Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jyrki Jokipakka Recalled to Dallas Stars

As expected, the Dallas Stars have recalled Jyrki Jokipakka this afternoon. Jokipakka will be hte seventh D for Tuesday's game against Vancouver and possibly beyond.

Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the NHL club has recalled defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Jokipakka, 23, has appeared in three games for Texas this season recording one point (1-0=1), which was a power play goal, and a +1 plus/minus rating. During the 2013-14 season, he appeared in 68 regular season games posting 21 points (5-16=21). In helping Texas to their first Calder Cup championship in 2014, Jokipakka (YIHR-kee YOH-kee-pah-kuh) posted five assists (0-5=5) and a +8 plus/minus rating in 21 postseason games played.

Texas Stars Will Lose a Defenseman to Callup; Who Will It Be?

Patrik Nemeth (Credit: Steven Christy)
In case you missed it, last night's Dallas Stars game was unkind to Patrik Nemeth. Early in the game, R.J. Umberger's skate caught Nemeth on the wrist in the gap between the glove and jersey. He immediately went off the ice and did not return. After the game, Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff told the media Jamie Oleksiak would pull into the lineup and they would be calling someone up from Texas to fill the spot as 7th man.

Now the question is who will go. Texas defensemen on Dallas contract include Jyrki Jokipakka, John Klingberg, Cameron Gaunce and Julius Honka. The rookie Honka is obviously not going. Jokipakka impressed in the preseason. Klingberg was solid but was coming off hip surgery in the summer. Cameron Gaunce has the most NHL experience of the group and could serve as a stabilizing force there. However, he also has a lot of value with this group in Cedar Park as a veteran.

Personally, I think it's Jyrki Jokipakka. If he is the callup, it's quite an accomplishment for both the player and the organization. Jokipakka was a 7th round pick in 2011, a round where there are more misses than hits to be sure.

In Texas, we know that William Wrenn is hurt and the Stars have Mike Dalhuisen on the roster from Idaho. Dalhuisen could get his first AHL action of the season on Friday if Sergei Gonchar, Patrik Nemeth and William Wrenn are all injured at that point.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rynnas Shutout, Morin Record Tally Vault Texas Stars Past Utica 1-0

Travis Morin sets franchise record with 100th career goal
Travis Morin (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
A tight goalie duel was finished off in the third period with Travis Morin's 100th career AHL goal, all as a Texas Star, for a 1-0 victory over the visiting Utica Comets.

Morin, ever-deflecting of praise, summed it up simply, "It's nice to do it with the same team. Other than that, it's just another goal."

Texas' Jussi Rynnas and Utica's Joacim Eriksson each faced 29 shots on the evening, but Rynnas was just one better for his first shutout as a Texas Star.

"It was an entertaining game from start to finish for back-to-back games," said Coach Laxdal. "It was a good rebound game because we didn't think we were that great last night in Oklahoma City."

Cameron Gaunce added to the level critique of the game, "We knew they weren't a very high scoring team coming in. We gave them more chances than we should have."

The game had a very physical feel to it, despite the fact that the two teams only combined for sixteen penalty minutes. Utica is a team that will finish checks and get physical more often than Texas.

"We've got a tough group of guys," said Gaunce. "We might not have the guys that will drop the gloves at every opportunity but we're a team with a lot of character. If they want to play a strong physical game, we'll use our skill, talent and speed to our advantage."

The Stars and Comets traded power play chances throughout the game until late in the second period when Cameron Gaunce took a tripping call on the penalty kill and moved the advantage to 5-on-3 for Utica.

Veterans Maxime Fortunus and Derek Meech manned the defense for the entire advantage with Travis Morin and Radek Faksa rotating at forward.

"You want guys who are going to be smart on a 5-on-3 and aren't going to be running around," said Morin. "You know you're going to give things up on a 5-on-3 but it's knowing what you're willing to give up. We don't want passes through the crease or back doors."

Laxdal praised the 2-man kill as well, "It's a tough job description. You look at Radek Faksa, blocking shots. It's important to your hockey club and it's not a pretty job. You've got to have that."

The success on the kill vaulted Texas to the only goal of the night early in the third period. Travis Morin describes the play:

"We had a 3-on-2 rush. Ritchie moved it wide to Ranford and I pulled up and went to the back side. Ranford put a nice pass off the pad. The goalie doesn't have a lot of choice but to kick it out to the side. I was lucky enough to be in the right spot and put it back toward the net. Luckily, it went in."

Late in the period, Utica would attempt to get the equalizer but a penalty on former Star Dustin Jeffrey would all but salt it away with 2:18 left. The Comets were unable to pull the goaltender for even a second at the end and Texas set a 3-0 season mark.

Texas is next in action at Oklahoma City on Friday.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Dalhuisen, Root, Lagace (scratched)
Wrenn, Rallo (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 4,248.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Utica - October 18 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Utica Comets

Texas Stars
2-0-0-0, 4 pts
#3 Western Conference
v.Utica Comets
2-0-1-0, 5 pts
#2 Western Conference
October 18th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The days of the Utica Comets being a Western Conference doormat could be behind them. Thanks to strong goaltending and building off the momentum of last season's final few months, they have started the season well.

Jacob Markstrom, formerly of San Antonio, was assigned to the Comets this season and he's already 2-0 for the club. It's certainly not where he wanted to be. Last year it looked like Vancouver would go with Markstrom and Eddie Lack in net as a young tandem. That changed when the team picked up veteran goalie Ryan Miller in free agency. Now Markstrom plies his trade in upstate New York.

