|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
"Both teams want to finish the season the right way," said head coach Derek Laxdal. "We want to get close to finishing at .500. If we can finish with 2-3 wins, it makes it a little bit better."
The Stars and Rampage alike put a number of young players into the lineup for the contest, and they made impacts. Ondrej Vala, Nick Caamano and Reid Sturos all laced them up for Texas, putting another useful notch in their belt on the way to their pro career ahead.
"It's all about experience for these kids. This is a chance for the kids to develop and get them a step in that process. Vala is 18 years old, and he looked like a veteran defenseman out there. Caamano didn't look out of place on the PP and PK. When you get these chances, it really helps your development."
San Antonio did get the first goal of the contest, but the Stars battled back with two of their own. Gemel Smith rainbowed a goal over Joe Cannata to end the first period, and Matt Mangene scored on the power play to take the lead in the second.
Smith was one of the five players sent down from Dallas playing in tonight's game. He and Denis Gurianov both scored in the contest.
Jason Dickinson, who was one of those five, expanded, "[Playing in the NHL] brings a little bit more confidence. The little things they do. The game is so tight up there and there's very little space to make plays. That's the big thing to translate [to the AHL] is to make those little area plays they make up there."
The Rampage would even the score at two on a power play of their own. It was a 5-on-3 tally that Texas almost made it through. The tie didn't last long. A deft tip off the stick of Cole Ully found twine for the 3-2 Texas lead.
Denis Gurianov scored on a rebound in the third period to extend the lead to two. It was his 11th of the season. Laxdal noted particularly on their play, "It shows the next wave of kids getting ready for Dallas. They played well and did a great job generating the goal. It's good to have them back in the lineup."
Reid Petryk would score to make it a one-goal game late. The Stars held tight with players like Caamano on the penalty kill. A late game PK featured Caamano, Gavin Bayreuther, Denis Gurianov and Mangene. It was a youth infusion.
Justin Peters finished the contest with 24 saves on 27 shots. These two clubs face off twice more to end the season. Friday in San Antonio is the penultimate matchup.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Dowling (call up)
Karjalainen, Martenet, Herbert, Dietz, Stevenson, Desrosiers (scratch)
Bodnarchuk, Morin (injury)
Tonight's attendance was 5,545.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - April 12 2017