Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stars sneak by Peoria, win in shootout 2-1

The Stars were sluggish and slow all game but somehow they pulled out the win in the shootout, only their second such win all year.

The Stars did not start this game out on the right foot. Luke Gazdic's name was misspelled on the lineup sheet by Texas. This made him ineligible to play tonight. For the record, guys, it's GaZDic, not Gadzic!! Already, the Stars were down one player.

Texas garnered only 2 shots in the first period and loaded up the 5th best power play in the league twice in the period. Somehow they came out of the first tied 1-1. The Stars allowed the first goal of the night on the power play at 16:07 when Talbot fed Drazenovic from the right circle across the crease to beat Todd Ford on the at the far post. Texas had not recorded a shot in the game until 20 seconds before the Rivermen goal.

The Stars would even the score on only their second shot of the game three minutes later when Beaudoin stole a puck from a Rivermen defender and fed to Morin who beat Toivonen blocker side for a 1-1 tie. This would be their last shot of the period.

The Stars squandered an early 2nd period power play opportunity but did have the first 3 shots of the period. Peoria had tied up the shots on goal stat for the period by the 10 minute mark then passed the Stars after a Greg Rallo hooking minor that the Stars killed off. The Stars had another chance on the power play late in the period but did not capitalize. They just looked so terribly tired.

In the third period, Max Fortunus blocked a shot in the 4th minute of the period and came off the bench after skating around the ice clearly favoring one leg to the other. Fortunus would return before the halfway point of the period.

By the eight minute mark of the 3rd, the Rivermen had nearly tripled the Stars shot total 28-11. In the 8th minute, Vishnevskiy had a good defense of Cam Paddock's chance on net without taking a penalty. The net was dislodged as Paddock flew into the net and Vishnevskiy into the boards.

The Stars shots on goal started picking up as the third period drew to a close. Texas was swarming, now leading the shots battle in the period, but couldn't get a goal. Peters caught a post on a breakaway with Sawada with a minute left. Lindgren also had a good chance but McCulloch took a high sticking double-minor with 28 seconds left in the game. This moved the faceoff down to the Stars end. The Stars got the point for the tie through three periods but would be forced to kill the McCulloch minor for another 3:33 in the overtime period, which would be an always dangerous 4-on-3 power play.

The Stars managed to kill the penalty off with facility, often clearing the length of the ice. They could not sustain any offensive zone pressure after the penalty expired and the period ended again in a tie. The Stars went to the shootout where they have been less than spectacular this season at 1-4.

Vishnevskiy, 3 of 4 in the shootout coming in, went first for Texas. He deked a bit in front a roofed in backhand over Toivonen's right pad. Pelletier was the next to score, beating Ford stick side. Drazenovic, who scored the Rivermen's only goal in regulation, also scored by banking one of the left side post and into the net behind Ford. Colton Sceviour would use the exact same move as Vishnevskiy to score and make it 2-2. Ford stopped Lars Eller's attempt which left it up to Perttu Lindgren. Lindgren came in with a very similar move to Vish and Sceviour but instead tucked it under the right pad of Toivonen.

It's no question that the Stars had to be affected by the long travel day. They left Austin Bergstrom Int'l Airport at 6 AM this morning and took at 2 hour flight to Chicago. Then they took a 3 hour bus ride to Peoria. All this before noon today. They then arrived at the rink at 4 PM for a 6 PM start. They were sluggish through most of the game. Only registering 2 shots in the first period, for example. They managed to pick it up at the end of the game though, winning the shots battle in the 3rd period. The Stars have a day off before they play the Admirals in Milwaukee on Tuesday. They will travel 4 hours by bus to Milwaukee on Monday.

The Stars are now in sole possession of first place in the West division after Milwaukee lost to the Western Conference leading Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2.

On a sidenote, Peoria fans do not look to be as excited to be on camera on the Jumbotron as Stars fans do.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Morin-Rallo
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Combinations of:
Peters-Gagnon-Sawada
Stephenson-Sceviour (due to Gazdic/Gadzic mistake)

Fortunus-Vishnevskiy
Stafford-Jancevski
Hutchinson-Ludwig

Ford

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Tousignant, Shelast, and Korostin (scratched)
Gazdic (ineligible to play due to misspelling on lineup card)

Stephenson also seemed to play defense at some points in addition to playing up, much like Mark Fistric did in Dallas earlier in the year. The lines were a little crazy tonight overall due to the error.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Peoria - January 31 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Peoria Rivermen

Texas Stars
27-13-3-4, 61 pts
#2 Western Conf.
atPeoria Rivermen
23-18-1-4, 51 pts
#9 Western Conf.
January 31st at 6:00 PM
Carver Arena, Peoria, IL

Peoria and Texas are both playing the 3rd game of a 3-in-3 set tonight. The Stars are on the road, so perhaps that gives them a slight disadvantage. Then again, the Stars are winners of 4 straight and the Rivermen have lost their past two.

Additionally, the Rivermen's last lost was a heartbreaker. As detailed in the AHL Round-up for yesterday, the Rivermen were up 4-0 on the Aeros in the third but then allowed 4 goals in a span of just 7:34 and ended up losing 5-4 in the shootout. It was a sparkling performance by Derek Armstrong of the Rivermen, who scored all of Peoria's goals in the game. We would be wise to watch out for him tonight.

Peoria and Texas have already played twice this year but will ultimately play eight games against each other. Texas has yet to defeat the Rivermen, going 0-1-1-0 so far in the season series.

Texas is scoring on the power play at will recently. They are 12/26 in their last seven games, scoring at least one power play goal in each game. The Rivermen are 25th in the league on the penalty kill at home with a 79.6% PK. The Stars definitely have room to exploit this trend. The Rivermen are good on the power play at home, ranking 7th in the league with 21.5%, but the Stars are just as good on the road on the PK at 5th in the league with 87.2%

They are also getting contributions from all across the ice; three of the four lines in last night's game scored. The only line without a goal was the Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada line; the Morin line scored twice. Good team scoring is a key element for a team that doesn't always score in bunches. However, recently we have been. The Stars have scored an average of 4.14 goals per game over the last 7. This is while allowing an average of 1.43 goals against per game over the same span. That is a recipe for a killer team.

Last night the Stars got back to the other good trend that has helped them through this recent points streak. They did not allow a goal in the first period. One of the deadly sins that they kept committing was allowing that first goal, often very early in the period. It immediately puts you on your heels.

I think the recipe is simple. Score first on the power play and play good team defense. The Stars came out of a game that they got outshot in 2-to-1 with a win. It's because of quality of shots. That comes back to playing together as a team. Also, I think the team is having more fun now that they are back in the winning mood, which always helps.

Ford has to start tonight. He can't not start. There is no way you would play the same goalie three nights in a row, especially after taking nearly 80 shots in the two games prior. Commenter 'StarryEyed' noted that she asked Todd Ford last night if he would be starting after the warm-up. He said yes, but then Climie started. Wondering what led to that change...

Not that they would ever see it here, but I wanted to compliment the Peoria Rivermen on the great job they do keeping their fans informed on Twitter. You can see the kind of great work they do on their profile page, @Peoria_Rivermen. Would you appreciate if the @TexasStars did something similar?

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)

Warren Peters will be back with the Texas Stars tonight after some paperwork issues kept him in Dallas for an extra day. The Stars currently have no call ups to the NHL.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Warren Peters sent down to Texas after paperwork mishap

Apparently Jere Lehtinen was ready to play last night for the Dallas Stars but the NHL front office never got the right paperwork. A fax notification of roster moves is required. The Stars never got that fax in last night, so Peters remained in Dallas while Lehtinen stayed on the IR. The move was completed today, but Peters did not play tonight against Abbotsford. Expect him in the lineup tomorrow against Peoria. Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has assigned center Warren Peters to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Peters, 27, has skated in eight games for Dallas this season, recording one goal with a +2 rating. Peters has played 33 games for Texas in 2009-10, recording 19 points (13g, 6a) and 21 penalty minutes. The 6-0, 198-pound center signed with Dallas as a free agent on July 6, 2009.

