It's been a rough week for the Texas Stars (6-7-0-1, 13 pts, #10 Western), who came up winless in their first three games in three nights stretch of the season. Texas faced off against the division rival Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) at home for two before heading to San Antonio on Sunday for a matinee game against the Rampage (Florida Panthers). The Stars earned only one point on the weekend, losing their first game in a shootout 3-2.
Overall, it was a very disjointed weekend for the team. Texas was up 2-0 late in Friday's game, but gave up two late goals including a power play tally on an avoidable penalty, and lost in the shootout. On Saturday, Heat goalie Leland Irving kept Abbotsford in the game, another winnable one for Texas. The Texas power play had a power outage against the Heat, going 1/13 in the two games. "We're still getting good looks," said Dan Spang. "But we're hitting a lot of crossbars."
Finally, the game in San Antonio was eminently winnable with San Antonio in last place in the league and on a three game losing streak. Texas got the early lead but fell in regulation with goals from the Rampage in the second and third making the difference.
Whereas last week was about things coming together, this week was about things coming apart. Perhaps less "coming apart" and more "not yet solidified". This is a young team still, and the season is only six weeks old. Texas Stars fans seem to be getting restless, but if anything, this is only because they have become accustomed to win to loss ratios of two-to-one. Texas is just outside playoff contention and getting better as a team each day.
More inside on each individual game and the week ahead...
The Stars jumped ahead of the Heat in this one in the second period with a power play goal from Matt Fraser, assisted by Travis Morin and Philip Larsen. Raymond Sawada collected his 4th of the year in the 3rd with a hard charging play that got a favorable bounce and found the net for the 2-0 lead.
However, late in the third, Ryan Garbutt took a penalty for interference and the Stars lead was cut to one on the ensuing power play. It was the turning point of the game. "With 5 minutes left, we take a penalty that you can't take," said Coach Pyle. "I don't care what you have to do to stay out of that position, but that penalty turns the whole game around. You cannot take that penalty."
The Heat scored with the extra man on the ice and went on to win in the shootout. Richard Bachman stopped only one of four shooters in the skills competition and Texas went 0-for-3 with attempts from Tomas Vincour, Ryan Garbutt and Matt Fraser. Texas went 1/7 on the PP.
After the previous night's physical contest, Coach Pyle dressed Eric Godard for this game. Jon Rheault opened the scoring for the Heat in the second period of this one. Jordie Benn tied it up just 18 seconds later though with a point shot that found twine, assisted by Brad Lukowich and Ryan Garbutt. Raitis Ivanans had the ultimate game winner just over a minute after that with his first pro goal since December 27th, 2008.
The only other goal of the game came as Tyler Beskorowany cleared a puck into Rheault's chest. Rheault got it to the ice and deftly went around Beskorowany, who was out at the hashes, to pot his second of the night.
Texas once again collected an early lead but couldn't finish in their matinee game against the Rampage on Sunday. Texas collected the first goal off the stick of Francis Wathier, tipping a point shot by Jordie Benn for the power play tally. San Antonio collected the next three though with goals from Tim Kennedy, Mark Cullen and Scott Timmins. Former Star Brian Sutherby collected as assist in the game.
Texas attempted to mount a comeback with a late PP goal from Tomas Vincour. The power play goal was not enough as Texas would go 0-for-3 on the weekend.
The Week Ahead
Texas will play four of their next five games against the defending Western Conference champion Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild). That stretch starts Friday night in Houston and continues on Saturday in Cedar Park.
Maxime Fortunus returned from injury last week and the Stars have no other injuries at this time.