Saturday, March 17, 2018

Stars Lead Start to Finish, Topping Moose 6-4

Dries, Kelleher and Markison combine for seven points in win
(Credit: Derek Sparta/Texas Stars)
After last night's rough loss, Texas found itself facing the top team in the West at home in their third game in four nights. It was a recipe for a let down, but the Stars gutted out a strong performance. They scored first and led the entire contest, potting six goals and chasing starting goalie Jamie Phillips.

"We tried to keep it simple from the get go," said Colin Markison, who had three assists on the night. "Our plan was to get on the forecheck and play in their zone as much as possible."

Markison's line was a key driver of the Stars' success. Tyler Kelleher slotted in on the wing of Sheldon Dries, and the trio put in a pair of goals and combined for seven points with each having a multipoint evening.

"[Kelleher] came off an injury in Milwaukee and hadn't played a bunch," said Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal. "He fit in [on that line] and has found himself a spot. He's been a good find for us."

The contest, combined with last week's win in Tucson, was a real confidence boost for the fourth-place Stars. Markison noted that the two games proved Texas could "100% without a doubt" compete with the best in the West.

The game had a chance to get out of hand through the first half. Texas showed a lack of discipline and took several penalties, including tripping, high-sticking and an attempted spear by Matt Mangene.

"We weren't as disciplined as I would have liked tonight. We took a spearing penalty, just a retaliation that wasn't very positive. We have to manage our emotions. Every game is a playoff mindset so you have to have that controlled emotion."

Roope Hintz managed to find the back of the net on a Texas power play off the dish from Tyler Kelleher, who had opened the scoring himself in the first period.

"Sheldon and I have played together before," said Markison. "But that was our first time playing with Tyler. He adds confidence and presence. He's shifty and a good passer. Just a good all-around player.

After Mangene's spear, Sheldon Dries jetted down the ice with Colin Markison to score 4-on-4 and make it a 3-0 game. Manitoba would break up the shutout with a power play goal on that spearing call, however. The Stars got it back on a point shot by Andrew O'Brien that had eyes through traffic to the top corner, making it 4-1.

Manitoba answered with Charles-David Beaudoin's first AHL goal just over a minute later, and the score was 4-2 after forty.

Texas extended their lead to 6-2 with goals from Denis Gurianov on the backhand and Curtis McKenzie in tight on the power play. Manitoba had a response, scoring twice in 90 seconds late in the game to make it a 6-4 game. Their own lack of discipline put them down a man, then two, with under three minutes to go and ended their chances at a comeback.

It was a physical game, but Texas did well, for the most part, to not get goaded into taking extra penalties or getting into their own heads about the referees not calling things that they felt should have been called. They took care of business on the scoreboard, which is what ultimately counts.

The Stars now get an extended break, not playing again until Friday versus San Antonio. It will be a solid break to focus on some systems and heal bumps and bruises. Texas has several more three-day breaks in their schedule, but this is their last of more than three days.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Dowling-Morin
Flynn-Hintz-Gurianov
Kelleher-Dries-Markison
Mangene-Fyten-Laberge

Bodnarchuk-Hansson
Bayreuther-Regner
O'Brien-Scarlett

McKenna

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
French, Rallo, Thompson, Paliotta, Desrosiers (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,512.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Manitoba - March 17 2018

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