Stars center Warren Peters battles for the puck with Bears Jay Beagle in Game 6 Monday in Hershey. (Photo credit: JustSports Photography)
It had been an improbable run. The upstart Texas Stars in their first year as a franchise were in the Calder Cup Finals. It was a team that really played like one, with no egos and no 'big time' players. In the Finals, they came up against AHL royalty. The Hershey Bears, seeking their 11th Calder Cup, were led by AHL MVPs and decorated veterans alike. It was storybook, but not every book can have a happy ending. Let's get to the wrap-up.
The first surprise of the game was the start in net by Brent Krahn. Coach Gulutzan, surely with his mind on the three straight losses by Climie, felt a need to shake something up. Krahn regained his role in the net but could not take the Stars to Game 7.
It was the Hershey Bears show from the first period on. Texas allowed a power play goal in the first off the stick of John Carlson on a rebound. Carlson goal, which would prove the game-winner, was his second of the playoffs. Carlson has had quite a year, scoring the OT winner in the World Juniors for the USA against Canada and winning a Calder Cup in Hershey. Shortly after Carlson's goal, his defensive linemate, Karl Alzner, made it 2-0 on another rebound slapshot from the top of the circle.
In the second, Texas surrendered another goal to make it 3-0. Patrick McNeill scored off a rebound of Alexandre Giroux's initial shot to take much of the last life out of the Stars. Even with a period to play, the Bears were too focused in on the Cup for Texas to even put a chink in the armor. The play of Michal Neuvirth was phenomenal and earned him the first star in the game. It was Neuvirth's first shutout of the postseason.
Texas played their game, but the Bears just had another level. After coming out flat in the first two games of the series, Hershey realized that Texas was not going to be a pushover and turned it on full blast. Matt Climie played great hockey all series long, and I don't think the series loss can be pinned on any one player. Jamie Benn, who did not score in the series, has played over 100 games in the 2009-2010 season, which more than doubles his highest totals from any of his amateur years. If you don't think he's tired and a little worn thin, then you're delusional.
Planning on letting the season percolate a bit in my brain and wrapping it up closer to the end of the week. Thank you so much for reading this season.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Hutchinson (knee, day-to-day)
Bachman, Chupp, Korostin, Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Gazdic (scratched)
Tonight's attendance was 11,002, a new record for the Giant Center. It was the 5th straight record crowd in the series (Games 2-6).
Chris Bourque, son of NHLer Ray Bourque, won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy for the MVP of the playoffs. Bourque has won three Calder Cups in his 5 year pro career, all with Hershey.
For those of you who want to watch, here's the link to the YouTube video of the final seconds of the game and the win.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Hershey - June 14 2010