The Texas Stars ended 2018 on a hot streak in Cedar Park.
Texas won six straight home games to end the year and hasn’t lost at the HEB Center since late November. On the road, however, the Stars haven’t been so fortunate, losing four of their last five games.
Texas played host to the Ontario Reign on Friday night, coming away with a convincing 5-1 before traveling down I-35 and losing to rival San Antonio Rampage 4-2 on Sunday in their final game of the year.
“Once we got the first goal, we kind of took the game over from start to finish,” Texas head coach Derek Laxdal said. “Ontario is a hard-working team and they are re physical and our guys battled through that well. We had some pretty good chemistry on all four lines.”
Goalie Landon Bow stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced and five different Texas players scored in the win while six different players picked up an assist in the sixth-straight home win on Saturday.
Joel L’Esperance scored two goals in the loss on Sunday to take the outright team lead with 17 on the season.
“We try to approach every game the same way and we’re finding ways to win and score and we’ve just got to keep that going,” Stars forward Colin Markison said. “When everybody is in the game, everybody is contributing, and I think that’s the way every team wants to play.”
As the calendar ticks into the new year, the Stars are in fourth place in the Central Division with 38 points, six points behind the division-leading Chicago Wolves.
Texas is not new to lineup shuffling to help the NHL club in Dallas, and it saw even more over the last week as forward Roope Hintz returned to Dallas and defender Gavin Bayreuther was sent back to the AHL in different moves.
“Give our guys a lot of credit over the last six weeks, managing with the young kids from Idaho,” Laxdal said. “Now we’re starting to get our (defensive) core back and getting a chance to see what it really looks like. It makes a big difference moving pucks and your offense changes look all the time.”
One player that has been a stalwart in the Texas lineup has been Landon Bow, who has appeared in 23 of the team’s 32 games and boasts a 13-5-3 record with a 2.69 goals against average, second-best in the AHL among goalies with more than 20 appearances.
“He’s made the big saves when called upon,” Laxdal said. “He’s taken a step in his development and his game. We like what we see from him and he’s our go-to guy.”