"They" said it couldn't be done. The Hershey Bears had not lost a game on home ice since March 21st. No one told the Texas Stars. The Stars emerged victorious from Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals to take a 1-0 series lead. Texas has now won 3 straight road games.
As was expected between two teams that never played, the game was a little tentative early. Surprisingly, it was Texas that picked up the offensive pace in the 1st period, sending 12 shots on Michal Neuvirth's net but scoring on none. Hershey only managed 2 shots in the period and the game went to the second tied at zero.
In the second period, Texas made it 11 straight games where they have not scored first. Winger Francois Bouchard received a great pass from Mathieu Perreault. Bouchard was patient with the puck and waited until Climie had committed to swoop around him and pot his 3rd of the postseason. Bouchard was unguarded after dancing around Ethan Graham at the right circle.
Texas would tie it up though shortly thereafter. Greg Rallo broke into the zone and, using defenseman Karl Alzner as a screen, put one in the top right corner on Michal Neuvirth from no more that 10 feet into the offensive zone. It was Rallo's second of the postseason. The Stars would keep an even keel going into the second intermission and stay tied at 1. Texas was outshot 13-8 in the middle frame.
And in the third, it was an unlikely hero breaking out to provide the offensive punch for the Stars. Scott McCulloch played the role of independent contractor and got the 2-1 lead all on his own. In the Stars zone, Chris Bourque attempted a behind the back pass to Collins which was cut off by McCulloch. Scott flew up the left wing boards, cutting to the center with a sick deke around a prone Chris Bourque, and beat Neuvirth on the backhand five-hole. The unassisted tally for McCulloch was his 3rd of the postseason.
Despite 12 Hershey shots in the period to Texas's 6, the Stars kept up the pressure with more quality chances. The final score would be 2-1 with McCulloch's goal the game-winner.
For a game between two teams that don't know each other very well (supposedly), there is already some bad blood brewing. Texas Stars defenseman Andrew Hutchinson took a nasty hit at the boards from Andrew Gordon late in the 3rd that turned into matching roughing minors for Alexandre Giroux and Matt Stephenson. Despite 6 power plays in the game, 4 for Texas and 2 for Hershey, neither team scored a power play goal.
The Stars played their game tonight. You had to believe that if this turned into a shootout that Texas would have less chance of winning it. But in a defensive battle, Texas and Hershey are pretty evenly matched. They both finished the regular season with 198 goals against. Second and third stars in the game went to Michal Neuvirth and Matt Climie in that order. After the first goal, on what had to be one of the first half dozen shots of the game despite being in the 2nd period, Matt Climie locked it down. Some pudgy rebounds were smothered by the swarming Texas defense.
Here are your highlights:
And Coach Gulutzan's postgame press conference:
And for fairness, Coach French's as well:
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Chupp, Korostin, Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Tr. Ludwig, Gazdic (scratched)
Tonight's attendance was 10,013.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Hershey - June 3 2010