Texas Stars Battle Back for 5-3 Win Over IceHogs

(Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski)

Cedar Park, TX -
The Texas Stars scored three goals in the second period - including two in the final minute - vaulting them to a 5-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs in front of 5,031 Wednesday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Captain Curtis McKenzie tickled the twine twice, and Mavrik Bourque had a goal and an assist to help power the Stars to the victory after a brutal 4-3 loss to the IceHogs Tuesday night,

"[I]t was a big win for us, especially after losing last night. It's a tight division. Points right now are critical and we needed two points," Texas head coach Neil Graham said after the game.

"We had fight in our game, we had compete in our game and obviously no quit. So I think there's gonna be highs and lows and different challenges that present themselves each evening. There was a fair share of challenges tonight, [but] we overcame adversity and the reward is two points."

For the second consecutive night the IceHogs cracked the scoreboard first. While on the power play, Lukas Reichel went top-left on Stars netminder Remi Poirier giving Rockford the initial 1-0 lead with 7:58 left in the first. Texas had to kill off a full two-minute 5-on-3 late in the period and at one point had five men in the box due to the contentiousness at the end of the period. The Rockford 1-0 lead would hold to the first intermission after a period that saw Texas outshoot the IceHogs 12-9. 

(Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski)

"So we had to collect ourselves and that was gonna be an important kill as well. If we killed it, we knew momentum could shift to our side. If we didn't we were in a two goal deficit, which would have been pretty tough," said Graham.

Texas had an answer 5:39 into the second when Derrick Pouliot ping ponged one past IceHogs' goalie Drew Commesso from the blueline to knot the score at 1-1. 

Late in the second, Rockford seemingly took control when they reclaimed the lead. David Gust banked a shot off of a Stars defender and past Poirier from the low right circle to make it 2-1 IceHogs with 2:39 left in the frame. But with 50 seconds left, Bourque netted a loose puck in front of the net to tie it back up at 2-2 to bring them back into the game. Just 49 seconds later, with the Stars on a late power play, McKenzie redirected a Bourque shot to beat the buzzer to give Texas their first lead of the midweek series at 3-2 with just 1.5 seconds left in the middle stanza. The Stars carried that lead to the intermission having outshot Rockford 13-10 for the period. McKenzie's power play goal tied him with now-Stars Assistant Coach Travis Morin him for the franchise record (50) for power play goals.

In the third, Texas picked up right where they left the second off when just 3:16 into the final frame, Jack Becker cleaned up a loose puck along the left boards and went on a breakaway. Becker completed the rush and buried the puck past Commesso to extend the Stars lead to 4-2.

Down by two, Rockford went empty net with just under five minutes left, the IceHogs clawed their way back into the game when Cole Guttman beat Poirier with 3:43 left to cut the Stars lead to 4-3.

With 1:33 left in regulation, McKenzie removed all doubt when he scrambled for a loose puck in the right circle and buried the puck into the empty net as he was going down for his second tally of the night to cement the 5-3 victory

Between the pipes, Poirier turned away 28 of 31 shots en route to seeing his record improve to 15-12-3-1. Commesso fell to 12-13-4-1 as he made 26 saves on the 31 shots he saw.

With the win, the Stars improve their record to 28-24-3-2 (61 pts.) and move into sole possession of third place in the Central Division. Rockford falls to 26-22-5-2 (59 pts.), but with two games in hand on Texas.

Up next, Texas heads on the road for five games in eight-day road stretch beginning with a back-to-back starting Saturday in Tucson. Faceoff on Saturday is scheduled for 9:00 P.M. Texas time.

Tonight's Lines



Injuries, scratches and notes
Haiskanen, Romano, Mastrodonato, Stranges, Thomson, J. Murray, Pettersen (scratch)
Reedy (out - upper body)

Tonight's attendance was 5,031.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - March 13 2024