About Last Night…

There is an undeniable temptation to claim that last night’s 8-4 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters was the worst home game in Texas Stars history.

Resist the temptation Stars fans, because it wasn’t the worst.

I’ll grant you following ugliness:

  • Texas surrendered a record eight goals on home ice. Prior to tonight, they had never surrendered more than six at home. I remember the Stars giving up eight in Rockford and ten in Oklahoma City and posting on Facebook, “Well, at least it’s not at the CPC!”
  • The Monsters are the worst offensive team in the AHL. Look at Cedrick Desjardins’s incredible numbers and marvel that he’s hardly got a .500 record.
  • Jack Campbell was chased after 20 minutes. They were down 2-0 a minute in. For once, I was glad my wife has chronic tardiness.
  • The players skated like an intimidated freshman squad, scrimmaging against a relentlessly cruel Varsity squad.

The Texas Stars are in last place, the worst team in the West. The worst teams get blown out like this, that’s why they’re the worst.

It seems they’ve set a new Cedar Park Center standard for crappiness, but was it the worst game ever played at the Cedar Park Center? I say no way – not even close. Consider some other candidates:

20 October 2009…

Lake Erie comes to town and shuts the Stars out in our brand new barn 4-0. But the worst part was that they didn’t even register one single shot on goal in the second period.

7 June 2010…

Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals against Hershey, tied 1-1 when Michael Neuvirth tries to clear the puck past Francis Wathier on a power play, but instead puts it on his tape for a wide open shorty. Then Scott McCulloch streaks down the left side and feeds Ray Sawada who roofs it. SRO crowd of over 7,000 is losing their minds until Hershey gets smart and demotes Alex Giroux to line 2. With Andrew Gordon on the top line with Keith Aucoin and Chris Bourque… 5 unanswered goals. We would never lead in that series again.

22 April 2011…

Five seconds away from taking a 3-2 series lead back to Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs. Five seconds and Richard Bachman gets the shutout! Nope — Gabriel Bourque ties it.  In overtime Ryan Thang wins it. Five seconds!

Those are tough, but to find the very worst I take you back to the first trip to the CPC by the Peoria Rivermen.

9 December 2009…

Through about 25 games, Texas were about 18-7 or so and atop the Western Conference. A mysterious injury had erased Brent Krahn, but Matt Climie was solid.

For reasons unknown, the Stars had sent enforcer Luke Gazdic down to the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads the day before.

The game starts; my wife and I sit along the goal line, and during the first period I do a double-take: Was I seeing things?  Peoria goalie Ben Bishop, a stranger to us until then, was crouched over, watching the action in the other end, and there appeared to be no space between Bishop’s butt and the crossbar.

Wow. This guy. Is. HUGE

After one period, Peoria is up 2-1. Things get chippy in the second period, with two fights, ten minor penalties, and another pair of goals from Peoria. 4-1.

Early in the third, the Stars are on a power play. Ivan Vishnevsky pinches in from the right point but shoots wide; the puck jumps around the boards to veteran Andrew Hutchinson, who fails to contain it before Peoria winger Adam Cracknell knocks him over the boards and into the Rivermen bench.  Jonas Junland grabs the loose puck, and he and Cracknell race in on a 2-on-0 to go up 5-1. Insult, meet injury.

Final score: 5-1, Peoria wins. Not so bad right?

But it’s worse than it looks. I have never seen a team so high in the standings so thoroughly pushed around. Peoria’s Aaron Palushaj and Yan Stastny will earn five interference minors in that game; three of them for goalie interference, for doing nothing shy of steamrolling Climie … with total impunity. “No Gazdic”, they may have said to themselves, “no problem”.

Despite three power plays in the third, the Stars managed just two lousy shots.

The game marked a turning point in the season. The Stars would lose 9 of their next 12. Climie bore the workload, playing the overwhelming majority of games over the winter and into the spring, relieved on rare occasion by then-Idaho goaltender Richard Bachman and ATO journeyman Todd Ford.

And Bishop? Oh that Ben Bishop. At 6’7″ he was taking his own liberties, skating way out of the net to play the puck not because he had to but because he could. He was wandering throughout his end with impunity as well. He even got a couple cheap shots in on the occasional Stars forechecker.

The only good to come of that Peoria game: Ben Bishop’s arrival in our lives. We had an enemy. We made an insipid pink sign that read “THE BISHOP OF SUCK“, dressing up the letter B with a silly Catholic miter and bringing it to every home game against Peoria from that game on. With the big boy now in Ottawa, the sign has been retired. But if Bishop said to me he was unaware of the sign, he would be a liar.

That game was embarrassing. A humiliation. The Stars didn’t try, didn’t care, had no pride. We left that game more disgusted then any game before or since, including last night.

Thus in weighing Peoria ’09 against Lake Erie ’12 respectively, I think it is far worse to go from consistently good to suddenly bad, than it is to go from inconsistently bad to incontestably awful.

 

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