The Toronto Marlies didn’t see it coming. Undefeated in this year’s post season and sweeping the Chicago Wolves in the AHL Western Conference Semifinals, the Marlies were favourites to advance. On Tuesday June 3, Game 7 saw the Texas Stars dominate on home ice at Cedar Park Center, TX. The game finished 6-2 in favour of the Stars who will now advance to the Calder Cup Finals. The team also claimed the Robert W. Clarke trophy as the champions of the Western Conference.
The Marlies started Game 7 strong and drew first blood – scoring first is a theme seen from the Toronto team in the past 14 straight playoff games. The Marlies goal came from Frazer McLaren, launching a wrist shot that found the top left corner of the net. During the first period, the Stars fought hard and outshot the Marlies 13-5, but it remained a one goal game as the horn sounded on the first period.
As the second period opened, the Marlies doubled their lead and scored their second goal just 23 seconds in with a goal by Peter Holland, assisted by Carter Ashton. Stars goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp stopped the initial chance but failed to prevent the rebound from hitting the back of the net after it deflected off Stars forward Scott Glennie. But the Stars were about to kick it into high gear and started with their first of six goals, a tip by Mike Hedden that brought Game 7 back to a one-goal game. Just 51 seconds later, the Stars tied the game with a power play goal from Dustin Jeffrey.
The game tied at 2-2 heading into the third, the Stars took the lead after Justin Dowling – playing in his first game of the series after an injury sidelined him for seven straight playoff games – entered the zone with Brett Ritchie on a two-on-one rush, finding the backdoor. Only 17 seconds passed before the Stars’ next goal – rookie Matej Stransky this time – to bring the game to a convincing 4-2 lead. Texas would strike another two times in the second period with a goal apiece from Dowling and Jeffrey. Jeffrey’s goal marked the Stars’ sixth and final goal of the night and would seal the deal for the team.
The win sends the Texas Stars to their second ever appearance in the Calder Cup Finals, where they will face the winners of the Eastern Conference Finals the St. John’s Ice Caps. The Texas Stars currently lead the Ice Caps 2-1 in the series, with Game 4 scheduled for Monday June 16.