout performance

Getting physical was the recipe for getting even tonight for the Stars. It was a great performance for the Texas Stars, who had struggled against the Rivermen so far this season.

Right off the bat, the Texas Stars were fully engaged in this one. It was announced in the building that the Gagnon line would be starting and that was mostly true. Francis Wathier took Korostin's place in the opening lineup when the ref came to drop the puck. I think it was a bit premeditated. Wathier dropped the gloves with Ryan Reaves at just the three second mark of the game.

The scrap got the crowd into it and surely the team as well. Mathieu Beaudoin would score his 12th goal of the year just 52 seconds later. Toivonen, the Rivermen goalie, had committed to Scott McCulloch's shot and didn't even get to the shot Mathieu Beaudoin made off McCulloch's pass on the backdoor. Texas was up 1-0 early.

The Stars made it a hard-hitting night with a lot of up-ending checks and brutal body blows. There was a lot of great action in the Texas zone to this end toward the end of the first when Matt Climie had to do the splits to stop a Rivermen attempt, one of eleven in the period. The Stars mustered only three shots, but scored on one of them.

Coming out in the second, the Stars would again be outshot but still outscore Peoria. Travis Morin collected his 13th of the year on a bit of garbage duty around the Peoria net at the 5 minute mark. Four minutes later, Sergei Korostin would score his twelfth of the year on a deft redirect past an over-committed Toivonen. At this point, the Stars had scored 3 goals on 6 shots, exactly the same total as the Rivermen scored in the same number of shots last night.

Scott McCulloch laid out Julian Talbot, one of the Rivermen's leading scorers 13 minutes into the period. Danny Richmond took exception and dropped the gloves with McCulloch. Wathier engaged Reaves again just 50 seconds later. Mathieu Tousignant moved up to the Lindgren line with McCulloch in the box and made good on the move, scoring just his second of the year after beating Toivonen gloveside, 4-0.

Ben Bishop, last night's winning goalie, came in for the third period to spell Toivonen, who had allowed 4 goals on 9 shots. At the other end of the ice, Matt Climie had stoned the Rivermen on 22 shots through two periods. Neither team was done yet.

Halfway through the period, Raymond Sawada, fresh off his assignment to Dallas, scored his third of the year on a breakaway. He beat Bishop on a backhand clean. The only assist went to one Luke Gazdic (And the crowd goes wild!).

The Rivermen would pelt the Stars with 19 shots in the period for a total of 41 in the game but Climie stood tall to avenge the hook that he got the prior night. He received a well earned first star for the game.

Texas didn't let anyone push them around tonight. THey came out physical and kept up that momentum all game long. The number of punishing hits leveled against the Rivermen was high. This kind of game can't work against every opponent, but it seems to be a good formula for beating the Rivermen, who the Stars have struggled against.

With tonight's win, the Stars move back into first place in the division by the skin of their teeth. The IceHogs lost today so they are stuck at 65 points, which Texas tied with their win tonight. The Stars still have four games in hand against Rockford, so they hold the top spot for now. The Admirals, now one point behind the Stars, do not play again until Wednesday. The IceHogs are off until Friday and the Wolves until Tuesday, when the Stars also play again. For now, the Stars' hold on first is firm. The Wolves are certainly watching their heels with the Aeros, winners of seven of their last ten, are only 3 points behind them for fourth.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Morin-Rallo
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Fortunus-Vishnevskiy
Stafford-Jancevski
Hutchinson-Ludwig

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Stephenson and Shelast (scratched)
Peters (call up)

The Stars had four forwards on the ice for their first goal, as they were in the midst of a change when it happened. The forwards were McCulloch, Morin, Beaudoin, and Rallo. The only defenseman on the ice was Fortunus.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Peoria - February 6 2010

5 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more, getting physical against Peoria made a big difference in this game. Lots of big, clean hits and lots of opportunistic scoring.

    I detect a trace of sarcasm in noting that Gazdic's assist got a big roar from the crowd, and it wouldn't be the first time I thought you weren't much of a Gazdic fan. I'm I reading that wrong?

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  2. Oh no that's certainly not what I meant. I'm a huge Gazdic fan. I think he's a big crowd favorite too so I think it probably made some people happy when he registered a point. I still think the crowd would absolutely freak if he ever scored a goal at home! Both of his goals this season were on the road (Rockford and Houston).

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  3. The only thing that would make the crowd go crazier than a Gazdic goal would be if Gazdic got a goal and someone decided to drop the gloves with him right after that.

    Everybody likes Gazdic, I think even if you're not a fan of fighting in hockey (I'm pretty sure that's a small minority), you have to like Gazdic, if you watch him when he's going off the ice from warm ups, he'll usually take a puck with him and toss it to a kid in the stands, definitely a class act for a guy who beats the hell out of people on the ice.

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  4. The next time Gazdic's line is on the ice, don' t follow the puck, follow Luke, and you'll be impressed; he's a disciplined positional player (LW) who is always hustling, whether while on the rush, forechecking or backchecking. Unlike a number of other Stars forwards, Luke finishes his checks- this means that even if the opposing player gets rid of the puck before Luke reaches him, Luke still delivers the check. Often, players will curl away if the puck is gone, but finishing checks is a big deal; it's a clean way of playing the kind of physical game that forces mistakes and leaves the opponent feeling beaten and bruised by the third period.

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  5. I can't agree more with Wolfgangus note above. First thing I noticed about Gaz on the ice was his hustle and ability to finish a check. He definitely brings some added toughness and fire to this team, even when he doesn't drop the gloves. I missed the game last night and am still kicking myself, especially after witnessing the debacle Friday. I also got to give props to Ray Sawada. I love his work in the corners and although I loved seeing him get called up a couple of times this year, I'm glad he's back with the team. Climie showed me again why I think he is our top goaltender last night. Don't get me wrong, Krahn and Ford have played exceptionally well, but I don't think Matt gets enough respect.

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