|Brandon DeFazio had two assist in the game. (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
"We challenged our group to get better defensively and I think we answered the bell," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "Closing out the home stand with a win was good for us, especially after the losses against Milwaukee."
The defense activated tonight with Nick Ebert scoring his third of the season. Strong defensive zone pressure was also part of the equation that put Texas back in the win column.
Ebert noted, "We came out with a good effort and it's a good step back to where we need to be. We were a lot better for Bow tonight. Our coverage was tight with no breakdowns and that was an issue last week."
Texas was all over the Rampage early in the game, despite it not being obvious on the shot count. It was evident on the scoreboard quickly though. A centering pass from Brandon DeFazio to a trailing Ebert beat Jeremy Smith for the 1-0 score.
"I jumped in the play tonight a lot more than I have in the last couple games. It was more open for me. That's a part of my game I have to be sure to establish early in the game."
Texas continued the upbeat pace through the first period as some of the callups started to show their mettle in the game. Joe Faust had several excellent offensive chances in the first period and could get another look tomorrow night, according to Laxdal.
Caleb Herbert started the game on a line with Gemel Smith and Jason Dickinson, availing himself well of the opportunity and earning another shot with the pair tomorrow himself.
Laxdal commented, "He did what we wanted him to do. I think he was a little nervous, and I think he'll be a better player tomorrow night."
The Rampage got a goal that really shouldn't have been late in the second period. A streaking J.T. Compher put a bad angle shot on Bow from the right wing goal line, beating him high on the far side. Bow went for a blocker stop but should have opted for the glove.
Texas would orchestrate a great chance of their own, as San Antonio took successive minors to land the Stars on an extended 5-on-3 to end the frame. With patience, Brandon DeFazio set up Gemel Smith with a cross-crease pass. Smith slammed the puck home on the backdoor before goalie Jeremy Smith could seal the pipe with his pad.
The third period saw a strong push from San Antonio, including a 5-on-3 for 25 seconds.
"We went back to the chalkboard [on the PK]," said Ebert. "We had to tighten up. The kill on the third on the 5-on-3 was awesome for us and we really needed it."
San Antonio went with their big line of Compher, A.J. Greer and Jim O'Brien for much of the final two minutes with the 6-on-5 advantage. The Rampage were unable to establish a strong offensive zone presence, despite the advantage, and would not score.
The Stars will travel to San Antonio for the rematch tomorrow night.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Backman (mid-body injury)
Werek, Ully (injury)
Gurianov (World Juniors)
Fyten, Desrosiers (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was .
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - December 21 2016