Michael Mersch Scores in OT as Stars Hold Off Moose 5-4

Though the Manitoba Moose surged back to tie the game in the third period, the Texas Stars came away with two points in the standings on Friday in a 5-4 overtime win in Winnipeg. Forward Michael Mersch scored the game winner in a critical contest to keep the Stars in the last playoff spot in the Central division.

(credit: Texas Stars)
The optics weren’t great considering the Stars had a three-goal lead headed into the third period. The Moose completely outplayed Texas in the final frame and took advantage of some tired Texas Stars, scoring three straight goals.

But, as head coach Derek Laxdal likes to say, the Stars will take the two points and move on. Style points are of far less value than standings points after all.

The first period was the polar opposite of the third for the Stars as they came roaring out of the gates. Travis Morin opened the scoring nearly nine minutes in, finishing a beautiful tic-tac-toe play initiated by Justin Dowling. Dowling’s perfect pass found its way to Condra then to Morin for the redirect. It was Morin’s eighth goal of the season in what has been a down year in the goal-scoring department.

Tony Calderone scored a weird one six minutes later when a puck bounced off of his leg and in on a set-up by Colin Markison.

With less than a minute and a half remaining in the opening frame, Erik Condra came up with a shorthanded goal, the second of the season for the Stars. The other shorty was scored by Colton Hargrove in the season-opener.

One key factor that gave Manitoba life after they went down by three was that the Stars couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. Texas went to the penalty kill six times and only killed off four. The first goal they allowed from Logan Shaw on a pretty one timer with just under five and half minutes remaining in the second period.

Denis Gurianov would answer four minutes later to restore the three-goal lead.

Goals from Mason Appleton, Marko Dano, and Jimmy Oligny capped the Moose comeback in a third period in which Manitoba completely controlled play. They ended up outshooting the Stars 22-8 in the frame. Phil Desrosiers got the start in net for the recalled Landon Bow and finished with 38 saves on 42 shots.

With two and a half minutes remaining in regulation, the Stars had to kill off a huge penalty and ended up drawing one of their own to close out the period. With a healthy amount of 4-on-3 time in the overtime frame, the Stars seized momentum. Mersch put the finishing touches on the victory with his nineteenth goal of the season.

The Stars will swing through Rockford for a 4:00 PM contest on Sunday before heading back to Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Nyberg, Phelan (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 3,483.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Manitoba - March 15 2019