Saturday, September 29, 2018

Joel L'Esperance Leads Stars to 4-3 Preseason Victor Over Rampage

Joel L'Esperance scored twice in the third period to steal the game.
(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars won their second and final preseason game, defeating the San Antonio Rampage 4-3. Phillippe Desrosiers and Tomas Sholl split the time evenly in net and both goalies looked solid. Big power forward Joel L’Esperance scored both the game tying and game winning goals in the third period.

“I think playing last year in the playoffs gave me some confidence coming into this preseason game,” said L’Esperance. “I’m just trying to build on that. I think last year helped for sure.”

Two penalties committed by the Stars in the first period led to one goal for each team. On the first penalty kill for the Stars, Elgin Pearce beat everyone to a loose puck that led to a breakaway goal just over two minutes into the game. Pearce crashed the net hard and was rewarded.

Adam Mascherin, the recent addition from the 2018 NHL Draft, received a generous amount of puck luck on his wrist shot a few minutes later. The puck caught the blade of a defender’s stick and took a strange bounce over Rampage goaltender Jordan Binnington’s shoulder to put the Stars up by two. Travis Morin set up the play with an impressive one-handed pass.

For the game, the Stars generated 37 shots on goal. L’Esperance said he likes the way the offense is projecting: “I think we’re in a good spot. We’ve got some guys that have some scoring touch. [We’ll] just keep progressing every game and getting better, and I think we’ll be fine.”

On the Rampage’s second power play halfway through the frame, forward Austin Poganski got his team on the board. It was the first goal allowed in the preseason by Desrosiers.

The second period saw Bobby MacIntyre tie the game less than two minutes in with a wicked wrist shot on the power play from the left circle. The Stars committed three total penalties in the frame.

Though they didn’t score, the Stars set up a few really good looks that should connect as the season matures. One in particular was a centering feed to Nick Caamano from Mascherin behind the net. That could be a combination that Stars fans ought to get accustomed to hearing.

Rampage forward Stephen Perfetto pulled his team ahead four minutes into the third period as the Rampage chipped away at a loose puck. Tomas Sholl, who replaced Desrosiers halfway through the game, was caught swimming on the play but mostly looked sharp throughout the contest.

L’Esperance knotted the game right back up a couple of shifts later when he went basically 1-on-3. He took the puck hard to the net and cashed in with a greasy one. “I actually tried to shoot it originally and it came right back to me. Got a lucky bounce, cut back to the net. I guess you get rewarded for going to the net, so it worked out good.”

His second goal of the night came with 33 seconds left after the Stars emptied their net on a delayed penalty. L’Esperance was true from the slot.

“I was actually going to go for a change, and then I saw that there was a bunch of open ice in the middle there. So I kind of hesitated a little bit and stayed there. [Nick] Caamano was able to find me there and I had time to set up my shot and just rip it.”

There were a couple of key areas on L’Esperance’s mind that the Stars could afford to improve upon as they get ready for opening night.

“I think puck movement. Today, I think we were a little slow in some spots. Finding the right option quicker, getting out of the zone quicker. Neutral zone could be quicker. Getting pucks behind their D--I think we struggled with that a couple times today. Overall, I think we had a good game though.”

The Stars open their season against the Grand Rapids Griffins next Friday at in Cedar Park. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT.

Tonight's lines:
Mascherin-Morin-Caamano
Calderone-L’Esperance-Hargrove
Laberge-Phelan-Markison
Naas-Pearce-Payne

Nyberg-Hansson
Hanna-Scarlett
Gleason-Gluchowski

Desrosiers
Sholl

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Heatherington, Kanzig, Norrish, Dancs, McParland, McClure, Kessy, Lewis, Schempp, Martenet, Vala (scratch)


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