Head coach Derek Laxdal wants this year’s version of the Texas Stars to be in your face, and he only saw it for one period in the preseason finale on Friday night.
The Stars wrapped up the preseason with a 3-2 loss to the San Antonio Rampage at home on Friday and dropped both scrimmages before the regular season starts on Friday night against the Tucson Roadrunners.
“We’re going to have some learning curves with our game, obviously with some young guys up front,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said. “We got four guys back from Dallas, and that will make us a more mature team. It’s going to make for a good start to the season.”
The Texas roster is starting to take shape with the season less than a week away.
Dallas most recently sent goalies Landon Bow and Jake Oettinger, defensemen Joseph Cecconi and Joel Hanley and forwards Joel L’Esperance Nick Caamano, Rhett Gardner and Jason Robertson down to the AHL level.
L’Esperance had a breakout season in the AHL last season, scoring 30 goals and added 15 assists in 54 games in Cedar Park. He made 18 appearances in the NHL, scoring a pair of goals.
Rookie Josh Melnick — who was signed in March after a standout career at Miami (Ohio) — made an early impression, scoring the only two goals of the game for the Stars in the loss on Friday night.
“I challenged him after we saw him at the Traverse City and Dallas camps,” Laxdal said. “He’s battling for a spot down the middle with a couple of other players, and he elevated his game. That’s what he needs to do to stay in the lineup.”
Two-time national champion Parker MacKay also made his debut for Texas in the preseason.
The former captain at Minnesota-Duluth led the team in points and goals during his senior season and was named the Frozen Four tournament MVP, leading the Bulldogs to their second consecutive national championship.
“He’s a guy that seems to elevate his game when the game is on the line,” Laxdal said. “He’s going to get better every game, and he’s a guy that’s going to be with our group moving forward.”
The Texas Stars missed out on the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs just one year after a Cinderella run to the Calder Cup Finals in 2018. Texas has made the playoffs in seven of its 10 seasons in Cedar Park.
After the season opener on Friday, the Stars host the Manitoba Moose on Saturday night before going on the road to face off with the Iowa Wild for a pair of games. They return to the HEB Center on Oct. 18 and 19 to host the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“I like the way our guys played the first 16 minutes of the first period (on Friday), we had a lot of good push,” Laxdal said. “We didn’t score on a couple of chances, and we gave up a couple (short-handed goals), and it wasn’t pretty. That’s what the preseason is for, let’s get it out of the way now.”