Friday, October 14, 2016

First Period Outburst Pushes Texas Stars Past Charlotte Checkers 6-2

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars used a first period outburst of four goals to extend their streak of perfection in home openers with a 6-2 win over Charlotte tonight in Cedar Park. The speedy squad scored three goals in just 70 seconds to end the first period, putting the game out of reach for the Checkers.

"These are two teams that can skate and you can see the pace of the game was pretty high," said Texas head coach Derek Laxdal. "Our guys played a pretty balanced 60 minutes, even when we went up 4-0."

The line of Brandon DeFazio, Justin Dowling and Cole Ully combined for three goals on the night and six points overall. Coach Laxdal wasn't surprised to see DeFazio contributing to the offense.

"When he signed with us, we expected him to take up the offensive production of Greg Rallo but maybe be a heavier player and I think we saw that tonight."

DeFazio assessed himself, "I like to think of myself as a utility guy in a sense. I can do a lot of different things and I just try to do whatever is asked of me. I pride myself on playing a full game."

His full game tonight started with a great pass on a two-on-one to Justin Dowling, who beat Nedeljkovic high for the 1-0 score. Nick Ebert scored on a rebound with 1:11 left to make it 2-0. Cole Ully got in tight with 20 seconds left for the 3-0 lead and Mattias Backman blistered one in from the high slot with 0.5 seconds left for the 4-0 lead.

Charlotte starting goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was done for the night after that. He had trouble controlling rebounds, which the speedy Texas forwards jumped on and made him pay for. On the other end of the ice, Maxime Lagace played a controlled game and kept things clean. Laxdal commented it could have "easily been 4-3" as Charlotte had 17 shots in the first. Lagace stopped 34 in the game on 36 shots.

Charlotte would break through in the second on the power play thanks to a tip play from their captain, Derek Ryan. It was a disappointing outcome for a penalty kill unit that played extremely well most of the night. Laxdal is asking his players to be more aggressive on the PK, and that was on display.

In the back half of the second, Matej Stransky beat Michael Leighton and potted his first of the season on the power play off assists from Brendan Ranford and Travis Morin. Brandon DeFazio collected his goal two minutes later to set the Stars' mark at six.

Andrew Poturalski would get one for the visitors in the third but it was a mostly quiet period with the two squads combining for just 15 shots.

Texas will face off against Charlotte again tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dowling-DeFazio
Elie-Smith-Gurianov
Troock-McMurtry-Van Brabant

Bdnarchuk-Honka
Backman-Bystrom
Ebert-Stevenson

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Mangene, Fyten, Karjalainen (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,412.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - October 14 2016

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