Dowling’s Hat Trick Gives Stars Quick Revenge Over Rampage
CEDAR PARK, TX – Justin Dowling scored a hat trick, while Mike Hedden and Alex Chiasson each tallied two assists, as the lethal trio of forwards led the Texas Stars to a 4-1 victory over the San Antonio Rampage Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Cedar Park Center.
Texas dominated play early and took a 1-0 lead at 8:15 on Justin Dowling’s first goal of the night. Dowling gathered a pass from Mike Hedden in the right slot and beat the glove of San Antonio goaltender Jacob Markstrom with an upstairs wrister after forcing him to commit with a nifty deke. Dowling struck again with just 15 seconds left in the period to give the Stars a 2-0 advantage. Alex Chiasson won a battle along the boards with Rampage defenseman Brian O’Hanley and slipped a backhand pass to a trailing Dowling from behind the net. Dowling took the puck in the right faceoff circle and fired it underneath the glove of Markstrom to notch his second goal of the game and give Chiasson his second assist. Texas outshot the visitors 15-8 and San Antonio was unsuccessful during the frame’s only power play.
The bad blood boiled over between the division rivals just 1:05 into the second period as Luke Gazdic and Eric Selleck dropped their gloves and exchanged blows, bringing the sellout Cedar Park Center crowd to their feet. With Gord Baldwin in the penalty box for holding, the Rampage used the man advantage to close the gap to 2-1 when a Casey Wellman one-timer beat the pad of Stars netminder Richard Bachman at 7:41. Texas responded right back at 9:35 with a power play goal of its own as Dowling completed the hat trick to record his fifth goal of the season. A Hedden shot from the right wing bounced off the left pad of Markstrom onto Dowling’s stick and he swiftly pocketed the puck to reclaim a two-goal lead, sending the hats of the Stars faithful to the ice. Chiasson ended up in the box for roughing following a post-goal scrum but Texas killed the ensuing penalty.
A little more than halfway into the final frame the Stars found themselves at a 5-on-3 disadvantage after consecutive Baldwin and Tyler Sloan infractions. Texas was able to stave off both penalties, however, and maintain the 3-1 lead thanks to an active kill and a few timely Bachman saves. The Stars continued to pepper Markstrom with shots and Toby Petersen capped off the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:36 to secure the 4-1 victory. Matt Fraser cleared the zone and found Antoine Roussel skating up the right wing. Roussel could have shot on the empty net himself, but with two defenders converging, he unselfishly sent a clever pass across the zone to an unmarked Petersen for a simple finish.
Texas goaltender Richard Bachman denied 25-of-26 shots to earn his 3rd win of the year, while San Antonio starter Jacob Markstrom stopped 39-of-42 shots in the loss. The Stars outshot the visitors 43-26 and finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while San Antonio went 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Dowling’s hat trick was the first by a Texas skater this season. With the second assist on Petersen’s empty net goal, Fraser extended his season-high point streak to nine games. The All-Star left wing has 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) during his current point streak. The win sends the Stars into the AHL All-Star Break in first place in the Western Conference with 58 points. Texas completed its best January in franchise history with a 10-1-1-0 record throughout 2013’s opening month.
Texas gets back to work following the AHL All-Star break on Friday, February 1st as they travel to Houston to square off against the Aeros at 7:05 p.m. at Toyota Center. The Stars return home on Tuesday, February 5th, for another H-E-B Night as they host the Rockford IceHogs for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff at Cedar Park Center. As part of H-E-B Night, fans may bring any H-E-B brand non-perishable food item for $5 off the gate price of a ticket on February 5th. Pro-rated full and partial 2012-13 season seat packages are on sale now. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.