|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"We didn't execute plays," said Jason Dickinson. "We are getting too fancy and passing up grade A chances. We need to bury the chances we get."
Coach Laxdal agreed, "We're unwilling to take that important shot. The simple way to put it is that we weren't selfish enough. We all want this shot in the game. When you get them, you have to take them."
The Stars didn't take a penalty in the game and earned six power plays and a penalty shot. They couldn't make Grand Rapids pay for their indiscretions.
"Our guys were discplined, but if there's that much of an imbalance, you have to score."
Gemel Smith scored the only goal of the game in the first three minutes and the home side was silent on the scoreboard from there on out.
Texas came out of the gate fast and hit the post on the opening shift. Ryan Sproul came right back down the ice and scored for Grand Rapids. Gemel Smith's goal evened things up less than a minute later, and it looked like it might be a track meet.
A deflection play in front gave Grand Rapids the 2-1 lead in the eighth minute and a last minute goal was waved off for being played with a high stick, ending the frame at 2-1 visitors. The Griffins would add another in the second period and hand Texas the task of a two-goal comeback.
The Stars seemed up to the challenge. They outshot the Griffins 19-5 in the final frame and earned four penalty calls, including a 96-second 5-on-3 and a penalty shot. Texas hit a few posts but Jason Dickinson said McCollum "stood on his head" and that the Stars didn't get enough traffic in front to disrupt his vision.
The Griffins appear playoff-ready, much like Ontario. Dickinson called out the similarities between the teams, "They're deep and strong. All four lines play the same style. They all do the little things: chipping in, chasing pucks, banging bodies down low."
Laxdal contrasted Texas and Grand Rapids, "You're not going to win in the playoffs if you're being too fancy. You have to muck it out."
Grand Rapids would add a fourth goal early in the final frame, caromed in off Maxime Lagace's back from below the goal line. It was a series of errors that led to the goal with Kevin King turning over the puck at the blue line, and Lagace misplaying the shot. "It wasn't one of Lagace's best performances," assessed Laxdal. "He was a little loose, a little wild."
The Stars get another chance at the Griffins on Saturday. Neither club plays a game until then.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa, Ritchie, Johns (call up)
Rallo, Shore, Morin, Elie (injury)
Molin, Kane (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 5,305.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - March 16 2016