Curtis McKenzie Scores 13th Goal of the Season in Stars Defeat
CHARLOTTE, NC – Rookie Curtis McKenzie scored his 13th goal of the season, his 38th point of the year, but the Texas Stars were beaten by the Charlotte Checkers 6-1 Saturday afternoon at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Fresh of being humiliated on home ice last night, the Checkers came out strong and peppered goalie Cristopher Nilstorp early in the game. Justin Shugg opened the scoring with a shot from the high slot that beat Nilstorp high over the blocker at 7:59. Charlotte kept up the pressure and made it 2-0 when Aaron Palushaj skated through the low slot and beat Nilstorp with a low shot under the catching glove at 10:23. Palushaj was on target again three minutes later, when he went in on a breakaway and beat Nilstorp to make it 3-0 at 13:21. Texas would remove Nilstorp at that point, bringing in backup goaltender Josh Robinson. Late in the period the Stars got on the board with flukey goal. Rookie Curtis McKenzie took a long shot from the neutral zone that went off the top of the catching glove of Charlotte goalie and trickled into the net at 18:53. It was McKenzie’s 13th goal of the season, assisted by Cameron Gaunce.
The Stars tried to carry the momentum into the second period, but it was the hosts that pulled farther away. Zach Boychuk snuck behind the defense on a breakaway and snapped a shot under the glove of Robinson for his 15th goal of the season at 8:42. Then with six minutes left in the frame, Matthew Pistilli eluded the Stars defense, skated around Robinson and centered the puck behind the goaltender for a tap-in by Philippe Cornet and a 5-1 Checkers lead.
In the third period, Robinson stopped three breakaways, two on Boychuk and one on Chris Terry to keep the Checkers from adding to their lead. However, he could not prevent Charlotte from adding a sixth goal as Victor Rask scored a four-on-four goal with 48 seconds left in regulation.
John Muse stopped 23-of-24 shots to record the win on goal for Charlotte. Cristopher Nilstorp took the loss in net for Texas, making nine saves on 12 shots in the first 13:21 of the game. Backup Josh Robinson played the final 46:29 and turned away 24-of-27 shots in a no-decision. The Checkers out-shot the Stars 39-24 and went 0-for-6 on the power play. Texas was 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.
The Stars now return home to begin a seven-game homestand by facing the Iowa Wild on Wednesday, January 22nd for a 7:30 p.m. face off at Cedar Park Center. Next Wednesday’s game is a Winning Wednesday presented by H-E-B. 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: Gregg Forwerck/Charlotte Checkers