Morin Extends Point Streak to Six; Series Tied 2-2
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Reigning American Hockey League MVP Travis Morin extended his playoff assist and point streaks to six games, but the Texas Stars lost to the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 in controversial fashion in Game 4 on Wednesday night at Van Andel Arena. The best-of-seven Western Conference Semi-Finals are now tied 2-2.
The teams traded chances, and momentum, in the first period, but neither squad could find the net. A Griffins’ penalty in the final seconds of the opening frame set the table for the game’s first goal. A mere 13 seconds into the second period, Dustin Jeffrey slipped right through the middle of the Grand Rapids defense and beat goaltender Petr Mrazek one-on-one, faking a shot and the skating around the frozen goalie for an easy tap-in and a power play goal. Travis Morin extended his assist and point streaks to six games and Maxime Fortunus also assisted on the goal that gave Texas a 1-0 lead. The Griffins responded at 3:48 with a power play goal of their own as a slick passing sequence led to a tap-in for Jeff Hoggan to tie the game.
Halfway through the period David McIntyre batted in a rebound out of mid-air and immediately had his goal waived off by the referee standing behind the net. However, after a conference with all four on-ice officials, the decision would be overturned and a controversial goal awarded for a 2-1 Grand Rapids lead. The home team extended their lead to 3-1 three and a half minutes later as Andrej Nestrasil swooped into the crease and jammed his second effort under the right pad of Cristopher Nilstorp. The Stars bounced back in the final minute of the period as former Griffin, Derek Meech scored on a wrap-around at 19:16, assisted by Mike Hedden, to bring the score to 3-2.
Texas upped the pressure in the third period, out-shooting Grand Rapids 10-6 in the final frame. During an early power play, Nilstorp came up with his best save of the game, sliding from left to right and, at full stretch, flashing his catching glove to thwart Mitch Callahan on a two-on-one shorthanded rush. Morin nearly tied the game shortly thereafter as he raced in on a two-on-one and beat Mrazek with a high wrist shot, but the puck rang harmlessly off the crossbar. The Stars pulled Nilstorp in the game’s final minutes for an extra attacker, but they could not find the equalizer.
Petr Mrazek (5-3) finished the game with 33 saves on 35 shots to record his fifth win of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs in goal for Grand Rapids. Cristopher Nilstorp (3-1) suffered his first defeat of the postseason, stopping 22-of-25 shots in net for Texas. The Stars out-shot the Griffins 35-25 and went 1-for-3 on the power play; Grand Rapids was also 1-for-3 with the man-advantage.
Notes: Travis Morin extended his franchise playoff-record assist streak to six games and tied Brendan Ranford’s team record with a six-game point streak. Ranford had his record-setting five-game goal streak and six-game point streak snapped in Game 4; it was the first game of his young professional playoff career without a point. With the lone assist on Derek Meech’s second period goal, Mike Hedden extended his current point streak to five games.
The Texas Stars will battle the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Friday, May 16th at 6:00 p.m. CT at Van Andel Arena. Texas will then return to Cedar Park Center to face Grand Rapids for Game 6 on Sunday, May 18th at 7:00 p.m. CT. If necessary, Game 7 will be played on Monday, May 19th at 7:30 p.m. 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.
Photo credit: Mark Newman/Grand Rapids