Friday, February 24, 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
24-23-1-2, 51 pts, 0.510
#5 Pacific Division
atSan Diego Gulls
28-14-2-2, 60 pts, 0.652
#2 Pacific Division
February 24th at 9:00 PM
Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA

One of the teams that passed Texas as they dropped in the standings was the San Diego Gulls. These two clubs last played on New Year's Eve. At that time, San Diego was two games above .500 and on the playoff bubble. Since that game, the Gulls are 15-3-0-1. They just broke up a four game winning streak with a loss to Tucson on February 18th. In the middle of the stretch, they also had a six game winning streak and a 12 game point streak.

Suffice it to say that the Stars won't be catching the Gulls in the standings.

But, Texas can catch the teams it needs to catch if they play well from here on out. Even after the embarrassing loss to Stockton, Texas must only go 15-10-1 in their final 26 games to best Tucson's current record. There are nine games against Stockton and San Antonio in that stretch.

Texas gave San Jose a scare a few nights ago and would hope to do the same to the Gulls this evening. They'll have a better chance of it if Julius Honka and Denis Gurianov can return to the lineup. Both were listed as day-to-day after Saturday's game but neither has played on the road trip.

Stars injury/call up report:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)

Gulls Web Resources:
Twitter: @SDGullsAHL
Twitter: @619sports (PBP)
Twitter: @danarelAHL

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Stockton Beats Texas 5-1, Breaks Ten Game Losing Streak

The Texas Stars suffered what was arguably one of their worst losses of the season this evening in Stockton. This one was definitely one of those "should win" games. Facing a team with just three wins in 2017 and on a ten-game losing streak, Texas gave up three goals in the first period en route to a 5-1 loss. Justin Peters stopped 30 of 35 and dropped his record to an even 4-4 after a sparkling 4-1 start.

Cole Ully had the Stars' only goal. It was a late tally with the score already at 5-0. The Stars were perfect on the penalty kill, if you're looking for silver linings. However, they also gave up a shorthanded goal and were scoreless on the power play.

The road trip continues in San Diego tomorrow with Texas just one game above .500 and hovering barely at 5th place.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
O'Donnell (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 2,539.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - February 22 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
24-22-1-2, 51 pts, 0.520
#5 Pacific Division
atStockton Heat
19-21-4-1, 43 pts, 0.478
#7 Pacific Division
February 22nd at 9:00 PM
Stockton Arena, Stockton, CA

If the San Jose Barracuda are the hottest team in the league, it's not hard to pick the coldest. The Stockton Heat haven't won a game since January 20th, over a month. In calendar year 2017, they have just 3 wins, going 3-12-1 since the new year began. Their win against Milwaukee set them at 18-9-3-1 on January 7th, and they've been in a spiral since.

Things that aren't clicking for the Heat are numerous. The power play has just a single goal on their last 53 opportunities (3.8%). They've been shutout four times since January 7th, so overall scoring is an issue as well. Their only win since then was a six goal outburst. Jon Gillies is getting a hard ride as he's done what he can (2 GA in four games in the streak). Backup David Rittich has a 2 GA game as well. Usually that's enough to win, so the scoring needs to step up for Stockton to win.

Texas will hope to get some of their injured players back. Julius Honka and Denis Gurianov are both impactful first round picks. Luckily, Andrew Bodnarchuk will return to the lineup tonight, rejoining the team after taking Monday's game off to be with his wife and newborn daughter.

Another question for Texas is whether Maxime Lagace gets a start. This might be the right game for it. Justin Peters might be showing some weariness with two straight losses and having started every game since the trade.

Stars injury/call up report:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)

Twitter: @ahlheat

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Texas Stars Should Expect Light ATO Class This Spring

Niklas Hansson (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
In previous seasons, Texas has added a number of amateur tryout players to the roster as the playoff race has heated up. Many of these were draft picks who finished their seasons like Brenden Dillon and Jack Campbell. Others include undrafted players like Derek Hulak. While I can't account for the undrafted players that Texas may have its eye on, the drafted or signed player pool is rather limited right now for the Stars. Many of the players drafted in the past few years went without a contract. Alex Peters and Brent Moran are two examples.

Last season, I did a story on the Stars' ATO tradition that may help you understand the process better.

Chris Martenet, D
Ottawa 67s, OHL
8th seed

Chris Martenet went deep in last year's OHL playoffs with the London Knights. He won the Memorial Cup with a team that featured Christian Dvorak, Mitch Marner and Matthew Tkachuk. Martenet was a gaudy +44 on that team, but then again, almost everyone was a plus player for that squad. Martenet was traded midseason this year to the Ottawa 67s. The 67s are on the edge of the playoffs, technically tied in points with the 9th place team. If they don't make it, their last game is on March 19th. Even if they do, they would be an eight seed and may not make it out of the first round. Martenet is a big kid at 6'7, 212 lbs. Dallas needs him to grow into that frame and be more physical than the easy comparison of Jamie Oleksiak.