Former Texas Star Dustin Jeffrey is the leading scorer for the visitors. After the Calder Cup win, he followed Coach Desjardins to British Columbia, signing a one-year deal with the Canucks. He was assigned to Utica and has two goals and an assist in three games.

Another player new to the Comets (but very familiar to at least one Texas Star) is Brendan Gaunce. The younger brother of the Stars' Cameron Gaunce was a first round pick of the Canucks in 2012. In just three games of action with Utica, he has a goal and two assists. Gaunce also leads the team in plus-minus.

Another rookie to watch for is Hunter Shinkaruk. The Alberta native was Vancouver's 2013 first round draft pick. He already has two assist in three games.

The Comets blanked the Rampage last night in San Antonio, surely a nice win for Markstrom, who was last seen in the AHL at the AT&T Center. That means it's likely the Stars will see Joacim Eriksson in net. Eriksson has one game played on the season, a 3-2 OT loss to Toronto. Last season he was 24-24-2 for Utica

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie (callup)

Blog (official): Comet Tales
Newspaper: Utica Observer-Dispatch
Twitter: @UticaComets

Friday, October 17, 2014

Campbell Posts First Win in 3-2 Victory Over OKC

Despite giving up an early lead in the second, Texas got their second win of the season off a power play goal by Jyrki Jokipakka for a 3-2 final score. Jack Campbell started his first game of the season and stopped 37 of 39, including 12 in the final period.

Derek Meech scored the first goal of the game very early on. Just 1:45 in, Kevin Henderson's cross-ice pass to Meech ended up in the net behind Laurent Brossoit for the 1-0 lead. Julius Honka picked up his second pro point with an assist on the play.

Derek Hulak, playing in his first game of the season, scored a tap-in off the rebound just 27 seconds later and it looked like Texas was off to the races.

In the second, Texas gave up two goals almost as quickly in the middle of the frame. Jordan Oesterle got his first of the season on the power play at 9:00 and vet Jason Williams evened things just under two minutes later.

Before the end of the period, Jokipakka's power play tally would put the Stars ahead for good. Gemel Smith, who almost didn't make the roster after being in a battle for the final forward spot with Ludwig Karlsson, had the setup pass to Jokipakka for the game-winner. Smith was on a power play unit with Dowling, Glennie, Jokipakka and Honka. That's quite the vote of confidence for the rookie winger from Coach Laxdal.

OKC poured it on in the third period, but Campbell stood tall. Texas went 1/4 on the power play and stopped 4/5 powre plays against. That's a much more typical penalty number for this team this year.

Texas plays Saturday against Utica at home.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Lagace, Rallo, Wrenn, Dalhuisen, Root (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 4,561.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - October 17 2014

Texas Stars Recall G Maxime Lagace, No One Is Hurt Though

Maxime Lagace (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Rookie goalie Maxime Lagace has been recalled from the Idaho Steelheads this morning ahead of Texas's game this evening in Oklahoma City. It is not expected that he will play in tonight's game. Based on their preseason performances, if someone were hurt, I would have expected to see Henrik Kiviaho recalled. That means something else is going on here.

More information on the transaction and its reasons as they become available.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
1-0-0-0, 2 pts
#5 Western Conference
atOklahoma City Barons
0-0-1-0, 1 pt
#12 Western Conference
October 17th at 7:00 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Admittedly, there isn't a lot of data on either side of this matchup right now. The Barons and Stars have each only played one game on the season. Already though, issues at the NHL level for both clubs have affected the lineups.

In Texas, Curtis McKenzie will miss this weekend's slate of games after being called up to fill a hole vacated by Valeri Nichushkin's injury. In Oklahoma City, stalwart crease crusader Richard Bachman has already been recalled to the Oilers after injury to Viktor Fasth this week. Bachman started the Barons' only game of the season so far, an overtime loss in which he allowed three goals in 63 minutes of work. It will now fall to either Laurent Brossoit or Frans Tuohimaa to take on Texas tonight. The guess would be Brossoit from me.

Following Coach Laxdal's decision from last game to start Jussi Rynnas, that means Jack Campbell will start tonight. Laxdal said that the Stars would start each goalie once in the first two games. Campbell's most recent action in OKC was an OT win in Game 2 of the first round of last year's playoffs.

On the Barons side, their leading scoring is someone Texas fans are already at least a little familiar with. Iiro Pakarinen is a rookie who joined the Oilers this summer on a free agent deal. He was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2011 draft by Florida but never signed a contract and was free to go anywhere this year. He chose the Oil and is currently the leading scorer on their AHL team with a goal and an assist. Texas fans will also remember him as the one who scored the OT game winner in the Stars' first preseason game this year. According to Elite Prospects, that wrist shot is one of his strengths and he will be using it against the Stars 12 games this season.

Elsewhere on the Barons roster, there have been some changes too. Former Dallas Star Jason Williams was signed as a veteran forward. His best AHL year was 2011-12 with WBS, where he scored 13 goals and 29 assists in 59 games. Mark Arcobello is centering the third line in Edmonton, so Texas will not see him this go-around. You never know though in the future. Former Stars Austin Fyten and Philip Larsen have both moved on. Trusty blue liner Taylor Fedun has also moved on, now playing in the Sharks org.

If you want the full 411 on all of this stuff, you really ought to read Tend the Farm. I especially recommend their 2014-15 season preview.

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie (call up)

Blog: Tend the Farm
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey