Texas Opens with 3-1 Win, Headlined by Landon Bow and Joel L'Esperance

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
After unveiling their Western Conference championship banner, rookie Joel L’Esperance showed that this team has a bright future ahead as he headlined a 3-1 victory over the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins. Not to be outdone, goalie Landon Bow secured the win with a 24 save effort to kick off his season.

“I like the work ethic of the group for the sixty minutes,” said Coach Derek Laxdal. “We were really resilient again, kind of a trademark of our organization. We didn’t bend that much.”

Amid all the good news, Texas did have some bad. In the third period, Reece Scarlett went down awkwardly under the weight of a Griffins forward, bending his leg under him. “The most unfortunate part of the game was losing Scarlett.”

Landon Bow expanded, “It sucked to see him go down like that. When you lose a veteran guy like that, we were going to lean on him a lot this season, so hopefully it’s not too serious.”

Texas got off to a quick start in the first period, scoring on their first shot of the season. On the penalty kill, L’Esperance applied pressure at the point on Chris Terry, a forward playing at the blue line on the power play. “Playing heavy on the puck is part of my game,” said L’Esperance postgame.

He freed the puck but saw it go just beyond his grasp. Grand Rapids keeper Harri Sateri was stuck in a pickle and had to come out to play the puck away at the hashes. It ended up on the stick of Colton Hargrove and then in the back of the net.

“L’Esperance was a beast tonight,” said Laxdal. “He picked up right where he left off [last season]. I like to compare him to Jay Beagle with more offensive upside.”

The Stars got into penalty trouble midway through the period, putting Joel Hanley and Scarlett in the box for a 5-on-3 Griffins advantage. With two of their best PKers in the box, Texas ceded a deft tip goal in front to GR captain Matt Ford to make it 1-1.

In a mostly quiet second period, L’Esperance again generated the offense. Off a slick pass from Erik Condra, he found twine over the left shoulder of Sateri. Nicholas Caamano had a few great chances in the period that just didn't go, both pretty much point blank. One was a whiff, and another went straight to the chest of the Griffins’ goalie.

Landon Bow sustained heavy pressure in the third period, stopping all 11 shots he faced in the frame to keep the score at 2-1. Justin Dowling collected the late empty net goal just a few seconds after Michael Mersch had an ENG of his own waved off for offsides.

Texas faces Milwaukee tomorrow in Cedar Park, the return of coaches Karl Taylor and Greg Rallo to their former home.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Desrosiers, Hanna, Calderone, Payne, Hansson, Pearce (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,317.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - October 5 2018