Hintz and Gurianov Help Texas Snap Skid in 5-4 Win Over Stockton

The Texas Stars were glad to be back in Cedar Park in a 5-4 win over the Stockton Heat that snapped a five-game losing streak. Recently sent to the AHL on conditioning assignments, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, and Connor Carrick all scored for the Stars to help the cause. Adam Mascherin and Nic Caamano also tallied in the victory.

(credit: Texas Stars)
“When you’re trying to get back into that win column, it just seems like that road is so long,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “That’s a big win coming off that road trip. You don’t realize how tired our guys were today. Give them a lot of credit for the effort they put in. We talked a lot about second efforts, and I thought we had a lot of those tonight.”

The effort was certainly there for the Stars, and it led to some of the breaks and bounces that didn’t seem to come during the road skid.

After goaltender Landon Bow stymied the unmarked Spencer Foo early in the game, the Stars came to life very quickly. They strung together a few positive offensive shifts and forced the Heat to ice the puck. Carrick cashed in on a slap shot from the point on the ensuing shift for his first goal with the AHL club.

The lead was short-lived as the Stars committed a major hockey sin and allowed a goal on the following shift. Heat winger Buddy Robinson finished a 2-on-1 on a pretty feed from Tyler Graovac to silence the building.

In the second period, the game took on a much chippier tone as both teams were clutching, grabbing, and generally getting under one another’s skin. Caamano dropped the gloves with heavyweight winger Anthony Peluso and did not get the better end of the exchange. “Caamy did a great job tonight. He was physical, he stood up for his teammate. He didn’t realize he was fighting one of the toughest guys in the league, but give him credit.”

The Stars would go on to outshoot the Heat 8-3 in the frame as they got goals from Mascherin and Gurianov.

Mascherin’s goal thirty seconds into the frame came on a lucky bounce from a Joel Hanley shot. The offering caught Mascherin up high and awkwardly dribbled through Tyler Parsons’ five hole. This was the type of bounce that was menacingly absent during the road trip. “We got a break on our second goal. It hit Masch in the face and went in the net. But give our guys credit for hanging in there.”

Twelve minutes into the stanza, Andrew Mangiapane scored right after a Heat power play expired to knot the game up at two.

Gurianov’s goal was the answer with a little over two minutes left before intermission. As he’s been known to do, Gurianov turned on the jets, beat the defense clean to the net and went backhand for the prettiest goal of the game. Hintz notched the primary assist on the play and made a good read to set up the Russian winger for the rush.

“I like playing with [Hintz],” said Gurianov. “He’s a smart player, fast skater. He has a great shot. He can find me and we understand each other pretty well.”

Power forward Joel L’Esperance had a monster sequence near the eleven minute marker in the third period to help give the Stars a cushion. First, he forced a turnover on the penalty kill and nearly crammed home a shorthanded goal. Hintz stepped out of the penalty box seconds later, and L’Esperance found him on the breakaway to give the Stars a 4-2 lead.

“I was feeling good tonight,” said Hintz. “Nice passes. It’s easier to get behind the defense when you get good passes from your linemates.”

Laxdal was very complimentary of his two young speedsters in Hintz and Gurianov. “Roope and Deni, their game has picked up right where they left off when they came down from Dallas. You saw their speed tonight, and they both scored on breakaways. When you’ve got a player coming at you that fast, you force guys to make mistakes.”

Foo was not to be denied with five minutes left of play on another unmarked, point blank chance after defenseman Ben Gleason coughed it up in the defensive zone. “The game should’ve ended at 4-2. [Gleason] made a mistake. He just seems to have a little too much time sometimes, and he wants to try and complicate the play. And he got stung on it.”

Another Heat forward, Andrew Mangipane, really made the home crowd sweat with his game-tying goal a minute and change later. Bow was caught out of position as he tried to play the puck and was just a little too late to thwart the redirect.

On the very next shift, Caamano cleaned up the garbage as he crashed the net hard to restore the lead, which the Stars wouldn’t relinquish. It was a big moment for the young forward after putting his well-being on the line against Peluso earlier in the game for the sake of the team. “That’s the type of game that’s going to help him springboard his career.”

“When you’re on a little bit of a slide like we were on that road trip, it was good to come back and play in front of our fans and have a full house here. I thought it gave us a lot of good energy. We just found a way to close out and get the win.”

The Stars are back at it on Saturday evening against the San Diego Gulls. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Payne, Phelan, Hanna, Laberge, Hansson (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 6,883.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Stockton - January 25 2019