Texas breaks through in 3rd, downs Heat 4-2

After a night with 7 goals and 4 fights between the these same two teams, tonight's game was almost boring in comparison. No, just kidding, it was still a great game.

The Stars drew first blood at 13:32 of the 1st period when a simple dump-in went wrong for the Heat. The puck rimmed around the dashers and Keetley, the Heat goalie, tried to stop the puck. Failing this, he left the task to his defender. He fumbled the puck and Travis Morin's strong puck presence got it back for a shot on net that rebounded to Greg Rallo for a 1-0 lead.

All night it seemed like the Stars and Heat wanted to go at it, but the refs were quick to jump into any scrums very quickly, including one 3 minutes into the 2nd between Grantham and Ludwig in front of the net, which resulted in matching roughing minors. Grantham racked up two fighting majors last night, but none were assessed to any player tonight.

Texas put another one on the board on a bang-bang play. Aaron Gagnon won an offensive zone faceoff back to Maxime Fortunus at the right point. Fortunus bombed it in on net and scored. The goal reaction from the crowd even had a delayed reaction as not everyone was sure a goal had been scored, given the velocity with which the puck rebounded out of the net. Texas was up 2-0.

Texas would give back two in the last 3 minutes of the second though. Cunning scored from Murray and Meyers on the gloveside with a shot from the left-wing circle. And on a Texas power play, Van der Gulik would score shorthanded. Maxime Fortunus attempted to stop a puck along the dashers that had come out of the zone. He tripped and fell to the ice, leaving Sutter to come in unmolested. Climie stopped the initial shot but Van der Gulik put home the tying goal over a sprawled-out Matt Climie. So we went to the 2nd intermission tied at 2.

Texas got on the power play half way through the third period and broke the tie. Greg Rallo fed a pass along the blue line to Vishneskiy who had his stick back cocked and ready to fire. His shot ticked off Francis Wathier's stick in front of the net to score 3-2. Less than 40 seconds later, McCulloch broke out all alone from the blue line in, including a beautiful fake out on the defender, to beat Keetley over the shoulder. The Heat would take a timeout with the score at 4-2.

The rest of the period was chippy, including two Stars penalty kills that were both successful. The Stars even killed off 37 seconds of 6-on-4 to end the game.

I think the biggest stat line that you can look at for this game is the shots on goal. At one point when the Stars were up 2-0 on the scoreboard, the shots were 7 for the Stars and 20-something for the Heat. When the game ended, the Heat had doubled up the Stars in shots at 36-18, but the Stars had doubled up the Heat where it counts, outscoring them 4-2. I think this points to good things ahead for Matt Climie. Stopping 36 of 37 last night and 34 of 36 tonight is an excllent stat line; it gives him a .959 save percentage over these last two games.

It's also a lot of work. Ford has to get the start tomorrow in Peoria. I found it interesting that the Stars started Climie tonight, but perhaps I'm just too used to the NHL's back-to-back game tendencies for goaltenders.

The Stars now have a 6 game point streak overall and a 6 game home win streak. They have climbed back to the top of the standings for tonight at least. They are tied with the IceHogs at 61. The Admirals are only one behind at 60. The Wolves from Chicago also remain in striking distance at 59 points. However, the Stars have games in hand against all of those teams (IceHogs, 5; Admirals, 2; Wolves, 1). The Admirals are in action again tomorrow against the Bulldogs at home. Chicago is idle until the 4th when they take on the Heat for a two game set. If the Stars' set with the Heat is any indication, Chicago has a good chance of getting 4 points there. It's tight out there and it's getting tighter. Now's the time to excel.

Tonight's lines:
Sceviour-Gagnon-Sawada (started)
Wathier-Morin-Rallo
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Gazdic-Tousignant-Shelast

Fortunus-Vishnevskiy (started)
Stafford-Jancevski
Hutchinson-Ludwig

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Korostin and Stephenson (scratched)
Peters (NHL call up)

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Abbotsford - January 30 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
26-13-3-4, 59 pts
#3 Western Conf.
v.Abbotsford Heat
21-20-4-3, 49 pts
#10 Western Conf.
January 30th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Definitely a shorter preview today since you can just read yesterday's preview for most of the information. I think that revenge is a factor here. The Stars have to make sure they don't get lured into dumb penalties by a team that is looking to get back at them for a 6-1 drubbing. Usually the Stars aren't like that though. Hopefully, we will see Abbotsford being overly aggressive and therefore doing the conga line to the penalty box all night. I don't expect 6 goals again tonight, but I think the Stars have a great chance to win against a team that is reeling on the road.

Todd Ford indicated he would likely be starting tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Peters (call up)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Texas obliterates Abbotsford, wins 6-1

All you really have to know about this game is that Texas set a new team record for goals scored tonight.

The Stars got on the power play early but couldn't get setup. Travis Morin snapped the 0-0 tie on a breakaway homerun pass from Francis Wathier, beating Heat goalie David Shantz stick side high. The Heat came right back just a few minutes later. Vishnevskiy got a little to close to Heat star player Jason Jaffray on the way out of the zone and gave it up to him. Fortunus was already on his way out of the zone and couldn't get back to help. Climie stopped the initial shot, but Jaffray poked in his own rebound to make it 1-1 on the unassisted tally. The Stars would shut it down from there.

Just over a minute later, the Stars got physical in the offensive zone and Greg Rallo got the puck from a casual Heat defender. He passed to Travis Morin, who sent it out to Stafford who was all alone coming down from the point. He ripped one past Shantz to make it 2-1.

The Stars ended the period with a Luke Gazdic fighting major. Grantham and Gazdic got into it and I'm not sure Grantham ever threw a punch! He went down to the ice after a few well placed punches from Gazdic and both went to the locker room.

Just 1:39 into the second, the Stars would tally another. Garrett Stafford shot one in from the right circle that seemed to glide across Shantz's leg pads and was seemingly tucked home by an unmolested Scott McCulloch on the far side. However, the goal was changed to Garrett Stafford's several minutes later. Unsure of what happened here, since the Stars score on the opposite end from me during the second. Anyone with insight, please post in the comments.

With the Heat's Baldwin in the box for high sticking, Shantz again suffered from his own bad rebound control as Gagnon put one away that bounced off of him. Assists came from Wathier and Vish.

To end the second, how about another Luke Gazdic fight? Grantham and Gazdic dropped gloves again. This time, Gazdic was defending Mathieu Tousignant who seemed to be on the receiving end of every single delinquent thing the Heat could throw at the Stars. Grantham was getting a little close after the play was over at the bench and Gazdic started throwing punches. I'd say this one was more of a tie. Just a few minutes later, Wathier and Watt dropped the gloves. In arguably the best moment of the night, Luke Gazdic came out to congratulate Wathier on the fight as he exited the ice and entered the players' tunnel.

The Stars would score twice more in the third. First, they score on a power play shot from Ivan Vishnevskiy that was redirected in front of the net by Francis Wathier. This gave Wathier the coveted Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, and fighting major). The 6th and final goal was a wicked wrister by Ludwig redirected by Korostin in front of the net.

Finally, not content with just two fighting major, Gazdic threw down with Murray in the last three minutes of the game. He received a game misconduct for having three majors in a game, but he wouldn't have come back to the game anyways.

The Stars did a great job tonight. Aside from a momentary lapse in judgement on Vish's part, this would be a shutout 6-0. Abbotsford laid on the shots though; this wasn't a cushy 1 goal game. Climie stopped 36 of 37. I think Climie's got his groove back a little. I don't think he was challenged exceptionally tonight in terms of quality shots, but stopping that much rubber has to do something for the confidence of a guy who was fighting the puck just a few weeks ago.

The Stars also kept their special teams hitting on all cylinders, going 2/4 and not allowing a single PP tally against. They are now 11/23 in their last six games. The 'no goals in the first' streak was broken though.

More of the same tomorrow night. See you there.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Morin-Rallo (started)
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Stafford-Jancevski (started)
Hutchinson-Ludwig
Fortunus-Vishnevskiy

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Shelast and Stephenson (scratched)
Peters (NHL call up)

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Abbotsford - January 29 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
25-13-3-4, 57 pts
#3 Western Conf.
v.Abbotsford Heat
21-19-4-3, 49 pts
#10 Western Conf.
January 29th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars and the Abbotsford Heat face off tonight to close out the season series between the two teams with two games in Cedar Park. The Stars dropped both of their games in British Columbia against the Heat around New Year's.