Roope Hintz, LW/C
HIFK, Liiga
9th seed

As the season began, Hintz was either going to be a Dallas Star or go back to Finland for another season. As this season draws to an end, Texas may be his landing place. It depends on the bracket though. While Hintz's HIFK is in 9th place, that's good enough for the side-bracket for the last two playoffs spots. Teams 7-10 play-in for the last two spots in the Liiga playoffs. Their last regular season game is March 13th. Even if they are immediately eliminated, things like travel and immigration can hamper efforts to get Hintz over to North America quickly.

Niklas Hansson, D
HV-71, SHL
3rd seed

Hansson has actually been on an ATO in Texas before. Last year he got into six games with Texas in the regular season and added four playoff contests. He signed an entry level contract with Dallas before that ATO and is likely to come over soon enough. Right now, his HV-71 squad is in 3rd place in the league. He will probably have at least two playoff rounds as a result. His last regular season game is March 9th, but the playoffs will take much longer.

Joseph Cecconi, D
University of Michigan, NCAA

This one is a bit of a long shot. It only happens if Dallas plans to have Cecconi come out of college. Michigan is not having a great year, 9-16-3 overall and unlikely to make much noise in the conference tournament. The team plays its last regular season game on March 11th against Penn State. The conference tournament is March 16-18.

Monday, February 20, 2017

San Jose Earns 12th Straight Win, Beating Texas 5-3

Texas started their homestand off on a rough note with a 5-3 loss in San Jose. The win was San Jose's 12th straight. The Stars kept it, overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to tie things at three. Ludwig Bystrom had two goals. Remi Elie had the Stars' other goal.

Justin Peters was pulled for the first time in his stint with the Stars. He stopped just 10 of 14, giving way to Maxime Lagace who stopped 14 of 15. Peters, who allowed the fourth goal, took the loss, bring him to 4-3 with Texas.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
Bodnarchuk, Smith (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,422.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Jose - February 20 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Jose Barracuda

Texas Stars
24-21-1-2, 51 pts, 0.531
#5 Pacific Division
atSan Jose Barracuda
30-11-1-3, 64 pts, 0.711
#1 Pacific Division
February 20th at 5:00 PM
SAP Center, San Jose, CA

If there were any game to test Texas's mettle, this is the one. San Jose is on an eleven-game winning streak. During the streak, they have outscored opponents 43-18. Troy Grosenick has been in net for most of those win. Mantas Armalis only has two of them and both were by a single goal, 4-3 OT and 5-4. So it would seem that Grosenick gets the start.

San Jose is in a spot right now where you have to ask: What isn't going right for them? They are the #4 ranked power play (24.1%) and the second-best penalty kill in the league (86.4%). Their combined PP+PK numbers are the best in the league at 110.5%. Usually teams strive to get this number to 110. Only San Jose and Grand Rapids are currently at or above the mark. Texas is at 94.2%.

Texas has a lot going on as this game comes up on the schedule. Julius Honka and Denis Gurianov are both questionable. Andrew Bodnarchuk will miss the game and rejoin the team on Tuesday as he tends to his wife and new daughter. Finally, Matt Mangene will be serving the second game of his six game suspension. To relieve some pressure on the backend, Texas signed Aaron Harstad to a PTO yesterday.

Stars injury/call up report:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
Bodnarchuk (out, family)

Barracuda Web Resources:
Twitter: @SJbarracuda

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Texas Stars Add D Aaron Harstad on PTO

Texas has signed Aaron Harstad to a professional tryout this afternoon. The defenseman, who was acquired by Idaho in a trade with Norfolk, is likely for insurance. Andrew Bodnarchuk is not going to play in tomorrow's game against San Jose, so Texas would only have six defensemen, including Julius Honka. Honka was held out of Saturday's game after an impact with the boards that saw his head snap back pretty severely. Either way, having a seventh D on a road trip is never a bad idea.

The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Sunday the team has signed defenseman Aaron Harstad to a professional tryout agreement.

Harstad (HAR-stad), 22, joins the Stars after appearing in 37 ECHL games this season, 33 with the Norfolk Admirals and four with the Idaho Steelheads. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound blueliner competed in 26 games last season for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, recording four assists.

The Stevens Point, Wisc. native is a former seventh-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.