Saturday, February 28, 2015

Flatulent Third Period Fatal for Texas in 6-3 Loss

Four goals in the final frame doom Stars' victory plans
Phillip Danault had a natural hat trick for Rockford, all in the third.
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Putting it simply, Coach Laxdal had the assessment of the Stars' Saturday night effort.

"If you go back and reflect on the game, I think they outplayed us start to finish. I don't think we deserved to win tonight."

It's not like Texas didn't have chances for the victory. Up 3-2 after two periods, Texas dropped a winnable game by allowing four goals in the final frame.

"We're up going into the third period and we have to find a way to close it out," said Kevin Henderson. "This is a team we need to catch. Being at home, we have to find a way to win."

Texas and Rockford swapped goals in the second period with each club getting an even strength and a power play tally. The Stars saw Justin Dowling score on a one-timer and Kevin Henderson tally his second of the year to make it 2-2 late in the frame.

Travis Morin found himself uncovered in the right wing circle and Gemel Smith feathered a pass over to him for the one-time bid that made it 3-2.

The Stars would start the third on two near-consecutive power plays but couldn't cash in on either.

Laxdal assessed, "They're a physical team and we aren't built to be a big heavy team. They're going to take penalties and we have to take advantage of that."

Greg Rallo and Cameron Gaunce found themselves in the box just after the stars PP and Rockford as able to take advantage of that chance. Laxdal thought the Gaunce cross-checking minor was a soft one, but it made it 5-on-3 for Rockford for 84 seconds nonetheless.

Garrett Ross scored for the Hogs to tie the game on the two-man advantage.

Then the game became The Phillip Danault Show. Coming off a Texas power play, Danault stormed down the ice with Rockford and potted his first of the night. Two minutes later, it was 5-3 thanks to Danault again. He finished the hat trick into the empty net four minutes later.

The Stars tried valiantly to get back into the game after ceding the fifth goal, pulling Campbell with over three minutes left in the frame. Campbell, who started his second game in as many nights this evening, took the loss with 35 saves on 40 shots. He didn't look great, but really this was a team failure more than it could be pinned on any one player.

Texas has a full five days off before their next game against Iowa.

Tonight's lines:
Glennie-Dowling-Smith
Hulak-Morin-Rallo
Stransky-Faille-Henderson
Ranford-Root-Mangene

Gaunce-Oleksiak
Meech-Nemeth
Honka-Valentine

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Jokipakka, McKenzie, Ritchie (call up)
Wrenn, Peters (scratch)
Troock. Fortunus, Faksa (injury)

Texas lost Scott Glennie after an awkward fall in the first period.

Tonight's attendance was 6,165.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - February 28 2015

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
25-17-12-1, 63 pts
#7 Western Conference
v.Rockford IceHogs
31-18-4-2, 68 pts
#4 Western Conference
February 28th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Much the same as last night. In fact, nearly identical. Jack Campbell will get the start again with Jussi Rynnas ailing from a minor lower body issue. No transactions have come from Dallas and for now the Blackhawks haven't traded anyone else that will affect the IceHogs. With talks between Washinton and Chicago rumoured to be heating up, there's a chance that the lineup could change in the coming hours or a player could be held out to ensure he isn't injured in the game. You never know.

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

Website: icehogs.com
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog
Twitter: @goicehogs

Friday, February 27, 2015

Rockford IceHogs Hand Texas 12th OT Loss of the Season

Jack Campbell stops 24 of 28 shots in his first AHL start since January 20th
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
If nothing else, the new overtime rules have been exciting for fans in Cedar Park. Unfortunately, they haven't translated to points for the Texas Stars this season. Texas suffered its league-worst 12th overtime loss tonight against the visiting Rockford IceHogs.

"3-on-3 is our nemesis right now," said Coach Laxdal. "We had some chances to score. Meech has a good look. Nemeth has a good look where we don't get a shot off. Usually when you don't score, you know what's going to happen right after that."

Jack Campbell "deserved a better fate," according to Greg Rallo. In his first start for the Stars since January 20th, Campbell played well, stopping several breakaways and power play chances, but ultimately suffered the loss in OT.

Greg Rallo gave the summary of the IceHogs' effort on the night.

"They're the classic case of team without superstars that just plays hard. They are constantly transitioning quick. We have to limit our turnovers and keep it in their ends."

Rockford controlled the action in the first period, outshooting Texas 11-5 and out chancing them 13-4. Their control led to the only goal of the period from either squad. Brandon Mashinter scored on the power play as a strange bounce off the boards put the puck behind Jack Campbell, who had squared to the initial shot.

"Rockford had a good energy early on," said Laxdal. "We battled back to find some energy in the second and we got better as the game went along."

