CEDAR PARK, Texas – Matt Fraser extended his franchise-best point streak to eleven games, but Kenndal McArdle had the shootout-winner in an eleven round shootout and Jeremy Morin tallied a goal and an assist as the Texas Stars dropped a 5-4 heartbreaker to the Rockford IceHogs Tuesday night at Cedar Park Center.
Fireworks came early and often in the first period as Toby Petersen opened the scoring at 1:11 to give Texas a 1-0 lead. Petersen took a lead pass through the neutral zone from Justin Dowling and beat Rockford goaltender Henrik Karlsson with a sharp wrister to tally his sixth goal of the season. Two minutes later Matt Fraser set a new Texas Stars record by extending his point streak to 11 games with a power play goal, his 22nd of the year. Fraser gathered a cross-slot pass from Travis Morin and fired the puck past Karlsson’s glove to extend the Stars advantage to 2-0. The IceHogs answered back when Terry Broadhurst parked in front of the net and slid a centering pass around the pad of Texas netminder Cristopher Nilstorp to cut the margin to 2-1 at 4:33. Francis Wathier reclaimed the two-goal lead for the Stars with his first goal of the season at 11:30. Austin Fyten earned his first AHL point when he set up an open Wathier with a trailing pass into the right faceoff circle, allowing the wily veteran to sling the puck by the blocker of Karlsson. The Stars cashed in with the man advantage once again on Colton Sceviour’s twelfth tally of the year at 17:56. Sceviour brought the puck uncontested from behind the goal line to the front of the net and forced it through the five-hole of Karlsson to put Texas in front 4-1. The Stars outshot the visitors 17-8 during the opening frame and were 2-for-3 on the power play.
Rockford closed the gap to 4-2 on a Jimmy Hayes power play goal at 4:12 of the second period. With Gord Baldwin in the penalty box for high-sticking, the IceHogs’ Jeremy Morin stole the puck from Nilstorp behind the net and found Hayes in the slot for an easy snipe into a yawning net. Another Texas penalty allowed Rockford to creep within one at 9:30 on Jeremy Morin’s power play goal. Morin unleashed a slap shot from the right wing that whirled by the glove of Nilstorp and off the left post into the mesh to bring the score to 4-3. The Stars spent a large portion of the second period on the penalty kill and struggled to gain any offensive momentum. The IceHogs went 2-for-4 with the man advantage while Texas was 0-for-1.
Rockford quickly evened things up at four when a Joe Lavin wrist shot from the blue line snuck over the shoulder of a screened Nilstorp just 61 second into the final session. Following the goal, Stars head coach Willie Desjardins replaced Nilstorp between the pipes with Jack Campbell. Neither side was able to gain an edge for the remaining 19 minutes and the contest headed into overtime. Tyler Sloan was whistled for a high-sticking infraction as time expired, forcing Texas to start overtime with a 4-on-3 penalty kill.
Texas was able to thwart the Sloan penalty thanks to spotless work in the crease by Campbell. The Stars were unable to create any scoring opportunities in overtime, however, forcing the game into a shootout. Justin Dowling scored in the third round to put the Stars ahead 1-0, but with the game in the balance, Jimmy Hayes scored on Rockford’s fifth attempt to force sudden death rounds. Following five scoreless rounds, IceHogs forward Kenndal McArdle’s eleventh round effort beat Campbell between the legs to put Rockford ahead. Patrik Nemeth had an opportunity to extend the shootout, but was stonewalled by Karlsson to complete the IceHogs’ 5-4 comeback victory.
Texas goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 19-of-24 shots before being relieved by Jack Campbell, who denied all eight shots he faced in regulation and overtime. Campbell performed admirably in the shootout as well, stopping 9-of-11 IceHog shooters, but was tagged with the shootout loss. Rockford starter Henrik Karlsson stopped 26-of-30 shots in regulation and overtime and denied 10-of-11 Stars shooters to pick up his first win of the year with the IceHogs. The visitors outshot Texas 32-30 and both clubs finished 2-for-5 on the power play. Fraser’s eleven game point streak is the longest in Texas franchise history, surpassing the ten game mark Fraser set himself last season.
Texas will now hit the road on their second trip to Canada this season, beginning with a Saturday, February 9th showdown against the Hamilton Bulldogs at 6:00 p.m. CST at Copps Coliseum.
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