|(Credit: Ross Bonander / Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars overcame a Rocco Grimaldi hat trick while eight different players lit the lamp for Texas as the Stars cruised to an 8-5 victory in a testy matchup against the division-rival Chicago Wolves. The visitors racked up 49 penalty minutes including three misconducts for abuse of officials, leading to the ejection of their head coach, Bob Nardella, in the second period.
Coach Graham likes to talk about starting on time, and the Stars certainly did that tonight with Matej Blumel scoring just 19 seconds in on a pretty tic-tac-toe play with linemates Fredrik Karlstrom and Oskar Back. A few minutes later, Back got one of his own with Keith Kinkaid kicking out a big rebound to the slot for the 2-0 tally.
The Wolves got back within one with a sneaky backhander just eight seconds later. Alex Green notched his first of the year from the point, and it was suddenly knotted up again.
Nick Caamano reclaimed the Texas lead to close the period after fishing a pass out of his skates and beating Kinkaid to make it 3-2.
The middle frame saw 'only' two goals with veterans Rocco Grimaldi and Curtis McKenzie trading tallies. Grimaldi's goal came just after Texas shifted from a 5-on-3 PK to 5-on-4. McKenzie's was a crafty play where he banked it off the goalie's back and into the net. The score stood at 4-3 after two.
Antonio Stranges capitalized on a turnover that he himself generated to make it 5-3 early in the third, but the Wolves came roaring back with a pair of power play goals from Grimaldi.
With everything knotted at five, it was time for Scott Reedy to enter the fray. It was just a laser of a snipe, unchallenged by the defense, from the Texas forward. The Stars led 6-5 and would not relinquish it from there.
Shortly thereafter, Nardella was ejected after he rather vehemently disagreed with a double-minor high-sticking call on Kyle Marino. [Ed. Note: Nardella was later suspended for 10 games for using an anti-gay slur against the referee.] It was a rare ejection for a bench boss, perhaps the first in the H-E-B Center. It wasn't the only game misconduct issued, however, as Dominic Franco picked up two gamers in the last two seconds of the game.
With time winding down, the Wolves pulled Kinkaid for the extra skater and Texas made them pay. Derrick Pouliot and Michael Karow extended the lead to 8-5, making the score look more gaudy than the previous 58 minutes would suggest. Notably, Rocco Grimaldi scored a hat trick but was minus-4, which would be a deceiving stat at face value since he scored three power play goals and was on the ice for both empty netters.
Texas continues its road warrer stretch from here with three games in the Midwest, starting Wednesday in Grand Rapids.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Jake Murray, McDonald, Berard (scratch)
Bayreuther (out - ankle)
Tonight's attendance was 6,778, a sellout.