However, since those games, the Stars have a 4-0-1-0 record and have gained 9 of 10 possible points. This has been bolstered by the play of goaltender Todd Ford. Ford completed the longest shutout streak in team history with 158 minutes of shutout hockey, stopping 84 shots over three separate games. He's clearly the hot hand.

On the other side of the ice, the Heat have a 1-3-2-0 record since the Stars visited them in BC. Their starting goalie has been chased from the net in 2 of those 6 games as well. They also sent down backup goaltender Leland Irving for David Shantz from the Victoria Salmon Kings. The Heat have not played since Saturday though when they lost 5-4 to the Aeros. This could contribute to either rested play or rusty play. We'll see how they come out of the gate tonight.

The last time these teams played, the Stars were killed by bad passing, an ineffective power play, and allowing early goals. All of those issues have seemingly evaporated in the games since then. Texas is making more crisp tape-to-tape passing and is having an easier time exiting their own zone and entering at the offensive blue line.

They are clicking on the power play at a high rate as well. In the 6 games prior to the current points streak, including the two games in Abbotsford, the Stars were 2/28 on the power play over the 6 games. In the 5 games since, the Stars are 9/19 with at least one power play goal in each game. As I mentioned in the last Heat gameday preview, Abbotsford is downright delinquent, taking 25.60 PIMs per game, most in the AHL. The Stars should get ample opportunity to keep their power play streak alive, likely with the help of Perttu Lindgren who has six points in the last week (5 of them on the PP). The Heat are mid-pack on the PK on the road, so let's hope we light the lamp with the extra man a few times.

The Stars have also not allowed a first period goal in 5 games. Steady goaltending from Matt Climie and Todd Ford and a concentration on team defense has made this possible. Texas is 7-2-0-0 at home when leading after the first period. After Tuesday's game, the Stars also improved to 11-1-1-0 when leading after two periods at home. The key, no matter how trite it sounds, is to jump ahead first and then shut it down on defense. I think scoring first on the power play would be a good start to have a good night.

Tonight's game begins a 3-in-3, one of those dreaded AHL curiosities. I think the NHL would flip out if a team was required to play 3 games in 3 nights, let alone having one of those on the road. The Stars will play 17 games in the next 31 days. It's going to be fast and furious, and they will need quality goaltending to stay in the race for first place. I've almost stopped trying to predict who will start any given night, but I think Todd Ford might get the start. He would then play again in Peoria on Sunday night with Matt Climie taking tomorrow's game.

Don't forget that the Stars will be doing an autograph session tonight after the game. There will also be a silent auction going on throughout first and second periods, the items for which can be found on the Stars' website.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Peters (call up)

The timeline for Wilson and Krahn to return from their injuries still remains the same for both at mid-February to beginning of March. No word on what the organization plans to do with Todd Ford when Krahn returns.

Note: I've stopped including Brad Lukowich on the call-up report as he cleared waivers when he went up to Vancouver and will likely not be coming back to the Stars.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Little Franchise Explanation

I admit maybe I could have explained the franchise thing a bit more clearly in my previous post. Here's a summary of some overarching franchise concerns, given the questions that have been asked.

The AHL issues franchise licenses like any sports league. The franchise license gives you the right to have a team that plays in the league, just like a McDonald's franchise license gives you the right to operate a McDonald's restaurant. There are a set number of franchise licenses out there at any one time. The league can only expand the number of licenses during an official expansion. The league obviously controls the number of licenses very closely since it is not like a McDonald's in that too many franchises would dilute the league's quality.

Remember back when the Predators (1998), Thrashers (1999), Wild and Blue Jackets (2000) joined the NHL? All four of these teams started when the owner group petitioned to the NHL for a franchise license, the right to have a team that played in the NHL. These four teams were created by virtue of the league granting a brand new franchise license.

However, think back to when the Dallas Stars moved from Minnesota. The owner, Norm Green, had a franchise license to have a team in the NHL. After gaining approval of the NHL Board of Governors, he moved the team to a new city. This is the other way a "new" team can be created. Although really the franchise is the same as before.

The AHL tends to be more fluid than the NHL in terms of team movement from year to year. We just passed the halfway point of the season and there is already talk that the Albany River Rats will be moving to the Carolinas to be closer to their parent club, the Hurricanes.

The Texas Stars sought a franchise license before the season started. However, the Iowa Chops' financial trouble prevented them from buying one. The league made an exception in this specific case and allowed a temporary franchise license.

Currently, there are 29 teams in the league and two inactive teams. You may wonder why there are 31 teams and only 30 NHL teams. The Oilers are currently affiliated with the Springfield Falcons but also still have a franchise license for the inactive Road Runners. They do not own the Falcons; they are independently owned. The good news is that the numbers all shake out. There are 30 permanent franchise licenses and one temporary (Texas Stars). Two of them are inactive. Hopefully next year everyone will have a team in the AHL and we'll be back to 30 teams!

Please comment as you did before if there is anything that you are unsure about! Thanks for being active members of the Texas Stars community.

Texas Stars "On The Ice" report on ESPN Austin

Maxime Fortunus and Josh Fisher appeared on "The Bottom Line" with Sean Adams and Chip Brown yesterday afternoon at 3:40pm for the weekly Texas Stars "On The Ice" report on ESPN Austin 104.9 FM. Here's the audio:



Let me know if you have any audio troubles because this is a new thing for me!

Coaches in helmets, too?

The Statesman had an interesting story on coaches in hockey wearing helmet that included some quotes from and a story about Texas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.

Statesman.com: Hockey's dangers have some calling for coaching helmets, too

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DeVergilio sent down to Idaho Steelheads

The Stars have sent forward Kevin DeVergilio down to the Idaho Steelheads. He played one game during this stint in Austin and was a healthy scratch for two others. He did not record any statistics in the game he played, where he skated on a line with Luke Gazdic and Tyler Shelast. Here's the release:
The Texas Stars announced on Wednesday that forward Kevin DeVergilio has been assigned to the Idaho Steelheads, Texas’ ECHL affiliate.

DeVergilio returns to Idaho where he scored nine goals on 41 shot attempts. The Sterling Heights, Michigan native added seven assists and totaled 16 points in 17 games with the Steelheads.

DeVergilio played in one game during his latest stint with the team. In all, he has played in nine games for Texas this season, recording one assist, 12 penalty minutes and a -2 plus/minus rating. The 23-year old forward is in his rookie season after a four-year career at St. Lawrence University from 2005 to 2009. DeVergilio recorded 113 points in 143 NCAA games for the Saints.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stars down the Admirals 5-2, within one point of 1st place

Coming into the season, I'm not sure if the Milwaukee Admirals or the Texas Stars would have had tonight's game circled on the calendar. The Admirals might still need a reminder that there was a game tonight. Then again, now that it's over, they might want to forget.

The Stars decided to start Todd Ford, a wise choice, as he was coming off of back-to-back shutouts. Ford played out of his mind for most of the game tonight. But let's get to the play-by-play.

Just 34 seconds into the game, Scott McCulloch laid a hard hit on an Admirals defender and busted out a glass pane behind and to the right of Milwaukee goalie Chet Pickard. The glass did not break, but simply popped out of its moorings. The game was delayed for approximately 5 minutes as they fixed it. Props to the crew at the CPC; they have gotten much better at fixing things like this from where they started at the beginning of the year.

The Admirals took the first penalty of the game with Nolan Yonkman, a hulking beast of a man at 6 foot 6 inches, taking a holding call just 5 minutes in. The Admirals are abysmal on the road on the kill and it showed. Just 11 seconds later, Hutchinson put one home from the slot with assists from Lindgren and Morin. Morin is really on a tear recently.

The Stars would score on the power play again with a twist on the play from the first goal. At 15:46 of the first, Ivan Vishnevskiy slap-passed the puck to the waiting stick of Aaron Gagnon from the nearly the same point that Hutchinson scored the first goal. Gagnon redirected the "shass" (Shot-pass) into the yawning net from the crease. Wathier and Gagnon were both occupying Pickard in the crease which created the havoc that caused the goal.

