|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
After a rough game on Tuesday night, Texas faced the Reign, a club that they had not defeated this year or last, a streak of seven games. That is, until this evening's 5-4 home victory.
"Over the last two years, we've had funny games against them," said Derek Laxdal. "They've been hard fought. We played with a lot of energy and made the changes in the game. It was a seesaw battle."
Julius Honka, who scored the opening and closing goals, added, "I think we always play well against these guys but we've never gotten the win. We battled well today."
In sharp contrast to some recent games, Texas kept Ontario tight on the scoresheet, with neither club ahead by more than a goal at any point. "It's pretty cliche but we really simplified," said Andrew Bodnarchuk. "Getting too cute at the blue lines really bit us. Getting the puck behind their defense really helped us."
Texas opened the scoring with Julius Honka sneaking down from the point to score through traffic in front. Before the announcement of the goal was completed, the Reign had tied things up on an odd-man rush. Justin Auger scored on the power play to claim the lead for the Reign after twenty minutes.
The Stars erased that lead quickly in the second with Matej Stransky scoring a goal in tight to make it 2-2 just 42 seconds into the period. Andrew Bodnarchuk gave the Stars their first lead of the night on the power play with a great laser beam of a shot, assisted by traffic in front from Remi Elie. Ontario goalie Jack Flinn didn't have a chance on the play.
Auger picked up his second of the night two minutes later and the Stars' momentum was halted again. Travis Morin regained the Texas lead with a blind backhander that dinged in off the post.
Once again though, that momentum was cut off at the knees by an Ontario goal. An ill-advised clear around the boards by Maxime Lagace came back to bite him from the point. Vincent LoVerde's slow dribbler beat Lagace through traffic to tie things at four with just 24 seconds left in the frame.
The lone goal of the final frame belonged to the aforementioned Honka. From nearly the same spot, he beat Flinn far-side high. "That's a spot where I usually get a lot of chances," he noted.
Texas locked down the game, another big character builder, especially with a 6-on-4 against in the final 79 seconds. "We defended well in the 6-on-4," said Laxdal. "We played with heart and passion."
The Texas Stars hope that heart and passion will be back on display tomorrow night.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Smith, Dowling (call up)
Ranford (out, unspecified)
Dickinson (recovering from injury)
Tonight's attendance was 3,999.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Ontario - October 28 2016