ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Texas Stars came into Tuesday morning’s contest 3-0 against the Chicago Wolves in 2017-18, with all three decided by just one goal. Tuesday was once again a one-goal affair, but this time the Stars would wind up on the wrong side of the final score. The Stars would score late to tie the game and earn a point, but it would be the Wolves who prevailed in the shootout to grab the 4-3 win.
Chicago came out on fire early and immediately attacked the Texas net. Bryce Gervais would get the Wolves off to a great start when his wrister eluded the glove of Landon Bow and gave Chicago a 1-0 lead just 0:24 into the game.
The Wolves would not slow down on their attack, but Bow would regroup in net and began repelling the Chicago offerings. He would need to be on his game as the Texas defense had no answer for the Wolves early on. The Stars would not make things easy for themselves either, as Austin Fyten would be given a five-minute major and a game misconduct when his stick came up and hit Kevin Lough in the face. The injury is what caused the penalty to be so severe, as Lough had to leave the ice with a badly busted nose. He would return for the second period wearing a full cage to protect his injured nose.
The Chicago offense would fire six shots on target, but would not be able to capitalize on the major power play. Chicago would be unable to find an insurance goal in the first, but it was not for lack of trying. By the time Texas finally fired a shot on goal, the Wolves had tested Bow 18 times. The first would end with the shots in Chicago’s favor by the lopsided margin of 21-6. Bow had turned aside 20 of them, however, crucially allowing the Stars to escape the first down by just one goal.
The second would start much better for the Stars, as they would use the quick-strike offense to flip the script and grab a lead less than five minutes in. It started 4:19 into the frame when Brian Flynn patiently awaited a shooting lane and then whipped a shot on goal. Wolves netminder Oscar Dansk made the save, but Travis Morin and Roope Hintz were there to pounce on a couple of rebounds, and Hintz finally capitalized to tie the game 1-1. The Stars would keep the pressure up, and just 23 seconds later they were in front. This time it would be Brent Regner finding twine for the sixth time this season. Regner fired a seeing-eye shot from the point that missed the bodies in front, then sailed by a screened Dansk and into the upper corner. Just like that the Stars had gone from one down to one up, but Chicago would respond.
The Wolves regained momentum and began peppering Bow looking for the equalizer, and they would find it just under ten minutes after falling behind. T.J. Tynan wired a beautiful pass from the boards that beat several Stars and found the tape of Brandon Pirri in the slot. Pirri wasted no time and deflected the pass between the legs of Bow and into the net. Pirri’s 21st came with 6:34 left in the second and would send the game to the third period level at two.
The line of Tynan, Pirri, and Keegan Kolesar would lead the way for Chicago, as they dominated possession while on the ice and would contribute a pair of goals for the Wolves. The second of these came 5:19 into period three and gave the Wolves a lead to protect. The goal was a pretty one, as Pirri found Kolesar behind the defense at the Texas blue line. Kolesar caught the pass in stride, then came in and beat Bow with a smooth move to his backhand to lift it over Bow’s outstretched pad.
The Wolves would hold the lead for the next ten minutes, but with under five to play the Stars found the tying goal. Andrew Bodnarchuk sent the puck from behind the net to a waiting Denis Gurianov, and Gurianov stashed his 13th to even things up with 4:28 remaining on the clock. The Stars would come close to winning it when Greg Rollo hit the crossbar with two minutes left, but neither team would score again in regulation, and the game would head to overtime level 3-3.
Chicago controlled play in overtime, but neither side would be able to create the game-winning moment, and the game would head to a shootout.
The Stars took the early advantage in the shootout, as Bow stopped Beau Bennett, and Tyler Kelleher tickled the twine for Texas. The lead would not last, however, as Pirri would bury his chance, and Dansk was able to stop Morin to even the score through two rounds. The third round would be the decisive one, as Tynan put the pressure on the Stars when he beat Bow to give Chicago the edge. Knowing he needed a save to win the game, Dansk would stare down Regner and turn him aside to end the game. The kids would leave the game happy, as the hometown Wolves would take it by a final of 4-3.
With the win, the Wolves move into second place in the Central with a record of 29-18-6-2 (66 points, .600 points%), while the Stars pick up a point and remain third in the Pacific at 29-19-5-3 (66 points, .589 points%). Chicago now heads out on the road for a three-game weekend in Texas, where they will battle the San Antonio Rampage Friday, and Sunday, with a rematch against the Stars sandwiched in between on Saturday. The Stars, meanwhile, have one more game Illinois before returning home, as they take on the IceHogs tomorrow night at 7 in Rockford.
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