Rookie Brett Ritchie Notches Three Points as Texas Blanks Abbotsford 5-0
Rookie right wing Brett Ritchie tallied two goals and an assist and goalie Cristopher Nilstorp stopped all 26 shots he faced as the Texas Stars crushed the Abbotsford Heat 5-0 Friday night in front of 5,628 fans at Cedar Park Center. Texas extended their current franchise record home winning streak to eight games and moved ahead of Abbotsford to claim first place in the West Division.
The Stars struck first on an early power play goal when Jyrki Jokipakka’s wrist shot from the point deflected off a stick and up into the air toward Heat goaltender Joey MacDonald, who pushed the rebound out to his left where Brett Ritchie jumped on it and put it home to give the Stars the 1-0 lead. Texas doubled their lead just 94 seconds later when Francis Wathier forced a turnover in the neutral zone, carried the puck in on a two-on-none rush and scored an unassisted goal when his cross-ice pass redirected off Abbotsford defenseman Mark Cundari’s out-stretched stick into the net. Justin Dowling extended the Stars lead with his third goal of the year, carried the puck from the left circle, executed a silky toe-drag through traffic in the slot and launched a backhander past the sprawling MacDonald to give Texas a 3-0 advantage.
After a scoreless second period, the Stars opened the third period with Ritchie burying a sensational cross-crease pass from Mike Hedden for his second goal of the night, giving Texas a 4-0 lead. The Stars capped off the scoring with Travis Morin netting a power play goal where he collected his own rebound in the slot and fired a wrist shot past MacDonald to make it a final of 5-0. It was Morin’s 20th goal of the season and gave the Stars’ center his AHL-leading 47th point of the campaign.
Cristopher Nilstorp notched his 11th win of the season in goal for Texas, stopping all 26 shots he faced to record his first shutout of the season, his fifth career AHL clean sheet. Abbotsford goalie Joey MacDonald finished with 38 saves on 43 shots and earned the loss. The Stars out-shot the Heat 43-26 and went 2-for-7 on the power play. Abbotsford was 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.
The Stars will continue their three-game home stand by taking on the Utica Comets on Saturday, January 11th for a 7:00 p.m. face off at Cedar Park Center. Saturday’s game is the Travis Morin Mini-Bobblehead Giveaway presented by Schlotzsky’s. It is also a Coke Zero Family Four Pack Night and a Texas Lottery Lucky Row Night. 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.