Texas Stars vs. Houston Aeros: A Study in Penalty Killing

Tonight’s game between the Texas Stars and the Houston Aeros was more of an interesting affair then the majority of the game seemed. That sounds kind of strange, but it’s actually true. For the vast majority of the game, the Houston Aeros controlled the play, and the Texas Stars, who couldn’t make tape-to-tape passes to save their lives, looked fairly ordinary and disorganized. But for some reason, the Stars pulled out a 3-2 overtime win over the Aeros, who looked better the entire game.

The main interest for me was the different styles of penalty killing each team involved, and their effectiveness. The Stars, who were sloppy on the power play, felt the pressure of an aggressive Aeros penalty kill. That was most apparent from a five minute major penalty the Aeros had to kill off, which resulted in one goal for the Stars, and a lot of time for Texas chasing the puck down the ice. Houston, a more technically sound passing team, was able to keep possession of the puck, but was mostly kept to the outside by the Stars, playing more of a positional kill, and were effective in getting into the shooting lanes. Still, the Stars were 2 for 5 on the power play, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the game.

Wait, isn’t this a travelogue? You aren’t here to hear me spout off about a minor league penalty kill? Hey, I’m down with that. But before we get to the pictures, one more thing.

The Cedar Park Center, located in the middle of nowhere, charges it’s patrons ten dollars for parking. Ten dollars. Add that to your ticket price, because there is no other way to get there, and no alternative parking. It’s a monopoly, and it’s a ridiculous way to gouge fans for the privilege of going to the game. If there were a cheaper but less convenient alternative, I may not mind as much, but when you hold all the cards, and you are overcharging for nothing, it’s a piss poor way to treat your fans and clients. I complained to the customer service desk, and was told that it’s less expensive than other venues, including the Dallas Stars. I’ve been all over the nation, seeing hockey games in as many places as possible, and I can tell you this is absolutely not true. It’s a disgusting scam, and venues that have no alternative should end the practice, or charge a more reasonable amount.

OK, on to the pictures.

This won’t last:


The arena itself is nice enough, but a little bland. It lacks the character of an older arena, but that seems to be the case with most new arenas. I could have been in Ontario, CA, or Broomfield, CO, or even Gwinnett, GA. If that sounds like a criticism, it’s meant to. What the hell happened to character? Hockey is a sport of character, and old hockey barns have it in droves. New buildings barely have the chance to develop any character, unless it’s manufactured by the designer. These new arenas don’t feel designed so much as sanitized. It’s too bad really, as buildings like the War Memorial in Johnstown, PA (you saw it in Slap Shot, even though it was in “Charlestown” for the movie), the Igloo in Pittsburgh, or whatever the arena in Port Huron, MI is called.

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Hey, if you are going to overcharge for parking, perhaps your Zamboni shouldn’t be a reminder of that fact.

OK, game time. You can click on any picture for a larger version.

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Check out the puck just over the goalie’s glove:


Blood on the ice:

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One of the Aeros took a match penalty for intent to injure. Moving on.

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This took way too long to fix. So long we had to listen to an entire Def Leopard song. Other than that gaff, the Stars had the best alternative music mix I have ever heard at a hockey game. Ever.
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This wasn’t a penalty. The refs put their whistles away for overtime. Like the hockey gods intended.
This is one of my favorite shots from the game. The puck is between his blocker and his stick.


This is your overtime game winner, in the back of the net.
So yeah, the Texas Stars win it in OT, 3-2. With the game winner:

As “nice” as the arena was, as acceptable as the game was, I had a good time at the game. I’m off tomorrow, but I hope to find some ice to skate on tomorrow.

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  1. What? Not even an obligatory Stars Girls photo?

  2. Good stuff!

    I was living in Houston back when they were part of the now-defunct IHL. They had a surprisingly good young goalie by the name of Manny Fernandez.

    I always loved their sweaters. I wish I could find a good pick of their mid-to-late 90s era jerseys for you…more importantly, I wish I had bought one for myself. The new ones are good and I love the logo but an not sure I like the whole package as much.

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