Monday, March 19, 2018

Dallas Stars Recall Goalie Mike McKenna For At Least Two Weeks

(Credit: Derek Sparta/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars recalled Mike McKenna this morning following injury to starter Ben Bishop last night in Winnipeg. The injury is expected to be re-evaluated in two weeks, so the recall will last at least that long.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has recalled goaltender Mike McKenna from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

McKenna, 34, has posted a 15-9-4 record with a .907 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average with one shutout in 30 appearances with Texas during the 2017-18 season.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound native of St. Louis, Mo. was signed by Dallas as a free agent on July 1, 2017. McKenna was originally selected by Nashville in the sixth round (172nd overall) of the 2002 NHL Draft.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Stars Lead Start to Finish, Topping Moose 6-4

Dries, Kelleher and Markison combine for seven points in win
(Credit: Derek Sparta/Texas Stars)
After last night's rough loss, Texas found itself facing the top team in the West at home in their third game in four nights. It was a recipe for a let down, but the Stars gutted out a strong performance. They scored first and led the entire contest, potting six goals and chasing starting goalie Jamie Phillips.

"We tried to keep it simple from the get go," said Colin Markison, who had three assists on the night. "Our plan was to get on the forecheck and play in their zone as much as possible."

Markison's line was a key driver of the Stars' success. Tyler Kelleher slotted in on the wing of Sheldon Dries, and the trio put in a pair of goals and combined for seven points with each having a multipoint evening.

"[Kelleher] came off an injury in Milwaukee and hadn't played a bunch," said Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal. "He fit in [on that line] and has found himself a spot. He's been a good find for us."

The contest, combined with last week's win in Tucson, was a real confidence boost for the fourth-place Stars. Markison noted that the two games proved Texas could "100% without a doubt" compete with the best in the West.

The game had a chance to get out of hand through the first half. Texas showed a lack of discipline and took several penalties, including tripping, high-sticking and an attempted spear by Matt Mangene.

"We weren't as disciplined as I would have liked tonight. We took a spearing penalty, just a retaliation that wasn't very positive. We have to manage our emotions. Every game is a playoff mindset so you have to have that controlled emotion."

Roope Hintz managed to find the back of the net on a Texas power play off the dish from Tyler Kelleher, who had opened the scoring himself in the first period.

"Sheldon and I have played together before," said Markison. "But that was our first time playing with Tyler. He adds confidence and presence. He's shifty and a good passer. Just a good all-around player.

After Mangene's spear, Sheldon Dries jetted down the ice with Colin Markison to score 4-on-4 and make it a 3-0 game. Manitoba would break up the shutout with a power play goal on that spearing call, however. The Stars got it back on a point shot by Andrew O'Brien that had eyes through traffic to the top corner, making it 4-1.

Manitoba answered with Charles-David Beaudoin's first AHL goal just over a minute later, and the score was 4-2 after forty.

Texas extended their lead to 6-2 with goals from Denis Gurianov on the backhand and Curtis McKenzie in tight on the power play. Manitoba had a response, scoring twice in 90 seconds late in the game to make it a 6-4 game. Their own lack of discipline put them down a man, then two, with under three minutes to go and ended their chances at a comeback.

It was a physical game, but Texas did well, for the most part, to not get goaded into taking extra penalties or getting into their own heads about the referees not calling things that they felt should have been called. They took care of business on the scoreboard, which is what ultimately counts.

The Stars now get an extended break, not playing again until Friday versus San Antonio. It will be a solid break to focus on some systems and heal bumps and bruises. Texas has several more three-day breaks in their schedule, but this is their last of more than three days.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
French, Rallo, Thompson, Paliotta, Desrosiers (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,512.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Manitoba - March 17 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Manitoba Moose

      Texas Stars                           Manitoba Moose
  32-22-7-3, 75 pts, .578      v.     37-17-4-4, 82 pts, .661
#4 Pacific Division                    #1 Central Division

March 17th at 7:00 PM CST
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Last night against Cleveland was not great for the Stars. The worst team in the league played fast and loose at the H-E-B Center and came away with two points. Now Texas must turn around and play the best team in the west less than 24 hours later.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Coach Laxdal was brutally aware of how difficult the turnaround would be in last night's postgame. He noted as always that the team needed to fix their mistakes from last night and otherwise forget the game. One of those big mistakes that they fixed in the game, but need to not repeat tonight, is the penalty trouble.

During this home stand, Texas has been particularly bad on the disciplinary ledger, especially in the second period. Starting at 18:09 of the first, Texas went to the penalty box four straight times and gave up two power play goals on those chances.

Laxdal called it discipline, plain and simple. "It’s discipline and emotion. When [McKenzie] gets taken to the net, he ends up taking a penalty, and you can’t have that. Nothing else is going to work, your system, your structure, your details if you don’t have that controlled emotion."

The Stars will look to control their emotions tonight against a team that beat the Rampage last night in San Antonio. It was a come from behind victory for the Moose as Mason Appleton scored with the extra attacker to tie things 2-2 with 67 seconds left in the third.

