The Grand Rapids Griffins gave the Texas Stars a scare last week: Up 4-0 going into the third, somehow the Griffins mounted a comeback and pushed the game into overtime. It’s another love-hate aspect of the AHL- unlike in the NHL, where a third period lead is pretty safe, in the AHL no lead is ever safe.
Lucky for the good guys, in overtime Stars newcomer and former St. Johns forward Michael Forney redirected a shot by Drew Schiestel (on loan from Rochester) from the high half-wall past a frozen Ty Conklin to give Texas the two points.
Former Star Fabian Brunnstrom played like a man possessed. If he always played that way, he’d shed that otherwise fitting Euro-softie label.
Friday and Saturday night saw a pair against Interstate 35 rival the San Antonio Rampage. The Stars began the third period down 3-2 until leading scorer and rookie Matt Fraser tied the game. Then Colton Sceviour picked up his team-leading sixth game-winning goal of the season in Overtime off a pass from—who else—Drew Schiestel.
Saturday night was lining up for much the same: Schiestel earned his third assist in as many games on an Angelo Esposito goal in the second, and later that period, down 3-1, they got a shortie from Fraser—his 28th goal of the season, putting him in fourth place in the AHL in goals, trailing the likes of Syracuse Crunch star Kyle Palmieri and Norfolk’s supernova rookie Cory Conacher.
That goal also gave Fraser the Texas Stars franchise record for goals in a single season, surpassing Aaron Gagnon’s previous high of 27.
The Stars once again trailed 3-2 going into the third until Sceviour line-mate Francis Wathier tied it seven minutes in. Overtime looked inevitable until captain Brad Lukowich took an interference penality with under 2 minutes remaining.
Then with just seven seconds left and the PK working hard, overtime was inevitable.
But with six seconds left, overtime was unnecessary. Rampage scored.
Brunnstrom brings the chip on his shoulder back to the Cedar Park Center on Tuesday for the fourth game of a seven game homestand that includes a pair against Western Conference leaders the Oklahoma City Barons. The Stars are not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but shy of a Norfolk Admirals -type run (currently on a remarkable 14 game winning streak), let’s be reasonable.
Too bad Drew Schiestel is merely on loan–the Stars have struggled on defense this season, and that kid can play.