|(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)|
Another electric affair between Texas and San Antonio this time ended in defeat for the Stars as they ceded goals in the final two minutes of regulation and final two seconds of overtime for a 5-4 loss.
"It's disappointing especially when we played so well last night," said Texas Stars head coach Neil Graham. "We put ourselves in a very good position, [but] we have to be mentally tough enough to close that game out."
Texas never trailed in the game until the final buzzer, leading twice by two goals. San Antonio hung around long enough to earn the win thanks to a 20-2 shot margin in the third, which finally wore down the Stars on a 6-on-5 goal late from Nathan Walker.
"They have to get aggressive. They have to make a push. We grinded it down to that last minute, but in the same breath, we have to find a way to re-establish O-zone play."
In the positive column, Tye Felhaber and Tanner Kero both scored their first as Stars. Kero was playing in his first game since Thanksgiving.
Felhaber regained his offensive confidence on assignment to Idaho and Graham noted his play has ticked up since returning from the ECHL. Felhaber himself agrees, "[Idaho was] great. You're going to trust the organization with a decision like that and I went down there and got my confidence back and felt like a new player coming back."
Joel L'Esperance opening the scoring in this one, but his goal wasn't really his at all in the end. His attempted cross-crease pass deflected off the stick of Rampage captain Jordan Nolan and went five-hole on a helpless Adam Wilcox. It was only the second shot of the period for Texas with both coming from L'Esperance.
San Antonio would answer with a 6-on-5 goal. Given the confusion of the moment, defenseman Andreas Borgman snuck to the high slot and, after getting a pass from Nathan Walker, threw a blind backhander at the net. Landon Bow was not expecting the shot and had already moved to position against the waiting Rampage skater at his left post.
Tye Felhaber stepped up and scored his first AHL goal to break the tie. On a pass from Riley Tufte, Felhaber beat Wilcox blocker side high and celebrated like he'd won the whole game. Tanner Kero, back in the lineup for the first time since Thanksgiving, grabbed the puck for the rookie.
|Tye Felhaber's first AHL goal|
Texas opened the second with a quick goal on an individual effort from Joel Kiviranta. It was a swooping backhand cutting left to right across the net to make it 3-1. It didn't last long as Joey LaLeggia scored 58 seconds later.
|Joel Kiviranta's individual effort|
Continuing a night of firsts, Tanner Kero collected his first as a Star, going five-hole on a pass from Riley Tufte. Kero was shortly shifted off the fourth line, however, as Adam Mascherin fell awkwardly at the end of a fight and did not return to the ice in the game.
Alexey Toropchenko cut the lead back to one for Texas before the end of the second, giving the Rampage enough to make a comeback bid in the third. The Stars managed to survive a pair of power plays and gave the Rampage fits clearing the zone to get Wilcox off for the extra attacker. Once they did, Derrick Pouliot's point shot, redirected by Nathan Walker, made it past the pad of Bow for the 4-4 tie.
Overtime was electric with chances both ways, but the final goal was like a car accident in slow motion for the Stars faithful. Rampage goalie Wilcox sent the puck off the boards, passing to Klim Kostin, who came in unaccosted and beat Bow with just 1.3 seconds left on the clock.
The Stars hit the road to play in Des Moines on New Year's Eve. Texas finishes the weekend with three of four points and in a three-way tie for sixth place.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Nyberg, Gleason, Cuglietta (scratch)
Texas lost Adam Mascherin to injury in the second period, a shoulder injury on his left side. He did not return, but there were no updates postgame on his status. His fight partner, Evan Polei, was transported to the hospital after leaving the ice and passing out. There are no further updates on his condition.
Tonight’s attendance was 6,778, a sellout.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - December 28 2019