|Josh Melnick (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
The Stars fate in tonight's game was decided in just three shots in the late first period. Sure, Texas came back with a pair of goals from rookie Josh Melnick, but the three goals against, two shorthanded, took the air out of the night's effort and handled the Stars a 3-2 loss.
Overall it wasn't a crisp performance, but there's still a week of practice yet to go. There were promising plays and players but the game was too uneven by far. Some recently down from Dallas were too lackadaisical and others trying to make an impression were getting a bit too fancy.
"I liked the way our guys played for the first 16 minutes. We gave up a couple of shorties, and they weren't pretty but that's what preseason is for. Let's get it out of the way now."
With Colton Point getting the start and the entire game, the contest appeared to be starting well. The netminder battled away ten shots for a scoreless game fourteen minutes in. Then, the San Antonio power play stepped up. Just eleven seconds in, Dakota Joshua found the net to open the scoring.
Two minutes later, Texas was ready to even things up with a power play of their own. It would not go their way. Ben Gleason was far too casual handling the puck in his own zone and a forechecking Rampage skater loosed the puck from him and passed to Nolan Stevens for a 2-0 lead on the shorty.
Just over twenty seconds later, Point came out aggressively to his left faceoff dot to handle the puck but passed it directly onto the stick of Johnson. He walked it in for an easy empty net goal, and the Stars had allowed three goals on three shots.
Melnick started the come back effort in the second period. On a 2-on-1, he called his own number and beat Evan Fitzpatrick high on the glove side. The rookie out of Miami (Ohio) University scored again eight minutes further into the contest at two minutes into the third.
Coach Laxdal challenged Melnick this morning to up his game, "I took the challenge quite literally. He just wanted me to be solid on pucks and try to win every puck battle."
Parker MacKay also had a solid third period. Laxdal noted, "He's a guy who, when the game is on the line, he elevates his game. He's going to be part of our group moving forward as a shutdown winger and provide a little bit of offense."
Texas hit three posts or crossbars in the final ten minutes of the game but could not get the equalizer in the waning seconds.
The games start counting for real next Friday when Texas faces Tucson here in Cedar Park.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
King, Nellis, Roy, Bleackley, Caamano, Robertson, Gardner, Coatta, Jago, Andrusiak, Vala (scratch)
Tanner Kero left the game in the second period with a hand injury and was being evaluated by the team doctor postgame.
Tonight’s attendance was not announced.