Stars Burned by Heat in 5-4 LossMar 24, 2017
Stars - 27
Heat - 29
Ethan Werek Scores Twice in Texas Loss
CEDAR PARK, Texas -- Ethan Werek's two goals and a 4-1 lead late in the second were not enough on Friday night as the Stockton Heat pulled off a 5-4 comeback win over the Texas Stars in front of 4,612 in attendance at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
The Heat (28-25-4-1) added two goals in the final four minutes of the second, and two more in the third, to overtake Texas in the win. Dillon Heatherington also scored his first goal as a Star. Morgan Klimchuck was credited with the game-winner for Stockton.
“I don’t know [what went wrong]," said Werek. "You could say complacency or you could say bad bounces, but, in the end, we lost. It’s hard to process right now because we were playing so well. We were dominating the game, and I don’t know how it turned or where it turned. It sucks.”
It was a fast start for the Stars (29-31-1-4) as Jason Dickinson tapped in a power-play goal 2:35 into the game to open the scoring, and with five minutes remaining in the first, Hetherington capped off an odd-man rush with a rebound goal from the left circle to make it 2-0, Texas.
Texas continued their push early in period two as Werek snapped home Matej Stransky's centering pass at 1:34 for his first of the night. Less than a minute after Werek extended the Stars' lead, Linden Vey scored a breakaway goal to stop the bleeding and put Stockton on the board, but Werek responded again at 13:20 from the slot to make it 4-1.
“On the first [goal], Stransky came behind the net, found a soft area in the slot, made a great pass and I just got it off quick," said Werek. "The next one went down low to McNeill, he came back to me and I got the goalie short-side.”
Stockton starter Jon Gillies was pulled after the Stars' fourth goal for backup David Rittich and from there is when the Heat began to chip away. Mark Jankowski buried a power-play goal from the right circle with 3:27 left in the second to close the gap to two. Then, with 1:39 remaining, Garnet Hathaway beat Texas goaltender Justin Peters on a shorthanded break to make it a one-goal game.
Three minutes into the third, Tyler Wotherspoon fluttered a point shot through traffic that beat Peters to tie the score. Stockton killed off a hooking penalty to Hunter Shinkaruk midway through the period to fully shift the momentum and Klimchuck completed the comeback with 8:21 left in regulation on his 15th goal of the season.
The Heat closed the door on the Stars' last gasp with the extra attacker in the game's final minutes.
"That was a win we had to have, and that stinks," said Stars Head Coach Derek Laxdal. "It’s a team we’re trying to catch, and this puts us five games behind them. It hurts. It’s a tough one to swallow, especially when you’re up 4-1."
Peters stopped 24 of 29 shots in the loss for Texas. Rittich stopped all nine shots he faced in relief to earn the win. After stopping 96 of 98 shots in three career games against Texas, Gillies was chased after giving up four goals on 19 shots.
The Stars and the Heat square off for the second of their three game series on Saturday at 7 p.m. CST.
1. Klimchuck (STK)
2. Werek (TEX)
3. Heatherington (TEX)
W - Rittich
L - Peters
Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars