The Bud Light Battle of the Stars was all it was cracked up to be.
Cedar Park Center, located just north of Austin, was filled with excited hockey fans, there to see their newest home team take on the state’s NHL team from Dallas on Wednesday night. The Dallas Stars spent three days of quality “team time” leading up to the exhibition game in Central Texas.
Defenseman Stephane Robidas noted, "It was a good experience for us and this is a great building to play hockey in. I played for a minor league franchise for a while and it really helped me when I faced NHL-caliber guys".
Team introductions included pyrotechnics, music and plenty of cheering from the fans for both squads. Even the familiar cry of “STARS!” during the National Anthem was roared by the crowd.
Marty Turco got the start in net for Dallas, playing the first half of the game. Turco stopped all 12 shots he faced in 32:50 of playing time before being relieved by Brent Krahn. Alex Auld, who gave up 3 goals in 29:53, also played the first half on “loan” to the Texas Stars. Matt Climie played the second half for Texas.
The crowd made it known early that they were ready for some hockey, cheering both squads on as the contest got under way.
Dallas made it 2-0 by converting their first power play of the night. James Neal tipped a point shot by Brad Richards at 16:29 of the first. Mike Modano got the second assist.
It was 2-0, Dallas, after the first period. The hockey was fast-paced, up and down the ice at times with some crisp passing.
Ribeiro made it 3-0 on a shot from the slot on a nice feed from Jeff Woywitka in the early minutes of the second.
Head Coach Marc Crawford said, "Jeff did a good job of jumping down and getting in the play; he read it extremely well."
Photo by Ron Byrd
Texas scored their first goal of the game on a deflection that bounced around and found its way past Krahn, who had just replaced Turco minutes earlier. Perttu Lindgren got the goal, tipping a shot by Sergei Korostin. Colton Sceviour got the second assist.
Lindgren’s tally made it 3-1 after two periods, with Dallas leading in shots, 22-13.
Fabian Brunnstrom and James Neal each scored early in the third to give Dallas a 5-1 lead, which ended up being the final score. Dallas outshot Texas, 36-23, for the game.
"I was pleased to see us play as well as we did against the Texas Stars," said Crawford. "I thought our guys, for the most part, did a good job of maintaining the things we need to have. It was good matchup, it had good intensity, good speed and I thought for the most part we didn't cheat."
All-in-all, the first “Bud Light Battle of the Stars” was a tremendous success. The two teams met at center ice and gave a salute to the fans at the end, which was met with expected cheers from a thoroughly-entertained crowd.
“We hope we can continue this and perhaps play this game every year,” said Texas Stars President Rick McLaughlin. “I think our fans had a great time tonight and this was a lot of fun. We can’t wait to get started with our inaugural regular season this Saturday.”
Hockey fans in Central Texas have a lot to look forward to in the Texas Stars, certain to be an entertaining product in a beautiful building. For more information on the Texas Stars, be sure to go to www.TexasStarsHockey.com.
Dallas forward lines looked like this on Wednesday night:
Three Stars of the game:
1. James Neal
2. Marty Turco
3. Alex Auld
The Dallas Stars bussed back to the Metroplex immediately after the contest and will practice in Frisco on Thursday in the early afternoon. Dallas hosts the Nashville Predators on Saturday at American Airlines Center – the season opener for both teams. GET TICKETS