The Admirals came out of the intermission fired up and really put Todd Ford through his paces. He did not yield. The Stars managed to get into the offensive zone and used some of that defensive zone know how to score again. Mathieu Beaudoin got his stick in the lane of the attempted clear of an Admirals defender from their defensive zone. He passed to Lindgren on the back door of the goal where Lindgren put it home, unmolested by a Milwaukee defender. It was 3-0.

Texas also showed a lot of grit on the penalty kill in this game against one of the best in the league on the road. Max Fortunus took a tripping minor at 12:33 of the second and it took Milwaukee until the last 10 seconds of the minor to really get setup in the offensive zone. Todd Ford made a great save as the minor expired to maintain the goose egg on the scoreboard.

Mathieu Tousignant would be incarcerated for two minutes late in the second though and the Stars gave up the shutout. Cross ice passes finally got past the Stars and Sulzer's pass across to Wilson ended up in the back of the net. The goal on the power play made it 3-1.

The next goal was a fun one for Sergei Korostin and one that Chet Pickard would love to forget. Pickard deflected a puck off into the corner and Korostin got it and flung it to the net. Pickard couldn't cover the short side and the puck bounced off the padding on his leg and into the net. 4-1 Stars, Korostin from Sceviour and Gagnon.

Pickard would get pulled for the extra attacker earlier than usual in the third with 4:56 remaining. The Stars had quite a bit of difficulty gaining control of the puck in the 6-on-5 and gave up one goal. The Admirals' Jessiman put one glove side high on Todd Ford that it seemed like he didn't see until it was too late. He was well screened by Admirals players.

Finally, the Stars would break out of their own zone and Aaron Gagnon would put the last nail in the coffin with an empty net goal from the blue line to make it 5-2 Stars.

The crowd showed a lot of love for Ford tonight and I think it was well deserved. Todd Ford played great hockey and I don't think he was to blame for either of the goals that went in. That is, I don't think he would have been expected to make the saves and just didn't execute. Ford is definitely the hot hand now, having won 3 straight including 2 shutouts. Tonight's performance was a great audition for at least a time-sharing role, if not a majority of the starts. If you were coach Gulutzan, who do you start on Friday versus Abbotsford, knowing that you will likely play them again on Sunday against Peoria? Also, what do you do when March rolls around and Brent Krahn is healthy enough to rejoin the club? It's something to chew on.

Tonight's lines:
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin (started)
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Wathier-Morin-Rallo
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Hutchinson-Ludwig (started)
Fortunus-Vishnevskiy
Stafford-Jancevski

Ford

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
DeVergilio, Shelast, and Stephenson (scratched)
Peters and Lukowich (NHL call ups)

For the record, I don't really know what the first, second, third, and fourth lines are. I simply place them in the best guess order. Sometimes it's just the order I see them on the ice from when the puck drops. Although usually, whatever line Gazdic is on is the fourth line for me.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - January 26 2010

Franchise Status Commentary

I contacted the Texas Stars President Rick McLaughlin for an official comment on the status of the team's franchise status and this is what he had to say:
"We are in discussions with the league to purchase an AHL franchise. We expect this transaction to occur by the end of the season."
Here's the deal. The Stars tried to purchase a franchise before the season started, but there were some issues. The best candidate, the Iowa Chops (formerly the Iowa Stars), were in serious ethical trouble. The team "had used the franchise as collateral to obtain a loan in March, 2008, from a North Carolina branch of Wachovia Bank" and "records obtained from Polk County had disclosed the loan amounted to $1.99 million and was used to cover operating costs".

The AHL suspended the franchise, which limited their ability to be purchased. Since the Stars made a good faith effort to purchase a franchise but the conditions outside their control made them unable to purchase one, the AHL granted them a temporary franchise. This had the condition that they acquire a permanent franchise by the end of the year.

So what are the possibilities? The Stars could purchase the Iowa Chops still and they could also purchase the inactive Edmonton Road Runners, owned by the Oilers. As far as the chances that our franchise's temporary license would be extended, Commissioner Andrews indicates "never say never, but I would say never".

On the positive side, he also said, "...the franchise has been a home-run. It's probably in the top 5 in the league in revenue, the team's really competitive, the building's terrific, and the market is really responding to it."

This is a priority for the Texas Stars and the AHL for the spring meeting and Andrews indicates that there is good push from the AHL Board of Governors to get the franchise established because of their success.

That's certainly good news for Texas Stars' fans.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
24-13-3-4, 55 pts
#5 Western Conf.
v.Milwaukee Admirals
26-14-1-5, 58 pts
#2 Western Conf.
January 26th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars take on the team that they are fighting for first place in the West Division. Expect a spirited game tonight as both of these teams know what's at stake. I am hoping for a pretty good crowd for a Tuesday night, given the dual promotions of Hockey for Haiti and HEB Canned Goods Night.

Texas leads the season series between the two teams 2-1. Texas has split the games played in Cedar Park, which bracketed Thanksgiving, and beat the Admirals 5-1 in Milwaukee just a week after that.

The Admirals are on a tear right now, winning 8 of their last 10 games. The Stars are certainly doing much better than they have over the past month. Currently 4-3-1-2 in the last 10, the Stars have pulled points out of the their last four games. Goalie Matt Climie is back on track and has Todd Ford, who recently had back-to-back shutouts, backing him up. I think we're seeing Climie return to the form he had at the beginning of the season when Krahn served as a reliable pressure valve for him.

The Stars would do well not to give the Admirals any chances on the power play tonight. Milwaukee has the 4th best power play on the road. To counter that, the Stars are 6th in the league on the kill, at 88.8%. Despite their excellence on the road on the PP, the Admirals are 24th on the road on the PK. If the Stars can score on the power play, it will be a very good omen. Don't expect a lot of time spent in the sin bin by either team though. They ranked #27 and #28 in the league for PIMs per game.

Interesting stat line I noticed today: whoever has been winning the game at the 2nd intermission has gone on to win 32 out of 34 times. This is good and bad. The Stars are a lock down team when they have the lead after 2, winning 21 of 23 when that is the case. However, they also have never made a third period comeback to victory, going 0-9-1-1 when trailing after two. They arguably made their most valiant effort to comeback from the deficit last week in Abbotsford, when they scored 3 goals in eight minutes to take the game to overtime. They still lost in the extra period though. Perhaps this is a by product of the conservative offensive style that the Stars play. We know how to shut it down after two, but we can't turn it up.

If the Stars win tonight, they will be one point behind the Admirals for the West Division lead with two games in hand. In fact, the Stars have games in hand against all of the teams in front of them in the Western Conference standings. It's a good place to be!

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (Stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Peters (call up Dallas), Lukowich (call up Vancouver)

AHL's State of the League Address

SB Nation had a good summary of the Commissioner's State of the League address from last week. Here's the link to their summary: SB Nation: AHL Shakeup Coming?

The relevant portion to Texas Stars fans is the following:
The Texas Stars are also temporarily associated with the Dallas Stars and Commissioner Andrews said that if the affiliation isn't made permanent, the league will not exempt the franchise and they may cease operations.
You may recall that the Texas Stars were granted a temporary franchise on the condition that they acquire a franchise by the end of the year. No word on how progress is coming along on this front, but I will begin asking the questions...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D

Late last week I was contacted by Brandon Worley from the Dallas Stars blog Defending Big D. Brandon asked me to begin writing a weekly blog article on Defending Big D about the Texas Stars. The first article runs today and you can find it here:


I recap the games from the past week and look ahead. Also, I talk about which players are hot and which are not, with a specific focus on Dallas Stars prospects. Let me know what you think!

