Saturday, February 6, 2016

Gameday Prevew: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
25-18-3-3, 56 pts, 0.571
#2 Pacific Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
20-20-7-0, 48 pts, 0.500
#7 Pacific Division
February 6th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

San Antonio made it back to .500 last night with their win over Texas. They'll seek to inch above that mark tonight in Cedar Park, traditionally a very tough venue for the Rampage.

For Texas, much of the drama of the evening will be in who is available to play. Maxime Lagace and Greg Rallo, two key pieces of the Stars' surge in the standings last month, could both return from injury.

Stars injury/call up report:
Rallo, Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)

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, February 5, 2016

Third Period Outburst Puts San Antonio Over Texas 5-2

The Stars couldn't overcome a third-period outburst by the Rampage in a game that saw five of the seven goals scored on special teams. Texas and San Antonio were tied heading into the third period. A power play goal from Garrett Thompson ended up being the game winner, but Mikko Rantanen and Reid Petryk tacked two more onto the scoring for the home side.

Matej Stranky opened the scoring for Texas in the first period with a power play goal. San Antonio answered back twice to put the Rampage up 2-1 after two. Travis Morin's 400th career point tied things at two in the second. The 2-on-1 shorthanded tally was his 13th goal of the year but the last Texas goal of the night.

Philippe Desrosiers took the loss with 30 saves on 35 shots. Maxime Lagace had been slated to start but was held out with a nagging lower body injury. John Muse backed up.

These two teams face off again tomorrow in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Ritchie-Dickinson-Hulak
Stransky-Smith-Elie
Ully-Kane-Troock

Lindell-Honka
Johns-Backman
Evans-Bystrom

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa (call up)
Rallo, Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)
Mangene, Lagace (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 14,135.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - February 5 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
25-17-3-3, 56 pts, 0.583
#2 Pacific Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
19-20-7-0, 45 pts, 0.489
#7 Pacific Division
February 5th at 7:30 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

UPDATE: Radek Faksa has been recalled to the Dallas Stars.

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The San Antonio Rampage reached the All-Star Break with a resounding thud. After building up an 11-3-6 record at the end of November, they've compiled an 8-17-1 record since. They've had separate seven- and four-game losing streaks during that time and still face the uphill battle that is the Rodeo Road Trip.

So it's been a tough few months in San Antonio.

Injuries are a huge reason why, both in Texas and in Colorado. Calvin Pickard, who was part of that big win total at the start of the year, hasn't played a decision in San Antonio since before Christmas. Of course, he was the goalie of record for all seven of the losses in that aforementioned streak, so perhaps that's something of a non-factor. Pickard has been in Colorado thanks to injuries to the Avalanche.



His next tweet noted that Andrew Agozzino was the only non-participant in practice yesterday afternoon. With players coming back, San Antonio could be ready to go on a run with fresh legs. The team will face their hardest test of the year with the always nasty rodeo road trip putting them out for the rest of the month. Tonight's game is the only Rampage home game in the month of February.

On the Texas side of the ledger, things aren't too rosy either on the injury front. Of course, Devin Shore has been out for a while and is done for the season after his surgery. Justin Dowling has been out for several weeks now along with Jesse Blacker. Maxime Lagace is probable for tonight, but could still be held out for precautionary reasons. And finally, the Stars' leading goal scorer, Greg Rallo, was injured in a slew-footing incident in Lake Erie a week ago. Jaime Sifers was suspended two games for the incident, which wasn't called on the ice. The good news is that Rallo could be back for tomorrow's game in Cedar Park.

Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa (call up)
Rallo, Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Branden Troock Recalled by Texas Stars

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Branden Troock has been recalled from the Idaho Steelheads. With Greg Rallo still out Friday, Texas needed another body. Troock has five points in eight games in Idaho.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday they have recalled forward Branden Troock from their ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Troock, 21, has appeared in 20 games this season for Texas with three goals and seven assists. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound forward competed in eight ECHL games for the Steelheads during his recent assignment, and recorded five points (2-3=5).

The Edmonton, Alberta native was selected in the fifth round by Dallas (134th overall) in 2012. Troock has 25 points (9-16=25) in 70 games in his AHL career.

