Texas Stars Return to ice; Dominate but fall 4-1 to Manitoba

Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars

Cedar Park, TX - The Texas Stars, playing in their first game in 20-days due to an organizational COVID outbreak, out-shot, out-played and out-hustled the Manitoba Moose, only to come-up on the short end of a 4-1 tally to the visiting Moose, in front of 5.027 disappointed fans Friday night at the HEB Center in Cedar Park.

While the hustle and effort was there throughout the night, the lack of competition in close to 3-weeks as 15 players went into COVID protocols over the holidays made the rust apparent.

"Yeah I mean obviously with that amount (of) a layoff there's gonna be a little rust in terms of your timing" Texas Head Coach Neil Graham said after the game. "I thought our mindset was correct, physically we were engaged and I thought when we played direct, we put picks in areas and just got onto it. I thought we made some plays with speed and had some pretty good chances. We did a lot of good that probably could have resulted in a better fate if just a couple more went in."

The final wasn't indicative of the effort Texas gave as the Stars out-shot the Moose 35-19 and Stars goalie Anton Khudobin turned away 15 of the 17 shots he faced. The aforementioned effort however, wasn't enough to top Manitoba goalie Evan Cormier's 34-save output.

Manitoba got on the board first when Moose winger Austin Poganski put one past Khudobin just 5:39 into the game to give the Moose the early 1-0 lead. The long lay-off and lack of actual competition likely leading to some rust as it was a goal that the 35-year-old netminder probably should have stopped, but due to the Stars inability to clear the net in front of Khudobin, it was an opportunity that probably shouldn't have existed.

After a scoreless but action-packed 2nd period in which the Stars out-shot Manitoba 10-5, Texas center Frederik Karlstrom evened things up at 1-1 at 3:13 into the 3rd period when the 6'3'' center buried a shot into a yawning net off 2 quick feeds from blue-liners Ben Gleason and Alex Petrovic that seemed to be a turning point in the night's effort.

"Glea (Gleason) kind of made a great pass and you know their guys are kind of changing and I had some space there and I kinda just threaded the needle there to the Karl on the back door and he had a good touch to put it in there so it was a good feeling to go 1-1 there" said Petrovic later. 

Texas continued to pepper Cormier throughout the period, to the tune of 15 shots, continually coming up empty, only to have Manitoba LW Jeff Malott get to Khudobin at 9:40 to give the Moose the lead they would not relinquish. 

Manitoba added 2 empty-net goals late, including one short-handed, ending any hopes for a late comeback, to leave the final tally at 4-1.

The Stars had plenty of opportunities throughout the night, including 2 chances on the power play in the final 5-minutes of the game, only to come up empty. Texas finished the night 0-for-4 on the job, while killing the only chance the PK unit faced. The Stars now sit at a very mediocre 17.3% on the advantage, good for 20th in the 31-team league.

With the loss Texas falls to 8-12-3-1 (20 pts./.417%) dropping them into last place in the 7-team Central Division while Manitoba improves to 17-9-1-1 (36 pts/.643%) good for 2nd in the division.

The 2 teams will square off again on Saturday night in Cedar Park for a 7 p.m. faceoff.

Tonight's lines









Injuries, scratches and notes

Wardley, Louis, Caamano (taxi-squad), Martin, Aksiantsiuk

LW Will Merchant was playing in just his 2nd career AHL game and 1st since 2016-17

Tonight's attendance was 5,027

 AHL Gamesheet - Manitoba at Texas - January 7, 2022