Curtis McKenzie scored three goals and Valeri Nichushkin and Radek Faksa scored one each as the Dallas Stars opened the 2013 NHL Prospect Tournament with a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan Thursday night.
“It was a really good showing for the team,” said McKenzie, a sixth round pick in 2009. “It was the first time we got to play together as a whole group. It was a really strong performance by us.”
Jack Campbell, Dallas’ first round pick in 2010, got the start in goal for the Stars and stopped 21 of 23 shots.
“The kids played hard,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “This is very competitive hockey. The intensity level is very high and I thought our kids played hard. They all played the way they should play. They won the game and it was good.”
The game was scoreless through almost the first 13 minutes, but the Stars struck for two goals in 56 seconds to take a 2-0 lead.
McKenzie opened the scoring with 7:07 left in the first, banging home a Brendan Ranford shot to break the scoreless tie.
Less than a minute later, Nichushkin broke in on net and beat Blues goalie Jordan Binnington with a pretty backhand shot to make it a 2-0 game. Nichushkin, Dallas’ first round pick (10th overall) in this summer’s draft, had an impressive showing in the game.
“He was outstanding,” said Nill. “We counted the first five shifts and he had five scoring chances. For a younger kid out here he was pretty impressive.”
The Blues finally got on the board with 2:01 left in the first when William Carrier beat Campbell with a shot from close range.
The Stars were able to extend the lead to 3-1 with a five-on three power play goal at the 3:23 mark of the second period. Brett Ritchie fired a shot from the left circle that McKenzie redirected into the net.
“It was a great pass by Ritchie,” said McKenzie. “I was trying to go hard to the net with amount of skill we have on this team. The puck is going to get there, and Ritchie with a great one-timer right on the stick for me. I just popped it over the goalie.
The Blues cut the lead to 3-2 on a wrap-around goal by Zach Pochiro at 5:24 of the third, but Campbell and the Stars held the fort until late in the period when Faksa, the Stars’ first round pick in 2012, scored on the power play to make it a 4-2 game. John Klingberg made a great keep at the blue line and set up Faksa, who scored from the slot with 2:15 remaining in the game.
McKenzie notched his hat trick by scoring into a empty net with the Stars shorthanded with 1:28 remaining to make it a 5-2 final.
“I hope I didn’t just use up my goals for the season,” McKenzie said.
The Stars take on the Detroit Red Wings on Friday. Detroit defeated Minnesota 3-1 Thursday.
Notes: Oleksiak fights, picks up game misconduct
*Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak dropped the gloves and engaged in a spirited fight with St. Louis’ Jacoby Doty late in the second period and picked up a game misconduct for an equipment violation. According to a Stars’ official, Oleksiak was given the misconduct for throwing off his elbow pad during the scrap.
*Alex Chiasson is wearing the “C” at the tournament for the Stars. Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth are the alternate captains.
Valeri Nichushkin-Radek Faksa-Alex Chiasson
Curtis McKenzie-Brendan Ranford-Brett Ritchie
Remi Elie-Taylor Peters-Mike Winther
Gemel Smith-Jason Dickinson-Cody Payne
Patrik Nemeth-John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka-Jamie Oleksiak
Etienne Boutet-Troy Vance
Jack Campbell (starter)
Philippe Desrosiers (backup)