Strong Texas Effort Stymied by Griffins Keeper, McCollum

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Stars had two very good games this weekend, but their opponents, the Grand Rapids Griffins, were just a step better each time. Texas fell tonight by a 4-3 final.

"If you play like that every night, you're going to win a lot of hockey games," said Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal. "[Griffins' goalie] Tom McCollum was probably the difference in both games."

Texas poured on the shots tonight after not getting enough quality chances on Friday, peppering McCollum with 48 total shots this evening.

"Tom was great in both games," commented Griffins' coach Jeff Blashill. "He didn't give up any easy ones. The puck stuck to him, and he was big at big moments."

Despite the two losses, Blashill went on to praise the Stars' effort this weekend, "This is a really good team. They are a team that is going to be good down the stretch. It was readily apparent this weekend."

Texas answered two Grand Rapids one-goal leads but could not come back after the Griffins went up 4-2 in the third period.

Louis-Marc Aubry's goal off a scramble in the first period was answered by Gemel Smith, who scored from behind the goal line off the glove of McCollum.

"I saw the puck go off [to the corner], and I knew no one knew where it was," said Smith. "I waited and knew I was going to try to bank it off the goalie."

In the second, the fourth line answered again for Texas. Landon Ferraro scored a pretty goal in tight, elevating the puck over Campbell blocker side. Gemel Smith found Kevin Henderson in the slot mid-frame for the 2-2 score.

"I'm not sure how the puck came to me, but I just passed it to [Henderson], and he buried it."

Coach Laxdal called the Stars' start in the third 'unsure' and that led to two Grand Rapids goals that would ultimately be the difference. Andy Miele scored on a tip in front of Campbell after a defensive zone miscue by the Stars that led to a tic-tac-toe by the Griffins. Jeff Hoggan scored streaking down the right wing side to make it 4-2 by the nine minute mark.

"I'm sure Jack would like ot have the fourth one back," added Laxdal.

The Stars really poured it on late including a power play set that had Grand Rapids swimming and a 6-on-5 set that lasted over two minutes. Jamie Oleksiak got the Stars within one with a shot from the point that beat McCollum low to the ice on the far side. That would be all Texas would get though.

The power play had four chances in the game, but the Griffins stymied that group all weekend.

"This is a really good power play," said Blashill. "Any time you have Travis Morin, who I think is one of the best in the league. They had their chances. Our penalty kill was good, and at times it wasn't. That's when Tom McCollum was our best penalty killer."

Valeri Nichushkin started on a line with Branden Troock and Devin Shore but moved to the first line with Greg Rallo and Travis Morin in the third, earning some power play time as well. He will start there against Adirondack on Wednesday, which is the Stars' next game action.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McKenzie, Ritchie (call up)
Valentine, Mangene, Peters (scratch)
Rynnas, Faksa (injury)

Texas lost Derek Meech to a lower body injury in the third period. He is projected to miss at least the next game, if not more.

Tonight's attendance was 6,863, a sellout.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - March 28 2015


  1. Did you catch the final bids on the jerseys? I noticed that Nichuskin's and Morin's were getting up there by the middle of th 2nd period, but missed the final bids.

    1. Highest was Nichushkin at $2300. Didn't see any others.

    2. I think Morin was 2800 and several others were 1K or more...Honka and Rallo and Jack.

  2. Good game and effort by the Stars. Watching that game bought up memories of the series last year against St. Johns and the Marlies. Campbell being "Good" in the playoffs is going to be a problem. Campbell will need to be "very Good" or "Great" in the playoffs. I don't want to sound critical but both time we made it to the finals we had excellent goaltending.

    1. You're right. Goaltending has to step up. Here's the thing though, things have to be in sync with the offense too. Flip the scores around from this weekend. Most people would argue that 2 goals against 'gives your team a chance to win' and the rest is on the offense at that point.

      If Texas can score 3 on Friday, that's a win. Texas offense needed to step up for Campbell that night.

    2. Really the Stars haven't been great in any one area all year. They have had great moments and great strings but those only provide a false hope when you get into a long series with playoff type teams. Friday Texas was just bad, like I mentioned before. They had the chances and missed on them. I still don't know what this team is or what their identity is. maybe they should be a worse team and Laxdal is doing a great job. Maybe they should be better? I don't feel this type team will fare well in the playoffs but then again they do have as much experience than any and more than most in the playoffs so maybe they just hit that switch. I would of though this weekend would of been considered a playoff" type game and that didn't fare so well though.

    3. I wasn't all that disappointed with the 2 efforts this weekend. I thought we played better Saturday than Friday and I thought Friday was a game of missed opportunities and also against a red hot goalie. I agree with your other comment about needing GREAT goaltending to move forward in the playoffs.

      I think given the player movement we've had this year I'd have to give Lax a thumbs up for the job he's done. McKenzie and Olesiak up and down and Ritchie up for a while now. Lindell in for 5 games and gone. Bystrom in to the team late ..just things like that that do make a difference .

      Here's hoping we get in the dance and surprise some folks along the way...we are certainly capable of that...and capable of getting swept out.


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