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Max Lagace shines in goal as Texas opens season with two victories

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Texas Stars opened the 2016-17 season by taking two games from the Charlotte Checkers at H-E-B Center over the weekend.

Goaltender Max Lagace was superb, stopping 77 of 81 shots in the two Texas victories, including 34 saves on opening night Friday and then 43 on Saturday.

"Max was outstanding both games," Texas coach Derek Laxdal told media.

"Last year, I got a little taste of [being the number one goaltender]," Lagace said, "and now that I know that I have the organization behind me, it's a boost for the confidence. I feel great in this spot."

Forwards Justin Dowling and Brandon DeFazio led the charge offensively, both recording two goals and two assists in the two games.

Texas hits the road this week, playing three games in California.

Friday, Oct. 14: Texas 6, Charlotte 2

Max Lagace stopped 34 shots and Brandon DeFazio scored one goal and assisted on two others as the Stars opened the season with a 6-2 win over Charlotte at H-E-B Center. Justin Dowling gave Texas a 1-0 lead 6:52 into the game, and then the Stars blew the game open late in the first when Nick Ebert, Cole Ully, and Mattias Backman scored goals in a 70-second span to extend the lead to 4-0. DeFazio and Matej Stransky scored goals in the second period as the Stars pushed their lead to 6-1.

Saturday, Oct. 15: Texas 4, Charlotte 2

Max Lagace stopped 43 shots, and defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk tallied one goal and one assist as Texas made it two straight wins to open the season with a 4-2 victory over Charlotte at H-E-B Center. Gemel Smith's goal at 8:16 of the second period snapped a 2-2 tie and held up as the game-winner for Texas. Brandon DeFazio and Justin Dowling (empty net) also scored for the Stars.

Notes

*Dallas Stars 2015 first-round pick Denis Gurianov made his AHL debut Friday and played well. He had a scoring chance on his first shift and a couple more chances later in the game. He led Texas with five shots on goal. On Saturday, Gurianov picked up his first AHL point, getting the only assist on Gemel Smith's game-winning goal.

*The Texas Stars improved to 7-1-0 all-time in season openers.

*Texas was 2-8 on the power play in the first two games and 10-11 on the penalty kill.

Texas Stars Opening Night Roster

Here was the Texas Stars 2016-17 opening night roster.

Forwards (13): Mike McMurtry, Bryce Van Brabant, Remi Elie, Justin Dowling (A), Branden Troock, Gemel Smith, Austin Fyten, Brendan Ranford, Cole Ully, Travis Morin (C), Brandon DeFazio, Denis Gurianov, Matej Stransky.

Defensemen (8): Andrew Bodnarchuk (A), Miro Karjalainen, Mattias Backman, Julius Honka, Ludwig Bystrom, Nick Ebert, Matt Mangene, Dustin Stevenson.

Goaltenders (2): Philippe Desrosiers, Maxime Lagace

Stars Opening Night Lineup

Here is the lineup the Texas Stars rolled out for opening night.

Brendan Ranford - Travis Morin - Matej Stransky
Brandon DeFazio - Justin Dowling - Cole Ully
Remi Elie - Gemel Smith - Denis Gurianov
Bryce Van Brabant - Mike McMurtry - Branden Troock

Andrew Bodnarchuk - Julius Honka
Mattias Backman - Ludwig Bystrom
Dustin Stevenson - Nick Ebert

Max Lagace
Philippe Desrosiers

Week Ahead

Wed., Oct. 19: Texas at Stockton, 9:00 p.m. CT
Fri., Oct. 21: Texas at Ontario, 9:00 p.m. CT
Sat., Oct. 22: Texas at San Diego, 9:00 p.m. CT

Idaho Steelheads

The Idaho Steelheads, the Stars' ECHL affiliate, opened the season with two losses at Utah over the weekend, falling 4-1 on Friday and then 3-0 on Saturday. Goaltender Landon Bow, who is under contract to the Texas Stars, made his pro debut Friday, stopping 30 of 34 shots in the 4-1 loss to the Grizzlies. The Steelheads play Utah again this weekend, this time in Idaho.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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