Texas tops Toronto as teddy bears fly

Travis Morin (23) watches a stuffed animal fly after Brett Ritchie's goal. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Travis Morin (23) watches a stuffed animal fly after Brett Ritchie’s goal. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Brett Ritchie had planned out how he would celebrate if he scored the Texas Stars first goal on the annual “Teddy Bear Toss” night.

“I totally forgot to do it once I scored,” Ritchie said. “I was going to put my stick in the air and shoot the bears. Like (a) machine gun sort of … I was just too excited and forgot to do it.”

Even though he forgot his planned celebration, Ritchie and the Stars had a lot to celebrate Saturday in a 5-2 win against the Toronto Marlies.

Texas unwrapped three goals in a 153-second span in the second period, while the fans in attendance helped Operation Blue Santa prepare for the holiday season.

While the Stars collected valuable points, Operation Blue Santa collected 1,075 stuffed animals off the ice for underprivileged children during the annual “Teddy Bear Toss.”

“It’s always great,” Stars coach Willie Desjardins said. “It’s a great time of year and it’s for a good cause. As a coach you always worry you’re not going to score, so it’s always nice when that one goes in.”

Texas led 1-0 after an odd first period, which featured a blown call, teddy bears and a power outage.

The Marlies should have led 1-0 6:21 into the game when Spencer Abbott’s shot slipped through Allen York’s pads and into the net during the power play. Instead the goal was waived off due to a quick whistle.

Almost 10 minutes later Texas scored the first goal that counted and fans celebrated by tossing 1,075 bears on the ice. Before the bears hit the ice Ritchie scored on a rebound after an initial shot by Cameron Gaunce.

“I just think it was a lot of hustle,” Ritchie said. “It might have hit something on the way in … I was just standing pretty much wide open at the backdoor and I was able to put it in the empty net.”

While Ritchie’s goal brought down the bears, the lights came down – momentarily – with 91 seconds left in the period and caused a brief stoppage in the play.

The second period had a bit more normalcy than the first for Texas and it’s top scoring line of Travis Morin, Curtis McKenzie and Colton Sceviour.

After Toronto tied the game at 1-1 – a redemption goal for Abbott – Texas scored three goals in 2:33.

Curtis McKenzie scored the first tally, blasting a one-timer on the power play after a pass from Travis Morin. Chris Mueller gave Texas a two-goal lead 27 seconds after when he tipped a shot past Drew Macintyre for his 7th goal of the year.

Morin then capped the quick assault on a deflection, re-directing Gaunce’s shot from the point.

“In that particularly scenario when I’m walking the blue line from right to left I know I’m not going to get that hard of a shot off,” Gaunce said. “With that in mind I’m not really looking to put it past the goalie … Travis did a really good job of giving me a target.”

The goal gave Morin 28 points in just 16 games, holding onto his lead in the AHL scoring race.

Toronto cut the lead back to two before the end of the period when Carter Ashton slipped through Texas’ defense and beat York on the stick side.

In the third period scoring and off-ice festivities cooled down. The final frame had limited stoppages, while Mike Hedden did score Texas’ fifth goal of the game.

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