Greg Rallo evened things up on the power play in the second period. Off the pass from Derek Meech in the corner, Rallo beat Michael Leighton for his 19th of the year.

Mark McNeill regained the lead for Rockford on a very nice individual effort, cutting across the crease left to right and beating Campbell to the right post on the play.

The eventful second closed with Scott Glennie scoring his eighth of the season. The play was generated off a nice effort by Patrik Nemeth to sneak down from the point and take the initial shot. Faille's rebound shot went out to Glennie, who found twine for the 2-2 score.

Travis Morin found the scoring touch that brought him the AHL MVP trophy last season in the third period to push the game to overtime. Morin carried the puck through half of the offensive zone, deked a Rockford defender out of his jock and found an open Jamie Oleksiak. The former first-rounder one-timed the puck past Leighton, who was not expecting the shot in the slightest.

The Stars made it to OT on the goal but fell in the 3-on-3 portion. The frenetic frame ended with Pierre-Cedric Labrie's goal immediately after a chance by the Stars at the other end. Such is usually the way in the 3-on-3 OT, as Laxdal indicated in postgame.

Rockford will stay in town to play the Stars again tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Ranford-Dowling-Smith
Hulak-Morin-Rallo
Stransky-Faille-Glennie
Henderson-Root-Mangene

Gaunce-Oleksiak
Meech-Wrenn
Honka-Nemeth

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Jokipakka, McKenzie, Ritchie (call up)
Troock, Valentine, Peters (scratch)
Fortunus, Faksa (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 4,347.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - February 27 2015

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
25-17-11-1, 62 pts
#7 Western Conference
v.Rockford IceHogs
30-18-4-2, 66 pts
#5 Western Conference
February 27th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After a blistering start to the year, the Rockford IceHogs come to Cedar Park for their only visit with designs on the top spot in the Midwest. They've held it for most of the season until this month. Grand Rapids, which was in last place in the Midwest, holds it now, and Milwaukee had it before that.

The IceHogs have had success this season thanks to three goalies who are all NHL calibre or will be soon. Michael Leighton, who went to the Stanley Cup Finals with Philadelphia, was the man in the mask early. His recall put Scott Darling and Antti Raanta in the spotlight. Raanta went up to Chicago and Darling and Leighton have been holding it down since then. Overall, Rockford has the fourth best goals against in the league at 2.31 per game. Goals will be at a premium against this group, so Texas will need to get their scoring game up to get the two points.

Former Marlie TJ Brennan leads the team in scoring as a defenseman. Leading scorer TJ Brennan was traded to the Marlies yesterday for Spencer Abbott. LW Garret Ross is the leader among forwards. Big-time prospect Teuvo Teravainen had a hot start as well and looked like he'd made his place in the NHL with a recall in January. He was back briefly but now is in Chicago again. At least that's not Texas' problem for the night.

On the Stars' side, Patrik Nemeth will play his first AHL home game of the year. It'll be the first time he'll lace them up in front of the home fans since scoring the game-winner in OT for the Cup last June. Nemeth has been uneven so far in his few games with Texas. He is minus-4 in three games in which Texas went 2-0-1.

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

Website: icehogs.com
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog
Twitter: @goicehogs

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jack Campbell Recalled to Texas Stars

The Texas Stars have recalled goalie jack Campbell from the ECHL after his seven game stint there. Campbell had not started for Texas since January 20th before the ECHL assignment. He started all seven games while in Boise, amassing a 5-2 record with a 1.73 GAA and .945 SV%.

Henrik Kiviaho was assigned to Idaho in a corresponding move.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced today goaltender Jack Campbell has been recalled from the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads, and goaltender Henrik Kiviaho has been reassigned to Idaho.

Campbell, 23, appeared in seven games during his stint in Idaho, stringing together a 5-2-0 record, with a 1.73 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. The Port Huron, Michigan native also added a shutout, blanking the Stockton Thunder on Feb. 21, 1-0.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Campbell has appeared in 19 games this season with Texas, and holds a 38-32-9 record overall in his AHL career with the Stars, with a 2.62 goals against average and .909 save percentage.

The 21-year-old Kiviaho (HEHN-rihk kih-vee-AH-hoh) was on his second call-up to the AHL this year. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound goaltender has appeared in 15 games this season for Idaho with a 2.95 goals against average and an .895 save percentage. Kiviaho was a fifth-round pick of the Dallas Stars (144th overall) in 2012.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rookies Score But OKC Sneaks by Texas in OT 3-2

The Stars found themselves up 2-0 early but couldn't hold on against the West's top team. OKC completed the comeback with three unanswered goals, including Andrew Miller's overtime tally to win it. Texas suffered their league-worst 11th overtime loss.

