"Our backs are against the wall and we have to win the next game. If we don't
we're out and we don't want that," said Stars captain Landon Wilson.
After dropping three straight games at home the Stars now trail the Hershey
Bears 3-2 in the Calder Cup Finals. It's not unfamiliar territory for the Stars,
who trailed 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals against Hamilton and won two
games on the road to take that series.
"We are drawing on it," Texas coach Glen Gulutzan said of the experience his
team went through in that series. "Hamilton was a great team and the focus is
always the same - you play each period as it is, each shift as it is. You don't
think too far ahead. That's what we did in that series and that's what we are
going to do now."
The Stars can also draw on their past success in Hershey, where they won the
first two games of the series against the best home team in the AHL.
"We've had success up there, which is something most teams can't say," said
Texas defenseman Trevor Ludwig. "For some reason the home team in this series
hasn't had the best outcome and hopefully that keeps going."
The Stars have won four straight on the road, including the two against the
Bears who had won 37 of 38 games at home coming into the series.
"We know what to expect as far as their fans and the way they play in their
building. We'll be ready for them," said Texas defenseman Ethan Graham. "We have
to keep the strong mindset we have now. We just have to go up there and win.
We'll be OK."
The Bears will have two cracks at closing out the series at home and winning
their second straight Calder Cup. And if they do they'll become the first AHL
team to drop the first two games of a Calder Cup Finals series at home and go on
to win the championship.
"I think a lot of people wrote us off, but we have a lot of faith in that locker
room. We like when people challenge us," Bears forward Chris Bourque told
Hershey media. "This team's done a lot of things other teams haven't done in the
American League. That's just another challenge for us."
The Bears think they'll be better prepared for the Stars in Hershey this time
around, having played them five times now. They also know the series has been
tight, with most of the games up for grab late into the third period. And they
also know the Stars aren't a team that is about to roll over just because they
are down in the series.
"The first two games we had never seen this team before and it took us some time
to figure out how to play against them. They really tested our patience and it
was a tough hill to climb," said Bears defenseman Greg Amadio. "We've put
ourselves in a good position, but this team came back against Hamilton in Game 6
and 7 on the road, so we know this is far, far from over. The next win is the
hardest by far. We've just got to keep doing what we do and stay positive."
And now that the Stars are the team down in the series, they are the ones
looking up a hill and not getting down.
"We've got to stay to stay positive and keep working," said Wilson. "That's been
our game plan all along and our team all year through. We've gone through
adversity and some difficult times, some tough times and we persevere. We've
just got to keep doing that."
Carlson & Alzner vs. Benn
Hershey defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner are getting high marks for their
role in holding the AHL's playoffs top scorer, Jamie Benn, without a goal in the
first give games of the playoff series.
Benn, who had 14 goals and 10 assists in his first 18 playoff games, has two
assists in five games against the Bears.
"If you look on the other side - and maybe I have to take some blame for this -
they have two defensemen in Carlson and Alzner whose whole game revolves around
when Jamie Benn gets on the ice. Those two guys are NHL defensemen. So, it's not
easy," said Texas coach Glen Gulutzan. "We'd like to get him away from that
matchup as much as we can, but it's tough. They do a good job of managing it.
Bennie's been shut down pretty good because those two guys are on the ice."
Alzner is giving most of the credit for the job on Benn to Carlson.
"Benn’s working hard,” Alzner said. “I think Carly is doing a great job on
that right side with him. He’s limiting a lot of his opportunities. They both
have kind of the same type of build. They’re both young guys who both have
that natural strength.”
Both Alzner and Carlson are Washington Capitals first round picks. Alzner was
taken 5th overall in 2007, saw 21 NHL games this season and played one Stanley
Cup playoff game this year.
Carlson, a 27th overall pick in 2008, played 22 NHL games this season, saw seven
games of Stanley Cup action and also scored the game-winning goal for Team USA
at the World Junior Championship in September.
Monday's game is on the NHL Network in both the United States and Canada.
Wednesday's 7th game, if played, will be on the NHL Network as well.
The Hershey Bears have won 10 Calder Cups, but they haven't clinched one on
home ice in 30 years. Their last four titles - 1988, 1997, 2006 and 2009 -
were all won on the road. The last time they won the clinching game at home
Series Schedule (Hershey leads 3-2)
1ThursdayJune 3 HersheyTexas 2, Hershey 1
2SaturdayJune 5 HersheyTexas 4, Hershey 3
3MondayJune 7 TexasHershey 6, Texas 3
4WednesdayJune 9 TexasHershey 4, Texas 2
5FridayJune 11 TexasHershey 2, Texas 1 (OT)
6MondayJune 14 Hershey6:00 pm
7Wednesday*June 16 Hershey6:00 pm
"Our backs are against the wall and we have to win the next game. If we don'twe're out and we don't want that," said Stars captain Landon Wilson.After dropping three straight games at home the Stars now trail the HersheyBears 3-2 in the Calder Cup Finals.