|(Photo Credit: Todd Reicher/Rockford IceHogs)
Rockford, IL - The Texas Stars scored 2 late third period goals plus got some late-game defensive heroics from Joe Cecconi in support of Adam Scheel's 22-save effort, to beat the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks affiliate) 3-2 in front of 3,273 Sunday at BMO Harris Bank Center.
The win for Texas was their first of the season when trailing going into the third. The Stars were 0-14-3-1 when headed into the final frame at a deficit prior to Sunday.
Rockford, playing their third game in as many nights started the game off sloppy, putting the Stars on the power play 4 times alone in the opening frame. Texas was unable to convert on any of the opportunities in a period that saw them dominate the offensive-zone time and outshoot the IceHogs 14-3 in the first.
Texas went 0-6 on the power play Sunday and a dismal 1-12 in the 2-game series.
Rockford finally got things going and opened the scoring 6:38 into the second when on a 2-on-1 rush Andrei Altybarmakian fired a shot past Scheel and into the back of the net to break the scoreless tie.
Not to be outdone Texas answered right back when Anthony Louis took a Tanner Kero feed and flipped one over IceHog goalie Arvid Soderblom's glove, evening the game at 1-1. Louis' goal, his 16th - a career high - extended his personal point-streak to 6 games. The native of near bye Winfield, Illinois (and former IceHog) added an assist later in the game to earn First Star honors.
Rockford regained the lead with just over 4 minutes left in the period when Mike Hardman finished an extended shift in the Texas zone with a shot from the left circle that careened off of a Texas defender, fooling Scheel and into the net. Hardman had 3 goals in the 2-game series split.
Entering the third trailing 2-1 things weren't looking good for the visitors as they scuffled to find any rhythm in the frame. Texas had a chance early in the period on the power play but was held shotless as they struggled to even attain the offensive zone.
With time waning with just under 6-minutes left, coming directly off of a face-off win, Joel L’Esperance found a rebound in the slot and fired it home, tying the game at 2-2 while sending a jolt into the local fans.
With the teams still locked at 2-apiece IceHog center Evan Barrett found some daylight and slipped one past a sprawling Scheel and sending the puck dancing along the goal-line. Enter Cecconi, who saved the day, sweeping the puck off the line and away from trouble into the safety of Jeremy Gregoire, who promptly led an odd-man rush the other way. Arvedson turned away the shot and the Barrett shot went to review, with the call on the ice confirmed.
Having the advantage of the review, Texas had time to draw up a plan for the expected offensive-zone face-off and just 17 seconds after the return to play Ty Dellandrea snapped a one past Soderblom’s glove-side, lighting the lamp with his 13th goal of the season with just 3 minutes left in regulation. Dellandrea's goal, ultimately the game-winner, was the team-leading 4th clincher of the season for the former 1st round draft pick.
As the crowd began to disperse, Rockford did go empty-net but to no avail. The advantage did not help the IceHogs as they ultimately were called for a late infraction, negating their chance with the extra-attacker, sealing the Stars 3-2 win.
The win gives Texas a split in the 2-game series as well as the season series with their division rival, while putting their record on the longest road-trip of the season at a sparkling 3-1 with 3 games left, despite some less-than stellar play. But as they say; that's what winning teams do.
With Sunday's victory, Texas improves to 18-19-5-4 (45 pts/.489%) but they remain entrenched in the cellar of the 7-team Central Division. Despite the loss, Rockford remains in 4th in the Central with a 22-20-3-1 (48 pts/.522%) record.
The road-trip continues as the Stars head east to Chicago for a Wednesday night matchup with the division-leading Wolves. The teams are slated for a 7:00 p.m. start at Allstate Arena in Rosewood.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Caamano (8th straight, day-to-day), Damiani (8th straight, day-to-day), Comeau (back/has not played) Tufte (to Dallas), Barteaux, Aksiantsiuk, Kawaguchi, Khudobin
Melnick returned to the lineup for the first time in 8 games.
Aksiantsiuk (scratched) turned 21 today.
Tonight's attendance was 3,273