This Tuesday morning finds the Texas Stars (10-12-0-1, 21 pts, #15 Western Conference) at the bottom looking up in the Western Conference standings. This week's slate of games wouldn't have you thinking that Texas is a last place team, however. They beat the #2 team in the conference in a 3-0 shutout and played tight with the league's top team only to lose 3-2.
It's a cruel fate for the Stars, who are trying to grow together as a team and learn to finish while they are constantly beaten down by the three top teams in the league, who are all in their division. The Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers), Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild) and Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) combine for 30 of 76 total games against the Stars this season.
Coach Pyle talked a lot about finish in Saturday's postgame comments. "We need 50 shots to get 3 goals, and that's where we struggle. You're not going to win scoring two goals every night, you're going to need three and four."
"We get shots, we're putting it to the net but we've got no finish. When you get opportunities, you've got to bury them."
Deeper recap of this week's game and a look at the hellish week ahead for the Stars inside...
After two weeks away, the Stars returned to the Cedar Park Center with authority, flexing their muscle to a 3-0 win over the #2 team in the conference, the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes). Tyler Beskorowany collected 29 saves in the shutout performance and Texas got scoring from three different lines, including a shorty. "Everybody's clicking from grinders to goal scorers," said Beskorowany. "We had guys blocking shots and clearing out well. We did everything well tonight."
Colton Sceviour opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal, thanks to a great pass from Francis Wathier. Wathier assisted again on the Stars' second goal, Matt Fraser's eleventh of the year. Finally, Hubert Labrie scored his first professional goal for a little bit of insurance. Wathier and Brenden Dillon added fights as well. "Great team game," said Coach Pyle. "We stuck up for each other."
Riding high off two straight wins, the Stars were rewarded with a game against the league's #1 team, the OKC Barons. They hung tough but ultimately fell one goal short. "I thought we outplayed them and had opportunities," said Coach Pyle. "We played just good enough to lose."
OKC scored the first two goals in the contest to lead things 2-0 after 40 minutes. Scott Glennie got Texas on the board early in the third and the Stars had a game on their hands. An avoidable penalty by Ryan Garbutt put Texas on the PK and allowed Taylor Chorney to score the ultimate game winner. The Stars would get one more with Beskorowany on the bench off the stick of Matt Fraser, but it wasn't enough.
Texas's power play was 0/6 in the game. Beskorowany stopped 16 of 19 in the losing effort.
The Week Ahead
Texas has a busy week ahead of them with four games on the schedule. They will make a return trip to Oklahoma City this evening to face the same Barons, still in first place. Then this weekend features a three-in-three with away games on Friday at the Houston Aeros and Sunday at the San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers). The middle game is at home against the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres), a team that the Stars have never played.