Written by Warren Schorr
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are the words of the late Jim McCay and that was present in the handshake line after Texas Stars beat the Toronto Marlies 6-2 in a winner take all Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals and head to the Calder Cup Finals where they will face St. Johns.
The Stars look to win their first cup in franchise history. They return to the finals for the first time since 2010.
Frazer McLaren opened up the scoring 2:19 into the first period notching his first goal of the playoffs. The Stars outshot the Marlies 13-5 in the first.
It looked like the same song and dance as in Game 6 when Toronto scored 23 seconds into the second period on a Peter Holland deflection around the net. That was Holland’s sixth goal of the postseason. Marlies goalie MacIntyre was stopping everything that was fired at him just like Game 6 and the crowd started to become restless.
Finally the Stars broke through on a Mike Hedden goal his sixth of the postseason. That finally got the crowd of 3,466 at the Cedar Park Center something to cheer about. A minute and nine seconds later the game was all tied up on a Dustin Jeffery Power Play goal after Marlies LW Jerry D’Amigo was called for hooking.
“I didn’t think we were going to score there you can hope for a goal and with all the chances you thought it would happen and then it finally did and the flood gates opened up.” – Stars Coach Willie Desjerdins
The open play continued at the start of the 3rd period and it looked like we were going to have a Game 7 thriller on our hands. Both teams had a couple nice chances that just went wide. Stars took advantage of a miscue by the Marlies defense and a two on one opened up and Jay Dowling delivered a beautiful saucer pass over to Brett Richie who tapped it home to give the Stars the lead.
“It felt good to score the go-ahead goal.” – Richie
Seventeen seconds later before fans could even catch their breath from the go-ahead goal. Matej Stransky notched his first goal of the postseason on assists from Kevin Henderson and Jyrki Jokipakka to give the Stars some breathing room and a 4-2 lead. The Marlies did their best impression of their parent club the Maple Leafs giving up four unanswered goals in a Game 7 only thing different was they didn’t lose Game 7 in OT.
The Stars were in the driver seat and then came a double minor high-sticking call on Stars center man Travis Morin. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak came up huge with two saves bailing out Nilstrop and successfully killing the 4 minute minor. The Stars added a couple more the make the score line 6-2. Dowling added a goal to go along with his two assist and Dustin Jeffery added and empty netter to make it 6-2. Don’t let the score line fool you this was a much tougher game then what 6-2 shows.
The Calder Cup Final starts on Saturday in Cedar Park. The Stars didn’t face St. Johns in the regular season, which will make for an interesting final. The Stars had the most points in the regular season and are the favorite to win the Cup.
By Colin Woods