TEXAS STARS

Stars reflect on run to Calder Cup Finals

Texas fell to Toronto in Game 7 of the Calder Cup Finals, the third appearance in franchise history

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Travis Morin will gladly trade a chance at getting in some early summer golf for extra hockey.

The Stars captain finished his ninth season in Cedar Park this year, helping Texas get to the Calder Cup Finals for the third time in team history where they fell to the Toronto Marlies in seven games. 

“We had a lot of ups and downs, but we never gave up,” he said. “We were battling in every game and once we got into playoffs, we had a great run. The guys stuck together through thick and thin and just came up one game short in the end.”

Resiliency was the word of the season for the Stars, who got through the Ontario Reign, Tucson Roadrunners and Rockford IceHogs — never facing an elimination game in the process — to set up a showdown against Toronto. 

But after fighting back in Game 6, Texas fell flat, losing 6-1 in a decisive Game 7. 

“It’s a special achievement to get to Game 7 and be that close,” defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk said. “It’s something people will talk about. It was enjoyable. We came out on the wrong end of things and it still stings, but we have to look at how far we’ve come.”

The veteran trio of Morin, Justin Dowling and Curtis McKenzie led the way offensively during the playoffs, combining to score 22 goals and chip in with 30 assists. 

Rookie forward Sheldon Dries turned some heads too, scoring 10 goals in his 22 playoff games, more than half the scoring he produced in 70 regular season game. 

The old hockey adage of riding a hot goalie in the playoffs came to fruition as Mike McKenna boasted a 2.41 goals against average with a .927 save percentage with a pair of shutouts during the playoffs. It was his second straight loss in the Calder Cup Finals. 

“Once we got into the playoffs, we got excited,” Morin said. “ We all started to get that inner belief and started to believe in each other as a team. We knew it was going to be tough, but we knew we were going to have a chance.”

At this point, it’s unclear who will be back with the team next season. Dickinson is a candidate for a full-time job in Dallas, especially after making 27 appearances for the big club this year. And Bodnarchuck has already moved on, singing with Red Bull Munich in Germany on Monday. 

Morin has been with the AHL version of the Stars since their inception, lifting the Calder Cup with the team in 2014 and winning league MVP in the process. 

This season, the 34-year-old Minnesota native was just as impressive as he led the league with 51 assists during the regular season and finished tied for 11th in points during the regular season. 

With the 10th anniversary of the team set for next season, Morin said he’s not done yet. 

“I want to be back and hopefully I’ll be back,” he said. “Hopefully we can get something worked out. My family loves it here and I love it here. However long I end up playing, I’d love for it to just end here.”

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