(texasstarshockey.com) — Mike Commodore scored his second goal in as many games and both Travis Morin and Mike Hedden had a goal and an assist to pace the Texas Stars to a convincing 5-1 win over the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday afternoon at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Stars’ 40th win of the season, paired with a regulation loss by Chicago at Oklahoma City today, means that Texas is the first Western Conference team to clinch a spot in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Playing in their final three-in-three of the 2012-13 season, the Stars grabbed an early lead when a forced turnover in the defensive zone led to an odd-man rush at the other end. Justin Dowling combined with Jamie Oleksiak to set up Mike Hedden for a one-on-one with Rampage goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris. Hedden took the pass and quickly went forehand-to-backhand and lifted the puck over the sprawling San Antonio goaltender at 4:33 of the first period.
The Rampage struck back to tie the game just 2:27 into the second period. Capitalizing on a turnover at the Stars blue line, Francis Beauvillier found Garrett Wilson behind the defense and the San Antonio forward beat Jack Campbell one-on-one.
Texas responded just 1:21 later as Toby Petersen’s shot deflected off a San Antonio defender and went in for a power-play goal to make it 2-1 at 3:48. The goal was Petersen’s eighth of the season and was assisted by Hedden and Kevin Connauton, who claims his first point as a member of the Stars.
Connauton would grab another assist at 12:07 as he led a three-on-two rush up the ice and found Travis Morin for a redirection from the right side of the crease and a 3-1 lead. Texas out-shot the Rampage by a whopping 20-6 count in the second period.
The Stars pulled away with two goals in the first half of the third period. Reilly Smith extended his scoring streak to eight games (11 points) with his 13th goal of the season, assisted by Morin, at 3:34.
Then Commodore, playing in his second game for Texas, found the net after a hard-work play by rookie Brett Ritchie. Ritchie held off a defender as he drove down the right side and his wrap-around attempt slid out to the right circle where Commodore wound up and crushed the puck through the legs of Grumet-Morris at 7:45.
Jack Campbell stopped 20 of 21 shots to record his 17th win of the season in goal for Texas. Grumet-Morris finished with 35 saves on 40 shots in the losing effort for San Antonio. The Stars out-shot the Rampage 40-21 and went 1-for-4 on the power play. San Antonio was 0-for-3 with the man advantage.