Penalties Haunt Texas Stars in 4-3 Loss to San Diego Gulls

Colin Markison was a bright spot in the game.
(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Right or wrong, the penalties were the difference in tonight's game as Texas fell 4-3 to San Diego, marking their fourth loss in a row. The Gulls have the best power play in the league, and the game was called tight, perhaps questionably so as judged by the Stars' faithful. However, after two quick penalties from Curtis McKenzie and Greg Rallo each led to San Diego power play goals, Texas should have clamped down on any malfeasance, real or otherwise.

"Penalty trouble in the second cost us," noted Coach Laxdal. "We took some bad penalties that hurt our team."

When McKenzie took another penalty for boarding in the middle of the second, it was clear as day what would happen next. Corey Tropp potted his third in a row, all on the power play, giving San Diego the ultimate game-winner and collecting a natural hat trick in the process.

"McKenzie was trying to be physical, which we want to be, and I can't fault the refs for calling it. I would want those called against our players. but there's a time to hit and a time not to hit. At the end of the day, we have to be a little smarter with our play. We take penalties in the second period, and it takes away from our momentum."

Austin Fyten got things started in the first with his first AHL goal of the season. Really it was Colin Markison doing the tough work to get the play started, chipping a puck to himself down the boards to enter the zone. Sam Laberge got it out front for Fyten's goal.

"I just try to play the same way every night. I have a speed game, a north game," said Markison. "My linemates helped me out with that, getting the puck to me to get it into the zone in the first place."

San Diego answered on a turnover by Roope Hintz as Texas worked to clear the zone. Laxdal commented that Hintz is coming off injury and not playing with a lot of confidence. He challenged Roope on the bench after the goal and his play picked up through the game. He added, "When players are in that first year, they find periods of time where they play really well and where they fall back."

The Stars went up one on a weird play as Gavin Bayreuther bounced one off the end boards and in off Reto Berra's rear. The first ended 2-1 for Texas, a solid start after Saturday's loss.

The second period was all San Diego as the aforementioned penalties came to bite Texas in a big way.

"It's something we'll address in the room and will be a point of emphasis," said Markison of penalties and the PK in general. "[The Gulls] move the puck around, and they're hot so they understand each other's game well, so it asks more of us."

"It deflated our bench," added Laxdal. "When you're penalty killing, a lot of guys aren't getting ice time. Our penalty kill has hurt us lately, and it's not good enough. It's costing us points."

The Stars would get one back early in the third period though with a rare call for playing without a helmet on Kalle Kosilla. The San Diego forward found his way to the scoresheet in other ways though as he had four assists in the game. Curtis McKenzie scored off a misplay by Berra, who committed too hard to Andrew Bodnarchuk as he raced down the wing. Texas had a shot at 4-3 Gulls, especially after the Mike McKenna halted a 2-on-1 chance

They got even more help when Joe Blandisi upended Brent Regner for a chance at 6-on-4 hockey. Texas couldn't get close though. "Shot selection is huge for me," commented Laxdal, noting that Bayreuther went for a short-side bar-down shot with three men in front when he should have gone for something lower to generate rebounds.

Texas takes a four-game losing streak into the weekend against Bakersfield, which comes to town on Friday.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Flynn (injury)
McNeill, Scarlett, Thompson (scratch)
Dickinson (call-up)

Dowling, Hansson and Regner all returned from injury tonight.

Tonight's attendance was 3,334.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Diego - January 3 2018