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Calder Cup Finals: Texas Stars' impressive run ends in Game 7 loss

Toronto cruises past Texas 6-1 in the deciding game to win the AHL championship series

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Texas Stars had a great run in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs -- a run that took them all the way to Game 7 of the championship series against the Toronto Marlies, the top team in the league.

But the run ended in disappointment Thursday as the Marlies won Game 7 and the Calder Cup with a convincing 6-1 victory over the Stars at Ricoh Coliseum.

The Marlies dominated Game 7. They outshot the Stars 46-30, including 19-7 in the first period when they built a 2-0 lead. The game stayed 2-0 until the third period when the Marlies were able to extend the lead to 3-0 and then 4-1 before adding on a couple of late goals to make it a 6-1 final score.

Austin Fyten scored the lone goal, and goaltender Mike McKenna stopped 40 of 45 shots for the Stars, who had to fight for a playoff spot down the stretch of the regular season and then came within one win of the Calder Cup.

Andreas Johnsson, who was voted the playoff MVP, tallied two goals and one assist, Mason Marchment scored two goals, and Garret Sparks stopped 29 shots for the Marlies, who won the first Calder Cup in franchise history.

"I am so happy for everybody in this organization and all these fans," Marchment told Leafs Nation Network. "We worked so hard for this."

"This is my proudest day as a Marlie," said Sparks. "I can't believe we did it."

The Marlies controlled the first period, outshooting the Stars, 19-7, and tallying twice to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. The Stars did, however, have a couple of chances to score the first goal of the game. Sheldon Dries hit the post while breaking in alone on net three minutes into the game and Sparks made a pad save on a point-blank bid by Travis Morin.

But not long after Sparks' save on Morin, the Marlies scored the game's first goal. After a Texas turnover in its own end, Johnsson took a pass from Carl Grundstrom and scored from close range 10:41 into the game to put Toronto up 1-0.

The Marlies pushed the lead to 2-0 with 17.2 seconds left in the first with a goal on the rush when Trevor Moore set up Marchment, who scored from the slot.

The Stars made a push in the second period and had a couple of great chances but couldn't get a puck past Sparks. Dillon Heatherington fired high at the open side of the net at the 7:40 mark and a couple of minutes later Sparks stopped a Matt Mangene bid from close range during a scramble at the net. Officials did conduct a lengthy video review of the Mangene attempt to see if the puck crossed the goal line, but it confirmed the call on the ice: No goal.

The Marlies made it a 3-0 game early in the third on a goal by Grundstrom, who took a cross-crease pass from Johnsson and scored into the open side of the net from the left circle at the 3:35 mark.

The Stars cut the lead to 3-1 at 11:01 when Fyten scored during a scramble at the Toronto net. There was a lengthy review, and officials determined the puck did cross the goal line and the Stars had some life.

But Johnsson scored on the rush at the 16:14 mark to put Toronto ahead 4-1. The Stars pulled McKenna for an extra attacker with 3:30 remaining and Marlies captain Ben Smith scored into the empty net to make it 5-1. Marchment scored with McKenna back in the net with just under a minute remaining to round out the scoring at 6-1.  

 

Notes
  • Toronto's Andreas Johnsson led all playoff scorers with 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 16 games.

  • Texas captain Curtis McKenzie led the playoffs in goals (11) and ranked second in points (20) in 22 games played.

  • Texas forward Sheldon Dries and Johnsson tied for second in goal scoring with 10 each.

  • Texas goalie Mike McKenna finished the playoffs with a 14-8 record, 2.41 goals against average and .927 save percentage. McKenna led the playoffs in minutes (1,371), shots against (752), and saves (697).

  • Toronto goalie Garret Sparks finished the playoffs with a 14-5 record, 2.22 goals against average and .915 save percentage.

  • All seven games of the Calder Cup Finals were sellouts. Thursday's attendance was 8,818, the largest crowd ever to see a Marlies game at Ricoh Coliseum.

 

Texas lineup

Travis Morin - Justin Dowling - Curtis McKenzie
Roope Hintz - Jason Dickinson - Matt Mangene
Remi Elie - Sheldon Dries - Brian Flynn
Austin Fyten - Joel L'Esperance - Colin Markison

Dillon Heatherington - Brent Regner
Andrew Bodnarchuk - Reece Scarlett
John Nyberg - Gavin Bayreuther

Mike McKenna
Landon Bow

 

Calder Cup Finals (Toronto wins series 4-3)

Game 1 - Sat., June 2 - Texas at Toronto: Marlies 6, Stars 5
Game 2 - Sun., June 3 - Texas at Toronto: Stars 2, Marlies 1
Game 3 - Tue., June 5 - Toronto at Texas: Marlies 2, Stars 1
Game 4 - Thu., June 7 - Toronto at Texas: Stars 3, Marlies 2
Game 5 - Sat., June 9 - Toronto at Texas: Marlies 6, Stars 2
Game 6 - Tue., June 12 - Texas at Toronto: Stars 5, Marlies 2
Game 7 - Thu., June 14 - Texas at Toronto: Marlies 6, Stars 1

Photo credit: Toronto Marlies

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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