Sunday, October 22, 2017

San Antonio Sweeps the Weekend, Beating Texas Stars 3-1

(Credit: San Antonio Rampage)
The Stars suffered a weekend sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Rampage, a sentence perhaps never written in the history of the team. The matinee game saw the Rampage score a goal in each period to just a single marker for the Stars, a Dillon Heatherington goal in the second.

Mike McKenna got the start and only had to face 13 shots in the game. With a 30-14 shot differential overall, you would have thought Texas could emerge with a victory or a point. Spencer Martin was in net for San Antonio and was again a difference maker. Another difference maker was special teams. Texas finished 0-for-6 on the power play and allowed a PPG against.

Texas now has most of the week off before returning home for another back-to-back set in Cedar Park, starting Friday against San Diego.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Fyten, Laberge, Flynn, McKenzie (scratch)
Elie (call-up)

Bystrom, Rallo and McNeill checked into the lineup. The Stars played seven D as Laberge, Flynn and McKenzie checked out.

Tonight's attendance was 5,300.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - October 22 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
3-2-0-1, 7 pts, 0.583
#5 Pacific Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
4-1-0-0, 8 pts, 0.800
#1 Pacific Division
October 22nd at 3:00 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Given the effort on Friday night, last night was certainly a disappointment. If energy was lacking in the second game of a 3-in-3, the third game will have the same problem all over.

"It's going to be a real test mentally," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "You have to manage the puck in all areas of the ice and keep it simple."

After Landon Bow was pulled last night midgame, there was some question who would start today. Mike McKenna gets the net for this Sunday matinee. Greg Rallo and Mark McNeill will also check into the lineup as part of the veteran crew.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Travis Morin noted that simplicity is the name of the game in the final match of the weekend, "[Last night,] it was a couple bounces and trying to do too much at times. You try to simplify everything and be smart about things."

The team will look to have more 'drivers' on the bus tonight with a higher energy effort out of the squad. For now, Texas is looking up in the standings at San Antonio for the first time in a while.

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

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Blog (unofficial): Runnin' With The Herd
Twitter: @SARampage
Twitter: @DanWeissPBP (play-by-play for SA)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Low Energy Stars Drop 6-2 Decision to Rampage

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Coming off last night's shootout loss, Texas was looking for a similar effort with a better result tonight. They got neither as the team dropped a 6-2 decision to the San Antonio Rampage, fueled primarily by a second period outburst from the visitors.

"We didn't have enough drivers on the bus tonight," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "We had a few passengers and not enough drivers."

The first period was relatively sleepy. San Antonio came out with decent energy but the period ended scoreless. The true difference was a seven minute stretch in the second that saw the Rampage collect five straight to make the score 5-1.

"It was five or six minutes of not even that bad of play, but bad bounces," said Travis Morin. "We were trying to do too much after the first few, and it snowballed."

It was a tough momentum swing for the team and the building as Texas had just broken the scoreless tie with a power play goal from Morin. Dominic Toninato got a redirection past Landon Bow to tie it and then Andrei Mironov scored to make it 2-1 less than two minutes after Morin's goal.

"On the first one, we lost a box out at the net," said Laxdal. "The second one was just a funnel where the wingers are instructed to sprint out on the D man and they didn't. We just played kind of passive."

With Texas on the power play and looking to tie things up, Reid Petryk sprinted out off a shot block in the San Antonio zone to notch a shorthanded goal, making it 3-1. Landon Bow was bowled over on the play but goalie interference was not called. Laxdal noted, "All we had to do was force the puck down the wall" on the power play, as opposed to taking the shot and allowing that block.

Turnover would generate goals four and five as Texas found itself down 5-1 at the 12 minutes mark of the second. Mike McKenna would come in to relief Landon Bow after the rookie allowed 5 goals on 14 shots. McKenna did not allow a goal on 12 shots. To end the second, Curtis McKenzie would score on a solid effort, falling down as he snuck the puck in far side.

Texas did look better in the third, outshooting San Antonio 14-9 but without a goal to show for it. Laxdal assessed the entire performance, "Energy in the group wasn't high. We were second on pucks, and they had more energy than we did." The Rampage would add an empty net goal in the last frame to set the final at 6-2.

