|(Credit: Todd Reicher / Rockford IceHogs)
Coming off the All-Star break, Texas needed to start the back-half of the season right and got a running start at that goal tonight with a 3-2 overtime victory in Rockford, Illinois. With losses in eight of their last ten since playing Rockford last on January 6, the Stars had tumbled out of first place in the Central and now sit in a dogfight with the Griffins for second.
It was a prototypical Texas Stars game from the early stretch of the season. Logan Stankoven opened the scoring, something he has done six times this year for Texas. He trails only Adam Gaudette of the Springfield Thunderbirds in that regard. Then Kyle McDonald scored on the power play, something he has done now eight times this year, which leads all rookies in the category and ranks him sixth among all skaters.
Assisting on both plays were Mavrik Bourque and Curtis McKenzie. Again, it was another prototypical evening. But then the IceHogs had something to say, battling back to force overtime.
As mentioned, Stankoven got things started from the slot with a quick pass from McKenzie. The goal came on a delayed penalty after Brett Seney bowled over Matt Murray, and the play went the other way with numbers. Matej Blümel was the extra skater.
No one tracked Ethan Del Mastro coming into the zone a few minutes later and he was the recipient of a quick touch pass, which he demolished. Murray had no chance, having already gone down in the butterfly, to get the rising shot.
Seney was again the assailant on a call, this time slashing, which went poorly for the Hogs. McDonald scored his goal in a non-typical fashion for him though. Usually McDonald is a bumper guy, playing down low, but he walked the puck down from the left-wing point and sniped Commesso stick side for the 2-1 lead.
In the second period, after a great offensive shift for the Damiani line, the Stars saw numbers go the other way with a 3-on-2 turning into the game-tying goal from Wyatt Kaiser.
Texas had all the official shots of the overtime period, 3-0 on the sheet. Rockford was dangerous but had a few miss the net. The Stars really poured things on with aggressive possession in the Hogs' zone, starting Bourque and Stankoven and cycling them yet again as the third line in OT. As time wound down though, Fredrik Karlström dinged one off Drew Commesso's mask and Riley Damiani had the game-winner with 3.9 seconds in OT.
The Stars take the bus to Milwaukee for a huge game against the far-and-away leaders of the Central. It's a measuring stick game and it starts at 6 PM Saturday.