Eric Faille scored his second AHL goal in as many games off a breakaway early. Julius Honka made the lead two with a slap shot in the second. A late Davidson score in the second and a PP marker from Jason Williams sent the game to OT.

Overall, the Stars had a tremendously successful road trip. They captured nine of twelve possible points and moved themselves from 10th place to firmly in 7th in the West. Two home games against Rockford loom this weekend before nearly a week off.

Here's the release:
Andrew Miller's wrist shot from the left circle snuck past Jussi Rynnas in overtime as the Oklahoma City Barons topped the Texas Stars in a 3-2 final on Tuesday night at Cox Convention Center, and brought a possible end to the West Division rivalry as the Barons will relocate to the AHL's Pacific Division next season.

Miller's goal provided the Barons (33-14-3-3) with their league-leading 13th overtime win of the season. Julius Honka tallied a goal and an assist to lead the Stars (25-17-11-1). Rynnas took the loss stopping 27 of 30 shots in net.

The Stars begin a season-long seven-game homestand on Friday against Rockford at 7:30 p.m.

Texas wasted little time to open up the scoring as Eric Faille scored for the second straight game on a breakaway to cap off a stretch pass through the neutral zone from Scott Valentine just 1:39 into the contest.

Honka picked up the second assist on the goal, and then added one of his own at 9:33 of the second when his slap shot across the blue line beat Laurent Brossoit for his sixth of the year. Brossoit would be perfect in net for the remainder of the game to earn the win and finished with 22 saves for the Barons. Brandon Davidson start the Oklahoma City comeback with just over a minute remaining in the middle period off a slap shot from the slot.

The offense remained quiet between both teams until the Barons took advantage of their sixth power play chance of the night late in the third, and Jason William buried his 16th of the year with 3:45 to play in regulation. Miller's game-winner ended the fifth overtime matchup between the Stars and Barons this season. Seven of the 12 total matchups were decided by just a goal.

Texas finished 0-for-4 on the power play while the Barons went 1-for-6. It was the second time in the last 19 road games the Stars had given up a power play goal. There is a chance the two rivals could meet in a playoff series later this year.

Tonight's lines:
Glennie-Dowling-Smith
Ranford-Morin-Rallo
Stransky-Faille-Henderson
Peters-Root-Mangene

Gaunce-Oleksiak
Meech-Nemeth
Honka-Valentine

Rynnas

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Jokipakka, McKenzie, Ritchie (call up)
Troock, Wrenn, Hulak (scratch)
Fortunus, Faksa (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 1,905.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - February 24 2015

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
25-17-10-1, 61 pts
#7 Western Conference
atOklahoma City Barons
32-14-3-3, 70 pts
#1 Western Conference
February 24th at 7:00 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

For now, a grudge match first born in the regular season and forged into true steel of a rivalry in the playoffs will come to a conclusion. It remains to be seen if these two teams will play each other in the playoffs. It could happen with either a 1v8 or 2v7 matchup.

All-time, OKC holds the edge. In 55 regular season matchups, they've claimed 66 points to Texas' 56. Last year was a solid one for Texas as they went 8-3-1-0 against the Barons. This year, OKC has held the edge at 6-4-1-0. It's interesting that OKC, the top team in the conference, has had such trouble with the Stars this season. It could make for an interesting playoff matchup if it does happen.

Of course, Texas has some work to do to make the playoffs. They've firmly placed themselves in the conversation with a 9-2-1-1 record since starting their homestand against Chicago on January 23rd. Early season struggles mean that their record over the last month is only enough to get them into the conversation. There's going to be a dogfight down the stretch with Chicago, Hamilton and Adirondack in the pack for the last two playoff spots. This morning's predictions put Texas at the head of the race on pace for 87 points. Chicago is on pace for 86, and Hamilton and Adirondack are at 85. That's not a lot of breathing room.

And so Texas comes to tonight's contest. The Barons are not the same team they were earlier in the season, and the Stars are hot. It's a chance to pounce on a weaker team for Texas. Since the two clubs last played, OKC is 5-5-1-1. Still pretty good, but they've cooled enough that the Utica Comets are just two points behind them in the standings.

Tend the Farm examined this recent fragility in a blog post this week, noting the departure of some key players as potential failure points for the Barons:
The fragility of the Barons isn’t consistent, but it’s consistently there. Meaning that they are prone to mistakes, hard-wired to falter, and pre-conditioned to need heavier scoring / defending leaders like Lander, Pakarinen, Marincin and Klefbom. With all four likely graduating through the end of the NHL season, it is hard to pin point exactly whom is going to take charge with OKC the next month of the season.

Stars injury/call up report:
Jokipakka, McKenzie, Ritchie, Ranford (call up)
Fortunus, Faksa (injury)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog: Tend the Farm
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey