|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
A big offensive effort and a tight overtime game handed Texas three of four points to end the weekend and closed their series with the Monsters at five points total. The sequence is their first three-game points streak since March 6-12 and puts them one game shy of .500 hockey.
"I thought we got better as each period progressed," said coach Neil Graham of the Sunday matchup. "You want to be greedy but five of six against any opponent is very successful. We wanted to reset and get back to a lot of things structurally."
Saturday night's game had Texas in the driver's seat pretty much the whole way through. The Stars never trailed and, after weathering a 16 shot barrage in the first, got up 3-1 on Cleveland and never looked back. Riley Damiani and Anthony Louis each found the scoreboard for the eighth time while Dawson Barteaux scored his first pro goal. Adam Scheel got the win on his birthday, stopping 32 of 34.
With the win, Texas had back-to-back Ws for the first time in nearly two months. Sunday's contest would give them a chance for a rare series sweep, just their second of the season. After Texas opened the scoring off the stick of Riley Damiani, the Monsters rallied for two and led 2-1 as the second drew to a close. However, Nikita Scherbak scored off the pass from Ty Dellandrea with 19 seconds left in the period to make it a 2-2 game. The score would hold through the third to yield overtime. Adam Helewka got the ultimate winner, but it was a weekend of positives still for Texas.
"We might have deserved the extra point tonight," said Anthony Louis of Sunday's effort. "Sticking to the game plan and doing what coach has been preaching has been working for us."
Now Texas faces the final two series of the season. There will be no playoffs for the Central Division, so three each at home against Tucson and in Iowa will be the culmination of the 2021 season. With the head-to-head matchup against Iowa, Texas has a chance to vault them in the standings and finish in the top four of the division. They definitely seem to be clicking at just the right time thanks to the mini-camp last week, so it is possible.