Saturday, January 7, 2012

Special Teams Help Stars Past Rockford 4-2

Two power play goals and a clean sheet on the penalty kill helped Texas to a 4-2 win over the Rockford IceHogs tonight in Cedar Park. "Tonight we finally got some power play goals," said Coach Pyle. "I thought we played really well, weathered the storm in the third. They're a tough team to shut down." The Stars captain, Brad Lukowich, chipped in a goal and two assists, earning him the #1 Star of the night.

"I've really been focusing on putting my game in place and leading by example," said Lukowich. "It's about leading and showing that hard work and effort."

Colton Sceviour followed that example with a three point night of his own. Andrew Raycroft, in his second AHL start of the season, collected the win with a 25 save performance.

The Stars gave up an early marker to the Hogs just three minutes in. A wonky bounce put the puck to the top right corner of the net, beating Raycroft, who was squared to where the puck should have gone. The bad luck goal was Jeremy Morin's 6th of the season.

Texas's power play came to life against the last place Rockford PK this evening. Francis Wathier went first, tipping a Brad Lukowich point shot past Alec Richards for the tying goal. The first Stars PP unit had been humming the entire shift and was amply rewarded with the goal. Sceviour picked up the second assist. Ryan Garbutt added another PPG on a slow dribbler to set the score at 2-1 to end the first. The Stars would not relinquish that lead in the game.

On the power play's great night, Lukowich pointed to familiarity, "It's one of those things where you're unfamiliar with different guys with guys going up and down. Today we went back to the guys that were together for the last couple of years. They put me back with Wathier, Sceviour, Max [Fortunus], and Scott Glennie in Rallo's spot."

Lukowich opened the second with his second goal of the season, another point shot with Wathier setting the screen. Rockford collected their second of the night in the period as well with Youds beating Raycroft with five minutes left in the period. That set up for a tight third period. After totalling 50 shots in the first two periods, Rockford and Texas combined for just 8 in the third. It was lockdown hockey for the Stars, who only allowed two shots.

Texas finishes their three in three with their final home game against the IceHogs this season tomorrow at 5 PM. Expect Tyler Beskorowany in net for the Stars after Raycroft collected two starts this weekend already.

Tonight's lines:
Glennie-Sceviour-Wathier
Garbutt-Morin-Fraser
Hedden-Roman-Schultz
Gazdic-Lowe-Godard

Fortunus-Lukowich
Spang-Dillon
Coyle-Labrie

Raycroft

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Sawada, Tousignant (injury)
Hauswirth, Berube, Spratt (scratch)
Larsen, Vincour, Benn, Bachman (callup)

This was the second straight game for rookies Coyle and Labrie to be paired together. Each was minus-1, being on the ice for Rockford's second goal. "It's a huge opportunity for them and they've stepped up," said Lukowich. "We're not nervous having those guys on the ice."

"It's good that the young kids get to play a little more," said Pyle. "It's win-win."

Tonight's attendance was 5,626.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - January 7 2012

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