So far, it's been a rough season for the Texas Stars (2-3-0-0, 4 pts, #15 Western). It's not going to get much easier as the Stars head out on the road for their first extended road trip of the season. There were positive signs of life in the Stars' games this weekend, however, which they split down the middle. The Stars dropped their Thursday evening game against San Antonio (Florida Panthers) in heartbreaking fashion 4-3, but earned the full two points in an overtime victory against the Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues) on Saturday night.
Chief among recent news stories for Dallas fans is the assignment of Hubert Labrie and Ondrej Roman to the Idaho Steelheads. For Labrie, it is expected. After Philip Larsen was sent down to Texas, Labrie was the 8th defenseman and hadn't made it into a game yet. He needs the ice to continue developing.
Ondrej Roman is another player who needs some ice after getting scratched in three of the Stars' first five games. He has recorded no meaningful stats and only two shots in those games playing fourth line minutes.This is not a death knell for Roman, but it certainly doesn't feel good. Other popular Texas Stars who got some seasoning in Boise after time with Texas include Luke Gazdic and Mathieu Tousignant. They've both turned out just fine. Time will tell how this sets up Roman's career trajectory.
More on this week's games and a preview of a busy road trip inside...
Despite the Stars' best efforts in the third, the San Antonio Rampage slipped by Texas in the final few minutes to drop the Stars to 1-3-0-0 on the season. The Stars showed a better team character than in previous losses, coming back from an early deficit to tie the game in the final period. "Sometimes you'll get down in a game and you have to come back and that's a playoff type situation," said Maxime Fortunus.
After an early goal from Tomas Vincour, San Antonio scored the next three and Texas was reeling. The Stars roared back in the third, scoring two to even it off the sticks of Vincour and Travis Morin. Unfortunately, the Rampage had just enough left in the tank to score the game-winner on a tip-play with 1:48 left in the game.
Of the loss, Coach Pyle said, "We got a little sloppy at times. We've got to have urgency from the get-go. We made mistakes that you cannot make."
Texas collected its first win since opening night in a frenetic game against the Rivermen on Saturday. It took eleven total goals and overtime to do it. "The biggest thing is getting the two points," said Matt Fraser, who scored the game winner. "It's good to put one back in the win column."
Texas and Peoria came out of the gate guns blazing. At the end of the first, the score was 4-4 with Texas goals coming from Morin, Sawada, Gazdic and Fraser. The Stars led at 3-1 at one point, but gave up goals on the power play to let Peoria back in the game. "We have to learn not to take those stupid penalties because you'll get them going," said Coach Pyle.
The rest of the game was almost ho-hum compared with the first. Dan Spang scored a power play goal in the second to put Texas ahead, but Phil McRae completed his hat trick to even it at five in the third. Matt Fraser would have the OT winner, also on the power play, in overtime from the right wing circle. The line of Sawada-Morin-Fraser combined for nine points on the night.
The Week Ahead
Texas heads out for its first true road trip this week with games across the newly-created Midwest Division. Tuesday night will feature the Stars at the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) in the first meeting of the teams this season. Texas will make a return visit to the Peoria Rivermen on Thursday before meeting the Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks) in the Windy City on Saturday.. The weekend will end in Wisconsin with a game against the team that knocked them out of last year's playoffs, the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators), now led by Kirk Muller.
Texas Stars on Twitter
In case you didn't know, there are now several Texas Stars on Twitter. You can see them all in this list I've created. Here's a good one from yesterday, sent after the Stars finished practice in Rockford: