|(Credit: Kate Dibildox/Tucson Roadrunners)|
Tucson, AZ - The Texas Stars opened their '21-'22 road schedule with a 4-0 loss to the Tucson Roadrunners in front of an opening night crowd of 5,097 at the Tucson Convention Center Saturday night. The shutout, the Stars second in the first three games, dropped their record to 1-2-0 (2 pts) on the season, falling to 6th place in the 7 team Central Division, 4 points behind the Iowa Wild, who beat Rockford 5-2 in Des Moines Saturday.
The Roadrunners were led by rookie Ben McCartney's first career hat trick and a 19 save shutout effort from Russian goalie Ivan Prosvetov, his 2nd in a row. With the victory Tucson improved to 2-1-0 (4 pts), good for 5th in the 9 team Pacific Division.
As has been the pattern thus far in the young season, the inability to find any measure of success on the power play was a thorn in the side of the Stars, going a dismal 0-for-8 on the night, bringing their total on the season to a tepid 2-for-18 (11.1%), good for fifth in the Central Division.
Texas Star goalie Jake Oettinger got the start for the third time in as many outings and took the loss but wasn't bad. He wasn't at his typical best, but he wasn't bad. Oettinger finishing the night stopping 20 of 23 shots, made the majority of the stops he should make with all three of the goals relinquished having come in traffic, due to defensive failures in front of the net.
Defensively the Stars struggled both clearing their zone as well as cleaning up in front of the net. Defenseman Alex Petrovic posted a minus 2 while being on the ice for 3 of the Roadrunners 4 goals, the empty-netter being the lone goal the 29-year old Edmonton native was absent for.
As expected with a shutout, there wasn't much to write home about offensively. Riley Damiani in addition to being his overall ball of energy led the Stars in taking 7 of their 19 shots. No other Star took more than 2 shots in the process of being outshot by Tucson 24-19. Texas as team only took 2 shots in the 3rd period despite having 4 power plays and an additional 3:23 of 6-on-5 time late in the period.
The first period went by primarily uneventfully until Roadrunner winger Liam Kirk scored his first goal of the season with only :23 remaining in the period. The period ending goal was a clear momentum builder and doubly so as it came moments after the Roadrunners had just killed off a penalty while holding the Stars without a shot. Unofficially the Stars only had 6 shots while on the advantage.
The second period quickly became the Ben McCartney show as he scored the first of his 2 goals of the period just 4:02 in, once again immediately coming off of a shot-less power play. McCartney added his 2nd of the period, 8 minutes later on the power play after Jordan Kawaguchi took a double-minor high-sticking penalty. The Edmonton native McCartney closed out the scoring, finishing the natural with the empty-netter late in the 3rd.
On the positive, the Stars held Tucson to a respectable 1-for-6 on the PK. Texas leads the Pacific Division with a 92.9% success rate, good for 4th in the entire AHL, despite having given up their first goal while disadvantaged on the season.
Fortunately for the Stars there won't be much time to think about this one as the two teams face each other again for the 2nd time in less than 24 hours on Sunday. Scheduled time for the puck drop is 6 p.m. Texas time.
No official announcement has been made as to who will get the start in net. Back-up goalie Colton Point has yet to see the ice in the young season while Oettinger has made it known that he "wants to be in front of the net no matter the circumstance" and likely would like to get a measure of redemption to close out out the abbreviated road trip.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Cecconi, Martin, Felhaber, Melnick, (scratch)