Saturday, October 3, 2015

Texas Stars Cut Five, Sign Magee to AHL Deal

Andrew Panzarella (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
(Updates about my trip to Hershey later, but now this...)

The Texas Stars announced several roster cuts this morning and one signing. Five players were released from training camp: F Colton Beck; D Cole Martin; D Andrew Panzarella; D Jake Rutt; and F Taylor Stefishen. All five played in last night's preseason contest against San Antonio and weren't going to play in Sunday's game. Coach Laxdal plans to go with a more 'opening day' lineup for his final preseason game.

In addition to the cuts, Texas announced that they had signed Brandon Magee to an AHL deal. Magee already had an ECHL deal in Idaho but this puts him on the radar for a callup with more certainty now. He impressed in Dallas and Texas camps and is still in camp with Texas for the time being. There are roster battles in the bottom six and Magee is part of that conversation now for sure.

Beck, Martin, Panzarella and Rutt will all report to Steelheads camp in Boise next.

Friday, October 2, 2015

San Antonio Takes Feisty Contest Over Texas 4-3

Branden Troock had two goals. (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Tryout players looking to make an impression turned tonight's preseason contest into a truculent one. Texas and San Antonio totaled 68 penalty minutes including four fights. The 4-3 score was almost secondary in the contest.

San Antonio opened the scoring with a quick shoveling backhand over a sprawled Maxime Lagace. Lagace had stopped the first shot but wasn't able to get to the second with traffic in front vying for the puck. Branden Troock poured it on to end the period. Troock, who is fighting to ensure he has a spot in Cedar Park this season, slipped a puck five-hole on Roman Will and then scored on a rebound to make it 2-1 to end the period.

The Rampage stepped up in the second period, scoring all three in the frame. Andreas Martinsen potted a power play goal to tie things up. Mid period, the goalies switched as Maxime Lagace gave way to Philippe Desrosiers. Shortly thereafter, former Star Brock Montgomery put the visitors in the lead at 3-2. Ben Street scored on a breakaway with a fantastic backhand move that perplexed Desrosiers, and it was 4-2.

The real story of the back half of the game was the truculence. Starting with a hit from Taylor Stefishen on Will Weber, the gloves were off. Stefishen fought Duncan Siemens immediately after the hit and later fought Weber himself, earning an ejection for two fights in a game. Cam Braes had a center ice bout that began with some circling before it degenerated into a pummeling with haymakers on both sides. The third period saw Andrew Panzarella fight Dan Maggio.

The Stars battled back with an extra attacker goal. Matt Mangene was the recipient of a nice pass from the left wing circle, which he wired to the net to make it 4-3 with 2:10 left in the third.

Texas attempted to get the tying goal late but their best chance, off the stick of Branden Troock, wouldn't go, ending the game with a 4-3 final.

These two teams will face off again on Sunday.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:

Tonight's attendance was not announced.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - April 24 2015

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
0-0-0-0, - pts
#- Western Conference
v.San Antonio Rampage
0-0-0-0, - pts
#- Western Conference
October 2nd at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

It may be just preseason, but it's hockey. Real competitive hockey against another team. Not an intrasquad scrimmage. Not a skating drill. Real honest to goodness hockey. Feels good, doesn't it?

Texas starts the preseason as it would in any preseason, trying to figure out who stays and who goes. There are several players on the training camp roster who have a chance at surprising and staying at the AHL level. Many of them already have contracts in the ECHL with Idaho. Some don't.

A name to watch for in my opinion is Brandon Magee (muh-GEE). The forward is already on a contract to Idaho but could do a lot for his future with an impressive run at training camp. If he doesn't end up with a two-way contract, he could be an easy callup from Idaho.

Among the Dallas-contracted forwards, there is a battle brewing at the bottom of the roster. At the moment, it appears to be a battle between Taylor Peters, Gemel Smith and Cole Ully. Ully, who seemed ticketed to Boise or an overage year in the WHL, has impressed in camp and showed he might be able to hack it in the AHL this season. Peters fell out of favor last year with Derek Laxdal and finished the season in Idaho. Gemel Smith likely has the edge over both since he has never played in the ECHL.

Defensive pairing won't mean much to the long-term of the team tonight. In all likelihood, there will be a lot of ECHL contract guys in the lineup to see what they've got. Long term, Texas does have a similar logjam to Dallas with 8 defensemen likely to make the cut in Cedar Park: Lindell, Honka, Johns, Bystrom, Backman, Mangene, Blacker, and Evans. The last three are on AHL-only contracts.

On the other side, things will be a little different than prior years. Remember that San Antonio switched affiliates this summer and now hosts the Colorado Avalanche prospect pool. Colorado was previously affiliated with the Lake Erie Monsters.

