Stars beat Checkers, 6-2, to end three-game skid

Mark Skol

The Texas Stars (9-6-0-1) hosted the Charlotte Checkers (7-8-0-0) on a Star Wars themed night at the Cedar Park Center on Friday. While many fans played their part in dressing up as their favorite Star Wars characters, it was the Stars’ 6-2 winning performance that best resembled the Star Wars saga.

After three straight losses, the Texas Stars were given new hope after coming out red hot in the first period. The Stars’ 13 shots on goal were too much for Checkers goaltender Drew McIntyre.

Center Gemel Smith scored the first goal of the game for the Stars on a slap shot from the right circle, giving him his fifth point in the last five games.

“Smith has got great skill and he can just fly,” head coach Derek Laxdal said. “That’s an asset for him when he’s moving his meet, and when he shoots the puck in stride, it gives him good opportunities to score.”

Later in the period, left wing Derek Hulak sent a deflected shot from the blue line into the back of the net to put the Stars up by two goals.

But the second period proved to be the Stars’ kryptonite yet again.

After giving up four goals in the middle frame against the San Antonio Rampage on Tuesday, the Stars surrendered two power-play goals against the Checkers — one during  a 5-3 disadvantage goal from Charlotte right wing Justin Shugg, who sent one off the back of goalie John Muse, and the other from defensemen Trevor Carrick who sent in the equalizer from the blue line.

Texas was unable to get anything going in the second period, and the score was tied at two headed into intermission.

But the second period mishaps didn’t phase Texas. Right from the start of the final frame, the Stars came out much more aggressive as center Radek Faksa sent in what would be the game-winning goal from the slot only 16 seconds into the third period.

“It was a very important goal,” Faksa said. “Obviously on the first shift [to score] the first goal of the period is important. It was a nice pass by Greg Rallo, and it was kind of a lucky bounce for me too.”

Faksa’s goal was the start of a scoring spree for the Stars as centers Justin Dowling, Rallo and Devin Shore each added goals of their own to secure the 6-2 victory over the Checkers.

“Obviously this was an important win,” Faksa said. “After losing the three games before and good teams don’t lose that many games in a row so to bounce it back was important. We’ve got to keep going and [start] a winning streak.”