Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ranford's OT Goal Lifts Stars to 2-0 Series Lead

Texas celebrates the OT game winner (Credit: Rob Ferguson)
Another game in OKC came down to overtime and again it was the Texas Stars emerging victorious. Brendan Ranford scored in the fifteenth minute of the first overtime, his first goal of the playoffs, to put the Stars up 2-0 in the best-of-five.

"Both games were OT, so we could be down 2-0 as well," said Coach Desjardins. "We're really fortunate that's it's 2-0 and it's probably fair if it were 1-1. We didn't get lucky; we just worked hard."

One of the hardest workers on the ice was the eventual game-winning goal scorer, Ranford, who received spears, cross-checks and other malfeasance throughout the game and battled through.

"Coming in at the start of the year, you wonder if he's going to make the team. Here we are in the playoffs, and he's on our top unit. It says a lot."

Travis Morin put up three points in the game including a goal in the final minute of the second and third period. His goal in the third tied the game at two to send it to OT. Jack Campbell got the start, as dictated by the rotation, and stopped 38 of 40, earning third star.

Campbell said, "I've been waiting for this for a while and I'm glad I was just able to get in there and help the team."

The Barons got off to a hot start once again, leading the shooting 5-1 early in the first period. It paid off 5:40 into the frame. Texas's Mike Hedden was blockaded by Richard Bachman on a point blank chance, which sent the play the other direction. Roman Horak picked up the puck behind the defense and picked a corner on Jack Campbell for the 1-0 lead.

Coach Todd Nelson played the line of Will Acton, Ben Eager and Curtis Hamilton straight up against the Stars' top line of Travis Morin, Curtis McKenzie and Brendan Ranford. It was effective lineup management for the Barons' bench boss. They frustrated the AHL Rookie of the Year and MVP, limiting them to just one shot and taking Ranford off the ice with matching minors in the first.

"They were playing us hard," said Ranford. "But that's what playoffs are all about. Willie told us to get more engaged in the plays. We didn't want to fold."

Desjardins added, "There's a physical challenge there, and you have to meet it. If you don't meet it, you lose."

As the second period wore on, the Barons led Texas in shots 13-7 when the youngster Darnell Nurse was called for a cross-check on Mike Hedden late in the frame. On the ensuing power play, it only took 3.8 for the Stars to cash in. Travis Morin won a faceoff clean forward against Will Acton and beat an unsuspecting Bachman for the tie at one all. As the period ended, Brendan Ranford took a shot from Ben Eager and needed help to get off the ice. He returned in the third period.

COming down the stretch, Jujhar Khaira appeared to put it away for the Barons with a rebound effort for his first pro goal. Khaira knocked down the rebound of his initial shot with his glove and then scored off the backhand up high on Campbell's glove side. With 2:13 left in the period, it looked like the Stars would earn a late power play for the change to tie things up. Instead it was matching minors that opened up the ice to 4-on-4 hockey. It ended up being a fortuitous call for Texas. With Jack Campbell pulled for the extra attacker, 4-on-4 became 5-on-4 and the Stars were able to essentially run their league-leading power play.

Morin agreed, "Coming out 5-on-4 is a little easier than 6-on-5 with fewer guys out there."

Justin Dowling dished to Travis Morin on the backdoor for the quick reaction goal. It was Morin's second of the game, second of the playoffs and second to come in the final minute of the period.

The Stars would need overtime to settle this one once again. Several frenetic minutes in the Texas zone saw Texas goalie Jack Campbell leap across his crease to protect an empty net. The Stars bent but did not break.

Brendan Ranford was the hero this time with five minutes left in the OT period. He wrapped around the net clockwise to beat Richard Bachman to the post. Initially, even he didn't realize he had scored. The referee's demonstrative arm motion sent the Stars flooding onto the ice to celebrate the win.

The Stars are back in action with a chance to seal up the series on Wednesday at home.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hedden-Dowling-Troock
Petersen-Faksa-Stransky
Henderson-Peters-Vause

Oleksiak-Wrenn
Labrie-Fortunus
Jokipakka-Meech

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Jeffrey, Nemeth, Mueller (callup)
Guptill, Desrosiers (scratched)
Gaunce, Klingberg, Hulak, Ritchie (injury)
Glennie (suspension)

Today's attendance was 1,781.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - April 26 2014

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