CEDAR PARK – Gemel Smith and Brett Ritchie each scored twice to propel the Texas Stars to a 6-3 win over the rival San Antonio Rampage on Sunday evening in front of 4,382 fans at Cedar Park Center to close out a three-game weekend for the Stars. With the win, the Stars grabbed four of six possible points out of the weekend set.
Curtis McKenzie and Scott Valentine also scored for the Stars. Jussi Rynnas put in a 37-save performance to earn his seventh win of the season, including a 17-save effort in the third period alone to keep the Rampage offense at bay in a final push. Rampage goaltender Dan Ellis entered the game with a 1.33 goals against average and .957 save percentage in three starts against the Stars but took loss after letting up five goals. Eight different players for the Stars tallied points, three different players recorded multi-point games, and Ritchie now has five goals in the past two contests for Texas.
It was the 499th win in the career of Stars head coach Derek Laxdal. Texas (13-10-8-0) hits the road for a three-game trip when they visit Charlotte on Saturday at 6 p.m. CST.
Smith wasted no time opening the game’s scoring with a wrist shot from the slot just 23 seconds into the contest after a San Antonio turnover. Bobby Butler returned fire on the power play for the Rampage (17-10-3-0) from the right point two minutes later to tie the game, but McKenzie put the Stars back in front forcing home a power play goal of his own at 13:06 in front of the Rampage net.
The Rampage came right back at 2:51 of period two with a power play goal by Garrett Wilson for his 10th of the year. Texas responded as Valentine ripped a one-timer from the circle at 6:17 for his first of the season, and Ritchie tallied his first of the night less than four minutes later off a point shot through traffic to make it a 4-2 Texas lead. Jesse Blacker pulled San Antonio within one at 14:22, but Smith responded 53 seconds later on a rebound at the left side of the crease for his second of the game and third of the season.
Ritchie added his second of the game and 11th of the year on an empty-net goal from his own blue line with 2:46 remaining in regulation.
Despite giving up a pair of power play goals, the Stars penalty kill remains one of the league’s best killing off 49 of their last 54 over the past 14 games for a 90.7% rate. Texas finished 1-for-4 on the power play as well.
With the win, Texas closes the gap on San Antoino to three points in the AHL’s West Division.