|Photo Credit: Michael Owen/100 Degree Hockey|
Cedar Park, TX - The Texas Stars dropped their 5th game in-a-row and 10th in their last 13, the result of a 3-1 loss to the Rockford IceHogs Friday night at the HEB Center.
Anton Khudobin, on loan from the Dallas Stars, making his first appearance in exactly a month, got the start between the pipes for Texas and finished with a solid, if-not spectacular 29 saves, including the final 26 he saw.
The Stars could never seem to get things going due to many unforced errors, were outshot 32-25 by Rockford while also going 0-for-4 on the power play. The Stars penalty kill however continues to be a solid unit as evidenced by going a perfect 0-for-3 Saturday, improving their season total to an 81.8% success rate (99 TSH/18 PPGA), good for 3rd in the Central Division.
All of the scoring came in the opening frame with Rockford getting goals from Dylan McLaughlin and
Alexander Nylander at 7:00 and 7:30 respectively to give the IceHogs the early advantage at 2-0.
Stars defenseman Ben Gleason, the Second Star of The Game, scored just 1:25 later setting off the Teddy-Bear Toss in Cedar Park and the crowd came alive.
"I mean Anthony Louis had a great pass and a great move and I got it over from Mac (Curtis McKenzie) and I made a nice move and it was nice to go in. And to see, you know, all those bears fly, it's for a very good cause (Operation Blue Santa) and it was nice to have that feeling." Gleason said after the game.
All of the excitement was for naught as the scoring ended there, but for a lone empty-net goal with :03 seconds left that was credited to IceHog goalie Collin Delia due to the score being an own-goal by Stars captain Mckenzie. Delia finished with 24 saves in picking up his 4th win on the season.
Time-and-time again the Stars put themselves behind the 8-Ball, only to be bailed out by Khudobin. There were at-least 5 breakaway chances turned away by the 15-year veteran, caused by poorly executed passes or other unforced errors.
"We're making plays on the ice, decisions I should say, on the ice, we're making them stressed." an exasperated Coach Neil Graham said post-game. "We're either panicked and throwing a puck into a dangerous area and now we're chasing it. I think that happens and things snowball when you haven't had the success of late that you strive for, so that's why it's important that we work through some of these mistakes."
With the loss, Texas falls to 7-11-3-1 (18 pts.) on the season to remain in last-place in the 7-team AHL Central, 22-points behind the streaking Chicago Wolves. Rockford improved to 11-9-1-1, good for 3rd in the division.
"We have to reset and we're gonna go over some of the big mistakes and then we're gonna follow up with a lot of the positives becase we did we generate offense." said Graham regarding the preparation for the next game against these same IceHogs, in less-than 24-hours. "We'll show the areas that we need to improve and then we'll show the areas that we had success and how we can replicate and duplicate those things."
The puck-drop for Saturday's affair at the HEB Center in Cedar Park is at 7 p.m.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Barteaux, Comeau (day-to-day), Gregoire, Tufte (called-up), Harley (called-up)
L'Esperance was playing in his 1st game since 11/20 (personal reasons)
Martin suited up for the 1st time since 11/3
Tonight's attendance was 4,340