Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
3-1-0-0, 6 pts
#3 Western Conference
v.Oklahoma City Barons
1-2-1-0, 3 pts
#13 Western Conference
October 25th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Same teams, but Texas hoping for not the same result. Texas needs to look out for Jason WIlliams and Iiro Pakarinen. The two newcomers to the squad combined for 5 points last night. Old hand Tyler Pitlick had 3 as well.

One would assume Jussi Rynnas gets the start for Texas while Laurent Brossoit laces them up in net for OKC. No morning skate today for either team because of the long travel (by bus) to get here today. Last weekend, Texas arrived into Cedar Park at 4:30 AM after their Friday night game in Bricktown. At least this time both teams will have the same plight.

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

Blog: Tend the Farm
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

Friday, October 24, 2014

Barons' Three Goal Second Period Too Much for Texas Stars

The Texas Stars could not overcome a three-goal second period from the Oklahoma City Barons and suffered their first loss on the young season. The final score was 5-3 for the home team Oklahoma City.

Texas was plagued by ill-timed penalties that broke up momentum and gave the Barons two power play goals. Jack Campbell took his first loss of the season, giving up five goals on 26 shots. Goal scorers for the Stars in the contest included defensemen Cameron Gaunce and John Klingberg. Travis Morin picked up his 200th AHL assist and 300th AHL point in the loss.

The game showed that Jason WIlliams and Iiro Pakarinen are going to be tough competitors for the Barons this season. OKC will play Texas a total of twelve times this season.

The Texas Stars appeared to be ready to continue their undefeated ways in the first period, putting 16 shots on net. The period ended tied at one anyways. A slap pass by Keith Aulie was redirected by Jason Williams for his team-leading fourth goal of the year by the Barons. As the period was ending, Cameron Gaunce's shot from the point blew by Frans Tuohimaa with Brendan Ranford in close to cause havoc. Morin was the only assist on the goal, his 200th AHL assist and 300th AHL point.

The second period collapse for Texas began on the penalty kill. With Gemel Smith serving a too many men penalty, Iiro Pakarinen got a one-timer off the pass from Jason Williams and went up 2-1. Just 28 seconds later, Curtis Hamilton's goal off a 3-on-2 rush by the Barons made it 3-1.

William Wrenn, in his first game of the season, attempted to rally the troops with a spirited fight against Travis Ewanyk. It wouldn't work as Tyler Pitlick snapped in a rebound for his first goal of the year at 11:20. Williams had another assist on the play.

The Stars would break up the run on Jack Campbell with a goal of their own in the last two minutes of the second. John Klingberg found twine down low with assists to Justin Dowling and Brett Ritchie.

The third period would bring another power play goal for OKC's Pakarinen. Straight off the faceoff win by Anton Lander, the rookie found his fourth on the young season.

Things got a little wild late as Steve Pinizzotto went to fight Taylor Peters after a stoppage of play. He picked up a five minute major for cross-checking in the kerfuffle and gave the Stars a huge chance to even things up. Travis Morin took advantage of the opportunity, snapping one past Tuohimaa to make it 5-3. Derek Laxdal pulled Jack Campbell to make it 6-on-3. It wouldn't yield rewards as Texas ended the game with the same two goal deficit.

These same two teams will hit the road and play in Cedar Park tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McKenzie, Jokipakka (callup)
Hulak, Dalhuisen, Lagace (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was not available at publish time.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - October 24 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
3-0-0-0, 6 pts
#3 Western Conference
atOklahoma City Barons
0-2-1-0, 1 pt
#14 Western Conference
October 24th at 7:00 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Somehow through the first month of the season, the Barons and Stars will play more games against each other than they played last spring in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. The next three games for both teams are against each other. Add that to last week's battle in OKC and you've got 4 of the team's first six against the same team.

The Barons are still in search of their first win. Since playing Texas last weekend, San Antonio got the better of the Edmonton affiliate to the tune of a 5-4 loss on Saturday night. It was a tough loss as they led 4-2 at home in the second period. They gave up a goal with 2 seconds left in the second period and then gave up two more in the third. This is the last game of their homestand, so they will be extra motivated to win tonight.

Second-year man Andrew Miller is leading the Barons in scoring with four assists. Vet add and former Dallas Stars Jason Williams is leading on goals with three. Some injuries in Edmonton have pulled Richard Bachman up to the Oilers so Laurent Brossoit or Frans Tuohimaa will be the choices in net for Todd Nelson.

On Texas' side of things, injuries in Dallas will make the lineup different than last week for sure. Jyrki Jokipakka will not be featured, making way for the likely debut of Mike Dalhuisen. Dalhuisen will jump Wrenn in the lineup as the Alaska native Wrenn is out with a lower body injury.

With Texas sending Jesse Root down to Idaho, the Stars seem more confident in the condition of Greg Rallo. He may not play this weekend after being out last weekend with an upper body injury, but he could take a spot over Derek Hulak or Gemel Smith if he's healthy.

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie, Jokipakka (call up)
Rallo, Wrenn (questionable)

Blog: Tend the Farm
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jesse Root Assigned to Idaho; Good News for Rallo?

