No fooling: Fortunus fights, Nichushkin has three assists in Texas Stars win

Maxime Fortunus fights with David Wolf in the third period against Adirondack. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Maxime Fortunus fights with David Wolf in the third period against Adirondack. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK — The score sheet from the Texas Stars’ 7-4 win over the Adirondack Flames could be passed off as an April Fools’ joke.

On a day filled with hoaxes and tricks, the actions in Adirondack’s only visit to the Cedar Park Center could all be listed in the seeing-is-believing category.

Texas had a perfect start, but somehow trailed after the first period.

Adirondack scored on its own net.

Valeri Nichushkin had three assists in his final AHL game before getting ejected with 4 minutes, 58 seconds remaining.

And most surprising of all, the Stars captain Maxime Fortunus was in a fight.

Through 11 professional seasons and 824 games, Fortunus had only one fight entering Wednesday’s game, and none had come in a Texas jersey.

But when David Wolf laid a questionable hit on Stars rookie Gemel Smith early in the third period, the captain jumped into action.

“It was kind of a bad hit,” Fortunus said. “I thought it was a little bit dangerous. Sometimes you just got to step up for your teammates. Everyone in that locker room would have done the same.”

Fortunus, who stands at 5 feet, 11 inches, scored a decisive victory against the Wolf — even though the Flames forward had an advantage in height (three inches), experience (nine bouts this season), and age (nine years).

All bets were off after the unlikely bout as the officials ejected four players and the teams finished with 84 combined penalty minutes.

Between all the penalties, the Stars played some pretty good offensive hockey and scored seven goals on 36 shots.

Playing the last game of a three-game conditioning stint after missing five months while resting his surgically repaired hip, Nichushkin was the best player on the ice when he wasn’t jawing with the Flames bench.

In the second period, Nichuskin dished out a pair of assists to Scott Valentine and Justin Dowling as Texas turned a 2-1 deficit at the first intermission into a 4-3 lead.

“I can’t say it’s my best game,” Nichushkin said. “I think I played better last two. But sometimes puck goes in net all the time. You touch puck and it’s goal.”

Dowling’s and Valentine’s goals were sandwiched around a goal by Greg Rallo, which was actually shot into the Adirondack net by a Flames forward.

In the third period, Brett Ritchie, Scott Glennie, and Dowling scored for Texas, helping the team end a two-game losing streak and keep pace for sixth-place in the Western Conference.

This story was originally published in the Austin American-Statesman.

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