|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
"He made some game-changing saves in the final twenty," said head coach Neil Graham. "He was big for us in overtime, and then he was great in the shootout. Happy for him. It was a great night on his part."
Scheel added, "They may have had a lot of shots but I don't think they had too many grade A opportunities. The guys boxed out well; they let me see the puck. So it's a testament to them and it's testament to team defense."
The minicamp that Texas ran over the past ten days to get back into their systems clearly helped. The Stars only had 25 minutes of practice during their entire road trip, which means Scheel had just that one practice to get in sync with his teammates.
"We were breaking out pucks cleaner than we have in a while, and we were connected and transitioning fast and really not spending a lot of time in our D-zone. In turn, I thought we had a lot less D-zone time and a lot more O-zone time, and that was something that we were trying to accomplish."
The second period was where most of the action came. A scoreless first that saw just 13 shots between the two clubs gave way to a much busier middle frame. Cleveland outshot the Stars 18-9, but it was Texas's Joe Cecconi scoring the only goal. Off a deft pass from Nikita Scherbak, redirected by Josh Melnick, Cecconi beat Brad Thiessen high on the glove side.
In the period, Scheel's most challenging sequences came in the last few minutes of the frame. However, the Monsters were not done. Fifteen shots came in the third period and one of them did pierce Scheel. Cliff Pu, down from spending most of his year with the Columbus taxi squad, got one past him to tie it up with 3:42 left in the third.
Overtime was highly bizarre as Texas had to kill a penalty for a faceoff violation, a rarely called minor, and the Cleveland appears to get called for a penalty that was waved off. Coming off of the Texas penalty, the referee crew called the Monsters for too many men, forgetting it was a power play in overtime.
The shootout was gold for Texas as Scherbak really slow-played Thiessen to lull him to sleep and put it through five-hole. Scheel stopped all three shooters he faced.
While hockey purists may despite the shootout, Scheel loves them. "In my college career, I was only in one shootout. I love shootouts, I think they're awesome. You know, growing up you love watching them. So I was just happy to be there, living in the moment, enjoying it."
Cleveland stays in town for a weekend pair to end their season series. With the win, Texas ties the season series and looks to win it outright with games Saturday and Sunday.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Stranges, Porco, Barach, Markison, Honka, L. Martin, M. Martin, Sholl (scratch)