Texas Competes But Comes Up Short Against Tucson, 3-1

Texas point streak comes to an end after nine

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)

All good things must come to an end, and so, the Texas Stars point streak came to a close at nine games with a 3-1 loss to Tucson. Joel L'Esperance had the only Texas goal of the game, a power play tally.

"We probably [had] the right mindset, and we didn't execute at the same level we have been over the last stretch," said head coach Neil Graham. "That also happens when you play good team and they're doing a lot of right things."

The power play was big for both sides. Tucson scored on two of five opportunities, including the game-winning tally.

"It's a big factor in the game," said L'Esperance. "Special teams can win you or lose you the game. We had our chances on the power play that we didn't capitalize on and they took advantage of us [on theirs]."

Despite the loss, Graham looked at the week positively overall, "It was a long week in a lot of different ways," he noted, alluding to the turmoil in Dallas. "There's a lot on everyone's mind and to get four of six points, we'll take that as a positive."

The Stars forecheck gave Tucson fits early in the first period, putting their transition game off kilter. It made sense that the first goal didn't come on a clean play. Jeremy Gregoire got the scoring started for Tucson in the first period. It was a scramble play in front that Texas could not corral or clear.

Joel L'Esperance answered back with authority on a strong one-timer on the power play four minutes later. L'Esperance had only just had the best chance of the night when the Roadrunners left him uncovered in the crease for a quick redirection attempt. On the goal, the feed from Jason Robertson at the goal line found L'Esperance at the top of the right-wing circle. L'Esperance made no mistake burying it.

"We did a good job recovering the puck on the power play there," said L'Esperance. "[Robertson] is a very skilled player and he saw me in the slot there and I walked into it."

Tucson would jump back into the lead in the second period on a power play goal of their own. Perennial AHL top scorer Andy Miele tapped one in on the back door for the 2-1 margin, which the Roadrunners would carry to the second intermission.

Early in the third, L'Esperance was called on a weak tripping minor that took Texas off the power play and set up the third goal for Tucson. Beau Bennett snapped one from the right-wing circle that went cleanly past Jake Oettinger for the 3-1 lead. Graham was measured in his commentary on the call, "It was unfortunate that there was a penalty to negate the final 45 seconds of that, but we were close."

Five days off for Texas is a good thing. "It'll be a good mental break," noted L'Esperance. "I mean, it felt like it was a long week for everybody. A lot of things happening in a short period of time but I think we all handled it well."

Texas hits the road for one of two 3-in-3s on the season starting Friday. Rockford is the first up.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gleason, Nyberg, Cuglietta (scratch)
Kero (injury)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,439.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - December 14 2019