Gaunce, Stransky Each Net Goal and Assist for Texas
ROCHESTER, NY – Cameron Gaunce and rookie Matej Stransky each had a goal and an assist as the Texas Stars squandered a 3-0 lead, but earned a point, in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Rochester Americans Sunday afternoon at Blue Cross Arena.
Texas jumped on Rochester right from the start and grabbed the lead in the game’s first minute. Just 29 seconds into the first period, Travis Morin won a clean faceoff back to the point and defenseman Cameron Gaunce ripped home slap shot that beat goaltender Nathan Lieuwen for a 1-0 lead. The goal was Gaunce’s second of the year and was assisted by Morin, who becomes the first player in Texas Stars history to record 70 points in a single season. Rookie Matej Stransky doubled the Stars’ advantage at 7:13, when he danced by one Americans blue-liner and then snapped a shot past the blocker side of Lieuwen, assisted by Taylor Peters, for his sixth goal of the year. The offensive milestones continued late in the period as Colton Sceviour eluded two Rochester defenders and lifted the puck over a sprawling Lieuwen and into the net at 15:29 for a 3-0 lead. With the goal, Sceviour became the first player in the AHL this year to reach the 30-goal mark and the second player in Texas Stars history to accomplish the feat; Matt Fraser was the Stars’ first 30-goal scorer, doing it during each of his two seasons in Cedar Park (2011-12 & 2012-13).
The Americans took advantage of some Texas penalty trouble to come storming back in the second period. The Stars were called for five consecutive minor penalties, including two lengthy five-on-three power plays for Rochester, and while the Amerks only scored one power play goal, it ignited the comeback. Phil Varone finished off a give-and-go rush with Luke Adam to put Rochester on the board at 2:24. Four minutes later, Johan Larsson scored a power play goal and then Dan Catenacci tied the game at three at 8:14. The Stars’ rookie line of Matej Stransky, Taylor Peters and Brendan Ranford then combined to put Texas back in front. Stransky won a battle at the red line, before taking a huge hit at the blue line, opening up space for Ranford to race down the right wing and zip an inch-perfect pass to Peters at the back post for a tap-in and a 4-3 lead at 15:03.
Rochester rallied again early in the third period to tie the game 4-4. Jamie Armia and Colton Gillies both drove the net, and with the confusion in front, Gillies’ pass missed everyone, including Robinson, and went straight into the goal at 3:25. The two teams went back-and-forth looking for the winner, but neither could break the deadlock.
Texas had two early chances in overtime, but then took an ill-advised line change, giving the Americans a four-on-two odd-man rush. Rochester took advantage of the opportunity and Drew Bagnall found a wide-open Phil Varone on the back door for an open net tap-in, Varone’s second goal of the night, to win the game 5-4 just 48 seconds into overtime.
Nathan Lieuwen shrugged off rough start and finished with 22 saves on 26 shots in goal for Rochester, claiming his 12th win of the season. Texas goaltender Josh Robinson stopped 28-of-33 shots and suffered his sixth loss of the season. The Americans out-shot the Stars 33-26 in the game and went 1-for-8 on the power play, while Texas was 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.
Texas will complete its five-game road stretch on Monday, February 17th with a 2:00 p.m. CT faceoff with the Toronto Marlies at Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto, home of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The Stars will return to Cedar Park Center on Friday, February 21st as they host the Charlotte Checkers at 7:30 p.m. The February 21st home game kicks off Pink in the Rink Weekend presented by Cedar Park Regional Medical Center and is a $3 Beer and $4 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wine Night. Pro-rated full and partial 2013-14 Texas Stars Season Tickets are on sale now. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.
Photo credit: Micheline Veluvolu/Rochester Americans