|(Photo Credit: Michael Owen/100 Degree Hockey)
Cedar Park, TX - On a bleak, icy night in Central Texas, the Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild affiliate) got a hat trick from Nic Petan while defensively Iowa stifled the Texas Stars offense by holding them to their second fewest shots for the season as the Wild led wire-to-wire to beat Texas 5-3 in front of the 3,134 that braved the Central Texas winter storm Wednesday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
For the second straight game Iowa got on the board first when with Iowa just coming off of a penalty kill, Nic Petan took a Sammy Walker feed and went off to the races on a breakaway before going top shelf on Stars netminder Matt Murray to make it 1-0 just 6:50 into the game for the only tally of the first period. Iowa outshot Texas 10-8 for the opening period as the teams headed to the first intermission.
The second period started much like the first as Iowa extended their lead to 2-0 on Sam Hentges' first career AHL goal. Murray made a spectacular save on a Damien Girouox shot, but Hentges retrieved the rebound and Murray couldn't make the save digging Texas into a deeper hole just 5:15 into the second period.
Just 31 seconds later, things got worse for Texas when Petan scored his second goal of the night when once again, Murray made the initial stop but couldn't get back to stop the rebound, putting Iowa in control at 3-0 just 5:46 into the second period.
Late in the second, Texas clawed back to within two when with the Stars on the power play and Jacob Peterson sitting on Iowa netminder Jesper Wallstedt's back door, Peterson took a Matej Blumel cross-ice pass and went top shelf to cut the Iowa lead to 3-1 with 3:18 left in the middle frame, a lead that the Wild took to the second intermission. Iowa's smothering defense held Texas to only six shots in the second while generating twelve offensively to give them a 22-14 edge through forty minutes.
Things didn't get any better for the home team in the third period as Iowa opened up the third continuing with relentless pressure and went back up again by three just 48 seconds into the period on Petan's cap on his hat trick to make it 4-1.
Texas showed the "no quit" effort that has led them to such success in the '22-'23 season just under four minutes later when with the Stars on the power play Frederick Karlstrom fielded a rebound off of a Riley Damiani shot and put it in the back of the net with authority to halve the Wild lead at 4-2 with plenty of time left with 15:30 remaining.
Texas continued to struggle offensively in the third however, only generating three shots through the first fifteen minutes of the frame. Down by two, the Stars went empty net with just under four minutes left in regulation, but the gamble didn't pay off as Monday night's hero for Iowa, Sammy Walker scored an empty-net goal with 2:26 left to play. Walker finished with three goals and an assist over the two-game set.
The Stars showed some life late in the period when Karlstrom netted his second power play goal of the night with 1:27 left, but it was too little, too late for Texas as they failed to get points for just the third time since the beginning of December (21 games) as they fell by the final of 5-3.
Iowa outshot Texas for the third consecutive period, this by a 10-6 margin, to give the Wild a 32-20 advantage for the game.
One of the few bright spots for the Stars was their special team play as their power play unit went 3-for-5 on the night while their recently struggling PK unit was a perfect 5-for-5.
Between the pipes for Texas, Murray stopped 27-of-31 shots while taking the loss that saw his record fall to 11-7-3-2. Wallstedt made saves on 17-of-20 shots in the win.
Despite the loss, Texas (24-10-6-2, 56 pts.) maintains control of the Central Division with a their five-point lead over the second-place Milwaukee Admirals. With the win, Iowa (22-14-4-3, 51 pts.) moves into a virtual tie for second in the division, although they are percentage points behind Milwaukee.
Texas will close out their current six-game homestand with two games against the Grand Rapids Griffins starting Friday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Laaksonen, McKenzie, Caamano, Stranges (scratch)
Rosburg (out for season - upper-body injury)
Today's attendance was 3,134
1. IA - N. Petan
2. IA - M. O’Leary
3. TEX - J. Peterson