Ray Sawada assigned to Texas Stars

Raymond Sawada has been assigned back to Texas with the news that Morrow and Lehtinen will be back in the lineup for the Dallas Stars game against the Flames. Expect Sawada in the lineup for the game against the Admirals tomorrow. We'll certainly need him. Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced Monday that the club has assigned right wing Raymond Sawada to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Sawada, 24, was called up on Jan. 17 and played in four games for Dallas, recording two shots and a +1 rating. The Richmond, British Columbia native has skated in 30 games for the Texas Stars this season, collecting two goals and five assists. He was Dallas’ second round selection (52nd overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Texas Stars announce "Hockey for Haiti"

The Texas Stars announced today, as expected, that they will be teaming with the American Red Cross this week to raise money for those affected by the tragedy in Haiti. This fundraiser hits particularly close to home as Stars defenseman, Maxime Fortunus, is one of the few professional hockey players of Haitian descent. His parents are originally from Haiti although he was born in Quebec.

The Stars will be incentivizing your donation by providing a two-for-one ticket voucher to anyone who makes at least a $10 donation. There will be a silent auction at Friday's game during the first and second periods. Additionally, the Texas Stars' wives and girlfriends will be selling autographed pucks and pictures at Saturday's game versus Abbotsford to raise money as well.

Here is the official release including quotes from Fortunus:
The Texas Stars announced on Monday the team will partner with the American Red Cross in a fundraising promotion called “Hockey For Haiti”.

“The Texas Stars are deeply saddened and touched by the recent tragedy in Haiti”, said Texas Stars President Rick McLaughlin. “Texans have always been willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. With the American Red Cross and our great community, the entire organization is proud to reach out and help after this catastrophic tragedy.”

“Hockey For Haiti” will run through the next three home games at Cedar Park Center, starting Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Admirals at 7:30 PM. The American Red Cross will be on hand to accept donations at tables on the concourse for every home game this week, concluding on Friday and Saturday with a pair of games against the Abbotsford Heat. The Texas Stars will provide a two-for-one coupon to a future game for any fan that makes a $10 donation (minimum for coupon) at any of the American Red Cross tables.

The team will hold a silent auction on the concourse during the first and second period of the game on Friday, January 29th. The auction will feature numerous autographed items from the Texas Stars and numerous sports teams throughout the AHL, NHL, MLB, NBA and PCL. Fans will have unique opportunities available for the auction, including golf and dinner with the Texas Stars players. All the proceeds from the auction will be donated to the American Red Cross International Relief Fund.

Texas Stars defenseman Maxime Fortunus is one of the only professional hockey players in the country that is of Haitian decent.

“This is something that is very close to my heart involving my relatives who still live there”, said Fortunus. “As professional athletes and as human beings, the players are 100% willing to do anything we can to help aid the relief efforts in Haiti.”

The Texas Stars wives and girlfriends will also be selling individually autographed pucks and pictures for $10 each on the concourse for the game on Saturday, January 30.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Former Steelhead Rallo has a change of plans

Another great story about Greg Rallo. This time from the Idaho Statesman. Includes some information about Greg's NHL prospects. Note that Rallo is not currently under contract with the Stars although the story implies that he is.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stars shutout the Monsters, win 3-0

The Stars ended their 6 game road slump with an exclamation point this afternoon in Cleveland.

After getting outscored early in last night's game against the Monsters, the Stars came out like a blur. In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Stars accumulated a 10-1 shot advantage. The first penalty of the game was called on Lake Erie at 10:07 and the Stars capitalized just12 seconds later. Perttu Lindgren put one home with assists from Beaudoin and Hutchinson, and the Stars were up 1-0. Shots evened up through the rest of the period to 12-10 Stars, as the Stars yielded two minor penalties, which overlapped late in the period. The Stars killed both of them, including a short 16 second 5-on-3 advantage for the Monsters. Late in the period, some good work by Francis Wathier down low got the Stars on the man advantage that overlapped the intermission.

It would be the first of three power plays for the Stars in the second period (technically). The Stars again won the shots battle in the period but did not score on the power play. Late in the second period, the Stars got good pressure on the Monsters and scored even strength. Maxime Fortunus came down from the point to the right half-wall and blasted a shot past Sauer. At first, it looked like it might be Colton Sceviour 's goal. However, he was simply occupying Sauer in front. The shot from Fortunus went off the skate of the Monsters defender in front of the net for a 2-0 lead.

The rest of the period was relatively quiet until the last second. After killing a penalty in the last two minutes of the period, the Stars' Andrew Hutchinson shot a puck in on Sauer harmlessly, and it looked like the period was over. However, away from the puck, Brent Fahey crushed Francis Wathier into the boards with a cross-check as the buzzer went off. Wathier lay prone on the ice for almost a minute but left under his own power. Fahey was assessed a major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct for the hit. Wathier did return for the third period.

With a 5 minute man advantage staring them in the face, the Stars sputtered and couldn't get anything setup for 4 minutes. The advantage ended as Aaron Gagnon took a hooking minor at 4:02. When given a 5 minute major advantage, you have to score. It's just one of those immutable hockey rules, like the fact that you have to score if you have a 5-on-3 longer than 60 seconds.

The rest of the period was uneventful until the Monsters pulled their goalie rather early (3 or 4 minutes remaining). It is difficult to tell exact timing because there is no score overlay on the AHL Live webcasts. Todd Ford came up big on a lot of good chances from the Monsters. The Monsters would take a boarding penalty with 1:46 remaining. This forced the faceoff into Lake Erie's zone and put Sauer back in the net. The Monsters couldn't get it together, and Perttu Lindgren put in an empty netter to seal the deal at 3-0. This was Texas's first road win in 6 games.

Todd Ford was solid in net and followed up his first AHL shutout against San Antonio last week with his second shutout against Lake Erie today. He was the #1 star of the game and definitely deserved it. He stopped 26 in the game including 11 in the final period when the Monsters really poured it on. This was a great quality game. The Stars got great special teams play, 2 PP goals (one was an empty netter) and 4/4 on the penalty kill. They put a Star in front of the net and it paid off when Colton Sceviour's presence distracted Sauer enough for Fortunus to blast one in. And finally, they had amazing goaltending out of Todd Ford.

Stars are back in action again on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Admirals. The Admirals and the Stars currenlty co-lead the division following today's win. Watch the AHL scoreboard tonight to see if the Admirals beat the Rampage and move past the Stars coming into Tuesday's game.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Morin-Rallo
Korostin-Gagnon-Sceviour
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Gazdic-DeVergilio-Shelast

Stafford-Jancevski
Fortunus-Vishnevskiy
Hutchinson-Ludwig

Ford

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Tousignant and Stephenson (scratched)
Peters, Sawada, and Lukowich (NHL call ups)

Gameday Preview: Stars at Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
23-13-3-4, 53 pts
#4 Western Conf.
atLake Erie Monsters
21-20-0-4, 46 pts
#11 Western Conf.
January 23rd at 12:00 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

This isn't much of a surprise, given these teams played just 16 hours ago. I think the Stars should concentrate on solid defense and good puck movement, things that plagued them in last night's game. Let's hope for the full two points this afternoon.

I would expect Ford in net, but would not be shocked if Matt Climie was in the pipes again.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (Stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Sawada and Peters (call up Dallas), Lukowich (call up Vancouver)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Maxime Fortunus and "Hockey for Haiti"

Tonight, the Stars made pre-announcement of the "Hockey for Haiti" program to be officially announced on Monday. From the sounds of it, the Red Cross will be partnering with the Texas Stars and the Cedar Park Center through the next three home games over the next 8 days to gather donations for Haitian earthquake victims.

Stars defenseman Maxime Fortunus is of Haitian origin but was born in Quebec. His parents do not live in Haiti anymore but he still does have family there. I am sure we will hear more about how he has been affected by the tragedy at the official announcement on Monday.

Stars can't finish comeback, lose to Lake Erie 5-4 in OT

The "Q" was packed to the gills tonight, with 18,626 coming into enjoy the Stars and the Monsters. It was the 5th largest crowd in AHL history. The Stars gave them a scare by coming back to tie the game after trailing 4-1. Texas just couldn't finish the comeback though.

The Stars and Monsters traded a flurry of fists and shots in the first period. No score in the first period, but the two teams combined for 21 shots, Lake Erie with 11 and Texas with 10. Also, Luke Gazdic made his return to the ice known just six minutes in, dropping the gloves in just his second game of 2010.

