CEDAR PARK, TX– Fans at the H-E-B Center were treated to a show, as for the second straight night the Stars beat the Chicago Wolves by a 6-5 count. This time instead of holding on late, the Stars were forced to tie it themselves after giving up a lead. Texas lead 4-2 going into the third, however, Chicago would score three times in the first 12:25 to put the Wolves up one. Texas would respond to force overtime, where the Stars would take advantage of a late breakaway as Jason Dickinson scored the OT winner just 18 seconds before a shootout.
The first period started out in favor of the Wolves, as they controlled play early. Chicago turned the pressure into the early lead 4:23 into the contest. While a man up Shea Theodore, the ever deadly Wolves defenseman, blasted a shot from the point that went in clean to give Chicago their first lead of the season. The power play tally was Theodore’s second goal of the year, but he would not be done.
Texas would not be dictated to though, and soon turned the play in their favor. With 5:53 remaining in the first, the Stars were on a 5-on-3 power play when they would tie the game off of a ready and waiting rebound. Travis Morin sent the puck down low to Curtis McKenzie who spun and whipped a low backhander that generated a juicy rebound off Chicago goalie Oscar Dansk. Stars d-man Gavin Bayreuther was in the slot ready to pounce, and he took care of business to send us to break locked at 1-1. It looked to me like McKenzie was looking for a rebound, could be a set play or just a smart shot from a player with NHL experience.
Texas would turn up the speed in the second, and the offense followed. The Stars took the lead 1:53 into the period when Dickinson batted in his second of the year. The Stars forced a turnover on the forecheck, and Cole Ully sent the puck towards net. The puck bounced up in the air, but Dickinson used great hand-eye coordination to hit it out of mid-air and into the net.
Chicago would strike back almost exactly four minutes later to even the score. With the Wolves coming in on an odd-man rush, Teemu Pulkkinen dropped it back to a wide-open Theodore. With enough time and space to construct a monument, the trailing defenseman took aim and fired it home. The score was tied at two, but there was more action to come from the middle frame.
10:06 into the second Morin, the Stars’ captain, would score his first of the year. Morin found some space during a line change and came streaking through the slot. Ully sent a nice backhand pass to Morin who tipped it home. It was Ully’s second assist of the game, and the Stars regained the lead at 3-2. Then with 2:23 to go Mark McNeill found a step and had a clear rush at the net. He smoothly pulled the puck to his backhand and lifted it into the net, and we would go to the third with Texas up 4-2.
Chicago came out on a mission in the final frame. Their rally fell short Friday, but this time the Stars couldn’t hold. The rally started off a Texas turnover behind their own net. Beau Bennett grabbed the puck, and immediately initiated a beautiful tic-tac-toe play. Tyler Wong was open backdoor, and would finish the pretty passing play by slamming the puck home.
The Stars would hold onto the lead for 10 minutes after that, but then the script completely flipped in a matter of 30 seconds. The Wolves tied the game with 8:05 to go when T.J. Tynan’s pass found its way through the slot to Tomas Hyka who would capitalize and fire the puck by Mike McKenna to level the score. Just 30 ticks later the Wolves were ahead. Jake Bischoff let go a shot from the point that ricocheted off Bennett and in, shocking the crowd, and putting Chicago up 5-4.
Now it would be the Stars turn to attempt to rally, and it wouldn’t take long for Texas to find an equalizer. Bayreuther notched his second assist of the game, passing to Matt Mangene who made a nice fake to beat his man before sending a bullet top corner. The goal would tie the game and send us to overtime locked at 5.
Chicago controlled the play for the majority of the extra frame, outshooting Texas 5-1 in OT, but one shot can be all you need. With the game looking destined for overtime there was a rapid sequence that would lead to the winner. First, the Stars came in on an odd-man rush, but Chicago took it away and went the other way on a 3-on-2. Then as the Wolves were flying in the Stars’ zone they would make a bad pass, allowing Dickinson to grab the puck and turn with nobody between him and Dansk. Dickinson came flying in, fighting off a backchecking Theodore, and beating Dansk short side high for the winner.
Dickinson spoke after the game about the goal.
“All I was thinking was, try to keep Theodore off my back,” Dickinson said. “I mean, he’s fast, and I was feeling tired at the end there. I was just thinking, as long as I can keep him off the puck, and get a shot off, I give myself a chance.”
Dickinson was then asked about winning both games 6-5, and if the defense needs to be worked on.
“Yeah, for sure,” Dickinson answered. “I think that’s a highly skilled team over there. I mean, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit; cause they can put the puck in the net, and we can put the puck in the net. So it’s no surprise that the score is that high.”
Dickinson would finish with two goals and an assist, and Bayreuther had one goal and two assists to lead the Stars. Theodore continued his hot start, tallying two goals to give him five points through two games (3G, 2A).
Texas is now 2-0-0 and will now turn their attention to a trip to San Diego to play the Gulls, starting Friday. Chicago will return to action Saturday when they host the Ontario Reign in their home opener.