Hedden Scores Twice, Texas Breaks Five-Game Winless Streak
CEDAR PARK, TX – Mike Hedden tallied two goals and Justin Dowling returned from injury to add two assists as the Texas Stars snapped a season-long five-game winless streak with a 4-3 win over the Abbotsford Heat Wednesday night at Cedar Park Center.
Texas controlled play for most of the first period, but Abbotsford started the scoring with their first shot of the game at 11:58. Krys Kolanos fought through traffic in the slot and slid a wrister between the legs of Stars goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp to give the Heat a 1-0 lead. Matt Fraser leveled things at one with a rocket wrist shot from the left faceoff circle at 16:42, his 28th goal of the season. Hubert Labrie fought off two Abbotsford skaters to keep the puck in the attacking zone and Fraser found himself with enough space to beat the glove of Heat netminder Danny Taylor. Abbotsford reclaimed the lead just 83 seconds later as Blair Jones beat Nilstorp to a rebound at the top of the crease and punched the puck home to give the Heat a 2-1 edge. Texas outshot the visitors 12-7 and was 0-for-2 on the power play in the opening frame.
The Stars took over the contest with three goals in the first five minutes of the second period. Mike Hedden used a stellar individual effort to even the score at two with his first goal of the night just 93 seconds into the session. Hedden was tripped trying to evade a Heat defender and, falling to the ice, was almost parallel to the ice as lifted a stunning shot over the shoulder of Taylor into the top right corner pocket. William Wrenn gave Texas a 3-2 lead at 2:42 at the end of a tic-tac-toe passing sequence with Taylor Vause and Francis Wathier. Wrenn blasted a one-timer from the high slot past a frozen Taylor, and Abbotsford head coach Troy Ward decided to pull Taylor in favor of Barry Brust. Hedden cashed in again at 4:45 to widen the gap to 4-2. Justin Dowling put the puck on the net and Hedden cleaned up the loose rebound before Brust could recover to tally his second goal of the evening and ninth of the season. Both Dowling and Alex Chiasson recorded their second assists of the game on Hedden’s goal. Shortly thereafter, Heat forward Mike Testwuide came in late and crashed into Nilstorp, who was forced to leave the game. Rookie Jack Campbell came on to relieve Texas’ injured starter. The Stars were unsuccessful during the ensuing power play, but headed into the third with a 24-17 advantage in the shot column and 4-2 lead.
The Heat closed the deficit to 4-3 at 1:48 of the final session. Mike Matczak lit the lamp with a slap shot from the point that Campbell never saw to bring Abbotsford within striking distance. Texas only managed two shots to the Heat’s eleven over the final 20 minutes, but Campbell was stout between the pipes in relief, even stoning Kolanos on a breakaway to preserve the lead. The Stars staved off a last gasp empty net attack from Abbotsford to finish up a 4-3 victory and snap a five-game winless streak.
Texas starter Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 8-of-10 Heat shots before leaving the contest in the second period due to injury; he received a no decision. Jack Campbell denied 17-of-18 Abbotsford shots in Nilstorp’s stead and picked up his 14th win of the year. Heat starter Danny Taylor turned away 11-of-14 Stars shots before being pulled from the game and also had a no decision. Barry Brust made 11-of-12 saves for Abbotsford in relief and took the loss. The visitors outshot Texas 28-26 and were 0-for-2 on the power play; the Stars were 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
The Stars hit the road for a pivotal pair of weekend games against the Charlotte Checkers, beginning Friday March 15 at 6:00 p.m. CDT at Time Warner Cable Arena. Texas returns home on Tuesday March 19 for a 7:30 pm. faceoff against the San Antonio Rampage at Cedar Park Center for another H-E-B Night. 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.