The Stars killed a power play early in the second period and looked to be solid. But a misplay along the blue line by Greg Rallo led to a turnover to the Monsters. Mercier's intial shot was rejected, but All-Star T.J. Hensick put home the pudgy rebound off Climie for a 1-0 lead.

Just one minute and nineteen seconds later, another turnover led to a Monsters goal. Peltier shot one in from the left half-wall that Zanoski tipped past Climie for a 2-0 lead. Two duncical defensive plays lead to two opposition goals. This was not Texas Stars hockey. The Stars had some good shots at the other end throughout the rest of the period. But just before the second period was out, Dupuis found Mercier for his second point of the night to make it 3-0.

The Stars did not get a chance on the power play until early in the 3rd period and didn't do much with it. The Stars were handed another shot to get back in it on a hooking call almost immediately after the first power play expired. Just 7 seconds into the power play, Travis Morin got his 9th of the season from Stafford and Lindgren. The Stars scored the goal by creating traffic in front and Texas looked to have some momentum. Deflating the Stars momentum was the laser beam wristshot (if such a thing is possible) by Ford that beat Climie just 3 minutes later. 4-1 Monsters.

Coming off of this, the Stars got one back. The Monsters suddenly had become penalty prone and were doing the conga line to the sin bin. Bordeleau took a slashing minor at 11:20 of the third. Mathieu Beaudoin beat Monsters goalie Weiman shortside and made it 4-2 on a nice pass from Travis Morin. The Stars pulled Matt Climie with 2:38 remaining. Aaron Gagnon won the face-off back to Morin who got it to Ivan Vishnevskiy who absolutely blasted it from the point and beat Weiman to make it 4-3. Travis Morin wasn't done yet.

The Stars again pulled Matt Climie with just a minute left and Garrett Stafford put one home from the point. Guess who on the assist? Travis Morin is right. It was tied 4-4 with 38 seconds left!! The Stars spent the rest of the third period in the Monsters zone and went to overtime in a game they trailed 4-1 early in the third period.

The Stars skated up and down the ice furiously in the overtime period and Sergei Korostin took a hooking minor. The Stars managed to kill it off... technically. Just three seconds after the penalty expired, Justin Mercier beat Climie stick side over the shoulder to win it 5-4.

Great effort in this game by the Stars to come back from a 4-1 deficit to tie it in just 8 minutes. The goals against could have been prevented with better puck security in the defensive zone. I think that's a basic tenet of the Stars game. Gulutzan will fill in their ears on that.

The Stars and the Monsters will face off again tomorrow at high noon Central Time. Then the Stars will play three at home, one against the West Division leading Milwaukee Admirals and two against the Abbotsford Heat.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Morin-Rallo
Korostin-Gagnon-Sceviour
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Gazdic-Tousignant-Shelast

Stafford-Jancevski
Fortunus-Vishnevskiy
Hutchinson-Stephenson

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
DeVergilio and Ludwig (scratched)
Peters, Sawada, and Lukowich (NHL call ups)

Luke Gazdic rejoined the Stars tonight after 5 games out of the lineup with an upper body injury. He looks just fine, picking up a fighting major just six minutes into the game. Travis Morin had the first 4 point game in Texas Stars history (1 G, 3 A). Lake Erie's goal was the only shot of the overtime period.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Lake Erie - January 21 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
23-13-2-4, 52 pts
#5 Western Conf.
atLake Erie Monsters
20-20-0-4, 44 pts
#11 Western Conf.
January 22nd at 6:30 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

For the Texas Stars, the All-Star Break could not have come at a worse time. After miring through a month and a half of inconsistent play, the Stars put together back-to-back wins for the first time in over a month. Then, they had to sit on their hands for a week. Talk about a momentum killer.

Hopefully they recharged for the second half of the season though, which starts tonight in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters. Texas has played the Monsters twice already, both in Texas, losing 4-0 and winning 5-3 in back-to-back matchups in October. They will close out the season series this weekend with games on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

The Monsters, who have been occupying the bottom third of the Western Conference for a while, are on something of a hot streak themselves. Despite losing their last game before the break, they won four road games in a row before that. And these weren't cupcake teams; they beat Hamilton twice, Rochester once and Abbotsford (who owned the Stars recently) once.

The Monsters are pretty bad on the penalty kill, but they don't take many penalties (4th fewest in the league). Only three teams take fewer penalties per game (Texas is one of them). The Stars' power play has been on the upswing over this current win streak. After going 2 for 28 in the 6 games before the San Antonio win, they are now 3 for 7 on the power play over the last two games. I think we need the power play to get our offense churning. We are a stingy team by nature, but we also don't score as prolifically as many teams in the league. Currently we are tied with Hershey for fewest goals against in the league at 97, but we've only got 116 goals for.

The Lake Erie Monsters gameday preview points out an interesting fact, emphasis mine:
With the games this weekend, the Monsters face a Texas team that, once taking the lead, usually takes the game. The Stars are 17-3-1-1 when scoring first, 20-1-1-0 when ahead after the second period, and are an unblemished 10-0-0-0 when leading after the first 40 minutes on the road.
They also note that defenseman Ryan Stoa is currently something of the hot hand, which I have to agree with. He leads all rookies with 18 goals and is 7th in points with 27. He also beats you up on the power play (9 goals for #1 among rookies).

With these games being back to back, I'm assuming we'll see Climie and Ford once each, but Coach Gulutzan has played the same guy in back-to-backs before. Ford is just coming off an appearance in the ECHL All-Star game.

This should be a decently full arena, from what I can see. Tonight is Shaq Bobblehead night (seriously), it's a Friday, and this is the first home game for the Monsters in over two weeks. Let's hope for a good one.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (Stomach strain), Krahn (lower body), Gazdic (upper body)
Sawada and Peters (call up Dallas), Lukowich (call up Vancouver)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Texas recalls DeVergilio from Idaho

The Texas Stars have announced that they have recalled Kevin DeVergilio from the Idaho Steelheads. With both Ray Sawada and Warren Peters up in Dallas, they will need an extra forward skater to even make 12 and DeVergilio is their man. He played eight games at the beginning of the year then was scratched for a few and eventually sent down on November 2nd. This will be his second stint in the AHL. The Stars previously were down to 11 forward skaters with Peters and Sawada in Dallas and Wilson out for injury. Here's the release.
The Texas Stars announced on Wednesday that forward Kevin DeVergilio has been recalled from the Idaho Steelheads, Texas’ ECHL affiliate.

DeVergilio, a center from Sterling Heights, Michigan, is currently ranked second among all ECHL rookies with a .220 shooting percentage, scoring nine goals on 41 shot attempts. DeVergilio added seven assists and totaled 16 points in 17 games played. The Idaho Steelheads currently lead the National Conference of the ECHL with a 25-10-0-2 record.

DeVergilio has played in eight games for Texas this season, recording one assist, 12 penalty minutes and a -2 plus/minus rating. The 23-year old forward is in his rookie season after a four-year career at St. Lawrence University from 2005 to 2009. DeVergilio recorded 113 points in 143 NCAA games for the Saints.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

PlanetUSA falls to Canada in AHL All-Star Game shootout

Texas Stars defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy had two assists for PlanetUSA and was +1. He did have a tough goal against wherein he redirected Logan Couture's attempted pass to the backdoor into the net.

Somehow through that melee of scoring, the two team managed to come out tied after 60 minutes at 9. After that, we went immediately to the shootout (because that's what everyone wants to see). Vishnevskiy did not shoot in the shootout and Canada prevailed. Interesting given Vish's success in the shootout over the season and his 2 goals in the shootout competition just the night before.

Stars in action again on Friday.

Peters called up to Dallas

Jere Lehtinen got placed on the IR this afternoon and Warren Peters has been called up. This call up carousel is starting to get nauseating. Here's the release.
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has placed right wing Jere Lehtinen on injured reserve, retroactive to January 16. He suffered an upper body injury on January 16 vs. Detroit. The club also announced that it has recalled center Warren Peters from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Lehtinen, 36, has appeared in 32 games for Dallas this season, scoring three goals and eight assists for 11 points. He has appeared in 849 career games for the Stars (third-most in franchise history), scoring 242 goals and 266 assists for 508 points. Lehtinen was the team’s fourth round pick (88th overall) in 1992.

