Captain Maxime Fortunus Posts Two Assists; McMillan’s Disputed Goal the Game-Winner
CEDAR PARK, TX – After a lengthy video review Carson McMillian’s third period disputed goal was awarded and it turned out to be the difference as the Texas Stars fell to the Houston Aeros 4-3 Friday night at Cedar Park Center. It was the final regular season meeting between the Stars and Aeros.
It was the 48th and final regular season meeting between Texas and Houston and the Aeros grabbed an early lead just 2:33 into the game. Dan DaSilva was the quickest player to react to a rebound from a long shot by Zack Phillips and he one-timed the rebound into the net before Stars goalie Cristopher Nilstorp could recover. Halfway through the period Justin Dowling tied the game with his 16th goal of the season. Dowling, assisted by captain Maxime Fortunus, fired a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that beat Aeros goaltender Josh Harding at 10:17 the level the score at one.
Chad Rau gave the Aeros a 2-1 just before the six-minute mark of the second period as a loose puck on an offense zone faceoff bounced right to his stick and he slid a shot through the legs of Nilstorp for a power play goal at 5:52. Exactly 60 seconds later Stars defenseman Joe Morrow tied the game when his shot off a rebound deflected into the net, with assists going to Brett Sonne and Colton Sceviour. Two minutes later the Stars received a power play, but it was Houston that would capitalize. Rau raced in on a breakaway and slid a backhand between the pads of Nilstorp to score a shorthanded goal at 9:04, his second goal of the night, to give the Aeros a 3-2 lead. A few minutes later Stars rookie Curtis McKenzie thought he had his first pro goal when he tipped a shot past Harding, only to have Houston defenseman Kyle Medvec clear the puck off the goal line.
Texas stormed back to level ground early in the third period as Francis Wathier’s persistence led to his fourth goal of the season at 3:35. Wathier fought hard to keep possession and then shot the puck through the legs of Harding for his fourth goal of the year, assisted by Fortunus and Travis Morin. The decisive moment came at 9:07 on an Aeros’ two-on-one rush. Rau’s initial shot was blocked by Nilstorp, but the rebound went up in the air and hit off the body of Carson McMillan and went into the open net. The goal was disputed and the referee took a long look at the video review before awarding the goal, with an assist to Rau. Texas nearly tied the game within the last five minutes of play, only to have Harding come up with two huge saves in quick succession on Morin and Sceviour to help preserve the lead and, ultimately, the win.
Josh Harding finished with 33 saves on 36 shots to record his first win of the season for Houston, while Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 26-of-30 shots and took the loss in goal for Texas. The Stars out-shot the Aeros 36-30 and went 0-for-3 on the power play; Houston was 1-for-3 with the man-advantage. With the loss Texas’ magic number to clinch first place in the Western Conference standings remains at one, needing either a point in their regular season finale versus the Rockford IceHogs or a dropped point in one of the Toronto Marlies two remaining games.
The Texas Stars will close out the 2012-13 regular season on Saturday, April 20th as they host the Rockford IceHogs for a 7:00 p.m. faceoff at Cedar Park Center. Saturday is Fan Appreciation Night, where all fans will received a Stars Commemorative Print, there will be hundreds of prize giveaways, a sealed bid silent auction for the Stars alternate jerseys, a post-game open ice session, a Family Four Pack Night and much more. 2013-14 Season Tickets are now on sale. Put your deposit for 2013-14 season tickets and receive priority for both Texas Stars 2013 Calder Cup playoff tickets and 2013-14 season seat selection. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.