In the first meeting between the top two teams in the South Division since December, the Texas Stars and the Charlotte Checkers battled to gain points in an increasingly close Western Conference. The Stars, led by Colton Sceviour, took the first of two games over the weekend, 7-3. The Stars now lead the South Division with 80 points, while the Checkers remain in second with 75.
Checkers’ goalie John Muse denied several early attempts by the Stars to open scoring, including an attempted wrap-around shot by Sceviour. Muse couldn’t hold on to the puck though, and Sceviour picked up the rebound to score the first goal of the game late in the first period.
Charlotte defenseman Beau Schmidtz tied the game six minutes in into the second period, but the Stars wouldn’t be denied the lead long. Three minutes later, Texas’ Carl Sneep returned the goal with a quick wrist shot that slid through Muse’s pads. Sceviour pushed the Stars to a comfortable two-goal lead while shorthanded after a tripping penalty was called on William Wrenn. The goal was his forth shorthanded goal of the season, making him the team’s leading shorthanded goal-scorer.
Starting the final period of the game down 3-1, the Checkers fought back, trimming the Stars’ lead to one just a minute into the third period with a goal by Matt Marquardt. Texas was determined to extend the lead again halfway through the period, with Francis Walthier and Travis Morin scoring two goals just 33 seconds apart. Again Schmidtz closed the point gap, scoring his second goal of the night, bringing the score to 5-3. Charlotte pulled Muse from the net with two minutes remaining, and Morin landed a goal from a center-ice shot, claiming his second goal of the game. Despite returning Muse to to net, Texas wouldn’t let up on offensive pressure. Toby Petersen took advantage of a sailing pass from Scott Glennie, scoring his seventh goal of the season, closing the game at 7-3.
Jack Campbell, who was in net for the Stars, faced a total of 29 shots on goal and claimed his 14th victory of the season.
The Stars and the Checkers will face off again at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.