Stars injury/call up report:

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Texas Stars Announce Training Camp Roster

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have announced their training camp roster for 2015-16. The roster, which is mostly composed of the latest cuts from Dallas Stars camp, will be supplemented over the coming week and a half with more players cut from Dallas camp. Some notable players expected in Cedar Park but not yet assigned include Travis Morin, Jack Campbell, and many of the Dallas-contracted defensemen such as Julius Honka and Esa Lindell.

Some notable PTO invites include Taylor Stefishen, who played with Texas last season on a PTO and several players on contract to Idaho including Colton Beck, Brandon Magee, Cole Martin, Andrew Panzarella, and Jake Rutt.

Camp will open Tuesday with daily practices. Texas Stars training camp is closed to the public.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced today their initial roster and schedule for training camp for the upcoming 2015-16 season.

25 players report to Cedar Park Center Monday for physicals, and Tuesday the team will hit the ice for their first formal practice. All non-game day practices are scheduled for 10 a.m. All practice sessions are open to the media and a formal media day is set for Tuesday, Oct. 6.

The 15 forwards are Colton Beck, Cam Braes, Derek Hulak, Cory Kane, Justin Dowling, Brandon Magee, Emil Molin, Taylor Peters, Greg Rallo, Brendan Ranford, Gemel Smith, Taylor Stefishen, Matej Stransky, Branden Troock, and Cole Ully. The seven defensemen are Jesse Blacker, Brennan Evans, Zack Kamrass, Matt Mangene, Cole Martin, Andrew Panzarella, and Jake Rutt. The three goaltenders are Philippe Desrosier, Maxime Lagace, and John Muse.

The Stars will compete in a pair of preseason games against the San Antonio Rampage on Friday, Oct 2 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 4 at 3 p.m. Both games will be played at Cedar Park Center.

Opening night for the 2015-16 campaign is Friday Saturday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

More 3-on-3 OT Highlights Dallas Stars Victory Green and White Scrimmage

Tyler Seguin had two goals for White (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The now-annual Victory Green and White scrimmage at Cedar Park Center had a final score of 5-2, with the White squad besting their intra-squad rivals. The overall flow of the game was relatively inconsequential, so this post will mostly focus on some of the piecemeal storylines that cropped up throughout the match.

Goalie Battles Continue
Antti Niemi did not play in today's scrimmage; he played yesterday and practiced with Group C this morning. Kari Lehtonen and Jack Campbell started for the two squads and had fair to middling performances. Campbell stopped 11 of 13 shots against him in net for White. Lehtonen stopped just 6 of 9 on the Green net.

"I thought there were some good saves," said Lindy Ruff. "But it's hard to tell on some of the goals what happened. There were some good saves out of all the netminders."

Philippe Desrosiers spelled Lehtonen in the Green net and looked very good against NHL competition. He stopped Tyler Seguin easily on a penalty shot in the second period.

"Desrosiers made four or five big saves right off the bat," noted Ruff.

He's looked ready for the AHL game so far in his time in camp, but it is early. Even if Desrosiers proves to be ready for AHL competition, he will need volume of games to get into the pro game. He'll find that in Idaho. Regardless, his strong performance has to make Scott White and Derek Laxdal think about how their net will look as the year progresses.

Quietly, by the way, Maxime Lagace had a shutout during his time in net (8 saves on 8 shots).

Another 3-on-3 OT Test
The final five minutes of the first and third periods were reserved for 3-on-3 overtime practice. Dallas continued to experiment with defensive coverage, which is what Coach Ruff is more concerned with overall in the extra frame.

"We spent time on it this morning in the walk thru, and we're going work it in every day in camp."

The current trade off is between zone defense or man-to-man. Asked which he prefers, Ruff is definitely a big fan of zone.

"I like the zone so much better. There aren't grade A chances once you're in the zone."

Idaho-signed Brandon Magee Impresses
Free agent camp invitee Brandon Magee was impressive in today's scrimmage against NHL competition. The 21-year old forward has played four years in the WHL with Victoria and is now on the hunt for a professional gig. He was in development camp with Montreal over the summer and joined the Dallas Stars in the Traverse City prospects tournament. It's not his first NHL training camp; he was with Calgary in camp last season.

"It's been whirlwind, flying everywhere. Just trying to take it all in and get better, pick up the little things these guys are saying."

Magee, who is signed with the Steelheads for this season, is hoping for an AHL contract. He's making waves this season already after a great showing in Traverse City and a goal in today's scrimmage for Team White. He's even had a leg up on the rest of the free agents, having played his WHL career in Jamie Benn's hometown.

