Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Texas Swings a Big Stick, Smashes Condors 5-1

Maxime Lagace (Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Stars dominated tonight's game against the Bakersfield Condors to set a perfect season record against the Oilers' affiliate. The Condors, desperate for a playoff spot, applied pressure throughout the contest, but Texas did not break its stride toward the victory.

"Tonight was an interesting game," said Coach Laxdal. "We got out to an early lead, and they pressured hard in the second and third. We scored some timely goals on the power play and had some timely penalty kills."

Maxime Lagace earned first-star honors with 48 saves on 49 shots with Laxdal calling him the difference in the game. If there was any aspect of the game that needed work, it was simply the quantity of shots against Lagace. However, he was quick to note, "My D played well. They kept the shots from the outside. When I had to make a save, I managed to move well."

Justin Dowling tuned up his offensive numbers, notching four assists to tie the Stars single-game record. Laxdal called his points a bonus when you consider how good he has been in the faceoff dot on defensive draws for the club these past weeks.

The big picture is that this was a game that instills a lot of confidence in the team overall as they approach playoffs.

"Our goal is to clinch a playoff position," said Laxdal. "Tonight's a big win to move in that direction. Every game is huge. The quicker we can clinch, we can start to get tuned up for the playoffs, working on systems."

Texas and Bakersfield got started quickly in this one, trading three goals and a rare fight in the first eight minutes. Curtis McKenzie dropped the gloves with Jujhar Khaira in retribution for Khaira's previous hit on Justin Dowling that sent the forward to the IR for two months.

Derek Hulak opened the scoring and Cole Ully extended the lead to 2-1. Before the frame was out, Texas was up 3-1 thanks to Matej Stransky.

Methodically, Texas added a goal in each of the remaining periods while rebuffing a wide shot differential. Lagace bore down on anything that was in close, "I wanted the win, it's been a while since I've done it in regulation. It was important I made a stand tonight in net."

Jason Dickinson collected a fight for the Stars in the third to close out the festivities.

Texas hits the road for two in Charlotte starting on Friday.

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

Backman-Honka
Blacker-Lindell
Mangene-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa, Ritchie, Johns (call up)
Shore (injury)
Evans, Elie, Hansson, Army (scratch)

Texas lost Cole Ully in the game after a crushing hit. The forward will be out with an upper body injury at least 2-3 weeks, if not more, according to Coach Laxdal.

Tonight's attendance was 3,231.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Bakersfield - March 29 2016

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