Stars defense provides offensive spark in win against Rampage

Max Fortunus scored twice in the Stars 6-1 win. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Max Fortunus scored twice in the Stars 6-1 win. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK — The Texas Stars defense isn’t going to be a rough and tumble group.

Instead of developing a repertoire of big hits and potential fights, Texas’ defense is going to be based on consistency, positioning and occasionally jumping into the offensive play.

And based on Sunday’s results, the defenders could put on quite an offensive display this season.

Captain Maxime Fortunus scored twice, John Klingberg gave Texas an early lead, and Derek Meech set up a goal with a nifty drop pass as the Stars blitzed the San Antonio Rampage from the blue line in a 6-1 preseason victory at Cedar Park Center.

“We have some good guys” on defense, Fortunus said. “There’s some new blood coming in that’s going to help our offense a lot. At the same time, they’re still really good defensively. I think for us, we’ve always been a team that wants to play good in our zone, then that’s where we get our offense from.”

That should be the norm this season. Barring injuries, Sunday’s defensive pairing should be the same group that takes the ice against the Iowa Wild for the season opener Oct. 11.

Fortunus was paired with Cameron Gaunce, Klingberg worked with Jyrki Jokipakka, and Meech has taken over duties mentoring 18-year-old first-round draft pick Julius Honka.

Meech, who has 144 games of NHL experience and won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2010, has a history of mentoring younger defensemen.

Last season, he worked closely with Jamie Oleksiak, who is slated to open this season with the Dallas Stars.

“You want to try and give them tips here and there, but you don’t want to overload them,” Meech said. “Obviously, he’s a pretty good player. I’m mostly going to let him do his thing and then step in occasionally to point things out.”

In addition to the offensive spark, the Stars defenders were pretty good at protecting their own net.

Texas was outshot 29-20, but San Antonio didn’t have many quality scoring chances. The Rampage’s lone goal came during a five-on-three power play in the third period.

Continue reading this story in the Austin American-Statesman.

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