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A hungry Texas Stars team improved to 2-3-0-0 tonight after a thrilling overtime victory against the Peoria Rivermen. The winning tally was scored at the 3:00 minute mark in overtime, as Mark Fraser buried his second of the night to seal the game. It came on the 4th Stars Power Play of the night, which was the result of a high-sticking penalty by Rivermen LW Brett Sterling.
The story of the night was a rollercoaster match-up of discipline for both teams. Texas started the scoring early when Travis Morin buried a quick snapshot from the slot just 35 seconds into the game. The feed came from a quick give behind the net, in the trapezoid, by Matt Fraser. Brad Lukowich also assisted on the play.
Peoria evened things up just two minutes later as Rivermen defensemen Mark Cundari cheated from the point into the slot and brought home a sweeping pass from the half-board to make it 1-1.
Raymond Sawada scored his second of the season roughly 5 minutes into the 1st to put Texas back on top 2-1 off a tip in front from a point shot. It was the first of three Power Play goals for Texas on the night. Less than 90 seconds later, Luke Gazdic tallied his second of the season as well on a nice feed from Brad Lukowich, and the Stars were out in front 3-1.
Peoria took the momentum away from Texas in the last ten minutes of the first period, following a scrap between Rivermen forward Kyle Hagel and Stars LW Mike Hedden. Phil McRae, who tallied a hat-trick tonight, shortened the lead for Peoria on a Power Play wrister just outside the right face-off circle to make it 3 to 2.
Two minutes later, the Stars found themselves in further penalty trouble. After a failed 2-on-1 for Texas on the penalty kill, Peoria turned the puck up ice on a 3-on-1 of their own, allowing Derek Nesbitt to pot his 1st of the season from the odd man rush, and the game was tied 3-3.
Peoria then took its only lead of the game with just 1:13 to play in the first period, when Phil McRae put home goal number 2 on the night to make the score 4-3, Rivermen. Stars goaltender Richard Bachman made the initial save on McRae who snapped a wrister from the slot, but McRae was able to recover the puck and deflect it in from behind the goal off the Stars netminder.
“Just basic stuff,” coach said Jeff Pyle after the game. “We took a penalty we didn’t need to take. We need to be more committed to learn how to play with a lead and to play a game that we can win.”
Just thirty seconds later, the Stars counter punched with a 4th goal of their own by Mark Fraser to take the game into the first intermission 4-4.
Bachman, who looked strong in a relatively quiet first ten minutes, had some difficulty with rebound control later in the period, which helped Peoria pull themselves back into the game. The real story, however, was the difficulty which Texas had staying out of the penalty box, which allowed Peoria to get back into the game. The Stars, who put Peoria on the Power Play seven times in the contest, had five first period penalties, though one was a fighting major.
Peoria set the pace early in the second period, nearly scoring a 2-on-1 when Stars Center Tyler Arnason failed to cheat back for a pinching defenseman. The scoring tempo slowed but the physical tempo picked up in the second, as both teams pulled back defensively somewhat.
Dan Spang scored the lone goal of the period 11:55 in on a brilliant individual effort, going end-to-end and potting a wrist shot from just inside the blue-line to put Texas back on top 5-4.
Richard Bachman looked strong in the period, turning away all 15 shots and 27 of 31 through the first two. Riverman goaltender Jake Allen was pulled for Ben Bishop after the 5th goal. He made just 11 saves on 16 shots.
The Rivermen spent much of the third period controlling the pace of the game but limiting their shot selection as compared to the first two periods. The Stars opened the period playing a 1-2-2 with 1 forechecker, though they weren’t sitting back.
More costly penalties plagued the Stars with just over 8 minutes to go when Mike Hedden, Francis Wathier and Brad Lukowich took penalties in quick succession, leading to an extended 5-on-3 for Peoria. The Rivermen tied the game 5-5 with just a few seconds remaining in the two-man advantage, when Phil McRae completed the hat trick with a tap in down low.
There was some question about the goal as it looked like McRae had made a kicking motion and the puck deflected off his shin, but it was ruled that he was able to complete the act of scoring with his stick before the puck crossed the line.
The Rivermen surprisingly did not turn it up that much in the third period, but were rather the benefactors of more discipline issues from the Stars club. The game headed to overtime tied 5-5.
Peoria gave a gift of its own 2 minutes into overtime when Brett Sterling took a high-sticking penalty to give the Stars a 4-on-3 advantage. Mark Fraser then scored his second of the night on a beautiful one-timer to end the game 6-5.
After the game, a scuffle ensued between the two clubs. Stefan Della Rovere was given a match penalty/game misconduct for intent to injure. He was also give a match penalty/game misconduct for continuing altercation. He may expect to hear from the league as a result of the fireworks after the conclusion of the game. Mark Fraser and Luke Gazdic were given match penalties/game misconducts for continuing altercations.
The Stars begin a four game road trip Tuesday in Rockford. Their next home game is Thursday, November 3rd.
OFFICIAL THREE STARS:
3rd Star:Phil McRae, Peoria Rivermen,
2nd Star: Travis Morin¸ Texas Stars
1st Star: Mark Fraser, Texas Stars