Texas Stars lethargic effort costly in final home meeting with Oklahoma City

Gemel Smith is sandwiched while he fights for a face-off late in the third period of a 3-2 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Gemel Smith is sandwiched while he fights for a face-off late in the third period of a 3-2 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK – The Texas Stars were rested, but they couldn’t take advantage in a 3-2 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons.

Texas hadn’t practiced Friday or Saturday and the team had three days off after a victory against the San Antonio Rampage. Oklahoma City had played Saturday in San Antonio, bussed to Austin, and was shorthanded – only dressing 17 skaters – after an injury in that contest.

Even with those advantages Texas looked lethargic and uninterested early. By the time they started skating hard Oklahoma City goalie Laurent Brossoit shut the door and made 36 saves.

“I thought we were real flat tonight,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “We expected our group to have some real good jump in the first period. (But) we didn’t get our legs until the third period. Then Brossoit, he may have a had a little bit of luck on his side, but he closed the door.”

It was the final regular season meeting between Texas and Oklahoma City in Central Texas. The Edmonton Oilers announced earlier this season that they would be moving their AHL affiliate from Oklahoma City to Bakersfield, California.

The teams could potentially meet in the playoffs, but Feb. 24 in Oklahoma City will likely be the final game of a rivalry that was heightened by playoff series the past two seasons.

“We’ve always played each other hard,” Oklahoma City’s Ryan Hamilton said. “It’s always fun when we come down here and play Texas.”

Hamilton was a key cog in helping Oklahoma City secure the victory and dished out a pair of assists.

In the first period Hamilton streaked down the boards and connected with Andrew Miller, who easily gave Oklahoma City a 1-0 lead on his 16th goal of the season.

Texas countered 38 seconds later when Derek Hulak collected a rebound and beat Brossoit late in the first period.

Oklahoma City then picked up its offensive pressure in the second period and out shot Texas 16-10 as it built a 3-1 lead on goals by Brad Hunt and Jujhar Khaira.

Texas outshot Oklahoma City 17-5 in the third period and cut into the lead on a power play goal by Greg Rallo, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

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

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