Frenetic First Dooms Texas Stars As Bakersfield Condors Triumph 6-3

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
A madcap first period constituted most of the scoring in tonight's game as the Texas Stars fell to the visiting Bakersfield Condors by a 6-3 final. Despite opening the scoring, Texas found itself down 3-2 after the first period thanks to a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the period.

"We knew they played fast," said Coach Laxdal. "Their speed caught our D off-guard a little bit in the first period and set the tone for the game. It was 3-2 going in after the first and we knew we could play better."

Landon Bow started the game but gave up three goals on just 13 shots. He was relieved by Lagace in the second, an attempt to kick the team into gear for the middle frame.

"I didn't think our backend was very hard tonight. They played light and small. We didn't have a great game there and didn't give our goaltender much help."

The Stars responded to the goalie change in every way but with a goal. They earned a 5-on-3 power play, which they could not convert, and had numerous strong chances from every line. Especially notable was the play of Gemel Smith's line in the frame.

"We had a solid second," said Stars' captain Travis Morin. "We locked it down defensively and limited the chances. Obviously we didn't capitalize on a few power plays that really could have changed the momentum."

In the first, Texas seemingly came out on fire with Travis Morin scoring just 72 seconds in on an against-the-grain effort five hole on Gustavsson. Bakersfield answered as Griffin Reinhart tipped in a Greg Chase shot for the tie. All-Star Matej Stransky was in the right place with a paunchy rebound and managed to manipulate the puck into the net behind Gustavsson for the 2-1 lead.

Patrick Russell scored the tying goal on a 2-on-1 with Dillon Simpson. Texas looked like it would escape the period with a 2-2 score until Joey LaLeggia broke in alone after the Stars got caught trying to do too much up ice. The goal with 23.7 seconds in the first effectively ended Bow's night. While you do want to see your goaltender make those saves, you've also got to note the circumstances: odd-man rushes that put him on the back heel to begin with.

The aforementioned second period found Texas on the right side of the puck in nearly every way but the way that matters: on the scoreboard. The defeating second led to a deflated third, where Texas ceded two power play goals in rapid succession to start the period.

Coach Laxdal explained, "Our team is a little frustrated right now. We don't score on the power play and that frustration carries over to 5-on-5. When you get the chances 5-on-5 and you don't bury them, the frustration builds more and more. This is a growing experience for our hockey club. We have to battle adversity."

Morin continued, "It's a little bit of [gripping the stick] and a little bit of puck luck, where they're not bouncing the right way."

Two power play goals on "light" penalties, according to Laxdal, gave the Condors a 5-2 lead in the third. An empty net goal set the Bakersfield mark at six while Caleb Herbert scored off the assist of Branden Troock with less than ten seconds left to make it a 6-3 final.

These two teams face off again tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Van Brabant-Herbert-Troock



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Honka (call up)
Fyten (suspended)
Ebert (scratch)
Dowling, Dickinson (injury)

Jason Dickinson is injured and set at "day-to-day" according to Laxdal. They would like to rest him again tomorrow to give him a full week off, including the All-Star Break, to recoup the injury. Austin Fyten and Nick Ebert are expected back in tomorrow, and Branden Troock is expected to stay in the lineup as well.

Tonight's attendance was 4,350.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Bakersfield - January 27 2017