Forward Jesse Root has been reassigned to the Idhao Steelheads. He did not play in any games during his one week stint in the AHL. That is probably good news for the health of Greg Rallo, who has been out with an upper body injury.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced today they have reassigned forward Jesse Root to their ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Root, 24, began the season in training camp with the Texas Stars before being sent to Idaho at the start of the season. He was called up to the Stars on Oct. 15.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Return of Willie Desjardins and Doug Lidster Makes for Special Game in Dallas

Vancouver and Dallas have a unique connection through a trifecta of former Texas Stars coaches
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Regardless of the outcome of last night's game in Dallas, it was going to be a special and meaningful one thanks to the connection forged this summer between Vancouver and the Stars.

After leading the Texas Stars to the Calder Cup, head coach Willie Desjardins and assistant coach Doug Lidster were scooped up by the Canucks to lead the squad after a disappointing year. Last night's contest at the American Airlines Center was the first time Desjardins and Lidster coached against their former organization.

"It's a special game for me," said Coach Desjardins yesterday before the game, a 6-3 Dallas victory. "This is a good organization. I know a lot of guys in the organization, so it is a special place. Right from the start, I knew when this game was going to be."

Desjardins was plucked out of the WHL by Dallas for an associate coaching job behind Marc Crawford in 2010-11. The Crawford era gave way to the Glen Gulutzan era in 2011-12 and Desjardins stayed behind the bench in Big D. He had been in the conversation for the Dallas job but needed that head coaching professional experience according to many.

He got that experience when he took the helm in Cedar Park for the 2012-13 season. It was a peculiar season thanks to the NHL lockout but one that ended in Texas clinching the first seed in the West. An unceremonious exit in Game 5 of the second round gave the team's returning core fuel for a 2013-14 that ended in a Calder Cup.

Coincidentally, one of those who hoisted the Cup in June for Texas played just his second NHL game against the Canucks last night. Curtis McKenzie grew up a Canucks' fan; even at more than eight hours by car, Vancouver was the closest NHL team to his hometown of Golden, BC. He now has an added connection with the coaching staff.

Coach Desjardins is keeping track of his players all over the world, including McKenzie, even with his new responsibilities. He was fully aware of McKenzie's callup and was very proud to hear the news.

"He worked so hard. At one point I didn't even know if he was going to make it into the American League, if he could be a 4th line guy."

McKenzie proved he belonged of course, winning the 2014 Rookie of the Year crown in the AHL.

Coach Lidster extended Desjardins' point, agreeing that he wanted to see his players do well everywhere. He added with a smile, "Except when they play against us."

Joking aside, Lidster is also actively keeping tabs on his former players in Texas and elsewhere.

"I know [Texas] has had some good games to start. I've had some texts with Max, Toby and Morin. You try to keep in touch as much as you can. That's the nature of the hockey world. Sometimes you don't talk to someone for six years and then you end up texting them. It's nice to keep track of them."

Lidster even noted he had reached out to Francis Wathier to congratulate him on the contract in Portland. It's all about keeping connections in the small world of hockey.

Systems clicking in BC

Desjardins and Lidster are bringing the same uptempo game that they are known for to British Columbia. Even in morning skate, Desjardins had the Canucks doing drills with a heavy focus on competition and games to keep things light and engaging. With one coach timing the drills, the white and blue teams competed against each other in a 3-on-0 passing and shooting drill on Eddie Lack. The white team lost and had to put in a few pushups on the ice, but it was all in good fun as everyone skated away with smiles.

"We're getting complete buy-in," said Lidster. "They're trying real hard. It's not rocket science. After a season like last year, a lot of them are struggling with confidence. That's the key thing for me. If you're confident in your game, you can play any system."

Among the holdovers from last season's struggling Canucks was another familiar face to the Texas Stars faithful: Glen Gulutzan.

"It's been an easy transition," said Gulutzan after morning skate yesterday. "It's good for me to see some of the things that they do that I didn't and vice versa. Usually it's not the systems that win but the execution. Every team in the league is playing a little bit differently but 80% of it is the same."

Gulutzan credited Desjardins with being an inclusive coach who is really good at bringing people together.

"He's done a remarkable job of that with this group: what he's implemented and done off-ice. Those are the things that bind teams together."

Desjardins and crew are 3-2-0 after last night's game and will stay in Dallas before heading to St. Louis and beyond on Thursday. The Stars will make two visits to Vancouver, one in December and one in March, but the Canucks will not return to American Airlines Center this year. Well, that is, barring playoffs. And knowing Coach Desjardins' teams, playoffs are probably a decent bet.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Patrik Nemeth Out for Season; "Severe is an Understatement"

Former Texas Star Jamie Oleksiak appears to have cemented his roster spot with news of Nemeth injury
Jamie Oleksiak (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
When asked about Patrik Nemeth's injury, Lindy Ruff replied that "severe is an understatement." With that assessment, it is no surprise that Nemeth will be missing the rest of the 2014-15 regular season for the Dallas Stars.

Jamie Oleksiak appears to have truly won his roster spot for good, although under less than ideal circumstances. For now, Jyrki Jokipakka will also stay in Dallas until Sergei Gonchar is healthy. That could be another several weeks. Estimates at the start of the season put him at 3-5 weeks away, but he hasn't started skating yet after fracturing his ankle in the preseason.

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.