Stars Season Ends in Milwaukee with 5-3 Loss in Game 5

File photo from Game 2 (Credit: Logan Foust/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars ended their season this evening in Milwaukee with a 5-3 loss to the division's top team in a decisive Game 5. It was the same way that Texas ended its season last year, in Game 5 against the Admirals.

Texas took a winding road to get to this point. After coming out of the gate hot in October, thanks to AHL Rookie of the Year Logan Stankoven and league MVP Mavrik Bourque, everything was coming up Texas through December. Injuries, player movement and a rising tide in the rest of the division saw them float down from those heights to finish in the four seed.

All told, if you'd told most people in September that Texas would make it to the qualifying round, that would have been considered a good and reasonable outcome. With how many rookies this team integrated and the skill of many teams in the division, the Stars would have been happy to punch their ticket to the playoffs via the play-in games. The January to March drop made it feel like an unsuccessful end, but it was a grind to get there. 

Every season has its adversity. Coach Neil Graham was always critical of the notion that Texas did not suffer adversity last season as they claimed the division crown with a strong veteran squad. This year's adversity was more on the surface, more visible to the rest of us.

I realize it's professional sports, so there is a tendency to jump on every bit of bad news or mishandled puck. However, it's always a good idea to remember that the Texas Stars, or any team, are just a collection of human beings with all the same foibles as any of the rest of us. It's always instructive to remember that maxim: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." 

There is plenty of time to ask about decisions made along the way: roster choices, signings, re-signings, starting goalies, recalls, injuries callups and the like. But first, remember the humans. We would also do well to remember that in our daily life today and every day.

As to today's game, from the start, it was a rough ride for the Stars. Within 60 seconds of puck drop, Texas was down 2-0 to the pesky rookie Zach L'Heureux. Coach Graham made the decision to start Ben Kraws in net. He would finish the game after the first period with six saves on nine shots. Poirier spelled him in the second.

Matej Blümel got Texas back within one on the power play as his excellent season continued into the postseason. Ozzy Wiesblatt caused chaos in front, however, a few minutes later and helped Cal O'Reilly have a clear tap-in for the 3-1 lead.

With no scoring in the second period, Texas faced down twenty minutes to make or break their season. Marc Del Gaizo sailed a puck out of play to set up a Texas power play early in the final frame. Oskar Bäck, who had been denied on a play in the second due to goalie interference, was the goal scorer off the pass from Bourque. There was life again for Texas as the score moved to 3-2 with 18 minutes left in the period.

Unfortunately, the specter of the 'even-up' penalty came to haunt Texas with the zebras calling a slashing minor on the squeaky-clean Bäck that looked more like a stick lift than anything else. It was only Milwaukee's second power play of the game, and they made it count again. The Ads went up 4-2 off Fedor Svechkov's goal from the hashes.

The Stars would pull Poirier as time wound down, and Milwaukee would find the empty net. The Stars fought back though with a deflection goal off the stick of Karlström. It marked a point in four straight games for the Swedish forward.

And so, with 2:04 left, Texas had a chance, but they could not establish enough pressure to make it happen. Thus their season ended in Wisconsin tonight.

Locker clean out comes next for many of these players as a significant number of others will surely head to Dallas as black aces for the NHL playoff run.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches and notes
Stankoven, Pouliot, Murray (callup)
Gardiner, Bertucci, MacDonnell, White, Wheatcroft, Romano, Stranges, Moe (scratch)
Reedy (out for the season - upper body)
Haiskanen (out for the season)
Krys (injury)

Tonight's attendance was not available at press time.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - May 12 2024