|(Credit: Nicolas Carrillo/Grand Rapids Griffins)|
Grand Rapids, MI - The Texas Stars rode a 24-save Adam Scheel effort and newcomer Michael Karow' hand in both Texas tallies as the Stars took over sole-possession of the fifth and final Central Division playoff spot with a 2-1 victory over the division rival Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings affiliate) in front of 6,775 at Van Andel Arena Friday night.
With Friday night's win, Texas is above .500 for the first time since beating Rockford 4-1 on October 28tth, their fifth game of the season.
In a game with a playoff feel that went with the implications, both teams started slowly, seemingly feeling each other out over the scoreless opening twenty. Each team had a chance on the power play only for it to be turned away by the respective defenses meeting the challenge. Neither team really seemed to have an advantage as they headed to the intermission, despite Grand Rapids having outshot the Stars 8-5 in the period.
The second period pretty much picked up where the first period left off, with both teams grinding and looking for an advantage. The scoreless tie continued deep into the period when with 6:53 left in the period Nick Caamano took a pass from the rookie Karow and skated into the zone and down to the end line. Caamano innocuously sent a centering pass from the right post that caught Grand Rapids goalie Victor Brattstroms's pad and went into the net to give Texas 1-0 lead that they would take to the intermission. Caamano's goal, his 8th of the season, was the first for the Ancaster, Ontario, native since February 12th.
Texas outshot 9-5 in the second while both teams went scoreless on one chance each on the power play for the frame.
The Griffs opened the third period with 1:48 on the advantage but met a wall of penalty killers that held Grand Rapids power play unit without a shot on their third and final power play of the evening. Grand Rapids finally got on the board just over three minutes after the man-up when the Griffins, supported by having just come off the power play, spent an extended period in the offensive zone and got rewarded when Griffs winger Riley Barber skated from the right circle, behind the net and back up into the slot and fired one past Scheel to tie the game at 1-1 with just over 15 minutes left in the game.
|Texas Stars rookie Michael Karow after |
scoring a goal and an assist in Texas'
2-1 win over Grand Rapids Friday.
(Photo Credit: Texas Stars)
With the intensity level at a peak, Texas retook the lead for good less than three minutes later when the rookie Karow solidified his First Star of the game notch with a wrister through traffic from the blue line that found the back of the net to give Texas a 2-1 lead. Karow, playing in his first professional game, signed with the Stars to an ATO on Wednesday. Karow was previously at Boston College before transferring to Michigan Tech for his final season.
The intensity level remained the rest of the way with the teams trading scoreless power plays midway through a third period that saw the Griffins edge the Stars 12-11 in shots. Grand Rapids had a chance to knot the game back up with 6:40 left when with the Griffins on the penalty kill, Turner Elson skated through the Stars defensive breakdown untouched and fired a shot that Scheel turned away with his blocker for possibly the save of the game.
Texas did have a chance to tack on an empty-netter as time expired but Stars forward Ty Dellandrea pulled up, possibly due to not wanting to show-up the home team with the teams having to face each other again in less than 24 hours.
Scheel, despite losing a shutout in the third period for the fourth time this season was solid, if not spectacular in stopping 24-of-25 shots. With the victory, the Ohio native's record improved to 10-7-6, while he lowered his GAA to a season-low of 2.88.
Brattstrom who stopped 23-of-25, fell to 6-11-3-1.
With the victory, Texas is above .500 for the first time since October at 25-24-6-5 (61 pts./.508) and now have sole possession of the fifth and final Central Division playoff spot with 12 games remaining.
With the loss, the playoff hopes of the Griffins dims as their record falls to 27-28-6-2 (62 pts/.492%). Due to the schedule imbalances, playoff position is determined in '21-22 by percentage of points gained.
The teams don't have much time to relax as they square off again Saturday night at Van Andel Arena with the puck drop set for 6:00 p.m. Central Time. Saturday's game will be the second leg of a grueling 3-games in 3-days stretch for each of the clubs.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Comeau (injury, has not played)
Khudobin (injury, out for season)
Kero, Gregoire, Lipanov, Martin, Woods, Rosburg, Tufte (scratch)
Kero was scratched after he and his wife Taylor became parents for the third time.
Tonight's attendance was 5,548.