|Pat Nagle (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"It was a close game tonight, and the score didn't indicate the play," said Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins. "Training camp is to evaluate, and we have to see where these guys are at. It was a great time for younger guys to play and us to evaluate."
Despite goals from Austin Smith and Justin Mercier, Brock Montgomery was probably the star of the night among skaters. The young winger had two fights and scored an empty netter. In between, he hit everything that moved, perhaps sensing an opening with the loss of physical winger Luke Gazdic earlier in the day.
"We'll miss Luke in a lot of ways," said Desjardins postgame. "He was a really good player for the organization. Not just physicality, but his character as well."
Josh Robinson started the night and only saw nine shots before giving way to Pat Nagle halfway through the game. Nagle stopped all 21 against him after coming in cold midgame.
"It was great to get in the game and get some shots," said Nagle. "Josh set a high standard for me coming in. Fortunately, I got hit with a shot in the chest right when I came in, and it got rid of the jitters."
San Antonio and Texas played to a scoreless tie in the first period with the Stars outshooting the Rampage 7-6. The tight shooting game saw Vincent Trocheck lead all shooters with two as last year's OHL MVP and top point scorer. Brock Montgomery got into the fighting game a bit, squaring off with Zach Miskovic.
The second period was a little bit more open. Austin Smith potted the first goal of the night at the 6:31 mark, tapping the puck in as it had settled behind Houser in the San Antonio crease. Ranford's initial shot off the right wing side behind the goal line squeaked through Michael Houser where Austin Smith found it. Jyrki Jokipakka picked up the second assist.
"Smith's play has improved over last year," noted Desjardins. "He's stronger and skating harder."
The night's starter, Josh Robinson, stopped all nine shots against in the 28 minutes and change that he played. Pat Nagle got into the game thereafter and near immediately faced some intense challenges from the Rampage. A shorthanded 2-on-0 was one of the shots among the nine he faced in the second period.
In the third, Texas extended its lead with Justin Mercier's first preseason goal. Jyrki Jokipakka again generated the goal with a solid shot from the left point that Mercier tipped past Houser. Curtis McKenzie collected the second assist.
The rest of the period was rather physical as Brock Montgomery stepped up his game, stapling Greg Zanon and Zach Miskovic on the same forecheck. Vincent Trocheck stepped up to challenge Montgomery and the result was a bloody hand and face for Trocheck.
Montgomery was rewarded for his pugilism late in the game as the Rampage pulled their tender for the extra man. Finding the empty net, he polished off the Stars 3-0 win with seven seconds left.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Jack Campbell, Cristopher Nilstorp, Jamie Oleksiak, Colton Sceviour, Justin Dowling, Patrik Nemeth, Maxime Fortunus, Brett Ritchie, Travis Morin, Mike Hedden, Tyler Elbrecht, Francis Wathier, Ryan Hegarty (scratch)
The Texas Stars had Toby Petersen with the captain's "C" and William Wrenn and Cameron Gaunce with alternate "A"s.
Tonight's attendance was 2,543.