|(Credit: Chicago Wolves)|
The Texas Stars won their first game of the 2023-24 regular season in dominant fashion, defeating the Chicago Wolves by a score of 7-3. Curtis McKenzie started the scoring in the first minute of the game, and the Stars never looked back.
Overall, the Stars played a much more crisp offensive game compared to their opening series. Texas scored three goals on 15 shots in the first period, which gave them their highest scoring game so far this season in just 20 minutes. Unsurprisingly, the Matej Blumel-Mavrik Bourque-Logan Stankoven line looked lethal all day and put up six combined points.
An interesting subplot to the game was the matchup of Chicago’s Adam Scheel and Texas’ Remi Poirier, both teammates last year with the Idaho Steelheads. Poirier finished the game with 28 saves on 31 shots and Scheel finished the game with 26 saves on 31 shots. Neither goaltender played their best game, but the defenses on both sides certainly did not do them any favors. Specifically, the Texas defense forced Poirier to face dangerous transition opportunities multiple times throughout the game.
Texas came out strong in the first period. McKenzie opened the scoring in the first minute, his first of the year. As the Stars continued to dominate the possession game, Blumel added his own tally halfway into the period. Stankoven assisted on the Blumel goal as both extended their point streaks to three games.
To make it 3-0, Riley Damiani found the back of the net with 3:23 remaining in the first period. Matthew Seminoff assisted on the Damiani goal, giving Seminoff his first professional point. On the power play to end the period, the Stars gave up a short-handed goal to Dominic Franco, which ended a high-scoring first.
The second period was another strong offensive period for Texas, but Chicago was first to strike. Austin Strand started the frame with a goal for Chicago to cut the lead down to one. Kyle McDonald, however, was quick to respond as he put one in the back of the net to make it 4-2. The dynamic duo of Stankoven and Bourque then connected in the offensive zone later in the period to make it 5-2 off of Bourque’s one-timer.
Sitting on a 5-2 lead, the Stars played a relatively uneventful third period. To start the period, Texas killed off a Chicago power play. About halfway through the period, Chicago’s Cory Conacher converted a 6-on-4 PP opportunity after the Wolves pulled their goalie for an extra man. However, Chicago was unable to build on the momentum of Conacher’s goal despite an uptick in SOGs.
At the end of the period, Fredrik Karlstrom and Bourque added empty net goals to seal the game and take the final tally to 7-3.
For the first time this season, the Texas Stars find themselves in the win column. The offense is converting chances and looks sharp, but the defense is still giving up far too many transition opportunities to opposing teams. Poirier was able to handle a significant amount of difficult chances, but Texas will want to tighten up their neutral-zone passing and transition defense as the season moves along.
One last thing to keep an eye on is Lian Bichsel’s status for this weekend. Bichsel received a game misconduct for leaving the penalty box, which could lead to a suspension from the AHL.
The Stars continue their road trip this Saturday where they will take on the Admirals in Milwaukee.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Arcuri, Berard, White (scratch)
Bayreuther (out - ankle)