TEXAS STARS

Texas Stars lose twice to open regular season

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The Texas Stars opened the AHL season with losses on Friday and Saturday at the HEB Center.

Texas dropped its Friday night game to Tucson, losing 2-0 to the Tucson Roadrunners and failed to bounce back on Saturday, losing 5-3 to the Manitoba Moose.

“We’re a young group and there’s bound to be some mistakes,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said on Saturday. “Especially with some of our guys in Dallas, the young guys get elevated. There are just a few mistakes we made.”

Dallas Stars prospect and 2017 second-round NHL Draft pick Jason Robertson scored his first professional goal in Saturday’s loss, while the Stars’ pair of young netminders, Landon Bow and Jake Oettinger, each made their season debuts during the weekend set.

“We competed really hard, but it’s gonna be a process moving forward," Laxdal said.

Tucson goaltender Antti Raanta, an Arizona Coyotes regular rehabbing with Tucson, shut out the Stars in goal with 19 saves.

Bow made 26 saves on 28 shots in his first start of the 2019-20 campaign. Rookie winger Riley Tufte led the team with three shots on goal against Raanta, while fellow rookies Robertson and Tye Felhaber each had two shots on net.

Roadrunners forward Brayden Burke scored within the first four minutes of the opening frame on a pass by Nick Merkley, a former first-round NHL Draft pick of the Coyotes. In the middle of the second period, the Roadrunners doubled their lead with a goal by Jonathon Martin, his first with Tucson.

The Stars fell again on Saturday, allowing a goal to Manitoba forward Skyler McKenzie with just 2:22 remaining in regulation on their way to a 5-3 defeat.

Texas rookie goalie Jake Oettinger, the 26th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, made his season debut and stopped 31 of 36 Manitoba shots. Conner Bleackley, who was signed to a professional tryout contract earlier in the afternoon and flown in from Salt Lake City on Saturday morning, scored two of the Stars’ three goals in the loss.

Texas surrendered an early goal to Manitoba forward Jansen Harkins after a defensive breakdown left Harkins room to shoot past Oettinger.

The Stars would respond less than two minutes after when Bleackley beat Moose goaltender Mikhail Berdin to the puck and fired into an empty net to level the scoring. The Moose took the leade with a minute left in the first.

Texas and Tucson traded goals in the second, which included Robertson's first professional goal.

Texas returns to the ice when they travel to Des Moines to play the Iowa Wild for a Friday and Saturday set next weekend.

“I thought we were a better team tonight than we were last night,” Laxdal said on Saturday. “I thought we deserved a little better fate, and I like the way some of our guys stepped up.”

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