The Stars will take on Columbus, which also has won all three of its games, Tuesday evening for the Traverse City title.
Matej Stransky and Brendan Ranford scored two goals each, and Remi Elie, Ludwig Bystrom and Julius Honka also scored for the Stars, who scored twice in the first nine minutes and built a 4-0 lead by the 21-minute mark.
“We came out pretty hard in the first 10 minutes, that’s what we wanted,” said Stransky. “We scored some quick goals and it’s always easier when you score those quick ones.”
The Stars were 3-6 on the power play on the afternoon and got a 21-save performance from goaltender Philippe Desrosiers.
“It was a good win for us,” said Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal, who is coaching the Dallas prospects. “I thought we played really strong in the first period, scored on the power play and had some good penalty kills in the second and third. I thought we played a solid 60 minutes. When called upon, Philippe made some big saves for us. All four lines played solid.”
The Stars scored goals 2:49 apart in the first period to take an early 2-0 lead. Stransky grabbed a loose puck and tallied from the bottom of the right circle at the 6:11 mark. Honka set the stage for the next goal, sending a long outlet pass to Gemel Smith, who then set up Ranford for a one-timer from the right circle off the rush at 9:00 of the first.
Ranford scored the first of the Stars’ three power play goals late in the first, beating Buffalo goaltender Francois Brassard with a shot from the right circle at the 18:29 mark to make it a 3-0 game.
Elie scored off a backhand shot with Dallas on the power play just 55 seconds into the second period, and the Stars had a 4-0 lead.
Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen scored on the power play midway through the second to make it a 4-1 game, and then the Sabres thought they had cut the lead to 4-2 when a shot from center ice skipped by Desrosiers. But the goal was waved off due to an offside call.
The Stars scored twice in less than two minutes later in the second to push their lead to 6-1. Bystrom tallied off a shot from the point, and Honka wristed the puck home from the high slot for the Stars’ third power play goal of the night.
“We were running two power play units and just trying to get a bit of cohesion in it,” said Laxdal. “You started to see that coming with some of the guys on there like Ranford, Stransky and Honka. For any team here, you want to get stronger as the week goes on and guys were getting a little more comfortable playing with each other.”
The Sabres scored twice to pull within 6-3, but Stransky then sealed the win with a late empty net goal, pushing the Stars into Tuesday’s title game.
“You can see that each team is getting better and better and this was our best game of the tournament,” said Laxdal. “We had a goal of getting to the finals. Now we’re there, so we get a little more rest time going into tomorrow night. “
Notes: Ritchie expected to miss two weeks
*Right wing Brett Ritchie is expected to miss two weeks after breaking the tip of his right pinkie finger in Saturday’s game against Carolina. Stars GM Jim Nill said that it is nothing serious, and that Ritchie should be ready by the start of the season.
*Left wing Brendan Ranford has replaced Ritchie as captain of the Stars prospect team in Traverse City. Defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka and center Taylor Peters were the alternate captains in Monday’s game against Buffalo.
Brendan Ranford – Jason Dickinson – Gemel Smith
Remi Elie – Radek Faksa – Matej Stransky
Brett Pollock – Taylor Peters – Branden Troock
Mads Eller – Cole Ully – Collin Shirley
Jyrki Jokipakka – Julius Honka
Esa Lindell – Ludwig Bystrom
Patrick Sanvido – Aaron Haydon
Prospect Snapshot: Brendan Ranford
Brendan Ranford has had a pretty good year. One year ago, he was heading to Cedar Park on a pro tryout with the Texas Stars. Since then, he’s celebrated with the Calder Cup and put his name on a three-year entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars.
“He came into Texas and had to earn a spot,” said Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill. “They didn’t know where he would fit in. He worked hard, paid his dues and at the end of the year he ended up on one of the top lines and played very well. He earned a contract because of it.”
The 22-year-old Ranford was an important part of Texas’ run to the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup championship last season. He registered 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 21 playoff games for Texas, finishing third on the team in goals and points. Those 16 points were impressive for a guy who had 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists) in 65 regular season games.
“Brendan was a pleasant surprise,” said Scott White, Dallas Stars director of hockey operations and Texas Stars GM. “He came in on a pro tryout for us, got better and earned his stripes. He didn’t play early, but he was a key player down the stretch. He played on the top line with [Travis] Morin and [Curtis] McKenzie in the Finals.”
“Coming into it I really didn’t know what to expect. It was my first year of pro hockey,” Ranford said. “I did the Traverse City tournament, getting to know [former Texas head coach Willie Desjardins] was really good. There were ups and downs at the start of the season, but I feel like I gained the trust of Willie at the end of it.”
The 5-10, 185-pound left wing is a crafty player who can make plays and finish. He put up some good numbers with Kamloops of the Western Hockey League, including a 40-goal season in 2011-12. But those numbers weren’t good enough to land him a contract with Philadelphia, which drafted him in the seventh-round of the 2010 NHL Draft.
“It gave me an incentive to prove people wrong, that I can be a player and that I can play this pro hockey style,” Ranford said.
“He battled some issues with weight and being in proper shape, but I think he has figured that out with maturity, and that at his size he’d better be at peak performance,” said Dallas Stars scout Dennis Holland. “For me, his hands and his play in traffic are exceptional. He finds guys, his vision is very good, he can make plays under pressure and he has a great knack for offense. For a little guy, he gets in and plays big in traffic.”
Those skills were on display late last season with the Texas Stars. And it earned Ranford a day with the Calder Cup over the summer, a celebration he shared with his uncle Bill Ranford, the former NHL goaltender who won the Stanley Cup last season as the goaltending coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
“We had the Cups on the same day, so we had a Cups party [in New Westminster, British Columbia],” Ranford said. “It was a lot of fun.”
And so was putting his name on that Dallas contract.
“That was huge,” he said. “That’s been my goal ever since I started playing in junior hockey. Not getting the opportunity with Philadelphia was kind of a downer, but I just kept on working.”
And that work has paid off and Ranford is expected to play a big role in Cedar Park again this season.
“He’s a skilled player with a knack. He’s just a hockey player,” said White. “He’s skilled and he can finish. He’s gotten himself in better shape over the summer. He’s young, has time on his side and he is going to be an important piece in Texas.”
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. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.