Sunday, March 10, 2019

Offensive Fireworks Spark Stars to 7-4 Win Over Rampage

The Texas Stars followed up their six-goal game on Saturday with an even better offensive performance in a 7-4 thrashing of the San Antonio Rampage. The victory gives the Stars back-to-back wins in their home-and-home set against their rivals to the south.

“It’s a pretty good combination of a group effort from the forwards and the back end,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “I know we haven’t scored a lot of goals lately in the last couple of months, so you’re happy for the guys to have a little bit of success. For us to have any success here moving forward, it’s gotta be scoring by committee.”

The Stars got depth scoring in spades on Sunday. Defenseman Niklas Hansson continued his recent stretch of strong play, leading the Stars in scoring with a goal and two assists to match his output from Saturday. That gives Hansson ten points in his last nine games.

“I guess the puck is bouncing my way right now,” he said. “We’ve come up with two big wins, so I’m happy for that.”

(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Nick Caamano scored an even strength and a power play goal in the first period to give the Stars 2-1 lead at first intermission. The first goal came nine and a half minutes into the game when Caamano cleaned up a loose puck fired from Dillon Heatherington’s stick.

"It’s definitely nice when you can help the team by scoring,” said Caamano. “It’s kind of one of those days when everything was going in for me.”

The power play goal was the result of hard and fast work by the second unit. Denis Gurianov stepped onto the ice with Caamano and they immediately set up a zone entry with their blazing speed. Caamano deflected Gurianov’s offering from the left circle with just over four minutes left in the frame. The goal was an answer to Rampage center Ryan Olsen’s back door tally two minutes earlier.

Laxdal spoke on the importance of that second power play unit. “They’re a group that’s got a lot of speed and some skill on the back end. If we can have two units that provide some offense, that’s going to help us win that next game and get into the playoffs.”

Fourth liner Colin Markison also pitched in with a goal and a helper. Three minutes into the second period, he got his stick on a bouncing puck and put it past Jared Coreau to push the lead to two. Erik Conda picked a corner on the power play three and a half minutes later to give the Stars even more head room.

“We’re starting to play the right way and just getting over pucks, which is creating offense for us,” said Caamano. “I think they’re just starting to go in for us. We had a lot of chances during those games when we had a slump, so it’s nice that they’re going in for us.

The scoring cushion would pay dividends later in the frame. With less than eight minutes to go, Gavin Bayreuther turned the puck over on his blue line, leading to another goal from Olsen who went five hole on Landon Bow. Colton Hargrove answered six minutes later as he wired a one timer through traffic, giving the Stars a 5-2 lead at second intermission.

"Overall, I liked the way our guys got the lead,” said Laxdal. “They play the right way in certain situations. We scored a couple of big power play goals to give us some breathing room. And we defended well when we had to.”

The Stars scored twice more in the third period to put up the seven spot. Defenseman Joel Hanley fired a prayer from the point that somehow found its way through traffic with just thirty ticks off the clock. Hansson capped his impressive showing seven minutes later when he pinched way down and roofed a slick feed from Tony Calderone.

“I think there’s a lot of trust in the staff in using [Hansson], and we’ve given him the freedom to join the rush. He’s got a pretty smooth skillset, and obviously he’s had some benefits with six points in two games. We’re going to have to continue to have that kind of output from him on the back end.”

Hansson’s lone blemish in the game came with a minute and a half left in regulation. He missed a defensive assignment on the back check, leading to a goal from Tanner Kaspick, though the game was well in hand. That mistake was a drop in a bucket compared to what Hansson’s been giving his team as of late.

“These two games have been a total team effort,” he said. “Everybody chipping in and doing their role. Everybody’s producing, so it’s really good for the group right now.”

Laxdal summed up the importance of these games. “At the end of the day you want to be playing important games down the stretch,” he said. “Every game that we play is our playoffs. Every game down the stretch is going to be a grind, and there’s going to be a sprint to the finish.”

The Stars head to Manitoba to play the Moose on Wednesday. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Dowling-Condra
Caamano-Morin-Gurianov
Mascherin-Hargrove-McClure
Calderone-Payne-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Hanna-Gleason

Bow

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

Tonight’s attendance was 6,294, along with 84 doggos.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - March 10 2019

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