Stars injury/call-up report:
Dickinson, Heatherington (call-up)

Moose Web Resources
Twitter: @ManitobaMoose
Beat writer: @PwilliamsNHL

Friday, March 16, 2018

Stars Come Up Short in 6-5 Overtime Loss to Monsters

Nathan Gerbe beats Landon Bow in overtime
(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars squandered a must-win game against the league worst Cleveland Monsters, losing 6-5 in overtime. The Stars had a one goal lead in the first period and came back to tie at the end of regulation, but left with only one point in the standings with the season winding down. Alex Broadhurst and Nathan Gerbe both had three point games with Gerbe netting the game winner.

Sheldon Dries, who finished the game with a goal and an assist pointed to special teams as a culprit in the loss. “On the PK we need to get those kills and on the power play we need to score goals. It didn’t happen tonight and they got the result.”

The first period featured an abundance of scoring from the first shift. Gerbe ripped his team’s first shot by Landon Bow short side just after a minute into the game. Stars head coach Derek Laxdal weighed in on the flow of the game. “Both teams played a little loose, a little shinny at times. That’s a team over there that’s not going to make the playoffs so there’s no pressure on them.”

The Stars responded a few minutes later when Kelleher cleaned up a rebound that skimmed out to the slot for his first goal in a Texas uniform. The play was initiated by a slick drop pass on the zone entry which led to the initial shot on net.

With half the period gone, the two teams traded shorthanded goals. Dries entombed a puck high into the back of the net where it stayed buried in the twine for his fourth shorthanded goal of the season. “We try to pressure in all situations that we can,” said Dries. “I saw him trying to go far side, and I put my stick in the lane and got a lucky bounce. We capitalized there but let a goal in so it kind of cancels out.”

Cleveland responded with one from winger Jordan Schroeder coming after the Stars had over 30 seconds of 5-on-3. Schroeder finished the game with a goal and a helper. “Our power play has got to score,” said Laxdal of the sequence of play. “When you get a look on the 5-on-3, you’ve got to bury it.”

Alex Broadhurst, assisted by his brother Terry, scored a power play goal with a little over a minute left in the first period to give the Monsters the lead heading into the first intermission.

The Stars couldn’t stay out of penalty trouble in the game, and had amassed six minor penalties with ten minutes left in the second period. They paid the price as Paul Bittner scored after driving the net hard three minutes into the frame. “You could see our guys grasping when we were down 4-2,” opined Laxdal. “We’re taking way too many penalties now and it’s taxing our players on the penalty kill and other players aren’t playing.”

Coming out of second intermission, the Stars played with more of a sense of urgency. Defenseman Reece Scarlett crashed the net net on a chance from Dries and swatted in the rebound to bring the Stars within one. All the good vibes and positive momentum were momentarily dashed by a deflection goal from Hayden Hodgson. The Stars quickly drew a penalty and setup up Travis Morin, who leads the team with 54 points, for a goal on the power play and a chance to tie once again with 14 minutes left in the game.

The Stars drew their fifth penalty of the game with two and a half minutes to go and emptied the chamber on Kivlenieks, putting up several shots when they pulled Bow for the extra attacker. With six seconds left, Roope Hintz scored with his backhand in the top corner.

The teams were tied in shots at 41 at the end of regulation. Gerbe scored his overtime game winner, and second goal of the game, after Hintz and Denis Gurianov’s rush was stymied by Kivlenieks, leading to an easy breakaway for Gerbe. “We talked about staying out of the box in the third period, and we battled back in the third to get the point. We would have liked to grab the second point. It’s a frustrating loss.”

The Stars stay at home for the Manitoba Moose on Saturday evening. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
French, Rallo, Thompson, Paliotta, McKenna (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,852.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Cleveland - March 16 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Cleveland Monsters

      Texas Stars                          Cleveland Monsters
 32-22-6-3, 73 pts, .579      v.      20-32-5-3, 48 pts, .400
 #5 Pacific Division                     #7 Central Division

March 16th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Mike McKenna has been reassigned to the Texas Stars.

Roope Hintz squares off with Zac Dalpe
(credit: Texas Stars)
After enduring a loss to the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday and floundering in the standings, the Texas Stars have a premium chance to bag two points tonight against the Cleveland Monsters. The Monsters sit dead last in the AHL in terms of points percentage and have especially struggled after trading their leading scorer Carter Camper away at the trade deadline.

The Stars can ill afford to give away points to inferior teams during this time of year. Expect to see them play with a sense of urgency in front of their home crowd and look to pounce on Cleveland early. A positive sign from Wednesday's game was Curtis McKenzie clicking on two power play goals to get him back on track after a lengthy stay on the injured list. 

Landon Bow did not have a great showing against Manitoba and was replaced by Phillipe Desrosiers mid-game. We could see Desrosiers get the start tonight, if not tomorrow against Manitoba again on the second night of a back-to-back (All subject to change with this afternoon's reassignment of Mike McKenna). The Stars will be without Dillon Heatherington due to a call-up, which will mean Reece Scarlett or Michael Paliotta slotting in on the blue line. 

