Mike Hedden celebrates his fifth goal of the year, the ultimate game winner in tonight's contest. (Credit: Portraits by Deena)
Aside from a brief sixty second lapse in the second period, the Texas Stars played one of the most complete team games of the season tonight in defeating the Peoria Rivermen 6-2 in Cedar Park. "After the road trip, we were worried about being flat," said Coach Pyle. "[Raycroft] made huges saves. [We got] big goals, and the power play and penalty kill were good again." Texas went 2/5 on power play and had a clean sheet of 0/4 on the penalty kill. AHL All-Star Matt Fraser chipped in four assists and Colorado College product Stephen Schultz had two goals, both on the power play. Andrew Raycroft came up big with a calm cool and collected 21 save performance in net.
The Stars came out on fire in the first. Across the first twenty minutes, they established dominance in all three zones, getting to pucks first and just being all around hungrier for the game's first goal. "From our goaltending to our defensemen breaking it out to our forward scoring, we're establishing ourselves out there," said Schultz. They were rewarded when a 3-on-1 gave Maxime Fortunus his fifth of the year, assisted by Mike Hedden and Matt Fraser. The Stars finished the period with a 14-4 shots advantage.
The two squads totalled five goals in a frenetic second period. Texas went first on the power play with Schultz tipping a point shot from Fraser to make it 2-0. Peoria battled back though and scored twice in the span of just 34 seconds. Cade Fairchild and Jonathan Cheechoo knotted things at two just 4:40 into the period. Coach Pyle knew the team would pull through though, "Lately this team has found a way to battle through those situations. It was a real character builder."
Peoria would not score the rest of the way as Texas outshot them 13-7 in the second frame, adding two more goals in the period. Mike Hedden scored the eventual game winner barreling down the slot and accepting a Fraser pass for the 3-2 lead. Glennie and Sceviour decided to do the same and Glennie potted his ninth of the season with a similar move five minutes later, ending the period at 4-2 for Texas.
The Stars got two special teams goals in the final period to seal things up. Stephen Schultz got his second of the night and sixth of the year on the power play with a mad scramble in front of the net getting over the line for a 5-2 advantage. FInally, with just 65 seconds left in the third, Ryan Garbutt scored shorthanded to make the final 6-2.
Texas had three fights in the game and really seemed to be playing together as a group more than before in the seaosn. "As a team, everyone is backing each other," said Coach Pyle. Schultz added: "This has been a close-knit team since day one".
Andrew Raycroft has been a calming positive influence on the club since his assignment to Cedar Park, according to both Schultz and Pyle. "Anytime you have an 8-10 year NHL vet goalie, it calms things down a bit," said Schultz. Coach Pyle intoned the same: "He's great in the locker room. When he says stuff in the locker room, which he does, guys listen. He adds energy and experience and he's been great since he's been here."
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Tousignant, Sawada (injury)
Berube, Godard (scratch)
Larsen, Vincour (callup)
Texas captain Brad Lukowich left the ice during the first period after a check to the head from Peluso. He returned in the second with a bruise over his eye and finished the game, collecting a plus-3 rating.
Today's attendance was 5,273.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Peoria - January 20 2012