|(Photo Credits: Andy Nietupski / Texas Stars Hockey)|
Cedar Park, TX - The Texas Stars got two goals from Riley Barber while Remi Poirier turned away 32 shots and added a third-period TKO of Admiral goalie Yaroslav Askarov as Texas topped the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators affiliate) 5-3 in front of 5,321 at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park Friday night. The game had multiple fights - including the aforementioned goalie fight - and featured 92 minutes of penalty time between the two clubs. With the win the Stars increased their lead to three points over Milwaukee in the Central Division.
Texas struck first when Riley Damiani found rookie Antonio Stranges on a cross-ice, tape-to-tape pass that Stranges one-timed past Askarov just 5:40 into the game. Michael Karow was credited with the secondary assist on Stranges' second goal of the season.
"[It] felt really good." Stranges said of his first home goal of the season. "Obviously, every time we play them, it's a heck of a game. And I think everyone saw that tonight. But I think we learned you can take the full 60 minutes to get it done. And I think we did a really good job staying focused through 60 and getting that big one."
The Stars doubled their lead later in the first when Will Butcher set up Mavrik Bourque who beat Askarov with a wicked wrister from the top of the left circle, just past the Russian netminder's glove to give Texas a 2-0 lead with 8:03 left, a lead Texas would hold on to the first intermission. Texas outshot Milwaukee 11-8 over the opening 20 minutes.
"Well, we came out on time." said Graham. "Obviously there are guys that are ready to go from puck drop and you know, this time of year always has us with more emotions attached to it and [with the] trade deadline, you see a few guys leave, some new guys coming in and you see that on both teams. You see it on every team. So, there's a little bit of heightened emotion in the day and I think most importantly, we came out with two big points in a tight division."
The second period started rather tenuously for Texas when Milwaukee cut the Stars lead in half in the early going of the second. Admiral's left winger Isaac Ratcliffe took an initial shot from the slot that was stopped by Poirier but Ratcliffe cleaned up the rebound and put it just past the rookie netminder's reach to make it 2-1 only 1:07 into the second stanza.
Not having that, Texas wasted no time re-gaining their two-goal lead when Barber ripped a wrister from the top of the left circle off of a sweet set-up from Tanner Kero just twelve seconds later to make it 3-1. Then fireworks began.
On the very next shift, Riley Tufte was pulled down from behind by Ads defenseman Marc Del Gaizo and the two adversaries dropped the gloves for the first penalty minutes of the game.
Approaching the midpoint of the game, Texas extended their lead to 4-1 when Alex Petrovic added to his career-high with his ninth goal of the season. Petrovic found a rebound off of a Matej Blumel shot at the end of his stick and an open net in front of him and the eighth-year veteran found the twine with 11:10 left in the middle frame.
And then it got ugly.
Before the ensuing faceoff, both teams interlocked at the center of the ice for an old school five-on-five brawl that saw 26 minutes of penalty time doled out, along with the ejections of Tufte and Ads center Michael McCarron.
Things seemed to settle as the remainder of the period wore on and Texas took their 4-1 lead to the second intermission having outshot the Ads again, this by a 15-14 margin, giving the Stars a 26-22 edge through forty.
With the game seemingly normalized, Texas seemed content to hold on to their three-goal lead. Milwaukee outshot Texas in the final frame by an eye-popping 22-10, but they were unable to solve Poirier and the stifling Stars defense.
Late in the game with Texas coasting, Barber found the back of the net for the second time to make it 5-1 with 5:22 left and then things turned uglier.
Milwaukee may have taken exception to Barber's late goal. Less than a minute later, Barber took a hard check from an Admiral defender and as they say, "it was on."
Multiple fights ensued, including the scrap between Askarov and Poirier and over 52 minutes in penalties were issued. When the dust settled, both netminders were shown the gate with 4:34 left.
Former Texas Stars captain Cole Schneider and Ads forward Austin Rueschhoff each netted a late goal for Milwaukee, but Texas stood tall and closed out the 5-3 win
Starting the game in goal and earning the win, Poirier improved to 3-0-1 after making 32 saves on 33 shots. Askarov was handed the loss after surrendering five goals on 33 shots. In relief outings following the goalie fight and subsequent game-misconducts between Poirier and Askarov, Adam Scheel made nine stops on the whopping 11 shots he faced in the brief 4:34 of his ice time, while Devin Cooley turned away all three of the shots he faced.
The two teams square off again Saturday night for a 7:00 p.m. faceoff at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
"It's that time of year, not the time to settle scores, it's the time to win hockey games and keep our heads level. Move on. We played 60 minutes, we got two points. We'll do 60 minutes again," Graham concluded.
Get your popcorn ready.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Karlstrom, Olofsson (awaiting call-ups)
Studenic (late scratch)
Reedy (has not arrived via trade)
Rosburg (likely out for season - upper-body injury)
Tonight's attendance was 5,321
1. TEX - R. Barber
2. TEX - N. Caamano
3. TEX - A. Petrovic