Nilstorp Dazzles Again, Stars Beat IceCaps to Take 2-1 Series Lead
ST. JOHN’S, NFLD – Reigning American Hockey League MVP Travis Morin scored in the first overtime to lift the Texas Stars to a 2-1 win over the St. John’s IceCaps in Game 3 of the 2014 Calder Cup Finals on Wednesday night at Mile One Centre. The victory gives the Stars a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
After a scoreless first period, where Texas out-shot St. John’s 12-7, the Stars finally cracked the armor of goaltender Michael Hutchinson late in the middle frame. Justin Dowling’s shot from the top of the right circle was denied by the IceCaps netminder, but Ritchie was in perfect position at the top of the crease the snap the rebound right through Hutchinson’s legs at 15:54 to put Texas ahead 1-0. It was Ritchie’s fifth goal of the playoffs and was assisted by Dowling and Mike Hedden. The Stars out-shot St. John’s 14-6 in the second period and held a 26-13 advantage through 40 minutes.
The tide turned in the third period as Texas took three-straight minor penalties, allowing the IceCaps to grab momentum. With 8:16 left in regulation, Kael Mouillierat tipped a Zach Redmond shot from the point up over the shoulder of Stars goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp, tying the game at one. St. John’s out-shot the Stars 17-6 in the third period and the game went to overtime.
Just before the five-minute mark of the first overtime, Texas received a power play when Patrice Cormier was whistled for hooking. On the ensuing advantage, Hutchinson made a sensational save while sitting on the ice, denying a wide-open Ritchie from scoring his second goal of the game. Moments later, as the penalty expired, defenseman Kris Fredheim sent a long pass to find Cormier stepping out of the penalty box and he raced off on a breakaway, but Nilstorp made his most timely save of the night to keep the game tied. After the stop, the Stars countered back up the ice as Curtis McKenzie led the charge and then dropped the puck to the top of the right circle for Brendan Ranford. The rookie winger turned and sent an inch-perfect pass to Travis Morin at the far post and the leading scorer of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs redirected the puck into the IceCaps net at 7:20 to win the game for Texas. It was Morin’s seventh goal of the post-season, assisted by Ranford and McKenzie, and it gave the Stars a 2-1 series lead.
Cristopher Nilstorp (11-5) was spectacular in goal for Texas, making 30 saves on 31 shots for his 11th win of the playoffs. Michael Hutchinson (12-7) continued his sparkling play in goal for St. John’s, but suffered his seventh loss of the post-season and stopped 31-of-33 shots. The Stars out-shot the IceCaps 33-31 and went 0-for-3 on the power play, while St. John’s finished 0-for-5 on the power play.
Texas now has a 2-1 series lead and four days off before facing St. John’s for Game 4 of the 2014 Calder Cup Finals on Monday, June 16th at 7:30 p.m. NDT (5:00 p.m. CT). If necessary, Games 6 & 7 will be back at Cedar Park Center on Thursday, June 19th and Monday June 23rd, both at 7:30 p.m. CT. Texas Stars season ticket packages for the 2014-15 season are on sale now. For more information, call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.
Photo credit: Colin Peddle/St. John's IceCaps