Updated to reflect amended shot totals from official scorer and to include scoring summary
For the St. John’s IceCaps and their supporters, the Texas Stars are a mystery no more.
Certainly, the Stars entered the American Hockey League Calder Cup final against the IceCaps with a sterling reputation — they had, after all, owned the league’s best record this season. But with Texas having never played St. John’s in the three-year history of the IceCaps, getting anything close to an accurate pre-series read on this matchup was difficult. It basically amounted to guess-work.
There’s less guessing now.
The Stars easily lived up to their pre-billing Monday night in Cedar Park, Tex., beating the St. John’s 6-3 in the opening game of the best-of-seven AHL championship series, displaying an efficient offence and an ability to take advantage of opposition defensive miscues, of which St. John’s committed far too many.
The IceCaps get an almost immediate chance for repair and redemption in Game 2 tonight in Cedar Park (10 p.m. NT).
They should welcome it, given what transpired in the series opener, when the Stars got their half-dozen goals, one of them an empty-netter, on just 23 shots. That included three goals on four shots in the second period and five tallies on 12 shots over the last 40 minutes as they made goalie Michael Hutchinson, who had been super for the IceCaps’ so far in the playoffs, look something far more mortal.
Not that Hutchinson was close to being totally culpable. Overall, this was St. John’s worst defensive effort in 17 post-season games, with the most un-shining example coming late in the second period.
At the time, St. John’s was trailing 3-1, but looked to have a chance to close the gap when Scott Glennie was tagged for a holding-the-stick penalty. However, it was Stars’ who tallied shorthanded, with AHL MVP and leading scorer Travis Morin getting his second goal of the game, finishing off what had started as a two-on-one with Brendan Ranford and as St. John’s committed miscues at both ends of the ice.
It was the third straight goal by the Stars that began with a rush from their own end. It also was the first shorthanded goal allowed by St. John’s in 17 playoff games this spring, but brought up bad memories of the regular season, when they gave up 16 shorties, second-most in the league.
Glennie also scored twice for the Stars. He added an assist and completed a Gordie Howe hat trick with a fight against the IceCaps' Adam Lowry at the final buzzer.
Joining Glennie with three-point nights were his linemates, Chris Mueller (goal, two assists) and Dustin Jeffrey (three assists).
Mike Hedden had the empty-netter for Texas.
Will O’Neill, Kael Mouillierat and Jordan Hill — credited with his first goal of the season — replied for the IceCaps, who displayed the never-quit attitude that has marked their season, but in a game when more than attitude was required.
A more effective power-play would have helped. St. John’s went zero-for-four with the man-advantage, or minus one-for-four, if you count the shorthanded goal by Morin, who had a good night on special teams; his other goal came on the power play three minutes into the game.
That ended a streak that had seen St. John's penalty killers successfully deal with 34 opportunities for the opposition.
It must also have have been an indication for the IceCaps — or at least a reinforcement of what they already suspected — that this final test was going to be a particularly tough one.
The IceCaps didn't get their first shot on goal untiil nearly the 14-minute mark of the the first period, but still outshot the Stars in the game, sending 29 shots the way of Texas goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp ... St. John’s went with a lineup of 12 forwards and six defencemen. Wiith rearguard Will O’Neill back in the lineup after serving a one-game suspension (for a match penalty) in the sixth and deciding Game of the Eastern Conference final against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, defenceman Kris Fredheim was a healthy scratch for th IceCaps … Texas finished one-for-two on the power-play … Texas goalie Jack Campbell, one of the top prospects of the parent Dallas Stars, was Nilstorp’s backup Sunday. It was the first time Campbell dressed for a game since being injured May 16 during the Stars' second-round series against the Grand Rapid Griffins … Announced attendance at the Cedar Park Center, which has a listed capacity of 6,863 for hockey, was 5,625 … The Molson Canadian three stars Sunday were all from Texas: 1. Scott Glennie; 2. Travis Morin; 3. Dustin Jeffrey … The choice as the Mary Brown’s hardest-working IceCap: Jordan Hill …
Stars 6, IceCaps 3
Sunday at the Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, Tex.
1. Texas, Morin 5 (Glennie, McKenzie), 3:08 (pp)
Penalties — Jokipakka Tex (tripping), 0:47; St. John’s bench minor (too many men, served by O’Dell), 2:54; Jaffray SJs (slashing), 14:11; Henderson Tex (tripping), 16:45
2. St. John's, O'Neill 3 (Jaffray, Morrissey), 1:47
3. Texas, Mueller 6 (Jeffrey), 3:52
4. Texas, Glennie 5 (Jeffrey, Nemeth), 12:17
5. Texas, Morin 6 (Ranford), 16:51 (sh)
Penalties — McKenzie Tex (tripping), 6:40; Glennie Tex (holding the stick), 15:38
6. St. John's, Mouillierat 4 (Kichton, O'Dell), 2:36
7. Texas, Glennie 6 (Jeffrey, Mueller), 8:27
8. St. John's, Hill 1 (Gordon, Albert), 9:18
9.Texas, Hedden 7 (Mueller, Fortunus), 18:19 (en)
Penalties — Lowry SJs (fighting), 20:00; Glennie Tex (fighting), 20:00
Shots on goal: St. John's 5-13-11-29; Texas 11-4-8-23
Power plays (goals/chances): St. John's 0/4; Texas 1/2
Goalies: St. John's, Hutchinson 11-6-0 (22 shots/17 saves); Texas, Nilstorp 10-4-0 (29 shots/26 saves)
Referees: Trevor Hanson, Terry Koharski
Linesmen: Trent Knorr, Carl Sasyn
Attendance: 5,625 (6,863)