Alex and Terry Broadhurst are the leading scorers for the Monsters with with 34 and 27 points respectively. Cleveland is near the bottom of the league in just about any category on special teams, and the Stars need to maintain the power play momentum they created against Manitoba. If the Stars can't pull out the victory, it won't be time to panic. But perhaps it would be ideal to locate the button.

The puck drops at 7:30 PM CST. 

Stars injury/call up report:
Dickinson, McKenna, Heatherington (call-up)

Monsters Web Resources

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Texas Falls Flat Against Manitoba, Loses Ground in Division

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
After an initial burst from Texas, Manitoba controlled the pace and tempo of most of tonight's game in Cedar Park, ultimately upending the home side 6-3. Curtis McKenzie had two power play goals in his first home game since returning from a six-week injury. It wasn't enough to overcome a balanced 5-on-5 attack and heavy physicality from the Moose.

"They showed us that if you play like a team you're probably going win more nights than not," said Coach Laxdal. "5-on-5 we didn't establish a forecheck or enough offensive zone time. They looked like a team that wanted it more than we did."

Texas had bright spots in the game, including their early power plays and the late, extended 6-on-5 sequence to end the game.

Laxdal noted that this game was creeping up on the Stars in a way. They got away with a low shot count, highly defensive game in Tucson thanks to Landon Bow, but the rookie goalie couldn't save them tonight. The two clubs were evenly matched on shots in the first at 13-13 but Texas only managed 4 and 8 in the ensuing periods. Bow was pierced for six before giving way to Philippe Desrosiers. The Stars hung Bow out to dry tonight, according to Laxdal.

"We're defending too much, Physically, we don't have the energy to go on offense. We have to defend quicker and harder and not get stuck in the D zone. We can't rely on our goaltender as much."

That bright spot of the power play was moving pucks with aplomb early. Curtis McKenzie was on the receiving end of a nice pass from Justin Dowling for the game's first goal.

"We talked before the game that we wanted more out of the power play unit," said McKenzie. As a five man unit we were moving well today, zipping the puck, and I was on the backend of some nice plays tonight. We need a little more urgency 5-on-5 and that will keep us away from games like this."

Manitoba answered back fast with two goals in 30 seconds around the eight minute mark. Both came off the sticks of low scoring defensemen.

Peter Stoykewych, another defenseman, potted the 3-1 goal before Texas halted the bleeding a bit. Again on the power play, McKenzie found twine off the backdoor feed of Travis Morin. The active period ended at 3-2 Moose.

Texas got into a decent amount of penalty trouble in the second with three consecutive calls for interference. JC Lipon would make Texas pay on McKenzie's interference call with his twelfth of the year. Texas wasn't able to establish much in that second period and it put them behind the eight ball in the third.

Pushing the pace to get back into it, Texas had two more end up in the back of their net. Sam Laberge would score late, but it wasn't of consequence. The Stars pulled Desrosiers for the extra man with 3:46 left in the third period and Manitoba's Jamie Phillips pulled out some of his best saves of the night, including point blank chances on back to back plays within two minutes of the end.

The Stars rerack and play Cleveland on Friday before facing these same Moose on Saturday to end the season series. With the loss, Texas dips to fifth place in the division, outside the playoff picture, and could stay there by morning depending on the outcome of west coast games.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Kelleher, French, Rallo, O'Brien (scratch)
Dickinson, McKenna, Heatherington (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 5,067.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Manitoba - March 14 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Manitoba Moose

      Texas Stars                           Manitoba Moose
  32-21-6-3, 73 pts, .589      v.     36-17-4-4, 80 pts, .656
#3 Pacific Division                    #1 Central Division

March 14th at 7:30 PM CST
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Dillon Heatherington has been recalled to Dallas.

We can start this preview by stating the obvious. The Moose are a very, very good team. They've got the best record in the West and will likely be the first team to clinch a playoff berth in the Conference.

(Credit: Texas Stars)

Manitoba is not such an unstoppable force as of late, and Texas has a real chance to pounce on some points here this week with the season series closing between tonight's game and Saturday's. In their past ten games, the Moose are showing some potential of being human with a 4-5-0-1 record. Since rattling off a five game winning streak to start February, they are 5-7-1-2. Chicago, Iowa, Grand Rapids and Milwaukee, all contending for playoff positioning, knocked off the Moose during that time.

The Stars have something of a confidence boost on their side of the equation as well. When Texas visited Winnipeg earlier this year, they emerged with two wins, each by a four goal margin. Landon Bow picked up his first AHL shutout in that set as well. The leading scorer in those wins was Curtis McKenzie with 3-2=5. The captain will be playing his 3rd game back from injury tonight and first at home.

Stars injury/call-up report:
Dickinson, McKenna, Heatherington (call-up)

Moose Web Resources
Twitter: @ManitobaMoose
Beat writer: @PwilliamsNHL