CEDAR PARK, TEXAS – The Texas Stars defeated the Stockton Heat 4-3 in a heated battle on Friday night Texas Stars announcer Brien Rea took the focus off the game and attacked AHL officiating.
The AHL is a developmental league for officials as well as players. Calling for the jobs of the officials by repeatedly saying they have no business at this level – and then to call for the Stars to take cheap shots in response – crossed a line in my eyes. I do not care how bad the officiating may or may not have been; there is never an excuse for the things he said during the broadcast.
The officials are not out to get the Stars. Mistakes are made when trying to control the heated passion of a hockey game. It happens, and will happen more frequently at this level than at the NHL.
Do games between the Stars and teams like San Diego or Stockton get physical?
Yes, very, and often excessively after the whistle. That does not make the Heat or Gulls dirty any more than when the Stars stoop to that level and respond.
Games between these teams are incredibly difficult to officiate, and the team of Corey Syvret and Troy Murray did a good job contrary to what you may have heard.
This game could have so easily descended into nothing more than a giant turf war between two groups of intense players who are out there trying to do their best to win a game. Tempers flare quickly in “rivalry games”, and the officials did an excellent job of sending a message to both teams to calm down by calling so many coincidental minors. It was not weakness but rather a show of strength on the part of the officials and it kept this game under control.
As for the claim that play is what injured Curtis McKenzie, it is utterly ridiculous. He was injured in a collision with a teammate at full speed which had absolutely nothing to do with the way the game was officiated.
Something needs to be said in defense of the officials after what I heard, so I will be the one to say it. The call of Rea was undoubtedly unfair to the officials at the very least, and inflammatory at worst. There is no excuse ever for calling for your team to take cheap shots because calls are not being made in your favor, and, in my opinion, Rea was way over the line. Simply listen to his call of the game and you would think everything was against the Stars, it was not.
As for the game itself, it was a terrific contest in which the Stars scored three in the second then held on in the third for the win.
After a 1-1 opening frame, the action picked up in the second with the teams combining for five goals – four in the first six minutes of the middle stanza. It began just 1:21 into the period when Morgan Klimchuk gave Stockton a 2-1 edge, but that lead would not last long as just 16 seconds later the Stars forced a turnover and Tommy Thompson found Colin Markison all alone in the slot. Markison took his time and beat Stockton goalie Jon Gillies to tie the game at two.
The scoring would continue just 2:12 later when Denis Gurianov forced the puck home in tight. In fact, it looked like Gillies may have knocked in the rebound himself, but either way, the Stars were in front 3-2.
The lead would not last, however, as the scoring frenzy would continue just 2:07 later when former Star draft pick Brett Pollock scored for the fourth time in two nights against the organization that drafted him, and 5:55 into the second the game had gone from 1-1 to 3-3.
Stockton would press for the tie, but Stars goalie Mike McKenna made ten saves in the third to seal the 4-3 victory. With the win, the Stars reach the All-Star break in second place in a very tough Pacific division with a record of 24-16-4-2, good for 54 points and a .587 points percentage.
The Stars will return to action Friday when they travel to San Antonio to face the Rampage. You can follow @sinbinstars on Twitter to keep up with the game for live tweeting of every game home or away.