Rookie Brendan Ranford’s First Pro Goal is Game-Winner
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Rookie Brendan Ranford scored his first professional goal, the game-winner, and added an assist to lead the Texas Stars to a 3-1 victory over the San Antonio Rampage Friday night at AT&T Center.
Rampage goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris was the star of the opening period as he denied Texas on numerous scoring chances, including a few stunning saves as he thwarted Curtis McKenzie, Chris Mueller, Travis Morin and Brendan Ranford, all from close range.
After out-shooting San Antonio 14-7, the Stars would finally crack the armor of Grumet-Morris just 89 seconds into the middle frame. Ranford raced behind the net on the fore-check, won a battle in the trapezoid and zipped a pass in front to Mueller for a one-timer that found the net at 1:19. The goal was Mueller’s first in a Texas Stars uniform and was assist by Ranford, his first pro point. The Stars thought they had doubled their lead when Justin Dowling’s shot on a two-on-one rush was stopped by Grumet-Morris, but the rebound ricocheted off the skates of Mike Hedden and into the net. The referee initially ruled a good goal, but after going to a video review the goal was disallowed.
San Antonio leveled the score at 15:38 of the second period as former Stars forward Greg Rallo sent an inch-perfect pass from the right wall to the left side of the net in a bang-bang play to the on-rushing stick of Garrett Wilson to tip behind Texas goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp. It would be the only puck that got behind the Stars net minder all night long. A mere 26 seconds after the visitors lost the lead, they got it right back. After Texas cleared their own zone, Grumet-Morris strayed way out of his crease to play the puck beyond the hash marks and coughed up possession. The San Antonio goalie passed it right to the stick of Ranford, who had a yawning net to fire home at 16:04 for an unassisted goal, a 2-1 Stars lead and his first pro goal.
The Rampage earned several power plays in the third period, but were stymied by solid goaltending from Nilstorp and excellent defense from the Texas penalty kill units that barely allowed shots against. San Antonio pulled Grumet-Morris in the final minute for an extra attacker and Mueller and Fortunus combined to send Morin up the middle of the ice and score on the empty net to close out the win 3-1 at 19:38.
Cristopher Nilstorp finished the game with 25 saves on 26 shots to record his first win of the season in goal for Texas. Dov Grumet-Morris made 33 saves on 35 shots and suffered his third loss of the year for San Antonio. The Stars out-shot the Rampage 36-26, while both teams finished 0-for-6 in the game on the power play.
Note: Travis Morin’s empty net goal was his team-leading eighth point in four games this season (4 goals, 4 assists), which is the third highest point total in the American Hockey League.
The Stars now return to Cedar Park Center for the second half of their home-and-home series with the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday, October 19th at 7:00 p.m. for another Coke Zero Family Four Pack Night, a Texas Lottery Lucky Row Night and a Stars hockey puck giveaway presented by Austin Telco Federal Credit Union. Pro-rated full and partial 2013-14 Texas Stars Season Tickets are on sale now. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.
Photo credit: Steven Christy