Texas Stars fall to San Antonio in first shootout of the season

Justin Dowling is stopped  by Dan Ellis in the Stars 3-2 shootout loss to the San Antonio Rampage. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Justin Dowling is stopped by Dan Ellis in the Stars 3-2 shootout loss to the San Antonio Rampage. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK — On Tuesday morning, Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal joked that he didn’t know who would shoot if his team reached a shootout.

After all, the Stars had played 44 games but were one of two teams in the American Hockey League that hadn’t made it all the way through overtime and into the breakaway competition.

That streak finally ended Tuesday night in a 3-2 shootout loss to the San Antonio Rampage. The Rampage won the shootout 2-1 as goals by Vincent Trocheck and Rocco Grimaldi canceled out Brendan Ranford’s second-round score.

Both goals beat Anders Lindback through the legs, and the goalie snapped his stick as he skated off the ice.

“Shootout is a shootout; they’ve got some good shooters on their team, and they beat us 2-1 in that,” Laxdal said.

The shootout came after a frantic, back-and-forth overtime session in which the teams traded 2-on-1 rushes. Texas had the better chances; Ranford hit the post, and Rampage goalie Dan Ellis made a crucial save on Curtis McKenzie’s shot.

Texas should have gotten a power play or a penalty shot in overtime when Rampage defenseman Shane O’Brien threw his stick to play a loose puck.

“I don’t know how a player can throw his stick on the puck and get away with it without a penalty call,” Laxdal said. “I can’t answer that. That’s a question for the league, I guess. I’m really confused just on that one.”

According to NHL and AHL rule 53.2, officials can assess a minor penalty or a penalty shot for the infraction.

The teams exchanged 77 shots in regulation and overtime as Lindback and Ellis dueled from the opening faceoff.

Lindback stopped 40 of 42 shots. He also had some help from the Stars’ forwards, particularly Derek Hulak, who put their bodies on the line to stop shots.

Hulak blocked six shots while on the penalty kill, taking a couple of hard blasts straight to the midsection and another to the shin that hobbled the rookie, but he kept fighting and blocked another.

“He was getting them in all the wrong spots,” Justin Dowling said. “On the finger, above the shot blocker (on the skate), I mean, he really put his body on the line and sacrificed a lot for us today. I think (he) personally deserved a better fate and a win today.”

Gemel Smith gave Texas an early 1-0 lead on wrist shot 3 minutes, 43 seconds into the game, but San Antonio countered two minutes later.

Dowling gave Texas a lead on the power play late in the second period, but Grimaldi tied the game at 2-2 early in the third period.

This story was originally published in the Austin American-Statesman.

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