TEXAS STARS

Stars drop season finale to San Antonio, miss out on playoffs

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The Stars were in the locker room, presumably planning how to break a tie after two periods against the San Antonio Rampage when their season officially came to an end. 

Texas lost 3-1 to the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday night in the final regular season game for both teams but were still eliminated from the playoffs thanks to a 5-0 win by Milwaukee earlier in the night. 

“It’s probably the worst game I’ve seen our guys play all year, but I think it was a combination of the grind down just to stay in the race and possibly get in this weekend,” Texas head coach Derek Laxdal said. “Our guys have battled hard through the season. It’s a tough way to go out, but you can’t ask any more out of the guys.”

The 82 points this year are the third-lowest in the team’s 10-year history. The Stars have qualified for the postseason in seven of those 10 seasons in Cedar Park, but just once in the last three seasons. 

Joel L’Esperance led the team with 30 goals in 54 appearances. He is just the fifth Texas player to reach the 30-goal mark. 

“The future is bright and the shelves are stocked well for the Dallas Stars in the future,” Laxdal said. “It’s a bright future for the organization and for the Texas Stars fans, they’re going to see a fresh group next year.”

Justin Dowling led the team with 40 assists in 62 games played, while Erik Condra led the team in points, scoring 20 goals with 34 assists. Adam Mascherin and Colton Hargrove each appeared in a team-high 74 for Texas this season. 

Travis Morin, the only player to be with the Stars all 10 seasons in Cedar Park, finished the year with eight goals and 24 assists in 68 games. 

“It was a good group to coach,” Laxdal said. “The biggest thing you want to see is growth in your players. It was good to see some guys have good years and we had some guys take steps in the second year. It was good to see them get better in that aspect.”

Rhett Gardner scored his fourth goal in 11 games since signing with Texas midway through the first period when he redirected a shot from the blue line into the far bottom corner to give the Stars an early lead. 

“I learned how to adapt to the pro game, you’ve got to wait and let things develop in college a little more,” Gardner said. “It’s been a great learning experience. I came down here to learn and just soak everything in and it’s going to help me moving forward.”

Texas killed off three penalties in the first period alone, and Oettinger was forced to make an incredible save on more than one occasion. 

San Antonio evened things up early in the second when Ryan Olsen and Niko Mikkola connected on a quick pass right in front of the Stars’ net. 

Following the season finale on Saturday, the squad had a quick team meeting to discuss their immediate reaction to the season and what they can take most from it. 

“We talked about how every win is so important and to not waste a day,” Gardner said. “Games in January and February can come back to bite you in the season. Don’t waste a day, whether it’s summer training or games next year.”

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