Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mike McKenna Beastly, Stopping 44 in Relief as Texas Beats Ontario 5-4 in 2OT

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
If you had to pick a player to finish a double overtime game, you probably wouldn't pick tonight's hero: rookie fourth liner Samuel Laberge. Ninety-seven minutes into Game 3, Laberge finished a quick play going the opposite way after Mike McKenna made one of his best saves of the night. McKenna was perfect, stopping all 44 shots he faced, after coming in to relieve Landon Bow in the second. It was a gargantuan effort and shows why he went to the Calder Cup Final last year with Syracuse.

Tonight's was the longest game in team history at 97:38 and also the first time Texas had won a game that extended beyond a single overtime. Both previous 2OT games were road losses (2010 at Hamilton, 2011 at Milwaukee). The loss puts Ontario on the brink of elimination with Tuesday's Game 4.

Ontario opened the scoring in the first period with two quick tallies. Matt Roy and Sean Walker each got their first of the playoffs to go up 2-0 halfway through the first. Walker's goal came off a screen in front of Landon Bow. Remi Elie answered with his first of the playoffs as well, assisted by Brian Flynn. It was a bit of redemption for the Elie, Flynn, Sheldon Dries line, who had taken the minus on each of the first two Reign goals.

Coming out of the locker room, Dillon Heatherington headed to the box for hooking and former AHL Rookie of the Year Michael Mersch took just 11 seconds to cash in, making it 3-1. The second period was the Reign's worst throughout the season; they were outscored 59-66 in the frame. Texas jumped on the chance to recover.

Justin Dowling scored on his own rebound thanks to double coverage on his linemate, Travis Morin, left him all alone. Ninety second later, Colin Markison tied the game and restarted the game for Texas.

Two minutes later, Landon Bow's night was over as Mike Amadio collected a turnover off the stick of Remi Elie and rushed in alone for the go-ahead goal. Texas would finish the period down 4-3 with Mike McKenna playing the second half of the period. It was just the beginning of his night.

Who else but Travis Morin knotted the score at four to make overtime possible. Justin Dowling made a backhand pass to Morin in the slot, who buried it.

One overtime wasn't enough. Mike McKenna was a warrior in overtime, stopping 17 shots in 1OT and 11 in 2OT. Each team had a power play goal in the game but neither team had a man advantage in OT.

The Stars take their series lead into Tuesday night's possible elimination game at Ontario. The puck drops at 9 PM CT.

Tonight's lines:
Elie-Dries-Flynn
Dickinson-Hintz-Gurianov
Morin-Dowling-McKenzie
Laberge-Markison-L’Esperance

Heatherington-Regner
Bodnarchuk-Mangene
Bayreuther-Scarlett

Bow
McKenna

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
O'Brien, Payne, Calderone, Kelleher, Rallo, Hansson, Paliotta (scratch)
Fyten (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 7,996.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Ontario - April 22 2018

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