CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars had a difficult fourth week of the 2018-19 campaign, falling to the Chicago Wolves, and San Jose Barracuda, inside the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
The Stars came into the week on a roll, having won three straight to improve to 4-1-1-1 on the season. That came to an end in week four, however, with the Stars falling to 4-3-1-1 (10 pts) after an 0-2 weekend. The weekend started with a close 4-3 loss to Central Division-foe Chicago, before a difficult second period saw Texas fall 6-1 against Pacific Division-leading San Jose.
Friday, Oct. 26: Wolves 4, Stars 3
Texas took the lead 5:27 into the first, only to have Chicago answer at 10:07 and 16:33 of the frame to take a 2-1 edge to the first intermission. The Stars came out strong once again in the second, tying 11 seconds in, then struck again 9:36 later to take a 3-2 lead midway through the game. The lead would not last, however, as the Wolves scored twice over the final ten of the frame to grab the 4-3 edge they would not relinquish.
The Stars were led offensively by the dynamic of Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, and Michael Mersch. Gurianov and Mersch each tallied a goal and a helper for the Stars, while Hintz bagged a goal and two apples in the game. Landon Bow made the start in net for the Stars, stopping 27-of-31 Wolves offerings on the evening.
- Gurianov scored his sixth of the season 11 seconds into the second period to tie the game at two. The goal extended his goal-scoring streak to six straight games with a goal.
- The Stars started the second with just four seconds left on a carryover power play from the first. While clearly not enough time for a PPG, Texas used the brief advantage to create time and space for Gurianov to come soaring in on the rush. The streaking-sniper fired from just below the near circle, and hit his spot under the crossbar with pinpoint accuracy.
- Despite the fact the above goal was created because of a power play, the Stars would finish 0-for-4 on the night. The special teams battle was won by Chicago, with Daniel Carr scoring after a gorgeous toe-drag on a late second period power play. The goal was the eventual game-winner.
- The Stars came out firing in the third period, once again showcasing their will and determination to fight to the end. Texas created several grade-A chances and outshot Chicago 14-9 over the final 20, but Oscar Dansk sparkled as he stopped all 14 to secure a win for his squad.
Saturday, Oct. 27: Barracuda 6, Stars 1
The Stars took an early lead once again Saturday, this time going up 1-0 just 1:17 into the game. Perhaps appropriately, the happy feelings didn’t last long on Stranger Things Night. San Jose scored twice just 61 seconds apart, and it was 2-1 after just 3:34 of hockey. It only got worse in the middle frame, as the visitors scored four more times en route to the 6-1 San Jose victory.
The offense was once again provided Gurianov and Mersch, with the two combining to convert a San Jose turnover into the lone Texas tally of the night. Colton Point started between the pipes, but had a rough night and would stop just 11-of-16 shots over 35:36 of action. Bow came in for the final 24:24, stopping nine straight after getting beat by the first shot he faced.
- Mersch’s first period deflection was his fourth goal of the year, and he now has a goal im four of the last five games. He has been consistent all year, only failing to grab at least one point in two-of-nine contests.
- Gurianov saw his streak of game with a goal come to an end after six games Saturday, but with his assist, extends the streak of games with at least a point to seven. He has been an offense force since going scoreless over opening weekend.
- The Stars wore their black Tenth Anniversary warmup uniforms for the entire game on Friday, and the look was a hit. San Jose bringing white for the trip led to the move, but, with luck, this won’t be the only time they make a 60-minute appearance this season.
- Antoine Bibeau played very well in the San Jose net, keeping the Stars at bay with several big saves over the first 35 minutes while the final result was still in doubt. He stopped 20-of-21 Texas offerings overall on the night. His side returned the favor, striking three times within 1:54 late in the second to extend the Barracuda lead to 6-1.
Three Stars of the Week:
Third Star: Roope Hintz, who returned from NHL Dallas Friday morning, and contributed a goal and two assists for Texas in his first game of the year at the AHL level.
Second Star: Denis Gurianov, who continued his hot play of late with a goal and two helpers on the weekend. He now leads the team with 10 points (6G, 4A) on the campaign.
First Star: Michael Mersch, who has added a physical presence to the Texas offense, and used his size to create chances all weekend. He potting two goals and added an assist to earn our first star for week four.
Weekly Grade: D
The Stars played well on Friday despite losing to a very good Wolves side, but in the end, they weren’t able to outscore their defensive mistakes. The defense has been bailed out several times this season by the lethal Texas offense, but as stated last week, you can’t count on outscoring everyone when the playoffs start getting closer. The defense was lacking again on Saturday, leaving Point, then Bow, out to dry with sloppy coverage in the slot. The overshadowed defense was the only reason the grade wasn’t perfect last week, and with this week’s results, it has been dragged into the spotlight.
This Week’s Opponents:
The Stars now head on the road for their first trip West of the young season. They will be in California for a pair in week five; starting against the Reign Thursday at 9 PT/7 CT in Ontario, and concluding Saturday at the same time against the Condors in Bakersfield.
The Stars and Reign met four times in the regular season last year; the Stars had a record of 1-1-1-1 in the four, falling twice in extra time in southern California. The two sides then met in the postseason, with Texas winning the best-of-five series in four games (1-1 in Ontario). The Stars faced the Condors a total of six times in 2018-19, going 3-2-1-0 in the contests. Texas picked up three-of-five possible points in Bakersfield (1-1-1-0) a year ago.
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