A wealth of new faces gave the Texas Stars a much-needed boost.
With five key players 22-years-old and under and a nearly impossible postseason situation, the Stars continued to dominate the beginning of games and beat the Bakersfield Condors 4-3 Wednesday night at the H-E-B Center.
“I liked our energy the whole game,” head coach Derek Laxdal said. “They’re a good hockey club and they’re battling for a playoffs spot. If we could play the spoiler role, we wanted to do that. We did a good job defending at the end of the game.”
Cole Ully finished the game with a goal and an assist to bring his season total to 12 goals and nine assists. Ethan Werek and Caleb Herbert scored in the first period and Fyten tallied in the second period.
Brandon DeFazio earned his eighth point in the last nine games with an assist on the first goal of the game and Matt Mangene recorded the 50th point of Texas Stars career. Justin Peters made 16 saves to earn his 17th win of the season.
While the team is technically still in the running for a postseason berth, a spot in the playoffs is incredibly unlikely. The Stars need to win their remaining five games and get a lot of help from the teams above them in the standings.
Werek opened the scoring with a top shelf goal on a beautiful feed from DeFazio. Less than 20 seconds later, Caleb Herbert doubled the lead when he and Cole Ully got in behind the Bakersfield defense.
“It’s always nice to get the first goal,” Ully said. “And it felt good to hold onto the lead. The guys really locked it down there and didn’t give up anything and had a few big kills. It felt good to win and maintain the lead like that.”
The Stars continued to pass the puck well when rookie Nicholas Caamano found Fyten for the one-timer midway through the period. Caamano tallied his first professional point in his professional debut since joining the team on an amateur tryout agreement on Monday.
Mark Fraser got one back for Bakersfield thanks to a snipe from the slot with just over a minute left in the period.
Ully put a shot on net early in the second period and Matt Mangene was there to jump on the rebound. His shot was saved, but the puck bounced behind the Bakersfield goalie where Ully was there to poke it into the open goal.
Brodie Dupont collected his own rebound midway through the second period and beat Peters to once again cut the score in half. They made it a one-goal lead in the third period when Joe Gambardella batted in a rebound.
“We’re in an evaluation process and we’re all getting looked at down the stretch,” Laxdal said. “Guys are playing for contracts in the organization and there are lots of scouts in the building. We try to sell them on being a spoiler. There’s no pressure, we just have to go out and play.”
Texas has one more out of state road trip when it travels to face the Carolina Checkers on Friday and Saturday. The Stars have two home game remaining, next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 12 at 7 p.m. against the Rampage.
“It’s that time of year when everybody is playing with that desperation,” Ully said. “That includes us and we’re playing with a never say die attitude. We’re going out every night and doing the best we can.”