Saturday, October 6, 2018

Texas Battles Back in Third But Falls 4-3 in OT

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but the Texas Stars battled back from a deficit to earn a point in overtime tonight against Milwaukee.

“That’s the Texas way we talk about. That resiliency,” said coach Laxdal. “We played last night so I’ll give our guys a lot of credit battling back against a team that’s been resting.”

Milwaukee hadn’t played a game yet this season, and the Stars played again in as many nights. Texas hit the third period down 2-1 and saw that sink to a 3-1 deficit before roaring back.

Niklas Hansson, who checked in for the injured Reece Scarlett, scored on a one-timer eight minutes into the final frame. Then, it was time for 6-on-5 play to get the final goal. Joel L’Esperance, who had a great game last night, put one back on the doorstep to tie things with 35 seconds left.

“I think I was almost celebrating before it went in the net,” said Michael Mersch, who had the primary assist on the tally.

Part of what kept Texas from surging ahead despite some good chances were the penalties they kept taking. Even though Milwaukee only scored once, the Stars had to roll out their top PKers constantly, sapping energy from their 5-on-5 play.

“We got into penalty trouble in the first and the second, and we had to tax some players on the PK,” said Laxdal. “It’s non-necessary penalties. Keeping your stick down, keeping your hands down. We know [the officials] are going to clamp down [early in the year].”

Colton Point had a solid start to his pro career despite the loss. There were several breakaways that he had to deal with that pierced his armor. Keeping things tight in the third was a feather in his cap.

Also notably, it was the first win for former Star Greg Rallo as a coach. “For me, today was pretty special to start my coaching career in a place that was home for so long,” he said. “I don’t know if easier is the word, but there was a certain comfort level and with the fans seeing a certain welcoming.”

Texas opened the scoring with a nifty move by Dillon Heatherington down low. With Heatherington coming out of the penalty box, John Nyberg threw the puck down to knock off the last seconds of the kill. Heatherington picked up the puck in the corner and wrapped around Troy Grosenick for the 1-0 goal.

The Stars capitulated late in the frame as a bad bounce at the opposing blue line ended up on the stick of Rocco Grimaldi, who sprung Anthony Richard for a breakaway. He flipped the one backhand over Point to tie things.

Opening the second period, the Milwaukee power play bit Texas. With Nick Caamano in the box, Colin Blackwell slapped one through traffic to take the lead 2-1. The best chances Texas had in the period again came from last night’s hero line of L’Esperance, Hargrove and Condra. Grosenick was swimming but two pucks went right through his crease without anything coming through on the scoreboard.

The third saw a breakaway off a bad change by Tony Calderone end up behind Point for the 3-1 lead. This is where Texas mounted its comeback. Goals by Hansson and L’Esperance tied things after sixty.

In overtime, breakaways were again the story. Noted Star killer during his time in San Antonio, Rocco Grimaldi, fired the final shot to ice a 4-3 victory for the Admirals.

Texas finishes the weekend with three points of a possible four and next faces Iowa on Friday in Des Moines.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Dowling-Gurianov
Hargrove-L'Esperance-Condra
Caamano-Morin-Mascherin
Calderone-Markison-Phelan

Bayreuther-Hanley
Heatherington-Hansson
Nyberg-Gleason

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (lower body)
Desrosiers, Hanna, Laberge, Payne, Pearce (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 4,984.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - October 6 2018

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