Saturday, January 31, 2015

Derek Hulak's Pair, Rynnas' Shutout Give Texas Stars 4-0 Win Over Charlotte

Texas puts 50 shots on Charlotte Checkers in win
Derek Hulak with the helmet sticker to honor his former teammate.
Hulak had two goals tonight. (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Derek Hulak had two goals, and Jussi Rynnas pitched a 34-save shutout for the Texas Stars tonight as they beat the visiting Checkers 4-0. With the win, Texas has now collected 7 of 8 points on their current homestand.

Hulak had a little extra motivation tonight as he was wearing a small sticker on the back-left of his helmet in unity with members of his collegiate team who are raising money for a teammate affected by cancer. Cody Smuk, who grew up on the same street as Hulak and played with him through four years of CIS hockey, was in Hulak's thoughts tonight.

"I couldn't be [in Saskatchewan] for one of my friends going through that battle," said Hulak. "So I asked if I could put that sticker as a memento to let him know I'm thinking about him. Our trainer told me just before the game today. For me, that was a big confidence boost."

Hulak had the game's opening goal, a huge momentum boost for the club, which rained 19 shots on Drew MacIntyre on the first period but was stymied through much of the frame.

"It was huge for us to get that first goal and that momentum, that confidence in our building," added Coach Laxdal.

Texas's 19-shot first would be topped by their 20-shot third period. In all, the Stars bombed Drew MacIntyre with 50 shots.

"We tried to create more of a shot mentality," Laxdal expanded. "MacIntyre is a heck of a goaltender, so we wanted to generate those second-chance opportunities."

Hulak's second goal of the night, and third overall for the Stars, came on one of those second-chance opportunities.

"Lucky bounce to put the puck on my stick," said Hulak, who then prceeded to wait with the patient of a monk for MacIntyre to make a move. "I just tried waiting him out and luckily he went down."

The battle at the net was fierce on both sides tonight. Jussi Rynnas kept Texas in the game through a shaky second period that saw Charlotte outshoot the Stars 13-11. Laxdal quipped, "He earned the shutout. In the second period, he made some Grade A saves. The win was good for him and his confidence."

The shutout was made stronger by the addition of two penalty shots against Rynnas, both of which he stopped, one in the first and one in the third.

Texas had enough goal-scoring to go around in the game, four in total. Derek Meech helped solidify the momentum from the first period with a rainbow goal shot in from the point, almost as an afterthought. It befuddled MacIntyre and gave Texas the 2-0 lead.

In the third, Branden Troock added the Stars final goal of the game as he picked the top left corner for his second of the year. Gemel Smith and Jesse Root assisted on the play.

As the game appeared out of hand, the Checkers got frustrated, and things got physical. The officiating, which had been questionable all night, put its foot down in the final five minutes, assessing Troock a misconduct and Stransky a minor, both apparently for not-so-kind criticism of the officiating.

And in a stat line you are unlikely to see ever again in Texas Stars history, rookie Finnish defenseman Julius Honka was assessed a fighting major after he was dragged into a fight with Patrick Brown.

The Stars stay in town to face San Antonio and close the home stand on Tuesday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hulak-Dowling-Rallo
Glennie-Faille-Root
Troock-Smith-Stransky

Meech-Fortunus
Honka-Valentine
Gaunce-Jokipakka

Rynnas

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ritchie (call up)
Mangene, Wrenn (scratch)
Henderson, Faksa (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 5,268.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - January 31 2015

6 comments:

  1. Great game, and they didn't even look like the same team as Thursday night. From the opening puck drop, the Stars were very aggressive on the boards and actually were starting and finishing more checks than the Checkers. I had my camera at the ready all night because I could tell in the opening minute there was going to be a fight. I never have my phone on my lap all night already on. Sure enough, in the third it came:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lr8uPpcGPY

    Rynnas was absolutely spectacular tonight, and was very emotional at the final buzzer. He has earned the right to be the full-time starter. McIntyre is a fantastic goalie, but he took 50 shots tonight. He really showed meddle staying in after what initially looked like a scary injury when he was down for awhile in the 2nd period.

    Finally, the ice was in really weird condition tonight, no doubt because of the basketball game that was played only hours earlier. The ice had a number of deep scores in it that led to some bouncy pucks, and all night it had a snowy layer on top and seemed really soft. We noticed that when they scooped out the goalie area on breaks, the shovel was overflowing with snow. It seemed to make the players on both sides just a bit slower.

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    Replies
    1. Folks I talked to postgame agreed with you on the ice. Not super great but hey, not San Antonio quality.

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  2. I'm cautious about the game results. The Checkers not only aren't a very good team but is the smallest team we have seen by a good margin. Our play last night won't translate to teams like San Antonio, etc.. The last two games Rynnas has had are pretty good reasons to feel happy though.

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    Replies
    1. Confidence-increasing games against bad opponents are worth something.

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  3. I liked their play last night. Although the Checkers are smaller, they seemed to outplay them physically and with speed. At the very least, it'll boost their confidence and they can use that on larger teams. They made the plays they had to and they did the little things right.
    Jussi's been great recently (76 of 79 in last 2 games), if he can keep up his confidence, we have a real chance of making the playoffs.
    That being said, I have an idea for Campbell. He needs a goalie fight to get his confidence up. Taking penalties worked for Dowling: record PIM, and on track for record goals. Just saying.
    Also, how bad is the officiating when two players get penalized for telling the ref how awful he is? That game was just plain dangerous toward the end. The players were actually asking us if we were frustrated because of the officiating after the game.

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    Replies
    1. Three players actually got penalized. Troock, McKenzie and Stransky. It was a really bad game for the officials. If Texas had lost, I'm sure it would have been worse in the postgame. We gave Coach a chance to swing on that pitch, but he watched it sail by. Smart call.

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