Texas Stars outlast San Antonio 4-3 in OT in regular-season finale

CEDAR PARK — Brendan Ranford thought he won the Texas Stars regular-season finale 2 minutes, 28 seconds into overtime.

Ranford’s shot off the rush beat San Antonio Rampage goalie Michael Houser, but it connected with both posts and the crossbar. After a lengthy review, the call was confirmed that the puck never crossed the line.

On his next chance, Ranford didn’t leave any doubt as he collected a pass from Patrik Nemeth and beat Houser to give the Stars a 4-3 overtime victory and send them into the playoffs on a four-game win streak.

“I was lucky to get the one after the next shift out,” Ranford said. “It felt really nice. I’ve had a few (misses in overtime this season). Like I can go back to a wraparound that just barely missed, and there’s a couple more I can think of.”

Texas will open a best-of-five first-round series against the fourth-seeded Rockford IceHogs starting Friday at Cedar Park Center. Game 2 will be played Saturday, also in Cedar Park. Games 3, 4 and 5 will be in Rockford, Ill.

While Ranford’s goal sealed the victory, 2013 NHL first-round draft pick Jason Dickinson made his presence felt in his first home game with the Stars.

Dickinson had a pair of assists, one night after he made his professional debut and assisted on the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win in San Antonio.

He’s impressed the coaches — and a large number of Dallas Stars operations staff members in attendance Saturday. The 19-year-old will be a fixture in the playoffs, even though he just joined the team this week after finishing his junior career with Guelph Storm.

“He’s a special player,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said after practice Saturday morning. “He’s a first-round pick. He plays both sides of the puck, he’s got a good head on his shoulders. … He’s going to get a chance in the bottom-six (forwards) and he’s going to push other players.”

He’s already started pushing new linemate Matej Stranksy. The 22-year-old Czech winger had three four goals in his first 68 games. In two games with Dickinson as his centerman he’s scored three, including two on Saturday.

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

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