Saturday, November 21, 2015

Texas Stars' Mistakes Add Up in 7-6 Loss to Ontario Reign

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
In a contest between the two most recent Calder Cup champions, it's not clear it was the game that either team expected. Ontario and the Texas Stars combined for thirteen goals as the Reign took the first of six meetings between the two clubs tonight in Cedar Park.

"That was nothing like our scouting report," said Devin Shore, who had three assists. "We thought it would be a defensive battle. It seemed like every shot was going in."

The Stars battled back from separate two goal and three goal deficits in the game to tie things at two and six, respectively. Coach Laxdal pointed to the teams resiliency in those moments as a positive but was of course not pleased with the final result. Too many individual mistakes and blown assignments cost Texas the win this evening.

Laxdal noted, "It takes a lot of energy out of you. You can't play like that every night, chasing the game."

Texas was chasing the game nearly from the drop of the puck. Ontario scored on their second and third shots of the night, ending John Muse's evening just four minutes into the game.

"I didn't like the first two goals. I thought about pulling Jack [Campbell] at six. We have to have our goaltenders step up. Goalie is the last resort. You can usually count one mistake, two mistake, three mistake, goal. There were probably three mistakes on every goal."

Texas would even things up with goals from Greg Rallo and Devin Shore only to cede two back before the end of the frame, ending twenty at 4-2 down. Laxdal commented, "We had some breakdowns on the first three goals, leaving guys alone in the front of the net, a lazy habit."

After getting a goal from Esa Lindell to open the second, the Stars let up two in quick succession to make it a 6-3 contest. Matej Stransky scored on the power play with a Reign defenseman draped all over him to cut the deficit to two after forty.

The Reign used their size to their advantage all night, banging bodies with Texas and making it uncomfortable to go to the tough areas of the ice. "We thought Utica was big and heavy last year, so I can see why [Ontario, formerly Manchester] rolled through Utica in the finals."

Devin Shore added, "We know if we want to make a push those are the teams and that's the style we have to play."

Justin Dowling netted his fifth of the season early in the third period, a backhand rebound effort. Greg Rallo's second of the game set things at even late and gave Texas the chance they needed to take the W from the top team in the Pacific.

With the building back in it, Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored what would stand up as the game-winning goal with 3:33 left in the game.

Shore assessed the game, "We had a good push in the third. A lot of the mistakes are on ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot."

Coach Laxdal echoed the sentiment, noting that Texas had several mistakes on each goal that could have prevented them. With a young club, this will be a good game to study on the video before the next contest to determine where those breakdowns came from.

The Stars get no quarter from the Thanksgiving holiday. It'll be spent on the road. Monday morning brings the team's first ever trip to California.

Tonight's lines:
Shore-Morin-Ranford
McKenzie-Faksa-Rallo
Dickinson-Dowling-Stransky
Kane-Smith-Troock

Lindell-Johns
Nemeth-Blacker
Backman-Honka

Muse
Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Mangene, Bystrom, Evans, Ully (scratch)
Elie (day-to-day upper body)
Hulak (upper body)

Today's attendance was 5,147.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Ontario - November 21 2015

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