|Alex Guptill (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"They came out hard," said Taylor Vause, who scored his third of the year. "We knew they had a chance to jump up in the standings. That first period was tough for us, and it was good to see our team battle back."
AHL President and Commissioner Dave Andrews was in the building to present the Stars with various trophies and league awards in a pregame ceremony. Travis Morin received his AHL MVP award along with AHL First Team All-Star honors. Curtis McKenzie received the Rookie of the year and AHL All-Rookie Awards. Captain Maxime Fortunus accepted the Kilpatrick and Chick Trophies on the team's behalf.
"Having the president come in says a lot," said Coach Desjardins. "It's good to get the praise but you can't live in the past."
The long ceremony might have given Abbotsford a bit of motivation to get an early jump on Texas. Coach Desjardins agreed, "When you're the visiting team, it's tough to watch that." It also could have broken up the usual routines guys go through to get ready for the game.
"That's never normal," continued Vause. "You get that once or twice a year but you have to pay tribute to guys who had amazing seasons. It's good for our fans to see that. We're so appreciative of them."
Texas rested many of its regulars including Derek Meech, Scott Glennie, Mike Hedden and Brett Ritchie. Newcomers such as Alex Guptill and Branden Troock slid into the lineup in their place.
"I thought Troock was very good," said Desjardins. "He's a big body and he can skate. He was good when we went through our systems stuff. He was really mature with his questions. I liked what I saw from him."
Abbotsford jumped out to an early lead with two Markus Granlund goals. The Finnish product scored off the assist of Poirer and Max Reinhart twice in a three minute span midway through the first. Evan Poirier added a third point on the night was a goal to end the frame and it was 3-0 Heat after twenty.
The Stars started the comeback bid on a Taylor Vause power play goal. Vause tipped a point shot from Jyrki Jokipakka for the first goal of the night.
"[Playing on the power play] is not something that I take lightly," said Vause. "It's a huge opportunity. If I can step in and make a difference, that's huge."
Matej Stransky continued the comeback with a rebound goal off the initial shot from Alex Guptill. Curtis McKenzie evened things up to start the third with his 27th of the year, a diving rebound effort off the initial shot of Morin and first rebound shot of Brendan Ranford.
Corey Locke sealed things up for the Heat, who were playing to stay ahead of the Admirals, with his tenth of the year. The quick bang-bang play from behind the net by Blair Jones set up the go-ahead score. Texas would pull Campbell with 89 sesconds left but they would not be able to score despite furious pressure.
The Stars will start the playoffs on Wednesday on the road in Oklahoma City.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Sceviour, Jeffrey, Nemeth, Mueller (callup)
Ritchie, Meech, Glennie, Hedden (scratched)
Klingberg, Hulak (injury)
Today's attendance was 6,863.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Abbotsford - April 19 2014