Texas will look for an energy boost as they soldier on to their third game in as many nights tomorrow afternoon against these same Rampage in San Antonio.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Hintz-Gurianov
Dickinson-Morin-Ully
Dries-Dowling-Flynn
French-Markison-Laberge

Heatherington-Regner
Mangene-Bayreuther
Bodnarchuk-Hansson

Bow
McKenna

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Rallo, McNeill, Fyten, Bystrom (scratch)
Elie (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 5,432.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - October 21 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
3-1-0-1, 7 pts, 0.700
#2 Pacific Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
3-1-0-0, 4 pts, 0.750
#1 Pacific Division
October 21st at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

It's a #1 vs #2 matchup tonight in Cedar Park. Texas earned a point last night, but San Antonio nabbed two to push past the Stars for the top of the table. Texas head coach Derek Laxdal thought last night was a solid game from his club and noted that a copy-paste effort from last night to tonight should get the job done. "I liked the game. I can't fault the guys. The effort was there for 60 minutes."

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Stars came up against hot goaltending and an unfortunate cold streak on the power play. Those two items are things Texas hopes to shed tonight in the rematch. Texas would love to keep collecting power plays as the malfeasance of the Rampage mounts. One key is to not get goaded into doing anything stupid to retaliate. Texas did a good job with that last night.

One thing to note will be who goes in net for both clubs. Landon Bow doesn't have a start on the season and Ville Husso has just one, a 5 goal-against performance.

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

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Blog (unofficial): Runnin' With The Herd
Twitter: @SARampage
Twitter: @DanWeissPBP (play-by-play for SA)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Unconverted Power Plays Doom Stars in 3-2 Shootout Loss

Rocco Grimaldi scores the winner. (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In the first of 14 games against the San Antonio Rampage in the '17-'18 season, the Texas Stars fell in the shootout 3-2. The tension of the the rivalry was already evident with a pretty chippy game including several post-whistle scuffles. The game would end with 75 penalty minutes total.

"It always seems to be chippy with this rivalry," said Justin Dowling, who has played in many of these rivalry games. "We've played these guys for so long now, and there are several guys there from last year. You build these rivalries not only with the team, but mini rivalries with players on the ice and guys you line up against all the time."

Texas wasn't able to capitalize on their two power play opportunities in the first period, but they outshot San Antonio 12-4 and won 60% of their face-offs. The Stars were only able to post a 15.6% power play percentage against the Rampage last season, and that trend continued in this game as they were unable to cash in on the man advantage. In the end, they went 0-for-5, including a major power play.

Coach Laxdal said as much after the game. "The difference was not scoring on the power play. We generated a lot of shots, but we didn't make them pay when they were in the box."

In the first period, Curtis McKenzie scored from an awkward angle on the left circle after Denis Gurianov bobbled the puck to him to give Texas the first goal of the game. San Antonio forward Tage Thompson immediately answered with a goal of his own to take the energy out of the building on their first recorded shot.

The Stars drew another penalty early in the second period, and Jason Dickinson tipped in a point shot from Denis Gurianov after several seconds of beautiful passing with extended zone time. Impressively, it was Dickinson's sixth point in the last four games.

The Rampage goaltender Spencer Martin had to face several quality shots and made critical saves to keep San Antonio in the game, particularly in the second frame.

Stars center and locker room leader Justin Dowling had high praise for the netminder: "I thought we got lots of good looks tonight. We were moving the puck around well. It was just one of those things--the puck not going in the net and their goalie playing really well. He's been in the NHL, and he's been an all-star in this league. So he's a great goalie. I think we've got to get more bodies to the net, create more second chances off of rebounds, and I think when we get get the opportunity we've got to bear down."

The Stars would end up out-shooting the Rampage 28-7 through two periods, but San Antonio took advantage of their opportunities. On their fifth shot of the game late in the second period defenseman Mason Geertsen beat Mike McKenna high stick side from the left circle after a pretty cross ice pass for his first goal in the AHL.

Jason Dickinson drew a five minute major penalty by getting leveled hard into the boards to which the Stars took issue. It resulted in Andrew Bodnarchuk dropping the gloves with Nicolas Meloche and decisively taking him to the ground.

