|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
"Points are just points for us right now," said Brandon DeFazio, who scored the final Texas goal. "We need them all; it doesn't matter who we're playing."
Despite DeFazio's statement, these were two points against the exact right team. Tucson is currently in fourth place and this win both raised Texas and lowered the Roadrunners in the same stroke. Coach Laxdal noted, "It's a big win for us. They're a team we're chasing."
While it wasn't a perfect game by any means, the Stars got just the game they needed. Laxdal noted that it wasn't the best defensive game the team has played, but it didn't have to be as Justin Peters "bailed us out."
The first period was relatively sleepy overall. DeFazio commented, "A lot of practice can do that to you. If you're trying to implement things, it can paralyze your feet a bit."
In the second period, Texas found the scoreboard on the power play. Andrew Bodnarchuk snuck down from the left point on the power play to deposit his fifth of the year into the practically empty net. Nearly as quickly, former Star Chris Mueller evened it up at the other end.
Throughout the game, referee Mike Langin had to repeatedly go to the bench for a cut under his nose, which he suffered early in the first period. "He was leaking the whole game," said Laxdal. By the time the third period began, he was unable to return to the game and Texas and Tucson skated the rest of the game with just two officials, one of them donning the orange jersey to be designated as ref.
"We get those [linesmen] all year," added Laxdal. "They're local linesman and never probably been in that situation. You have to give them credit, the job they do. They work 5 days a week, 40 hours a week and then they have to come in and line a game and then referee. It says a lot about the passion they have for the game and the AHL."
The Stars generated some passion among the crowd of 3,748 with their two quick goals in the third. Matt Mangene scored on a tip-in from Bodnarchuk at 5:25 and then DeFazio scored off a turnover just 26 seconds later. Postgame, Laxdal noted that having the defense activate (1 goal, 2 assists total) was a big key to their strategy tonight. It was also huge to see the goals come in 5-on-5, an area where the team has struggled this season.
The period has the potential to be a catalyst for the remainder of the season. DeFazio summarized, "When you lose 5 in a row, everyone doubts themselves. Sometimes offense can dip a little bit. You get a win, you feel a little better, and you start seeing guys play to their potential and with confidence."
Despite a late goal from Tucson, Texas held on for the win at 3-2. They will need to bring the confidence from this game into the immediate rematch tomorrow night.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Backman, McMurtry, Herbert (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 3,748.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - February 10 2017