Saturday, October 20, 2018

Texas Vaults Into First with 3-1 Win Over Wild, Big Games from Gurianov, Point

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
On the back of another great third period, Texas claimed first place in the division with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Iowa Wild tonight. The kids are alright, it turns out, as Joel L’Esperance, Denis Gurianov and Colton Point all factored into the win in big ways.

“I like the way our team is growing,” said Coach Laxdal. “For us to win back-to-back with travel on Thursday, it shows a lot of our group. To push in the third period, showed a lot of character in our group. They did a hell of a job.”

It was Colton Point’s first professional win, and he certainly got some help to get there. Iowa hit four posts in the game. “It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Point said of the win, continuing on the posts. “Sometimes when things are going well, they’re going well. I’ll take what I can get.”

Denis Gurianov continued his hot play with his fifth goal in as many games. Laxdal noted that he’s also been one of the team’s best backcheckers, and he plans to use him on the penalty kill starting next weekend.

Gurianov talked about his mantra to improve this season, “Every year I feel more comfortable here. I try to do my best, listen to coach and the other guys. Get better every game, every practice.”

It was a relatively quiet first period for both clubs with no goals and no penalties either way. The best chance of the frame came late as Michael Mersch collected his own rebound and attempted to go left to right across the crease to beat Kahkonen. The rookie netminder extended his pad to keep it scoreless.

The legend of Joel L’Esperance continued to grow in the second period. The young forward had a drive-by tip play on a point shot from Joel Hanley to open the scoring. The Stars would capitulate nine minutes later as former Steelhead Colton Beck broke into the zone with Niklas Hansson draped on him. The play would have been a minor penalty, if not a penalty shot, but Beck buried it for the tie.

Iowa had a few posts in the second that surely made Texas nervous. One off the left post ended with Colton Point snow angeled in the crease and a frantic sequence in the Stars zone a few minutes later saw the Wild ding the crossbar on an open net.

“He had a few posts,” said Laxdal laughing at the understatement. “That’s part of the game. He got scrambling a bit in the second period. He made some timely saves for us. That’s how you learn, trial by fire. He was on his back, his chest, rolling around. That’s only going to help him for his next start.”

In the third period, Laxdal made a common adjustment to put the newly assigned Roope Hintz with Gurianov. The change yielded goals from both the line he left and the line he joined. “The addition of Roope Hintz gave our group energy moving forward,” he noted. First, Erik Condra found the net on his first of the season with an easy tap-in backdoor on Colton Hargrove’s initial chance. That pushed the score to 2-1.

Late in the third, the Stars finally got their first power play of the night and didn’t miss out on the opportunity. Denis Gurianov popped one in high on Kahkonen from the hashes for the 3-1 lead and the final. Roope Hintz had the first assist, and Joel Hanley got his second assist of the night as well.

The Stars would hold strong with the empty net and emerge with 10 points in the standings to hold onto first with an idle Milwaukee and Chicago in the loser column. Texas has a long layoff now until their next game on Friday when Chicago comes to town.

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

Nyberg-Hanley
Heatherington-Hansson
Gleason-Hanna

Point

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Bayreuther (day-to-day)
Calderone, Gluchowski, Laberge, Payne (scratch)

Gavin Bayreuther is expected back next weekend after missing this weekend’s contests.

Tonight’s attendance was 5,267.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Iowa - October 20 2018

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