Texas Stars Earn Wild, Penalty-Filled 7-4 Win Over Adirondack

Maxime Fortunus's second AHL fight (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Despite being a Western Conference team, the Adirondack Flames brought a taste of Eastern Conference hockey to the Cedar Park Center this evening. In a wild 7-4 win that saw a total of 84 penalty minutes between the two teams, the most atypical moment had to be a fight by Stars captain Maxime Fortunus, just his second in his professional career.

"It was a bad hit," said Fortunus, who was responding to a hit on Gemel Smith. "Sometimes you have to step up for your teammates. I know everyone in that room would have done the same for me."

In his Texas Stars farewell, Valeri Nichushkin had a banner night. The Dallas forward down in Cedar Park for conditioning collected three assists on the night. It was the first time the Stars had earned a win with Nichushkin in the lineup all year, and he was a big part of it and frustrated the Flames to boot.

"I can't say it was my best game," said Nichushkin. "I think I played better in the last two games. Sometimes you touch puck and it's goal."

Coach Laxdal added, "He made some plays at the right time. He made a great play on Dowling's goal and Valentine's goal. He's trying to find his legs a little bit and get up to speed going back to Dallas."

It was a good night for the Stars to have an offensive explosion because it was not the best game that their starting goalie, Jack Campbell, has had this season. Campbell looked like he was having a lot of the same issues that plagued him in the early season, allowing a short side goal shorthanded in the first, having a lot of trouble holding onto rebounds and playing the puck. With the Stars goal total on the night, it didn't matter. That's what Texas needed this past weekend.

"Jack made some timely saves in the second," said Coach Laxdal. "But it was one of those nights where the last team that scored was going to win the game. You're not going to have your best night every night."

Despite a 7-0 shot advantage nine minutes into the game, it was Texas that allowed the first goal. Adirondack's Bill Arnold sniped one past Campbell off the right wing side for the 1-0 lead. The Stars would answer back quickly though with a Travis Morin goal. Jamie Oleksiak found Morin all alone on the right wing side, allowing him time and space to navigate the puck into the yawning cage.

A late first period Texas power play did not yield the desired result for the home side. Max Reinhart beat Jack Campbell clean high on the blocker side for a 2-1 lead after the first period. It was the kind of goal that Campbell had allowed a lot in the early season and which got him benched in favor of Jussi Rynnas.

The Stars came back in the second period with three goals in the frame. The twelfth minute of the period was a big one for the home team, as they scored two just twenty seconds apart to go up 3-2. Scott Valentine tallied his 3rd of the year off a booming point shot. The play came as a result of a nice passing play setup by Valeri Nichushkin and Ludwig Bystrom.

"Valentine provided some offense with a great assist and a goal," said Laxdal. "I liked his physicality too. One thing about Valentine is that he's vocal on the bench and brings up our energy."

Greg Rallo scored the third goal on the scoresheet, but the awkward bounce actually rainbowed into the net off the stick of former Star Taylor Vause. Thiessen certainly wasn't expecting the shot, and it was untouched for the lead.

The fourth Stars goal came off another Nichushkin setup, this time a rebound off the chest of Thiessen that bounced to Justin Dowling on the doorstep for the easy roof. Adirondack got one back as the period closed with Garnet Hathaway scoring on a play in tight with both he and Vause within a foot of Jack Campbell.

Texas extended its lead in the third period with three more goals. Brett Ritchie started things with a very patient play in the crease to go around Thiessen and roof it for a 5-3 score.

David Wolf checked Gemel Smith hard a few minutes later, and Maxime Fortunus had just his second professional fight stepping up for the rookie forward. Despite the size mismatch, it was a easily scored as a win for Fortunus, who went to the box with a raucous home crowd of 4,731 cheering him on.

"You like the fact that he stood up for his teammate. We didn't like the hit. You don't have to fight every night, but when you're called upon, you need to stick up for your teammates."

Adirondack would put in one final goal, but Texas would tally two extras themselves. Scott Glennie had a bullet of a far side goal to end Thiessen's night, and Justin Dowling drained one into an empty net for the 7-4 final.

Val Nichushkin ended his time in Cedar Park with a ten minute misconduct after getting into it with Acolaste. Asked about the chippiness toward him, he commented, "I think it's that everybody tries to play better with a player whose played in the NHL before."

Texas hits the road now for a Midwest trip, their last true roadie of the season, which will start Friday in Milwaukee.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Troock, Stransky, Mangene, Peters (scratch)
Rynnas, Faksa, Meech (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 4,731.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Adirondack - April 1 2015