CEDAR PARK — The Texas Stars took a look back at the 2014 Calder Cup Championship before opening their title defense in front of a sellout crowd Saturday night.
Four new banners were added to the Cedar Park Center rafters.
The West Division, Western Conference, and AHL Regular Season Championship banners were unveiled after player introductions, while the green-and-gold Calder Cup banner was hoisted.
Captain Maxime Fortunus skated a lap with the Calder Cup, then the 18 returning players posed for a picture with the cup and the banner.
“I don’t think we’re going to fully grasp the importance of it,” defenseman Cameron Gaunce said after the pregame skate Saturday morning. “I don’t know if it’s going to be two weeks, two months, or two years. But it’s just one of those moments you can’t really grasp while you’re in it.”
After the banner was hoisted, Texas used a three-goal second period to open the season with a 4-2 victory against the Iowa Wild.
Curtis McKenzie, Justin Dowling and Julius Honka each scored in the second period for Texas, which trailed 1-0 after the first period.
McKenzie opened the second-period scoring on a gritty effort that came 12 seconds after a Stars power play had expired. Brett Ritchie centered a pass and McKenzie was able to get just enough body position to score before being knocked to the ice.
Three minutes later, Texas took its first lead on a dazzling passing display involving all five players on the ice.
Jyrki Jokipakka saved the puck at the blue line, shuffled it to Brendan Ranford, who centered a pass to Scott Glennie. Glennie then laid it off to Fortunus, who hesitated and then fired a pass to Dowling, who one-timed a shot past Iowa goalie John Curry.
Honka, the youngest player in the AHL at 18, added to the lead with 44 seconds remaining in the period on a power play when his shot from the point beat Curry though a screen.
Iowa cut into the lead 5:34 into the third period on a goal by Brady Brassart, but Texas countered with 3:27 remaining when John Klingberg rifled home a one-timer on the power play.