The Texas Stars and St John’s IceCaps are two franchises in search of their first AHL Calder Cup Championship. This is the Stars second trip to the finals in their five year history and the IceCaps first since joining the league in 2011.
With Texas having finished first in the Western Conference and St John’s closing out the season second in the Atlantic, the Stars held home ice advantage for the finals. Game one opened at the Cedar Park Center in suburban Austin with the Stars breaking a string of eight straight playoff games in which their opponent scored first. Reigning AHL MVP Travis Morin lit the lamp on the power play just 3:08 into the contest from Scott Glennie and Curtis McKenzie. Stars netminder Christopher Nilstorp had a pretty easy go of it in the first period not seeing a shot on goal for the first 16 minutes of the period.
St John’s pulled even at the 1:47 mark of the second, but Chris Mueller took a pass from Dustin Jeffrey and scampered down the right side to retake the lead just over two minutes later. The Mueller goal ignited the offense and Texas never looked back. Jeffrey picked up his second assist of the period when he dropped the puck to a trailing Glennie who put it over the glove of Michael Hutchinson. Morin closed out the period with his second goal of the night on a short handed rush with Brendan Ranford. Time of the goal was 16:51. The three Stars goals came on only four shots in the period.
The teams traded goals in the third with the IceCaps scoring first at 2:36 to pull to within two goals. Glennie put the Stars back up by three with his second goal at 8:27. Jeffrey and Mueller picked up the assists on the goal. St John’s scored again 51 second later on a shot off the post to trim the deficit to two once more. Texas held onto the lead through the remainder of the period before Mike Hedden’s empty netter at 18:19 from Mueller and Maxime Fortunus put the exclamation point on the night.
Texas was 1 – 2 on the power play while holding St John’s to 0 – 4. Shots on goal were 29 – 23 in favor of the visitors.
Game two saw the playing from behind streak rear its ugly head once again when the IceCaps opened the scoring at the 4:05 mark of the first. Despite outshooting St John’s 16 – 9 in the period the Stars could not find the back of the net.
Ranford broke the ice with his eighth of the playoffs just 29 seconds into the middle frame to knot the score at one apiece. Morin was credited with the assist on the play. Unfortunately, the IceCaps had a quick answer for the Ranford goal, scoring just 44 seconds later. The goal turned out to be the game winner as the Stars could not solve Hutichinson the rest of the way even though they poured 33 shots on goal through the remainder of the game.
St John’s had the only power play opportunity in the game, but failed to score. Texas outshot the IceCaps 50 – 35 in the contest.
With the split in Cedar Park, the IceCaps have effectively taken home ice advantage. They will play three at the Mile One Centre in St John’s Newfoundland with games six and seven back in Texas if necessary. The remaining Calder Cup Championship Series will be available live on the Fox Sports Southwest Network. Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for FSSW+ with the others games to be determined. FSSW+ can be found on the following channels / systems.
Time Warner – 906
Charter – 300 (SD), 776 (HD) – Denton (314)
DirecTV – 676-1 (SD & HD)
Dish – 447
U-verse – 754 (SD), 1754 (HD)
FiOS – 77 (SD), 577 (HD)
Game 1 – Sun., June 8 – at Texas, Texas 6 – St John’s 3
Game 2 – Mon., June 9 – at Texas, St John’s 2 – Texas 1
Game 3 – Wed., June 11 – Texas at St. John’s, 6:00
Game 4 – Mon., June 16 – Texas at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 5 – Tue., June 17 – Texas at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 6 – Thu., June 19 – St. John’s at Texas, 8:30
*Game 7 – Mon., June 23 – St. John’s at Texas, 8:30
* in necessary
Playoff Goaltending Comparison (Last 5 Games)
Who is Hot (Last 5 Games)
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Inside the Game
During the regular season the Stars finished second in goals scored with 274 and the IceCaps finished third with 258.
The Stars power play is running at 17.5% (14 of 80) in the playoffs while the penalty kill is at 83.9% (52 of 62). The IceCaps power play is at 15.9% (14 of 88). Their penalty kill has been outstanding at an even 90.0% (72 of 80).
Texas holds the advantage should a game go to overtime. They are 3 – 0 in overtime playoff games compared to the IceCaps 0 – 1 record.
Travis Morin is leading all playoff scorers with 6G – 12A in 18 games played. St. John’s Andrew Gordon is second at 8G – 9A and Mike Hedden is third with 7G – 9A.
Eric O’Dell of the IceCaps is tied for the lead in playoff goals scored with 9. Andrew Gordon and Stars rookie Brendan Ranford are tied for third with 8 goals apiece.
Michael Hutchinson has been in net for all 18 of the IceCaps playoff games. He has put together a 1.77 GAA (third in league) and a .943 SV% (second in league). Christopher Nilstorp has seen action in 16 playoff games and has a 2.20 GAA (fifth in league) and a .916 SV % (seventh in league).
Former Texas Tornado standout Nick Mazzolini (2003 – 2005) led the Alaska Aces to the ECHL Kelly Cup Championship. Mazzolini who wears the C for the Aces had the game winner on the power play at 19:37 of the first in the cup clenching game against the Cincinnati Cyclones. In his four year ECHL career Mazzolini has 263 points on 109G – 154A in 269 regular season games. During the Aces championship run Mazzolini score 11G – 20A in 21 games.
In two seasons in the NAHL, Mazzolini played in 85 games scoring 46G – 51A. He was part of two Robertson Cup National Championship teams with the Tornado, registering 8G – 13A in 22 playoff games.
The Lone Star Brahmas will hold an Open Tryout Camp at the NyTex Sports Centre in North Richland Hills June 27 – 29. Any player who would like further information on the camp may contact the Brahmas Coaching Staff at this link.