Texas Vaults Back into Playoff Spot Headed into All Star Break

The Texas Stars got back on track in the goal-scoring department on Saturday night, knocking off the Chicago Wolves 5-3 with a balanced scoring effort. It was the fourth game of the week for a weary Stars team looking forward to the AHL All Star break.

“There were spurts last night when we played some really good hockey and didn't get rewarded,” said head coach Neil Graham. “Today it was a little bit of a scramble. I thought what stood out to me was the compete, the character. It would have been pretty easy at moments not to push back in the sense that we did.”

“I thought our guys were selling out for each other [even] with the break coming up. You know, we stayed present we stay focused.”

Midseason acquisition Anthony Louis had two goals in the contest to help push the Stars back into the fourth playoff spot in the Central division. “I was just trying to play hard--play my game and it ended up working out,” said the winger. “I got a nice bounce on my second one.”

Anthony Louis had two goals in the game.
(credit: Texas Stars)

The teams traded power play goals early in the first period. Nicolas Roy broke open the scoring from a prime position in the slot when the Stars were caught scrambling on the kill. Louis answered two minutes later with a snipe from the right circle.

“He's been very consistent really,” said Graham of Louis’ play. “He's been here right since we started turning things around and you know, that's no coincidence.”

The Stars grabbed a lead within the next minute of play when Brad McClure went short side after stealing the puck in the offensive zone and sneaking behind the defense. The Wolves clapped back with a Keegan Kolesar power play goal with seven and a half minutes left in the first period.

Tanner Kero chipped in with a goal and a helper, the tally coming on a deflection four minutes into the middle frame that gave the Stars the lead for good. Louis pushed the lead to two, burying the previously noted bounce from the icing line less than two minutes later.

“He plays the game fast for a skilled player. He's detailed and responsible on the defensive side of the puck. Easy guy to lean on, and easy guy to look up look up to for other players.”

The Wolves didn’t go quietly. Six minutes into the third period, former Stars captain Curtis McKenzie put a defender on his back and made an incredible play to set up Jake Leschyshyn on the back door.

The Stars polished it off with a flourish after a power play expired. Strong puck possession led to Michael Mersch setting up Jason Robertson for an insurance one timer with ten minutes left in regulation.

For the Stars, it was just what the doctor ordered headed into a week long break. With the Grand Rapids Griffins losing, the Stars are now in sole possession of fourth place in the Central division with two games in hand.

“The grind this week was with two sets of travel, three sets of travel, I suppose. But I think let's just reset here. You give the guys a well earned break. Our next focus will be when we get back here back to work Thursday night and prepare for San Antonio. And that will be our sole focus is getting ready for that game.”

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Cuglietta, MacKay, Felhaber, Tufte (scratch)
Mascherin (injury)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,749.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - January 25 2020