|(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)|
Looking to get on the right side of .500 for the first time this season, Texas got what they needed in a big way tonight as they also retired Travis Morin's #23. Jake Oettinger notched his first professional shutout and picked up third period run support to earn a 3-0 win.
Coach Laxdal sees the team continuously improving early in the season, "If you take a look at our first six games, the growth of our team has been a real good curve for us."
Weaved throughout the hockey game as well tonight were the festivities surrounding the retirement of Travis Morin's #23 by the Texas Stars organization. The team lifted his sweater to the rafters in the first intermission and had former teammates, such as Maxime Fortunus, Curtis McKenzie and Greg Rallo, make video tributes. The former league MVP and all-everything center for Texas was joined on the ice by his wife and three kids.
"When you have a career like Travis had with ten years here, it's unheard of to be in the same place for ten years," added Laxdal. "There hasn't been a game where he hasn't brought passion. It's something you can't teach. He's been a great teammate, leader and ambassador for the game."
Oettinger showed that Morin was on the team's mind as he began his postgame scrum by commenting how important it was to get the win on Travis Morin's big night. Texas spent most of the game at a 1-0 lead, a tight one for the team to protect.
|Travis Morin's jersey retirement ceremony|
(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
"It's as intense as it gets," said Oettinger. "Every little thing can result in a win or a loss."
Parker MacKay's first period tally was a greasy goal to be sure. When the puck finally crossed the goal line, there were three a side from each club within just a few feet of the goal. Emil Djuse and Tye Felhaber both took whacks at it as Filip Larsson scrambled, ultimately unsuccessfully, to halt their attempts.
Oettinger needed to stand on his head in the second as Grand Rapids had three successive shots one-on-one with the rookie goalie, all stopped. "I think the puck kind of popped out to one of their D-man, it was me versus him. It was just go at him and try to be as big as I can."
Laxdal praised Oettinger's play tonight as keeping Texas in it, "He was outstanding, square to the puck, didn't give up a lot of rebounds. He got some key saves and key whistles for us, especially on the PK."
The Stars won, which papered over some of the issues they had in the contest. On a few chances, especially in the second, Texas got too fancy, trying to pass when they should have taken the shot. "We have to grind for every goal we get. When we get shots, we have to make them count."
In the third, Joel Kiviranta gave Oettinger breathing room, which he said helped him relax a bit. Kiviranta picked the top right corner to make it 2-0. An empty net goal late from Gavin Bayreuther put the club up 3-0 and sealed the win.
However, the team knows it needs to continue improving. Oettinger summed it up well: "Goaltending is very humbling. I'm not riding out of here like I won the lottery. We've got a huge road trip ahead of us."
Texas next plays in Chicago on Wednesday morning.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Calderone, Vala (scratch)
Caamano, Melnick, Cecconi (injury)
Gardner, Hanley (call-up)
Tonight’s attendance was 5,786.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - October 19 2019