Stars Spoil Simon's Debut
CEDAR PARK, Texas - The Texas Stars skated away with a 3-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park to spoil Ben Simon's Grand Rapids coaching debut.
Captain Matthew Ford banked the tying goal at 11:57 of the first period but Brighton, Mich., native Joel L'Esperance tallied what turned out to be the game-winning marker with 5:47 remaining in the middle frame.
Texas netminder Landon Bow turned aside 24-of-25 shots to improve to 3-0-1 in his career against the Griffins.
Grand Rapids (0-1-0-0) concludes its two-game season-opening road swing tomorrow at San Antonio at 8 p.m. EDT.
The Griffins received the game's first power play chance 2:22 into the opening frame, but it was the Stars (1-0-0-0) who would capitalize shorthanded at the 3:03 mark. In a battle for the puck that was drifting toward the Grand Rapids goal, L'Esperance had a step on Chris Terry. Harri Sateri skated up to the hash marks and beat L'Esperance to the puck but the netminder's clearing attempt fell right onto the stick of a charging Colton Hargrove, who fired a quick shot inside the right goal post of the vacated cage.
Grand Rapids used a 5-on-3 advantage to notch its first tally of the season and even the score with 8:03 remaining in the period. Ford, in his second season as captain, camped out in front of the crease and tipped Matt Puempel's rising shot from just inside the blue line past the 6-foot-5 frame of Bow. Terry, last season's AHL scoring champion skating in his first game as a Griffin, picked up the secondary assist.
The Griffins outshot Texas by a 10-5 margin in the first stanza thanks to four power play opportunities.
The Stars regained their lead at 14:13 in the middle period. After receiving a pass from Erik Condra to gain the zone, L'Esperance skated in to the right-wing circle and snapped a shot by Sateri's catching mitt.
Grand Rapids emptied its net following a timeout with 1:43 left in regulation, but the Griffins were unable to find the equalizer. Justin Dowling added an empty-net goal with 34 seconds remaining to cap the game's scoring.
Grand Rapids' lineup, which featured six AHL rookies, finished 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and held Texas to 21 shots. The Griffins converted on 1-of-6 power play opportunities. In his Griffins debut, Sateri blocked 18-of-20 shots.
Notes: Head coaches in their first game behind the Griffins' bench show a 4-5-1-1 record...Filip Zadina, the sixth overall selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and highest Red Wings draft pick to ever play for the Griffins, made his North American professional debut...Carter Camper, Jake Chelios, Marcus Crawford, Trevor Hamilton, Wade Megan, Sateri, Mackenze Stewart, Terry and Zadina all made their Griffins debuts...Bow has stopped 135-of-142 shots (0.951) in five career games against the Griffins...Grand Rapids drops to 13-7-2-1 all time in season openers and 14-7-2-0 in road openers.
Three Stars: 1. TEX L'Esperance (game-winning goal); 2. TEX Hargrove (goal); 3. TEX Bow (W, 24 saves)
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