Stars Earn Point in Shootout with IceHogsApr 6, 2019
Dahill Office Technology Corporation Three Stars:
CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, dropped the puck against the Rockford IceHogs for a Saturday night rematch and came out on the wrong side of back-and-forth game that ended in a 4-3 shootout loss. A game of deflections saved the day for the IceHogs as they were outshot by the Stars 35-22.
Rockford opened scoring 3:52 into the contest when a 2-on-1 broke in favor of the visiting team. Ben Gleason attempted to block a pass from Reese Johnson, but the pass met the stick of IceHogs forward Luke Johnson who shot the puck from the right circle over the shoulder of Jake Oettinger to give his team the early lead.
Texas immediately responded with pressure in the IceHogs zone that eventually resulted in the tying goal. Joel L’Esperance wasted no time getting his name back in the Stars goal column after an 14 game stint with Dallas. The forward carried the puck into the zone and around the boards from center ice. He outworked several Rockford defenders to find the perfect shot and fired his 30th goal of the year past Anton Forsberg to knot the score at one. L’Esperance joins Matt Fraser, Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour as the 4th player in franchise history to net 30 goals in a single season. The Stars defense went to work and held the IceHogs to only three shots in the period while Texas racked up 13 shots of their own.
Early in the second period, Nicholas Caamano gave Texas their first lead of the night, scoring a power play goal off a cross ice pass from Gavin Bayreuther. The forward blasted a wrist shot at Forsberg that eventually trickled through his legs to put the Stars on top. Texas would end the night 1-for-4 on the power play, and successfully kill two penalties of their own.
Less than a minute after Caamano’s goal, Rockford found the equalizer when Peter Holland tapped in a deflected shot by Matthew Highmore. With just over a minute until the intermission, Colton Hargrove came inches away from breaking the tie, but ultimately could not sneak the puck between the pipes.
Midway through the third period, Colin Markison and Rhett Garnder worked to give the Stars another one-goal lead over the IceHogs. Markison controlled the puck in the middle of the right circle and dished it to Gardner who went on to light the lamp from the slot. In the final five minutes of regulation, Rockford would tie things up and force overtime when Henri Jokiharju’s shot flipped over Oettinger’s shoulder close enough for Tyler Sikura to tap in a goal.
The IceHogs collected five shots during the overtime period, but Oettinger made a set of incredible stops on odd man rushes to keep his team in the game, including one on an IceHogs breakaway. The Stars battled until the very last second of overtime, but could not quite beat Forsberg, so the two teams continued to the shootout.
Colton Hargrove started things off and ripped a shot inside the left post to score the Stars only shootout goal. Holland struck back for Rockford in the third round to even things out and force additional rounds. In the fifth round, Jacob Nilsson finally ended the skills competition, lifting the puck over Oettinger’s pad for the game-winning goal.
Oettinger suffered the first loss of his career, stopping 19 shots on 22 attempts by Rockford while Forsberg narrowly earned the win after saving 32-of-35 shots including three in overtime.
The Stars are back to work on Wednesday as they take on the San Antonio Rampage in a crucial three-game series to conclude the regular season.
Photo Credit: Taylor Sammarco