|(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)|
Without context, you'd think the Stars just won the Calder Cup. Down the tunnel, the hoots and hollers of a jubilant team echoed through the back of house as Texas shook off a twelve game losing streak with a 7-6 shootout win tonight. Texas found its way, fought back from three deficits in the game, and, tired from a shutout loss last night in San Antonio, defeated a team coming off six days rest, just waiting to hand them the L. Tonight, that would not be the way it ended.
"It feels amazing and kind of a weight lifted off our shoulders," said Nick Caamano, who had a three point night. "But you just got to keep it rolling from here. One is not enough. We just got to keep going."
Texas has had a tendency to take themselves out of games when they get down early, hanging their heads. Caamano commented that Texas built its resiliency tonight, "I think we're resilient and it kind of showed there. It's an awesome feeling when you're down, you can get right back in the games. It shows a lot about our group and I thought everyone contributed tonight."
The 'everyone' contributing was a different group as Coach Laxdal shuffled his lines and leaned heavily on the top nine. "We kinda changed the dynamics of our team here today," he commented postgame. "If you work hard, you're gonna play. If you're not, you're not gonna play." Coming out of the lineup tonight were Brad McClure, Ben Gleason, Adam Mascherin and Tye Felhaber.
There are things to clean up, surely. There would have to be in a game where the combined total was 12. But Landon Bow was stellar, despite the score line. This game would have been over in the first without him.
Rockford struck first in the game with an easy play on the backdoor. Texas had blown coverage on the previous shift with defensemen up high and wingers down low. They got a change but not a clear and gave it up to open the scoring. Jason Robertson scored his fifth of the year just after the Stars had a power play expire. Michael Mersch got Texas's first lead of the night with a great rebound goal in the paint. He was amped and so was the team. In that moment, they believed.
Rockford would strike back before the end of the period. On the PK, John Nyberg cleared the puck from behind the net directly into the slot where Tyler Sikura cleaned it up for the 2-2 tie after 20. The Hogs' John Quenneville scored a pair in the second to put them up 4-2, a breakaway tally and a tap-in where he also bowled over Landon Bow.
"We got down 4-2, and the bench was really great," said Laxdal. "I thought the guys on the bench did a good job keeping them up. There's a lot of good conversation on the bench. And when we talked about it, that the players have to create their own energy."
The Stars took that energy and charged back into the game with their own pair. Joel L'Esperance got lucky with a shot that deflected in off a Rockford defender. Nick Caamano would then redirect a Jason Robertson shot to tie things at four. Both goals were power play tallies.
"I think it's kind of one of those nights where the puck was just finding us [on the power play]," said Caamano. "I thought we had good pressure in the zone to retrieve pucks. I think that's the biggest thing. Once you outwork the PK, you're going to get chances."
It wouldn't last long as Anton Wedin scored a power play goal as well, putting Rockford up 5-4 at the second intermission.
With an 0-11 record when trailing after two, Texas flipped the script. Gavin Bayreuther shot a laser beam from the point to tie things at five to open the third. Texas went ahead 6-5 with Nick Caamano's shot tipping off Robertson. Brandon Hagel would tie things at six with just three minutes left, sending it to overtime.
After a clean OT frame, Joel L'Esperance sent the home fans happy with his goal in the fourth round and Landon Bow's subsequent save on Joseph Cramarossa.
Texas continues its homestand against Iowa on Tuesday.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Point, Gleason, Mascherin, McClure, Felhaber (scratch)
Tonight’s attendance was 5,606.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - November 23 2019