Barracuda Overpower Stars 5-2 in Texas Home Opener

Stars forward Nick Baptiste looks at referee Terry Koharski with disbelief after the Barracuda's third goal (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

The Barracuda proved too much for the Stars tonight as they poured it on through all three periods en route to a 5-2 win for the visitors. Texas scored twice in just 2:06 of game time, and that was all the offense the team could collect. 

"We did a good job establishing o-zone play but we kept it too perimeter," said head coach Neil Graham postgame. "We were to the outside and they do a good job of dicing up with five inside the house." Referring to the slow start, Graham added,  "They did a nice job starting the game on time."

Captain Cole Schneider added, "We've got to play a full game, we had it in spurts. It's the little things, driving the net and sticks on pucks."

San Jose goalie Sam Harvey had a phenomenal night, stopping 29 of 31 and earning first star honors. He was a big difference for San Jose, mopping up so much of what got through to him, which wasn't a lot of high quality stuff anyways. Colton Point dropped his first loss of the season, saving 27 of 32 shots against.

The Barracuda stepped up first with a pair of goals in the first period just 42 seconds apart. On the first, Nikita Scherbak drifted away from his man coming down the slot for just a second and that man, Kyle Topping, took a pass from behind the net and slipped it past Colton Point. Jeffrey Viel went next with a muscle of a goal, scoring as he fell down.

Texas got one back with Adam Mascherin securing his first of the season just five seconds before the end of the period. He retrieved and rifled a Riley Damiani shot rebound for the goal. Mascherin hadn't played in 13 months between a shoulder injury and COVID, and noted "To get back out here, to compete and contribute has been a good feeling so far. I like where I am and I think I'm playing some good hockey all things considered."

Just over two minutes later in elapsed time, Cole Schneider got his first as a Star, a power play goal to open the second period. The shot was Scherbak's originally, putting one back for his defensive lapse in the first.

The San Jose go-ahead goal in the third was a mess to say the least. The Stars were stuck on a 5-on-3 kill for nearly a minute without a change. As Rhett Gardner rejoined the play to make it a 5-on-4, San Jose got the puck to the net and, with Alexander True lying on top of Colton Point, Jayden Halbgewachs caught and dropped the puck and tapped it over the line on a tight jam at the right post.

San Jose's third goal of the game

Texas objected vociferously, as did their fans. With no video review and no goal judges this year, the call was entirely on the referees.

"It's a year where you've got to move on quick," said Graham. "It's going to happen all year in terms of referee's discretion. It's even across the board; it's a level playing field. Over the course of the year, it'll balance out."

Graham emphasized the bigger point though, "Let's not put ourselves in positions where those are deciding factors, and quite frankly, it wasn't tonight."

It wasn't a deciding factor as the visitors would score twice more in the third and Texas would come up empty. The Barracuda extended their lead with a bullet of a shot from the usually defensively-focused Robbie Russo. Further, a steal off the stick of Joseph Cecconi gave San Jose their fifth.

Texas re-racks things tomorrow night, a quick turnaround against the same squad.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gleason, Slaker, Barach, Porco, Stranges, L. Martin, M. Martin, Jurusik (scratch)