SAN DIEGO, CA– The Texas Stars, and Curtis McKenzie, in particular, came into Wednesday night’s game against the San Diego Gulls looking for revenge. It was just 12 days ago that the Gulls’ Scott Sabourin and Stu Bickel attacked McKenzie and Justin Dowling. It was not so much a fight as two players getting jumped, and emotions were high coming in.
McKenzie and the Stars were able to grab their revenge on the scoreboard, though, and in a big way. McKenzie tallied a five-point night, potting a hat trick along with two assists, and the Stars ran away and hid in a 6-2 win. The game was just as lopsided as the score suggests as well, with shots ending up 35-15 Stars.
The Stars would strike first just 2:58 into period one after a turnover led to a 3-on-1. Samuel Laberge carried it in and found Colin Markison backdoor who tipped it up into the upper corner to make it 1-0 Texas.
The Stars then made it 2-0 on a nice passing play on the power play with 10:18 to go in the first. McKenzie took a pass down low, then spun and whipped a backhanded pass to Brian Flynn who tipped it in for his fourth of the year.
The Stars took their two-goal lead to the break, after a dominant opening frame. The Stars controlled the play and shots in the first, outshooting the Gulls 14-7.
The second period started slow, as the score was still 2-0 as we hit the 10:00 mark. McKenzie would change that, though, as he scored two goals in a span of 1:49 to break the game open.
First, with 8:39 left in the frame, he took a nice feed from Flynn and fired it home from the slot to make it 3-0. Then, at the 13:02 mark, he got a stick on a Roope Hintz shot and tipped it past Kevin Boyle to give Texas a four-goal cushion.
San Diego would get one back before intermission when Andy Welinski blasted home a power-play goal from the point with 2:07 to go. The goal cut the Stars’ lead to three, but Texas still took a 4-1 advantage to the final frame.
The third period started with more of the same, and Texas regaining their four-goal edge. McKenzie would add his second assist of the night when he found Max French cutting to the net. French sent the puck past Boyle for his first with Texas to make it 5-1 Stars 1:34 into the third.
San Diego would once again respond on the power play, this time when Giovani Fiore blasted home a one-timer with 14:36 remaining. The goal cut the score to 5-2, but this was always going to be Texas’ night.
The Stars would continue to push until the end, making good use of the adage of getting your revenge on the scoreboard. McKenzie would finish the scoring, and his hat trick, with 7:53 to play. Travis Morin ripped a shot that McKenzie once again deflected by Boyle, giving Texas their four-goal win.
Along with McKenzie, who earned a well deserved first star, the Texas power play was also lethal. Texas came in ranked last in the AHL with the man advantage but scored three times on six chances Wednesday. In fact, five of the eight total goals came on the power play. San Diego went 2/5 for their only two goals of the night.
The Stars now return home after their four-game California trip with a record of 6-6-0-1 after salvaging the final game. The trip started with close losses to Bakersfield and Stockton before the Stars blew a two-goal third period lead in a 5-2 loss to San Jose on Sunday. The win allows the Stars to come home with momentum, though, as they played a complete game in San Diego to get the W.
The Stars now return to Cedar Park for a two-game weekend with the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins. This weekend will be the Stars’ first Military Appreciation event of the year. Texas will wear special Stars and Stripes jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit the Texas Stars Foundation. Fans will be able to bid from when the puck drops on Friday thru the second intermission Saturday, with the winners being announced after Saturday’s contest.
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