The Texas Stars won the Calder Cup for the first time in their five-year history when Patrik Nemeth scored 14:30 into overtime for a 4-3 victory against the St. John's IceCaps on Tuesday in Game 5 of the American Hockey League's championship series.
Nemeth, a second-round pick (No. 41) by the parent Dallas Stars in the 2010 NHL Draft, deked his way into the slot before firing a high wrist shot past IceCaps goaltender Michael Hutchinson for his first goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Travis Morin is awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the AHL playoffs after finishing with a league-best 22 points in 21 playoff games. (Photo: Colin Peddle/AHL)
The Stars, the AHL's top team during the regular season, won the final three games of the series on the road in overtime. Regular-season MVP and scoring champion Travis Morin captured the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs after finishing with a league-best 22 points in 21 playoff games. Morin led all scorers with seven points in the Calder Cup Finals, including three game-winning goals.
"It's an honor," Morin said, according to the Canadian Press. "It really goes out to the whole team because I couldn't have done it without them. My linemates, [Brendan] Ranford and [Curtis] McKenzie, they did a hell of a job putting me in good spots and finishing plays. It's really a team effort."
Mike Hedden had two goals and Brett Ritchie also scored for Texas in regulation in Game 5. Hedden's second of the night came with 6:34 remaining in the third period and got the Stars even after they had blown an early two-goal lead.
"Three overtime games and coming from behind in a couple of them, It just shows all the character, and hard work we have in that locker room," Morin said. "We never gave up and we never quit. Every time, we found a way. We felt that if we played our game for 60 minutes, no matter what happened, we'd have a chance."
Blair Riley, Jordan Hill and Josh Lunden scored for St. John's, the top farm club of the Winnipeg Jets.
Hedden opened the scoring with a wrist shot past Hutchinson's blocker at 18:52 of the first period, and Ritchie made it 2-0 at 4:59 of the second by beating Hutchinson through a screen.
But St. John's got even before the period was over.
The IceCaps got one goal back when Hill's wrister from the point went through a tangle of bodies and past Texas goalie Cristopher Nilstorp at 11:06. Lunden tied it at 16:38 when he one-timed a perfect pass from Zach Redmond into an open net.
St. John's took its first lead 6:33 into the third period when Riley intercepted a pass between the defensemen in the slot and beat Nilstorp above his glove on a breakaway. But the Stars tied the game when the puck hit Hedden in the slot and flipped over Hutchinson.
Each team had chances in overtime before Nemeth's Cup-winning goal.
"It's devastating, obviously," IceCaps captain Justin Jaffray said. "You come this far, and with how hard the guys battled all year, it's incredibly tough. You lose three games in overtime, a couple unlucky goals, it could've went either way. We could've been playing for a championship here tonight, it could've been 3-1 (in the series) in the other direction. They got the big goals when need be and give them credit. Their big guys came up when they needed them."
Hutchinson finished with 41 saves for the IceCaps. Nilstorp turned aside 33 shots for the Stars.