Last night, the Texas Stars defeated the Milwaukee Admirals by a core of 2-1. For the first time in the franchise's history, the Stars were able to close out a series on home ice -- something they had been unable to do in their last three years.
It was an extremely close game, as was the entire series. Despite the Admirals being the eighth seed in the playoffs, they were one of the hotter teams coming into the post season. And, as any fan who watched hockey is well aware, all you have to do to win is get hot at the right time.
The first round of the AHL playoffs is trickier than most people realize, as the formatting is different from how the NHL is set up. Instead of it being a best of seven series, it is only a best of five. To top it off, in order to reduce travel, the team without home ice advantage plays at home for the first two games. The remaining three games (or however many are necessary) are then played at the higher seeded team's arena. Because of this set up, if a high seeded team does not take their opponent seriously, they can be facing elimination before they even get their act together.
Thankfully, the Texas Stars did not fall into this trap. They respected the Admirals and their style of play, not taking for granted the team that they were facing. Stephen Meserve has more on the how the Texas Stars viewed their opponent, and how to handle them for last night's elimination game:
The Stars were complimentary of the Ads' game all series. They respected the game that Milwaukee brought every night and didn't look past the Ads because they were the eighth seed.
"They're a good team and were rolling coming into the postseason," said Kevin Connauton postgame. "They're a hard working team that likes to break you down, get pucks deep and forecheck. It was a matter of being discplined with our systems. We had all the tools to beat them."
One of the big pieces of that toolbox was Connauton himself, who has four points in four games so far in the playoffs. His assist tonight was the primary on the game-winning goal off the stick of Alex Chiasson.
Chiasson and Connauton have certainly proved that they are worth their weight in gold this series, as every game hard fought and well earned. Every game was close right until the final buzzer, and it will likely be more of the same as the Texas Stars move onto the second round.
Tonight, though, they get a night off to relax, and will be scoreboard watching to see who their next opponent will be. As of right now, there are three possible teams that the Texas Stars will face. You can read more about each opponent and how they match up with Texas here. If Houston wins tonight, they will be next on the docket. And what better way to wish them well on their trip to Iowa than with an in-state rivalry loss?
Make sure you follow 100degreehockey.com for all the playoff updates, including those of the ECHL as well.
We'll be back with more reports and news tomorrow. In the meantime, go (Texas) Stars, and go Boston.