The second period ended with a 2-2 tie and a total of 62 penalty minutes distributed across both teams. Texas wasn't short-handed until the third period and nearly scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway.

San Antonio amassed most of their shot total in the third period. They had a golden opportunity to win the game on the power play with 2:40 to go and would fire a shot from the slot which bounced off the pipe. Unable to clear the zone, the Stars' first PK unit had to stay on the ice for the duration of the penalty and were visibly exhausted by the end.

Laxdal noted, "In the third period, we knew we were going to get some penalty kills. [San Antonio] took over the game a little bit, but we managed back the last ten."

Both teams earned equal zone time in the overtime period, which featured several impressive defensive plays that ultimately took the game to a shootout. San Antonio scored two out of three of their opportunities to put it away.

Texas plays San Antonio again tomorrow night in Cedar Park, the second game of their three-in-three weekend.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Hintz-Gurianov
Dickinson-Morin-Ully
Dries-Dowling-Flynn
French-Markison-Laberge

Heatherington-Regner
Mangene-Bayreuther
Bodnarchuk-Hansson

McKenna

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Rallo, McNeill, Fyten, Bystrom (scratch)
Elie (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 4,442.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - October 20 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
3-1-0-0, 6 pts, 0.750
#1 Pacific Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
2-1-0-0, 4 pts, 0.667
#3 Pacific Division
October 20th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

I can't believe I'm going to jinx it by saying this, but... is this the year Texas and San Antonio are good at the same time? Not just make the playoffs good, but really good?

In eight years, the Texas Stars have made the playoffs six times. In that same time frame, San Antonio has only made it twice, with one of those years being the year Texas missed in 11-12. The Rampage also made it in 14-15, but Texas and San Antonio were both lower seeds and bounced in the first round.

The dream, of course, is that Texas and San Antonio both knock out their first round opponents and get to play a seven-game series in the second round to win the division.

That, however, is months away. But we can dream.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
As far as tonight's matchup, the game starts a 3-in-3 set for the two teams. The Stars didn't play a single one of these last year, but have the good fortune to get this one out of the way early and on their home turf for 2/3.

For San Antonio, the partnership with Colorado and St. Louis has yielded early fruit. In addition to expected players like Andrew Agozzino (2-4=6, 3 GP) and Rocco Grimaldi (1-1=2, 3 GP), Blues skaters like D Jordan Schmaltz (1-3-=4, 3 GP) have been added. Samuel Blais, another player who can make a difference in the AHL, was recalled to St. Louis after opening this season with three goals in two games. Another name to watch out for is Brendan Ranford. The former Star was signed to an AHL deal by San Antonio in the offseason.

This weekend, Texas will surely see all four goaltenders between the two teams. Spencer Martin (2-0, 1.50, .919) is the undoubted #1 for San Antonio just as Mike Mckenna is for Texas. Ville Husso, Martin's backup, has seen game action, allowing five goals in San Antonio's lone loss on the season. Landon Bow, Texas's backup, has not seen action yet. This weekend will surely bring his debut.

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

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Blog (unofficial): Runnin' With The Herd
Twitter: @SARampage
Twitter: @DanWeissPBP (play-by-play for SA)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Texas Stars' Streak Halted with 5-1 Loss in San Diego

(Credit: Vince Rappleyea/San Diego Gulls)
A three-goal second period for the home team downed the Texas Stars this evening in San Diego. From start to finish, it was San Diego's game overall though. The Gulls opened the scoring early in the first and never trailed. Jason Dickinson got the Stars' only goal of the game late in the first period to tie things at one.

Early in the second, Steve Oleksy, former Steelhead defenseman, netted the eventual game winner. The Stars would also be pierced by a shorthanded marker and a power play goal in the contest.

Mike McKenna took his first loss of the season, stopping just 24 of 29 shots against him. San Diego's defense tightened up as Texas only managed 20 shots on Kevin Boyle, who stopped 19 of those for the win.

Of note, Sheldon Dries took the Stars' first faceoff violation penalty of the season, a more strictly enforced penalty this year at the NHL level, which has caused some level of consternation.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Bystrom, Rallo, Fyten, Dowling (scratch)
Elie (call up)

Max French played his first game of the year tonight.

Tonight's attendance was 7,109.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - October 14 2017