Peters, 27, will be making his third call-up to Dallas this season. He has appeared in four total games for Dallas in 2009-10, collecting one goal. Peters has played 33 games for Texas so far this season, recording 19 points (13g, 6a) and 21 penalty minutes. The 6-0, 198-pound center signed with Dallas as a free agent on July 6, 2009.

Dallas will travel to Vancouver to take on the Canucks this Thursday at 9:00 pm CT (FOX Sports Southwest, SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket).

AHL All-Star Game tonight on FOX Sports Southwest

Don't forget tonight's AHL All-Star game on FOX Sports Southwest, featuring our very own Ivan Vishnevskiy on defense for the PlanetUSA All-Stars. This should be a really fun event and I'm really looking forward to watching!

The Stars are in action again on Friday in Cleveland for a two game set against the Lake Erie Monsters.

FOX Austin story on Stars asst. coach Paul Jerrard

Great story on yesterday evening news on FOX here in Austin about Stars asst. coach Paul Jerrard. I had no idea that he is the only black coach in all of professional hockey. Here's a link to the great story:

Vishnevskiy in the All-Star Skills Competition; Sawada in Dallas

The Canadian All-Stars and PlanetUSA All-Stars faced off last night in the AHL All-Star Skills Competition. The Canadians prevailed, but our own Ivan Vishnevskiy was among the bright spots for the PlanetUSA team.

Vish had the second hardest shot on the hardest shot competition at 96.3 mph. He was, at the time, the leader, but Blair Jones of Norfolk crushed it with a 100.7 mph shot. Vish's team scored once and was denied once on the pass and score drill. And finally, Vishnevskiy shot twice on the breakaway relay, beating Justin Peters both times. Peters was Stars goalie Brent Krahn's injury replacement, which means Vish might have been shooting on Krahn if not for injury. That would have been fun.

Finally, Ray Sawada suited up for last night's game against the Wild. He skated on a line with Brian Sutherby and Jamie Benn. Overall, he only took 12 shifts for 7:25 of ice time. He had one shot and was a -1 in the game, as he was on ice for the Wild's second goal by Miettinen. Haven't heard too much on Lehtinen and Morrow's injury prognosis so I don't know when Ray will rejoin Texas. He looked good out there though. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 18, 2010

AHL All-Star Skills Competition tonight on FOX Sports Southwest

Just a reminder that tonight is the AHL All-Star Skills competition, featuring hardest shot, fastest skater, accuracy, shootout, etc. I don't have any word on the lineup for these competitions, but you can watch it live on FOX Sports Southwest tonight at 7. Setup your DVRs folks: Raymond Sawada and the Dallas Stars on Versus at 7p as well.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dallas Stars call up Ray Sawada

Apologies for being late to the party on this one; I was playing in a hockey game. As I mentioned early, the Stars did decide to pll up a player from Texas to replace the injured Brenden Morrow and questionable Jere Lehtinen in the lineup for tomorrow's game against Minnesota. My favorite part of this entire release is their inclusion of the birthday goal fact. Only question is who will cook dinner for Matt Climie while Ray is in Dallas?!
The Dallas Stars announced today that the NHL club has activated defenseman Nicklas Grossman from injured reserve. The team also announced that right wing Ray Sawada has been recalled from the Texas Stars, Dallas primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Grossman, 24, was placed on injured reserve with a lower body injury on January 9. He suffered the injury on January 6 at the New York Rangers. Grossman has appeared in 41 games for Dallas this season, scoring four assists with a +5 rating. The Stockholm, Sweden native is in his third season in the NHL, having played all 192 games with the Stars. He was Dallas’ second round selection (56th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Sawada, 24, has appeared in 30 games for Texas this season, scoring two goals and five assists for seven points with 39 penalty minutes. He was Dallas’ second round selection (52nd overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Sawada appeared in five NHL games last season, including scoring a goal in his league debut on Feb. 19, 2009 vs. Edmonton on his 24th birthday.

Dallas will host the Minnesota Wild on Monday night (7:00 pm, VERSUS, Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stars give sellout crowd a good show, down Marlies 5-1

The second sellout in Texas Stars history didn't end like the first. The hometown fans went home celebrating this time.

Just 1:46 into the game, Francis Wathier and Oreskovic dropped the gloves for a fight that was really more of a bear hugging match but still got the crowd going. The Stars had a lot of great opportunities in the first period but couldn't put one in. The crowd gasped and cheered as the Stars put on one of the best 6 shot first periods I've ever seen. We went to the first intermission tied 0-0.

Matt Climie had a bit of a scary moment just 2 minutes into the second. With the Marlies swarming the net, Francis Wathier got in the crease and kneeled down to stop a puck from going in. This, of course, is not allowed. Only goalies can fall on pucks in the crease. The ensuing penalty shot was almost a goal, but as Kyle Calder came in right to left, the very weak backhand hit the post Climie collected. He looked very good tonight, got the bounces he needed and tracked the puck well.

The Stars didn't waste much time getting on the board after that. Maxime Fortunus bombed one from the top of the blue line in on net. It seemed like it had to go through 3 or 4 players of both teams to get there, but it did. Warren Peters tipped it just enough to get it passed MacDonald, 1-0. This was the type of offense that the Stars needed; take shots even when they aren't pretty and put a guy in front of the net.

The Stars drew up an almost identical play 92 seconds later when Garret Stafford this time nailed a puck from the blue line that was tipped in by Travis Morin, his 8th of the season. Toward the end of the second, the Stars had a 5-on-3 advantage for 53 seconds. It took them 54 seconds to score though, so both minors expired. Again, a defenseman, this time Andrew Hutchinson, slapped one from the blue line. His shot went wide right, and Greg Rallo was there to redirect it behind Joey MacDonald. Now the house was rockin'.

The Marlies scored one right back just 27 seconds later to make it 3-1. Matt Stephenson failed to clear the puck, and on the resulting play, the Marlies managed a good cross crease pass to setup Greenop for his first of the season. This one wasn't on Climie; there should have been a defenseman there to occupy Greenop and Stephenson should have cleared it in the first place.

At this point, though, the game was very much in hand. The Marlies weren't getting much and Texas was playing lockdown defense for the most part. On the power play 11 minutes into the third, Fortunus would add another insurance goal to make it 4-1. Then with 5 minutes left in the game, Greg Rallo found Francis Wathier on a 2-on-1 breakaway to make it 5-1. The goal celebration was cut short by the petulance of Marlies' RW Berry, who came into start a fight with Warren Peters but ended up getting pummeled by Francis Wathier. Wathier was an assist away from a Gordie Howe hat-trick tonight.

The Stars didn't give up soft goals early or much at all. They took the shots they were given and didn't try to be pretty with their shooting. It was a great game from the net on out. Matt Climie has got to feel good about this win, his first since his last home start on January 6th. The last time the Stars got a 1 goal or less game out of him was a month before that on December 6th. Maybe I was wrong about needing to start Ford tonight?

By the way, how good is Max Fortunus? He played last night in Montreal with the Stars then came into the CPC tonight and had 1 G, 1 A, was +1 and 2nd star of the game. You have got to love this guy.

Tonight's lines:
Lindgren-Morin-Beaudoin (started)
Rallo-Peters-Wathier
Shelast-Tousignant-Sawada
Gagnon-Sceviour-Korostin

Stafford-Jancevski (started)
Fortunus-Vishnevskiy
Hutchinson-Stephenson

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson, Gazdic, and Krahn (injured)
McCulloch and Ludwig (scratched)
Lukowich (NHL call up)

The Stars and the entire AHL now take a break for the AHL All-Star game in Portland, Maine. Vishnevskiy will be the Stars' representative in the contest, and he will start the game. Todd Ford will also participate in the ECHL All-Star game, an honor he earned after garnering a 16-6-1 record with the Stingrays. No worries though; he will be with the team for a while.

