(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
[Ed. Note: Last night's game was my first opportunity to do color commentary for the Texas Stars, so this postgame is necessarily delayed. I hope you were able to tune in on AHL TV to hear me chat about this game.]
Seeking their first four-point effort in a two-game series this season, Texas came up short against Rockford, falling 4-3 tonight. After winning the first game of the set for the first time all year, the Stars let the IceHogs take the 2-0 lead in the first and never recovered.
"I thought we had more than enough opportunity offensively to probably win that game," said Texas head coach Neil Graham. "There's some good lessons and some tough lessons for us to to recognize moving forward, but I thought we played the right way in both games."
The loss wasn't for lack of effort from the Texas offense, which had 48 shots on Arvind Soderblom. Ty Dellandrea and Jacob Peterson led the way in that regard with nine and six, respectively. Peterson was rewarded for his efforts with a pair of goals, but Dellandrea was unable to find the back of the net.
Rockford's usually putrid power play got the game started with a quick faceoff win played back to the blue line and bounced in off bodies to beat Jake Oettinger. A few minutes later, Lukas Reichel got a lucky bounce sending a puck to the crease and getting it to bounce off Thomas Harley's skates and in.
"It wasn't like we were on our heels to the point where major changes were needed. It was more 'take a breath.' We still had a chance in the first, but we were down."
Andreas Borgman got his second in as many games with a shot from the blueline that rainbowed in on Soderblom to cut the lead in half at 2-1. The Stars offense poured it on in the second, outshooting Rockford 22-5. All of that momentum was halted by Soderblom, who had seemed shaky after the goal but still stopped 21 of 22 in the stanza. The momentum felt extinguished when Dylan McLaughlin scored in the final minute of the period.
Just three minutes later, Josiah Slavin scored the one that proved 'insurmountable' in the words of Graham. His second of the season made it 4-1 and gave Texas a gargantuan catch-up task.
Jacob Peterson was up to the challenge and nearly did the entire thing himself, falling just short. First, he collected a pass off his chest and, in one movement, put it to his stick and beat Soderblom to make it 4-2. In the dying minutes with Oettinger on the bench, Peterson did it again, coming open for a rebound off a scramble in front centering on Curtis McKenzie.
The Stars attempted to find one 6-on-5 again, taking a timeout with 18.5 seconds left to set up a play. Depsite winning the faceoff, Texas wouldn't get a shot, taking too long to set up the play and missing on the redirect attempt left-to-right across the crease. With the puck sailing harmlessly through the blue, the Stars would again find themselves with a series split and a 0.500 record.
Texas takes the show on the road for a pair in Loveland, Colorado, starting Tuesday at 8 PM CT.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Gleason, Martin, Gregoire, Gardner, Felhaber (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 4,929.