CEDAR PARK, TX– The Texas Stars were looking for a third straight win on Saturday night, but the Grand Rapids Griffins had other ideas. The Griffins would score five unanswered goals after conceding the game’s first, and defeat the Stars by a score of 5-1.
It was a complete effort from the Griffins, as the defending champs controlled the pace of play. Shots favored Grand Rapids by a 38-32 margin, and whenever Texas had chances Jared Coreau would make the save. He turned away 31 of 32 Texas shots on the evening to pick up the win. Matt Puempel would lead the way offensively, potting a pair of markers for Grand Rapids.
The game started well for the Stars, as they would strike the game’s opening blow 11:03 into the first period. Curtis McKenzie would create the chance, as he picked the puck up behind the cage and whipped a pass to Travis Morin in the slot. Coreau got most of it, but not enough, and it trickled over the line to give Texas the lead.
It would be their only lead, however, and it would not last long. Just 2:50 later Puempel would tally his first of the night to level the score, but he would have to wait for confirmation. His shot hit the crossbar and bounced down towards the goal line. The light never came on, but the referee with the best angle pointed for a goal. He and his partner would discuss, and then review it, but the call stood.
Momentum was in favor of the Griffins, and 1:24 later they took the lead. With 4:43 left in the frame, Grand Rapids came in on a 2-on-1. Axel Holmstrom fired a dart by Mike McKenna and into the top corner to make it 2-1 visitors.
The first period would end with the game still tight. Shots were 13-12 in favor of the Griffins, and they took their one-goal lead to the first intermission.
The second period would be one of frustration for the homestanding Stars. Texas outshot the Griffins by a 15-11 margin in the middle stanza, but just could not solve Coreau a second time. The Griffins, on the other hand, did a good job of capitalizing on chances and making Texas pay for mistakes.
Midway thru the frame the Stars turned it over behind their own net. Matt Lorito scooped it up and fired a pass to the slot, where Puempel was there to deposit his second of the night to put the Stars down two. The score was still a manageable 3-1 margin at that point, but Grand Rapids would deliver a dagger in the frame’s dying seconds.
With the Stars on the power play there was a face-off in the Texas zone. The Griffins won it and with 12 seconds on the clock, Matthew Ford sent a wrister through McKenna to make it 4-1. It was a crushing blow. Giving up a shorty or a goal in a period’s final 30 seconds is bad, but both at the same time will kill you. Grand Rapids would take all the momentum to the third, along with their three-goal cushion.
Landon Bow would come in for McKenna to start the third, after McKenna allowed 4 goals on 24 shots. McKenna will want the fourth one back, but he was also left out to dry by his teammates on a couple of the goals. One could assume that this was more to try to wake up the skaters than an indictment of McKenna’s play.
Unfortunately, though, this was not the Stars night. The only goal of the third belonged to the Griffins when Eric Tangradi lifted a rebound over Bow to give us our final margin of 5-1.
With the result both teams move to 7-7-0-1 on the season. This is just the second regulation loss at home this year, as the Stars are now 5-2-0-1 in Cedar Park. Texas will now have a few days off at home, before a date with the rival San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday. Face-off is set for 7:30 CST inside the H-E-B Center.
You can keep up with the Stars all season long by following @SinBinStars on Twitter, where we live tweet every game! For Griffins fans, you can follow @SinBinGriffins on twitter as well.