Texas Wins Neil Graham's Coaching Debut 3-1 Over Manitoba

Win extends Texas Stars' point streak to eight

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

The Neil Graham Era began in Cedar Park tonight with a convincing, if anodyne, win over the visiting Manitoba Moose. The low-shooting affair had even scoring across the game. In a number of ways, it was exactly the sort of game that Texas needed after the tumult of the last 36 hours.

"Obviously, it's not how you draw it up at the start of the week," said newly-minted head coach Neil Graham. "The guys responded and they were pros. That's what impressed me the most."

It was a bit of a bizarre contest where Texas definitely played a good game by the score, but it was hard to say that any one player or even play stood out in a big way. The slight Wednesday crowd threw things off a bit further.

"It may have been a little boring from up top, but at the end of the day, we executed what we need to execute, to get the two points."

Anthony Louis, who had a goal and an assist, echoed the sentiment, "There's a lot of special teams so it's just kind of how the games go when that happens. We're sticking to our game plan and it's boring sometimes, but it's what works."

The quiet game extended their point streak to eight games (7-0-1) and pushed them past Grand Rapids for seventh in the division, pending the outcome of their late game. Also, notably, Travis Morin looked comfortable in his first game behind the bench. The 35-year old former Star ran the defense and PK.

Texas drew first blood halfway through the first period. Louis broke in on the rush and went to the far post on Mikhail Berdin. Louis contributed again to start the second period, dishing to Joel L'Esperance as he broke toward the net. The shot/deflection beat Mikhail Berdin glove side high for the 2-0 lead.

Less than four minutes later, rookie Parker MacKay joined the fray. Former UMD teammate Riley Tufte centered the puck for MacKay, who had broken free uncovered from the top of the dots heading right for Berdin. His goal, just his second of the season, made it 3-0.

The Texas power play did not score, but the PK did not allow a goal either. "It was a night for the PKs on both sides," noted Graham. "The power plays had a couple looks, and I'd like to sustain a little more in-zone time and a little more pressure."

The Stars gave up the shutout with just 2:24 left in the contest. Jansen Harkins continued his hot streak against Texas this year, scoring his fourth goal and six point against the club in just four games.

Manitoba stays in town for a rematch on Friday.

Tonight's lines:



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

Tonight’s attendance was 3,707.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Manitoba - December 11 2019