Texas Stars Win Streak Stalled by Colorado Despite Riley Damiani Hat Trick

(Credit: Texas Stars)

Five in a row was as far as the Stars' streak would get as the Eagles came in strong this evening in the first period to take the second game of the series by a 5-3 score. All the offense Colorado needed came in their four-goal opening frame.

"I thought 5-on-5 our intentions were in the right place, and I think we were ready to go," said head coach Neil Graham postgame. "But I thought some untimely efforts on the special teams swung momentum, and then from there, it snowballed quick on us."

Texas had blown coverage multiple times in the first period, especially in the slot, which led to two of the goals against. It was a tough game after Texas expected to drive a better response off of last night's win that gave the Stars some room to grow.

"The big thing we've worked on is not compounding errors, and there were some mistakes, that if we stopped on pucks, finished a bump, took a breath we can cover for a mistake. The goals they got were right in the slot, and that's something that can't happen. It's something that we need to rectify right away."

Riley Damiani's first professional hat trick, a natural hat trick to boot, was spoiled by the final outcome. "It feels good to score the hat trick but at the same time you're not coming out with a win so it's low frustrating," said Damiani. At the end of play tonight, Damiani sits third in league scoring and in the top spot among rookies by a margin of four.

A notable gap in the lineup was Cole Schneider, who owns 12 points this season. The Stars captain was out due to injury and day-to-day on the injury report, according to coach Graham. The team could have used his additional scoring punch and veteran presence throughout the game but especially in the rocky first. "It's a void to fill when he's not in, but it gives someone else an opportunity to step up," added Graham.

Mike Vecchione opened the scoring for Colorado on the power play as Josh Melnick lost his man in the slot. The former Rampage skater put it past Landon Bow under five minutes in. Jake Slaker was the skater missing his man on the second goal as Ian Scheid got loose for a pass from Liam O'Brien.

Just over a minute later, an outlet pass around the rim didn't make it out of the zone on a TJ Tynan keep. The captain went to the slot to get the pass back from Jean-Luc Foudy, and it was 3-0. A shot from the point three minutes later would make it 4-0 and put Landon Bow on the bench for the rest of the period. Bow would return to the net for the second and third.

Texas finally broke the shutout for Adam Werner in the second period with a great effort from Riley Damiani to cut left-to-right across the goal and go back against the grain on the netminder.

Damiani relayed Graham's message from the first intermission, "He said we knew we had to come ready and we didn't, so you do that you're behind the eight ball the whole game so we  just want to stick the game plan. Refresh and reboot. I thought we did a good job of that."

Indeed, the second and third were a much better showing for Texas. "I thought we did a much better job defending faster, and if we were in the D zone, let's keep it to the outside," noted Graham. "And then in turn I thought we had much better O-zone time, [which] brought us some life and we re-found our identity, a little bit."

In the third period, Damiani made things interesting with five minutes left to go. With Landon Bow on the bench for the extra attacker, Damiani squared up a puck past Werner for his second of the night and the 4-2 score. That goal finished off Julius Honka's initial bid from the point.

Bow made it back to the bench shortly thereafter, and the Stars ground down the Eagles for another goal with just 22 seconds left. Damiani ripped it from the top of the left-wing circle and made the comeback possible. It was for naught as Liam O'Brien won the ensuing faceoff forward and scored on the empty net just three seconds later.

Texas and Colorado continue their series on Tuesday.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Porco, Shea, L. Martin, M. Martin, Jurusik (scratch)
Markison (injury)
Schneider (day-to-day)
Rosburg, Point (callup)

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Colorado - March 13 2021