CEDAR PARK — The Iowa Wild may be in last place in the American Hockey League, but the Texas Stars where expecting a challenge Friday at the Cedar Park Center.
“Last time we played Iowa, they outshot us 30 to 20 and we snuck out in overtime,” assistant coach Karl Taylor told the team before morning skate. “There’s no easy games in this league.”
Texas couldn’t sneak out the victory in a 2-1 loss Friday after Brett Bulmer scored on a rebound with 8:32 remaining and Johan Gustafsson made 35 saves for Iowa.
Bullmer’s goal came after bad defensive clearance by Texas up the middle of the ice. Michael Keranen turned the Stars giveaway into a low, hard shot and Bullmer buried the rebound past Jack Campbell.
“When it’s a 1-1 game you can’t make that critical mistake,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said.
It was the second goal Iowa scored after a defensive mistake by Texas.
In the second period Stu Bickel, who had been sent down to the AHL earlier in the day by the Minnesota Wild, scored just after Texas nearly took a 2-0 lead on a power play.
Iowa cleared the puck just as the power play expired and Campbell whiffed on a pass and accidentally cleared it right to Marc Hagel, who had just stepped out of the box.
Hagel fired a sharp angle shot that was initially stopped, but Bickel was able to collect the rebound and score his first goal of the season for Iowa.
The two mistakes canceled out a strong overall game by Texas.
“I thought we were prepared and I thought we played well,” Stars left wing Derek Hulak said. “We had a lot of chances, you’ve got to give their goaltender credit, but at the same time we’ve got to bear down.”
The Stars dominated possession and controlled the puck early and took a 1-0 lead before Iowa had its first shot on net.
Greg Rallo scored his 10th goal of the season 5:56 into the game after a scramble in front of the net. Travis Morin was able to kick the loose puck over to Derek Hulak, who passed it to Rallo for an easy tap-in near the right post.
Texas continued to control the play and almost scored again three minutes later when Gemel Smith’s point-blank chance just missed the net. Iowa finally had it’s first shot midway through the period, a weak bouncing puck that Campbell easily turned away, before Taylor Peters and Eric Faille had another chance for Texas on the other end.