Another OT win lifts Stars into West Finals

Photo: Andy Nietupski

Joel L’Esperance put home a rebound 8:43 into overtime to send the Texas Stars to the Western Conference Finals with a 3-2 win over Tucson on Friday night in Cedar Park.

The Stars eliminated the Roadrunners in five games, winning the last four in a row. Texas will face Rockford for the conference championship beginning next Friday.

With Tucson goaltender Adin Hill having lost his stick earlier in the play, the Stars continued to press in the offensive zone until Gavin Bayreuther took a shot from the right point that was tipped on net by Samuel Laberge. Hill got a pad on the shot, but the rebound went right to L’Esperance for the series-clincher.

It was the second goal in 18 games for L’Esperance since joining the Stars following his senior season at Michigan Tech. His first pro goal, back on Apr. 7 vs. Rockford, was the game-winner that allowed Texas to clinch a postseason berth.

Colin Markison and Travis Morin also scored for the Stars, who improved to 4-1 in overtime this postseason. Texas has gone past regulation 11 times in its last 18 games.

Lawson Crouse and Ryan MacInnis scored in Game 5 for the Roadrunners, who wound up with their only four-game losing streak of the entire season.

Mike McKenna, who backstopped Syracuse to the Calder Cup Finals last spring, improved to 7-2 in these playoffs with a 37-save performance.

Hill (4-5), who turned 22 on Friday, finished with 26 saves.

Pacific Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
P1-Tucson Roadrunners vs. P2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Wed., May 2 – TUCSON 2, Texas 1 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Fri., May 4 – Texas 4, TUCSON 1 | Recap
Game 3 – Mon., May 7 – TEXAS 5, Tucson 4 (OT) | Recap
Game 4 – Wed., May 9 – TEXAS 2, Tucson 0 | Recap
Game 5 – Fri., May 11 – TEXAS 3, Tucson 2 (OT)