|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars|
“I think we’re coming together as a team,” said Coach Laxdal. “That’s the kind of [tight] game where your young guys are going to grow.”
Hintz added, “It’s a good group here. They are playing really well, so it’s easy to hop in.”
It was a great start as the Stars hit the ice like they'd been shot out of a cannon in the first period. On their first two shots of the game, Texas beat Troy Grosenick to go up 2-0. Justin Dowling scored on a nice cross-crease dish from Denis Gurianov, and Niklas Hansson found twine from the goal line on a pass from Erik Condra.
“We had a really good start to the game,” said Laxdal. “But sometimes when you score early the guys get the mindset that it’s going to be easy.”
Milwaukee took advantage of their power play chances to bring things back to even into the second. After being outshot and outscored 2-0 in the game's opening minutes, they notched a power play goal off the stick of Connor Brickley to make it 2-1 after 20 and took a 16-6 shot advantage to the room. As the second opened, another power play goal put them at 2-2, with Alexandre Carrier being the trigger man. Laxdal added, “Their push came right after we scored the two goals.”
Grosenick was no slouch in the contest, and things could have gotten out of hand without him, especially early in the second period. Big stops on Adam Mascherin and Joel L'Esperance gave Milwaukee the chance to tie things in the middle frame.
“We could have blown the game open at 2-2, Grosenick was really solid for them.”
The recently-assigned Roope Hintz put Texas back on top in the second period with his fifth goal of the season and twelfth point in the ten games he’s had in the AHL. The genesis of the goal came on a heads-up play form Brady Norrish, who spotted an unmarked Michael Mersch at the opposing blue line. Mersch was picked up quickly, but Hintz cleaned up the garbage for the 3-2 score.
Hintz noted, “Mersch just made a good play. I got it and I shot it.”
Texas held on late to close out the game. Landon Bow, who stopped 31 of 33 on the night, was a big part of that. “I like the way Bow is playing right now. He’s getting into his own this year. I think he understands that he’s our #1 goalie right now and he’s playing like it.”
“He was really good today,” Hintz agreed. “There were so many chances to tie the game, especially at the end.”
Milwaukee’s best chance came just as time expired. With the extra attacker, they rang one off the crossbar and stayed on the ice after the horn to see if they would earn a goal review. None came, and Texas skated away with their fourth victory in five contests.
Texas plays again on Wednesday at home against Iowa.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Phelan, Vala, Payne, Point (scratch)
Tonight’s attendance was 5,410.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - December 7 2018