"I played the last few years in Victoria, BC, so I got to know Jamie Benn in summer skates. Getting to know him, it made me feel comfortable a lot quicker."

Goal scorers for White were Matej Stransky, Jason Demers, Tyler Seguin (2) and Brandon Magee. Goal scorers for Green were Jason Dickinson and Jyrki Jokipakka.

Green Lines (Group A):
Jason Dickinson-Patrick Eaves-Valeri Nichushkin
Derek Hulak-Devin Shore-Brendan Ranford
Taylor Peters-Mattias Janmark-Branden Troock

Alex Goligoski-Julius Honka
Jesse Black-Jyrki Jokipakka
Alex Peters-Mattias Backman

Kari Lehtonen
Philippe Desrosiers

White Lines (Group B):
Remi Elie-Tyler Seguin-Patrick Sharp
Antoine Roussel-Justin Dowling-Brandon Magee
Brett Pollock-Vernon Fiddler-Matej Stransky/Mads Eller

Johnny Oduya-Jason Demers
Jamie Oleksiak-Esa Lindell
Brennan Evans-Aaron Haydon

Jack Campbell
Maxime Lagace

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Letter on His Jersey Won't Change the Way Morin Approaches the Game

Travis Morin (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Travis Morin was announced as the new captain of the Texas Stars last night. Morin has been with the team since Day 1 and holds most, if not all, of its offensive records. The center, who signed a new contract with Dallas last year that will keep him here for the next two season, has already been in a leadership role with the Stars for several seasons.

"The way I approach the game isn't going to change," said Morin. "It's just a letter on the jersey."

Morin is a quieter guy in the room. In his words, he's not 'rah-rah', but when a message needs to be relayed to his teammates, he's "I'm not afraid of it. When things need to be said, I'll be there to relay the message."

Morin has led by example for many of the younger players and plans to continue that now as captain.

"I don't think he's much different than Max," said Colton Sceviour, who played with Morin for several seasons before graduating to Dallas. "He's a guy you're going to follow on the ice, more a doer. He'll say things when they need to be said. He's a guy that will step up on the ice in a big situation. That's his number one attribute."

For his part, Morin is very happy to be where he is now after coming to Texas on a professional tryout in 2009.

"Coming here six years ago now, I was just looking for a chance to play in the AHL. I had no idea how long I'd be here or how far I'd go. I've been so fortunate."

Note: Texas's four captains have been Landon Wilson (2009-10), Brad Lukowich (2010-12), Maxime Fortunus (2012-15) and Travis Morin (2015-).

Training Camp Day 2: Goalie Competition is Strong

Antti Niemi (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Dallas Stars)
Day 2 proved that Dallas is ready to fix whatever might have ailed them last season in the goaltending department. The day's events were headlined by a three-period scrimmage that featured Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi starting against each other. While the final score of the game was 4-2, the most important number was zero. Between the two starting goalies, zero goals were scored. Lehtonen and Niemi each had sparkling saves to keep their respective sheets clean. All the goals in the contest were scored against John Muse or Philippe Desrosiers.

Kari Lehtonen, playing for Green, stopped all 14 shots he faced; Antti Niemi stopped all 10.

Last year's Dallas Stars scored a lot of goals, but they let in even more. Jim Nill nabbed Antti Niemi on draft day in a trade with the San Jose Sharks to shore up the position.

"I loved the goalies," said Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff. "Both our starters looked good. They've got a tremendous attitude. They like each other, and they've been pushing each other and working hard for the start of the season. They've both been sharp."

From a Texas Stars perspective, Coach Ruff is high on Jack Campbell's potential for this season, one where he is expected to be the starter for the AHL club throughout the year.

"So far so good. Jack has tremendous skill, but sometimes he gets caught up doing a little too much. We're trying to get him a little calmer. Playing night in night out should help him because he really hasn't had that opportunity yet."

In the scrimmage, lines were pretty fluid, but here's where they started in the first period.

Green Lines (Group C):
Valeri Nichuskin-Jason Spezza-Colton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzie-Radek Faksa-Cole Ully
Brett Pollock-Travis Morin-Gemel Smith
Cory Kane

Jordie Benn-John Klingberg
Ludwig Bystrom-Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth-Matt Mangene

Antti Niemi
John Muse

White Lines (Group A):
Brendan Ranford-Cody Eakin-Patrick Eaves
Brenden Troock-Jason Dickinson-Mattias Janmark
Derek Hulak-Devin Shore-Taylor Peters

Alex Goligoski-Jyrki Jokipakka
Julius Honka-Mattias Backman
Alex Peters-Jesse Blacker

Kari Lehtonen
Philippe Desrosiers