Morin Wraps Up AHL Scoring Title; Heat Edge Stars 4-3
AHL MVP Travis Morin and Rookie Of The Year Curtis McKenzie each notched a point in the 2013-2014 regular season finale, but the Texas Stars came up just short as they fell to the Abbotsford Heat 4-3 Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 6,863 fans at Cedar Park Center.
The Heat got on the board first when Markus Granlund one-timed a cross ice pass from Emile Poirier and beat Stars’ goalie Jack Campbell at 12:11. Granlund struck again two and a half minutes later, snapping a loose puck from the slot into the back of the net to give Abbotsford a 2-0 lead. The Heat added another goal late in the period with Poirier breaking away and sliding the puck five-hole on Campbell to put Abbotsford ahead 3-0.
Texas broke through in the second with defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka ripping a shot from the point that was redirected by Taylor Vause and in for a power play goal at 9:45, making it 3-1 Abbotsford. It was Vause’s third goal of the year, assisted by Jokipakka and Kevin Henderson. The Stars continued to cut into the Heat lead when Alex Guptil carried the puck down the right side and launched a backhander that was stopped by goalie Joni Ortio, but rookie Matej Stransky was there to bat the rebound out of mid-air and into the goal to bring Texas back within one.
Just over five minutes into the third period, AHL Rookie of the Year Curtis McKenzie tied the game at three when he hammered home the rebound of a Brenden Ranford one-timer in front of the net. It was McKenzie’s 27th goal of the season, assisted by Ranford and Travis Morin, who picked up his AHL-best 88th point of the year. Abbotsford regained the lead midway through the third as Corey Locke received a pass in the slot from Blair Jones behind the net and unloaded a one-timer past Campbell, putting the Heat back ahead 4-3 on what would be the eventual game-winning goal. Texas mounted a furious charge in the final minutes, including pulling Campbell for an extra attacker, but Abbotsford buckled down and held on for the slim victory.
Abbotsford goalie Joni Ortio (27-8-0) had 37 saves on 40 shots and earned his 27th victory of the season. Jack Campbell (12-2-2) stopped 22-of-26 shots faced and was saddled with just his second regulation loss of the year in net for Texas. The Stars outshot the Heat 40-26 and went 1-for-3 on the power play. Abbotsford was 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.
Notes: AHL president and CEO David Andrews was on-hand for the pre-game presentation of a variety of awards to the Texas Stars. Travis Morin received the Les Cunningham Award for Most Valuable Player and Curtis McKenzie was given the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award for Rookie of the Year. Morin and Colton Sceviour received trophies for being named to the AHL First All-Star Team and McKenzie for being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. The Stars were also official awarded the John D. Chick Trophy for the second straight year as West Division champions and the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL Regular Season champions. Travis Morin played in his 350th career AHL game, while Hubert Labrie skated in his 100th career AHL game. Morin will also receive the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL’s regular season scoring leader.
The Stars will begin the 2013-2014 Calder Cup Playoffs as they face the Oklahoma City Barons for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday, April 23rd for a 7:00 p.m. face off at Cox Convention Center. The Stars will return to Cedar Park Center for Game 3 on Wednesday, April 30th for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. Texas Stars’ 2014 Calder Cup playoff ticket packages are on sale now! Reserve your seats for all Calder Cup playoff games at Cedar Park Center at a discounted rate. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.