Brett Ritchie Hat Trick Pushes Texas Past Charlotte 4-2

Greg Rallo scores his sixth in last eight games as well
Brett Ritchie points to his first goal (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Two teams that combine for just under five goals per game on average scored five between them in the first as the Texas Stars edged the Charlotte Checkers 3-2 in Cedar Park tonight. Brett Ritchie potted a hat trick, his second pro trick, including the game-winning goal.

"It's funny," said Coach Laxdal. "I thought we played a better sixty minutes last night and didn't get the win. Tonight we were less energetic but did get the win."

The big goal scorer agreed, "Last night, [San Antonio was] scoring on every other shot. We had the same thing happen to us tonight. It's a funny game sometimes, but if you put out a good game, you'll get a good result more often than not."

Jussi Rynnas got the win, stopping 20 of 23 shots against. He had started last night as well but was pulled after allowing three goals on five shots. It was a nice rebound win for the big Finn.

Greg Rallo opened the scoring off the stick of a Charlotte skater. A.J. Jenks saw the puck ride his stick and into the top of the net behind his goaltender, John Muse. The 1-0 goal was Rallo's ninth of the season and sixth in his last eight games.

"I'll take it," said Rallo. "I just tried to get it to the net, and their guy ended up tipping it in."

Rallo credits getting healthy again with the resurgence in his scoring. "I lost it a bit last season but that's going to happen in your career. Being here again and getting a chance to play in key roles is big for me. When you get those roles, you have to score."

Brett Ritchie doubled the lead 66 seconds later, finishing off a great pass from Brendan Ranford on a 3-on-1. Matt Mangene picked up his third point in four game with Texas. It was a very pretty goal for the forward who has had a spotty goal scoring record so far this season. Coach Laxdal pointed out the biggest thing for Ritchie is finding consistency. When he finds that, Laxdal said, "we won't see him here." He'll be in Dallas.

Charlotte cut into the Stars' lead with another goal off a defender. Jared Staal got the tally for the Checkers but it went off the stick of a Texas player to beat Jussi Rynnas into the top-right corner of the net. That came less than a minute after the Stars second tally.

Laxdal added, "I didn't like the first goal, but that's hockey."

John Muse handed the Stars their third goal of the game, mishandling the puck behind his own net. A forechecking Brett Ritchie picked up the puck and had a sharp angle backhand shot at an empty net with Muse still behind the cage.

Phil Di Giuseppe got Charlotte back to within one to end the frame. As a penalty to Curtis McKenzie was expiring, the winger beat Rynnas off a rebound of a Ryan Murphy point shot. McKenzie stepped onto the ice as the goal was scored, so it was an even strength tally.

An uneventful second period saw the score stay at 3-2 through forty. Charlotte edged the Stars on shots 9-8 for a 22-17 lead through two periods.

Texas locked down the third, which Coach Laxdal was very happy with. Brett Ritchie collected the hat trick goal in the final minute off a pass form Radek Faksa, who sent the puck to Ritchie's stick from behind the net.

The Stars finish the 3-in-3 tomorrow against San Antonio.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Morin, Jokipakka (call up)
Troock, Stefishen (injury)
Wrenn, Hardowa, Dalhuisen, Dowling (scratch)
Honka (World Junior)

Tonight's attendance was 5,357.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - December 27 2014