Thursday, December 31, 2015

Texas Stars Close 2015 With Full 60 Minute Effort, Beat Gulls 6-1

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Texas put together one of their most complete games of the season to end 2015 with a 6-1 victory over the visiting San Diego Gulls. The offensive showcase stretched their winning streak to three, the longest they've had since starting the season 4-0.

"It was a complete team effort from top to bottom," assessed Coach Derek Laxdal. "We had a good start so the confidence came early. Everybody connected."

The Stars got scoring from every line as their speed and hustle outworked the heavy game the Gulls wanted to play.

"Mentally, you're thinking you have to be on your toes more," said Jason Dickinson, who had a goal and an assist. "They want to play that big game and not skill. If you move the puck fast enough, they're not going to be able to finish their checks."

The Stars potted five goals before San Diego found twine once. From the drop, Texas just seemed to be breaking up everything San Diego tried to do and bringing it back against them.

"We were able to generate a lot off the forecheck. We were in the right position to pick off pucks. We were able to create a lot."

Brendan Ranford snuck behind a changing Gulls bench and collected the opening tally off the pass from Curtis McKenzie. A few minutes later on the PK, Jason Dickinson tallied the eventual game winner as McKenzie again completed a passing play 2-on-0 to give Dickinson an easy angle for the score.

Laxdal noted, "I thought our guys had a great start to the game and we did a lot of things we talked about. We got pucks in deep and our transition was really sharp. The shorty gave us momentum and energy."

Dickinson gave the assist to Derek Hulak on the next goal and it was all going the Stars' way.

"Three goals in the first takes the wind out of your sails. It's very tough to come back from that."

Throughout the game, San Diego worked to use their size to their advantage, but Texas was able to move with speed and cycle through all four lines to foul up those plans. While there were no fights, several matching roughing minors were handed out to usual suspects and unexpected skaters alike.

Remi Elie continued the scoring with a rebound goal to make it 4-0 halfway through the second. As the period came to a close, Gemel Smith scored his seventh of the year off a redirect. It was a good reward for his line with Matej Stransky and Cole Ully, which was buzzing all night.

That confidence allowed Laxdal to "manage the game a bit" in the third, putting out third and fourth line combinations on the power plays and generally giving Texas' top lines more rest.

San Diego would break through in the third period to end the shutout. On the power play, Andrew O'Brien scored to make it 5-1.

Gemel Smith picked up another goal to restore the five goal lead a few minutes later. He had been jawing with Matt Hackett, who replaced starter Anton Khudobin in the third, and noted he was happy to have scored on him after getting so much lip.

The Stars now have a pretty rough travel day as they make their way west with a 6:30 AM flight. Texas plays Stockton on Saturday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hulak-Dickinson-Rallo
Elie-Dowling-Ritchie
Ully-Smith-Stransky

Lindell-Honka
Bystrom-Johns
Backman-Blacker

Muse

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Lagace (injury)
Evans, Kane, Mangene (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,387.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Diego - December 31 2015

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