CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars put an end to their losing streak in week six, claiming a pair of wins over the rival San Antonio Rampage.
The Stars came into the weekend losers of four straight and having allowed two goals or less only twice in eleven games. That all changed this past weekend. Texas held San Antonio to two or less in both games and now sit at 6-5-1-1 after a 2-0 weekend. The last-placed Rampage are now 3-12-0-0.
The defense was a major worry coming in, as injuries in the Dallas Stars defensive corps trickled down throughout the organization. Texas was able to call-up rookie Brady Norrish from ECHL Idaho, while Dallas traded for d-man Taylor Fedun and assigned him to Texas. The biggest piece to fall into place at the right time was the return of Gavin Bayreuther. Bayreuther returned Saturday after missing seven games due to injury and assisted on a goal just 51 seconds into his first game back.
Fedun made his Texas debut on Sunday afternoon and was joined in the lineup by the returning pair of Dillon Heatherington and Denis Gurianov. Heatherington and Gurianov were returned to Cedar Park from Dallas early Sunday, and were in San Antonio in time for the 3 p.m. faceoff.
Saturday, Nov. 10: Stars 8, Rampage 1
The weekend started with a bang, as the Stars jumped on the Rampage early and often on Saturday. Texas led 4-0 after just 20 minutes, and never looked back. The teams traded goals in the second, before a three-goal third by the Stars created the lopsided 8-1 final.
Offensively the Stars were led by four-point nights from Erik Condra and Justin Dowling; Condra netted a hat trick and a helper, Dowling a goal and three assists. Bayreuther, Joel L’Esperance, Colton Hargrove, and Colin Markison rounded out the Stars scoring. Landon Bow made the start in net, stopping 30-of-31 San Antonio shots.
- The Stars were lethal in the first, with four goals on 13 shots. This led to an early exit for Rampage starting netminder Ville Husso, with Jordan Binnington coming in to start the second. Binnington held his ground for a while, but eventually, the Stars potted four on him as well. He finished with 12 saves on 16 shots.
- The Texas power play was clicking on Saturday as well, with a 3-for-6 effort overall. The Stars were 2-for-2 in the first, then Condra finished his hat-trick with a power play tally in the third.
- The Stars set a new season-high with their eight-goal outburst, two better than the six they scored in Grand Rapids on October 17. Texas’ top offensive night a year ago was a 7-2 win at Stockton on January 12.
- Eight players had multi-point nights for the Stars, led by Condra and Dowling’s four. Bayreuther, Hargrove, and L’Esperance each had a goal and a helper, and Adam Mascherin, John Nyberg, and Roope Hintz each with two assists.
Sunday, Nov. 11: Stars 4, Rampage 2
San Antonio looked determined to respond on Sunday, out playing Texas through 20, and leading 2-1 after the opening frame. The Stars regained control in the second, but Husso held the Stars at bay by stopping 12-of-12 in the frame. The Stars tied it 7:54 into the third, however, then added two more over the final ten minutes to win it 4-2.
Bow made the start for the second time in less than 24 hours, and stopped 19-of-21 Rampage offerings. The Stars were led by two-point nights from Gurianov, Hintz, and Travis Morin, who each had a goal and an apple. Hargrove had the other Texas tally.
- The Stars power play was quiet for 50 minutes Sunday, but came through in the clutch with two late power play goals to win it. The Stars finished 2-for-6 on the night, and 5-for-12 over the weekend. Texas now sits second in the American Hockey League with the man advantage, converting at a 27.8% clip (15-for-54).
- Husso also started for the second time in as many days, and responded very well to his early exit Saturday. Husso stopped 20-of-21 over the first two periods, before Texas finally solved him thrice in the third.
- Gurianov wasted no time getting back on the scoresheet for the Stars, potting a goal and a helper in his return. He regained sole possession of the team lead in points, 14 (7G, 7A), after Condra’s four-point night Saturday had pulled him even at 12 (5G, 7A).
- It took 13 games, but Morin scored his first goal of the year in the third. It was a big time to score, as it was the one that finally solved Husso a second time to pull the Stars even at 2-2. He added an assist just over two minutes later, sending a centering pass to Hintz for the eventual game-winner.
Three Stars of the Week:
★★★ – Landon Bow, who was 2-0 and stopped 49-of-52 shots on the weekend. He is now 5-2-1 (2.74 GAA, .905 SV%) on the young season.
★★ – Erik Condra, who had a hat-trick and an assist on Saturday. He now has five goals and seven helpers this season.
★ – Roope Hintz, who was the only one with multiple points in both games. He had two assists in the blowout Saturday, then scored the winner and assisted on the insurance marker late on Sunday.
Weekly Grade: A
You can’t do much better than the Stars did in week six, outscoring the Rampage 12-3 over the two wins. The Stars were able to respond to the defensive woes, albeit against a very weak offense, and added an explosive offensive weekend to go with it. San Antonio never even had a chance on Saturday. The Rampage took the initiative early Sunday, but that was to be expected after having been demolished by their rival the night before. I am leaving the A+ grade off the table for now, mainly because of the slow start Sunday, but Texas couldn’t have been too much better this weekend.
The Stars and Rampage will get a short break from each other this week, but then get right back at it with a three-game weekend between the two looming in week eight. In week seven, however, the Stars will host a pair of Central Division playoff teams from a season ago. The week will start tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CT inside the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, when the Stars host the Manitoba Moose. The week will then conclude with a matchup against the Rockford IceHogs, with faceoff set for Friday, also at 7 p.m. CT.
This will be the first meeting of the season between the Stars and Moose, after the Stars claimed victory three times in four meetings a year ago. The Stars swept a pair in Canada, before splitting the two games in Cedar Park. It will be the second meeting of the year between the Stars and IceHogs, with the Stars falling 5-3 at Rockford on October 13. The Stars eliminated the IceHogs in six games in last season’s West Final.
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