Radek Faksa Named Lone Star Grille/100 Degree Hockey Player of the Week

Radek Faksa (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Each week, we name the Lone Star Grille/100 Degree Hockey Player of the Week. Lone Star Grille offers happy hour weekdays from 4-7 PM just minutes from the Cedar Park Center. The new Higher Ground Bar at the Grille is a smoke-free bar open 6 PM to 2 AM Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Redeem your game ticket for reverse happy hour from 10-12 PM with $2 off specialty cocktails, $4.00 house wine and $2.50 domestic longnecks.

Radek Faksa has been on fire since returning from a brief stint in Dallas. The past week was no exception.

In fact, the young Czech had the best month of his career in a Texas Stars uniform and he only played in half the games in January. After spending the start of the month in the NHL, Faksa hit the ground running with a two point effort in his first game back on the 15th. From there, he compiled six goals and seven assists, including three game-winners. His plus/minus sits at plus-12.

Last week specifically, he had two goals and two assists in two games.

Faksa's current situation shows the growth and maturity of the Dallas farm system. The fact that the Stars can afford to put a player like Faksa in the minors shows that there is far more depth than several years ago. Could you imagine a first-round pick of Faksa's current calibre sitting in the minors back in 2012-13?

Granted this piece is about Faksa, but Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie's time in the AHL this season tells the same story. That would have been your fourth line in the Glen Gulutzan years.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Texas Stars Games Played Puts Them in Pole Position For Playoffs

Texas leads the league with 48 games played, and that's good...
Brendan Ranford (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Last night's All-Star Challenge was the most engaging All-Star experience the AHL has had in years. There were high-scoring games and low; great goals and great goaltending. It was everything the league wants to showcase and all it took was a little format change. There's no question both the NHL and the AHL will be retaining their divisional format for the game in the future.

Brendan Ranford and Esa Lindell were Texas' representatives in the event. Ranford had a pair of assists in the Pacific's 6-4 win over the Central. Esa Lindell had no points. The Central turned out to be the winner, and it's probably no surprise. The competition has been fierce there this season with six teams battling for what will probably be five spots (four plus the crossover) in the playoffs.

The two All-Stars will return to a Texas Stars' squad that is ready for the stretch run to those aforementioned playoffs. Thanks to the strength of the Central, the Pacific division is at great risk of seeing its fourth place finisher knocked out of the playoffs in favor of the fifth place finisher in the Central. If the playoffs started today, Stockton would be staying home. Lake Erie would crossover to play Ontario while Texas would play San Jose.

And how about those Texas Stars? Most reports are calling the post-All-Star time the 'second half' of the season. For Texas, the second half of the season started January 9th. The Stars have played the most hockey of any team in the league to this point in the season. The good news for Texas is that they are in second place in the division with the bulk of the season behind them. If they were down in the standings, the games played would be a liability. They'd have fewer games to catch up. Now, having cemented a bit of standings inertia, the Stars will play just 28 games in the next three and a half months. That affords time to practice up and heal up for the playoffs.

Texas seems to be in pole position for the playoffs at the All-Star Break.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stars Split in Cleveland, Earn 3-2 Win on the Road

After falling Friday night 3-2, the Stars earned a win by the same score over the same opponent in afternoon action today. Maxime Lagace got the start and has now won his last six decisions. Radek Faksa scored a pair of goals including the game winner.

The early start was no problem for Radek Faksa, who opened the scoring on an individual effort in the first. His feisty forecheck handed Texas the first goal of the game on a turnover. Trent Vogelhuber beat the Stars in the second on the power play to tie things.

Curtis McKenzie continued going to those tough areas of the ice, as he did Wednesday against the Barracuda. The result was his tenth goal of the year, a jabbing play that slid the puck five-hole on Anton Forsberg for the 2-1 lead. Lake Erie would again counter to tie it in the next period.

As the third wound down, Texas earned a power play and scored in the most peculiar fashion. A Brett Ritchie shot went high and bounced off the glass. In the spirit of play to the whistle, Radek Faksa banged home the puck, which landed squarely in front of Forsberg.

Greg Rallo missed the game with a lower body injury. The team overall will have several days to rest with the All-Star Break starting tomorrow.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Ritchie-Dickinson-Ully
Stransky-Faksa-Hulak
Kane-Smith-Elie

Lindell-Honka
Johns-Oleksiak
Backman-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Rallo, Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)
Evans, Mangene, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 9,657.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Lake Erie - January 30 2016