Texas Takes a Wild One in the Shootout, 5-4Mar 25, 2017
Stars - 36
Heat - 26
CEDAR PARK, Texas - The Texas Stars and Stockton Heat traded goals all night long as the two teams battled back-and-forth through 65 minutes of action and six rounds of the shootout before forward Gemel Smith ended the night on his first career shootout attempt.
After Stars Captain Travis Morin third-round goal extended the shootout, Smith, who earned three assists on the night prior to the deciding goal, beat Stockton netminder David Rittich with a back-handed shot in front of 6,453 fans that earned the Stars (30-31-1-4) a 5-4 victory at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
“That’s the Gemel Smith we want to see every night - strong on the puck, hard on the forecheck,” said Stars Head Coach Derek Laxdal. “He’s got enough skill to set up plays and make plays. He was a difference maker tonight."
The only offense registered in the first period saw Texas forward Matej Stransky tip in Morin’s centering feed at the 9:05 mark for his team-leading 21st of the season.
Trailing 1-0, Stockton’s Oliver Kylington knotted the game, just 2:25 into the middle frame, with a wrist shot in the slot to beat Texas netminder Justin Peters. After forcing a turnover behind the Heat’s net just two minutes later, Smith connected a pass to forward Mike McMurtry who faked a shot before centering the puck to Matt Mangene, who scored on a wide-open net.
Then, at 7:39 mark, Tyler Wotherspoon answered back for Stockton (28-25-4-2) with a power-play goal in the right circle for a 2-2 score.
Smith went on pick up his second helper of the game, with 11:15 left in the middle frame, when he threaded a pass from behind the Stockton net to an open McMurtry, who had been recalled from the ECHL just hours prior to the game, for the rookie’s sixth of the year.
“Every time I looked, he was open,” Smith said of McMurtry. “He played hard, he made himself available for me and it was great playing with him. He made that game a lot easier."
However, Mike Angelidis responded for the Heat just 29 seconds later by knocking a puck out of the air. Brandon DeFazio capped off the scoring run with nine minutes remaining banging a bouncing puck past Rittich for his 20th of the season to give Texas a a 4-3 lead.
With only five minutes remaining in regulation, Stockton tied things up, once again, when Andrew Mangiapane’s rebound goal forced overtime for the visiting club, but it was a six-goal second period that highlighted the tightly played game.
"I think they play a hard abrasive style so it’s always a little tougher to find open ice,” said DeFazio. “You’ve got to really work for your chances with a bunch of little plays inside. On a bunch of our goals, you can see a little give and go in tight, and that’s what usually works with teams that are really going to push in hard on you. Give them credit. They work hard, and they play that style…It was good for us, at least, to get the win."
The Stars and Heat close out their three-game set, and regular season series, on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. CST.
-Texas snapped a four-game losing skid to Stockton in the marathon battle
-Mike McMurtry and Matt Mangene each tallied a goal and an assist in the win
-The Stars finished 1-for-8 on the power play while the Heat went 1-for-5
-Peters earned the win with 22 saves
-Rittich suffered the loss stopping 31
1. Smith (TEX)
2. McMurtry (TEX)
3. DeFazio (TEX)
W - Peters
L - Rittich
Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars