Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser Each with Two Points as Stars Claim AHL’s Top Spot
HOUSTON, TX – Matt Fraser had a goal and an assist, Reilly Smith had two helpers and Tyler Sloan scored the game-winning third period to lead the Texas Stars to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the Houston Aeros Friday night at Toyota Center.
Coming out of the almost week-long AHL All-Star break, the two teams had plenty of energy and set a fierce pace in the opening frame. Scoring chances were at a premium and Houston capitalized on the only power play of the period. With Carl Sneep in the penalty box for boarding, Aeros defenseman Steven Kampfer made a beautiful cross-crease pass to an unmarked Johan Larsson for an easy tap-in at 8:32.
Texas had two big opportunities to tie the game in the second period, but they were thwarted by rookie Darcy Kuemper. The Aeros goalie first denied Toby Petersen’s effort on a partial breakaway shorthanded and then later stopped Alex Chiasson’s breakaway chance. The Stars held Houston to just one shot on goal in the second period, out-shooting their hosts 7-1.
Texas All-Star Matt Fraser sparked the comeback in the third period with a determined effort from the right circle. Fraser’s initial shot was blocked by a defender, but the puck came right back to his stick and he clinically snapped a shot through the legs of Kuemper to tie the game with his 21st goal of the year, assisted by Reilly Smith and Colton Sceviour. Less than five minutes later the Stars had the lead as Smith was again directly involved. The rookie left wing raced into the offensive zone and cleverly found Tyler Sloan trailing the rush. Sloan received the pass at the top of the left faceoff circle and buried his shot into the top left corner of the net to give Texas a 2-1 lead at 12:19. Smith had his second assist of the night and Fraser assisted for his second point of the game. The Aeros pulled Kuemper late and Mike Hedden nearly scored an empty net goal from the red line, but his effort caught the outside of the left post. The play would not factor into the outcome as the Stars hung on for a 2-1 win.
Rookie goalie Jack Campbell stopped 17-of-18 shots to record his 8th win of the season and he was named the game’s second star, while Darcy Kuemper finished with 22 saves on 24 shots in the loss for Houston. Texas out-shot the Aeros 24-18 in the game and went 0-for-1 on the power play; Houston was 1-for-3 with the man-advantage.
The Texas 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.
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