Confirmed: Peters and Fortunus will be ready for tonight's game

Warren Peters and Maxime Fortunus will both be in the lineup tonight against the Marlies. Getting back a hard-nosed defenseman and a gritty offensive player back from the NHL will certainly help tonight's sold-out game be a good one!

Peters and Fortunus sent back to Texas Stars

Warren Peters and Maxime Fortunus have been re-assigned to the Texas Stars. This is good news for your Texas Stars if Peters and Fortunus can get back to Austin for tonight's game. Working to confirm if they will be in the lineup tonight... Here's the release from the Dallas Stars.
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has assigned defenseman Maxime Fortunus and center Warren Peters to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Fortunus, 26, was recalled on Jan. 8. He is scoreless in eight games with Dallas this season, having made his NHL debut on Dec. 19th against the Detroit Red Wings. The La Prairie, Quebec native has collected six goals and five assists in 34 games for the Texas Stars in 2009-10. Fortunus has played in 329 career AHL games, posting 26 goals and 60 assists in seven AHL seasons. The 6-1, 198-pound defenseman was signed as a free agent by Dallas on July 3, 2008.

Peters Peters, 27, was recalled to Dallas on Jan. 7. He has appeared in four games for Dallas this season, collecting a goal. Peters has played 32 games for Texas so far this season, recording 18 points (12g, 6a) and 21 penalty minutes. The 6-0, 198-pound center signed with Dallas as a free agent on July 6, 2009.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Toronto Marlies

UPDATED: It's a sellout!

Texas Stars
22-13-2-4, 50 pts
#3 Western Conf.
v.Toronto Marlies
15-17-5-2, 37 pts
#14 Western Conf.
January 15th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Boy, is this game going to be big! Last I heard there were only about 20 seats left in the entire building for tonight's game against the Marlies. I expect the second ever sellout Tonight's game is the second ever sellout in Texas Stars history (the other being November 14th v. Chicago). Add to this the awesome Texas Stars fleece blanket giveaway, $2 draft and $1 hot dog night, and a Canadian team in town bringing out the Maple Leafs fanbase, and you have a recipe for a rockin' house.

Tonight, the Texas Stars will try to string together two wins in a row for the first time since a 3 game winning streak from December 4th to 6th. This is a good night to give it a shot. The Marlies have lost 4 games in a row and are 2-6-0-2 in their last 10 games. This isn't to say that the Stars are much better at 3-5-0-2, but coming off a big shutout win at home will certainly give the Stars good momentum. The Marlies are on an extended road swing, playing their fifth straight road game. This is the first night of a 3 games in 3 nights stretch for them, touring all of the Texas-based AHL teams. For the record, I don't understand 3-in-3's, but that's a subject for another time.

One of the big issues in this game is who gets the start between the pipes. Matt Climie has started 15 of the last 19 games and has a 2.75 GAA over that period. The Stars are not doing very well over that stretch. It really seems like Climie is overthinking his game and needs to get back to the basics of tending net. To that end, Todd Ford got the start in net on Tuesday and provided a sparkling shutout performance for the Stars with 36 shots against.

What does Coach Gulutzan do now? Do you start Todd Ford, who had a great game and certainly has to have good confidence coming off the shutout? I think this would give Climie a little bit more time to relax and think about his game. Or do you start Matt Climie because he's the goaltender under contract to Dallas? Because there's surely some pressure there to get him starts in the AHL with the uncertainty of Marty Turco's contract situation for the big club next year. Additionally, there is the fact that Ford played for the Toronto Marlies a 14 times over the last 4 years when he was on the ECHL's Columbia Inferno, so there's a motivation there when you play a team you used to play for that you have to put in the intangibles category.

If I were Gulutzan, I would start Ford. I think he is a very solid backup and his numbers bear it out. Backups need to be there to bailout the top guy, not only in the game, but in the larger scope of the season. Ford should get the back to back starts because he earned it on Tuesday night, and Climie hasn't shown much recently to show that he has. All this said, I don't think they will start Ford. I think they'll start Climie.

Looks like Texas is going through the rough and tumble portion of the schedule. Toronto is yet another team in the last few weeks that tops the penalty minutes per game category for the league at #2 with 24.72 min/game. The Marlies take a lot of penalties and are really bad at killing them off on the road, rated #25 in the league at 79.5%. Score on the power play and this game will be a good one.

Overall the Stars need to be diligent again and play their game like they did against San Antonio. Don't allow the soft or early goals, be a defensive team, take the shots even when they aren't the prettiest and execute a clean, crisp passing game.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (Stomach strain), Krahn (lower body), Gazdic (upper body)
Fortunus and Peters (call up Dallas), Lukowich (call up Vancouver)

Finally, best wishes to Stars play-by-play guy, Josh Fisher, who was losing his voice during the Stars v. Rampage matchup on Tuesday. Talking for 3 hours straight is not easy by any means. Hope you feel better, Fish.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Injury Report - Wilson, Krahn, and Gazdic

While injury information is tough to come by, here's what I have on the various players injured on the Texas Stars roster.

Landon Wilson
Wilson, the Stars' captain, is still out with an aggravation of his earlier injury, reported previously as a "stomach strain". Wilson has only played in six games this season and will be out at least 6 more weeks recovering from a recent surgery to correct the issue.

Brent Krahn
Krahn is still suffering from the lower body injury that has sidelined him since November. The current timetable on his return is similar to that of Landon Wilson at 4 to 6 weeks.

Luke Gazdic
The fan favorite bruiser hasn't played since January 2nd in Manitoba. In that game, he suffered an upper body injury laying on a hit on Moose player Tom Maxwell. You can see the hit in the January 2nd game highlights here at about the 0:50 seconds mark. No timetable on his return to the lineup.

Brunnstrom recalled to Dallas

Fabian Brunnstrom, who has been with the Texas Stars for six games on a conditioning assignment, was recalled to the Dallas Stars today. The was expected, as Dallas stated when they sent him down that he would return to the club for the January 14th matchup with the Canadiens in Montreal. Brunnstrom showed us a lot more on the ice this time in Austin, with 5 points and a +1 rating. He was on a line with some high-flying forwards, including Sceviour, Lindgren, and Morin. Here's the release.
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has recalled left wing Fabian Brunnstrom from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). He was assigned to Texas for a conditioning assignment on December 30, where he appeared in six games, scoring one goal and four assists for five points.

Brunnstrom, 24, has skated in 23 games for Dallas this season, collecting one goal and six assists. The 6-2, 212-pound left wing played in 55 games for the Stars in his first NHL season in 2008-09, recording 29 points (17g, 12a). The Jonstorp, Sweden native skated for Farjestads BK of the Swedish Elite League in 2007-08, notching nine goals and 28 assists in 54 games. He was signed as a free agent by Dallas on May 8, 2008.

The Dallas Stars will play at Montreal on Thursday night (6:30 pm CT, TV: FOX Sports Southwest, Radio: Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket).

Clarifications on the disallowed goal and the misconduct

Texas Stars play-by-play announcer Josh Fisher indicates that the goal was a no-goal because of the man being in the crease, as we thought. The game misconduct to Kolarik, which was not announced in the building clearly, was due to verbal abuse of the official and slapping his stick against the glass in protest of the no-goal call. That's AHL Rule 40, which reads like this:
A player, goalkeeper, Coach or non-playing person shall not challenge or dispute the rulings of an official before, during or after a game. A player, goalkeeper, Coach or non-playing person shall not display unsportsmanlike conduct including, but not limited to, obscene, profane or abusive language or gestures, comments of a personal nature intended to degrade an official, or persist in disputing a ruling after being told to stop or after being penalized for such behavior.
And the punishment? Well, the rulebook indicates that generally a player receives a minor penalty first, then a misconduct, then a game misconduct for this type of behavior. I guess the refs would have none of it and just went straight to the misconduct. Yer outta here!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Texas Stars shutout Rampage at home, 2-0

This right here, this was a good game. Todd Ford got the start in net, still wearing those wonderfully mismatched pads from the South Carolina Stingrays. Ford stood on his head to keep the Stars in this game and certainly earned that first star of the game.

The first thing the Stars did right was keep the Rampage off the scoresheet for the first 5 minutes of the game. As I said in the preview, they'd allowed a goal in the first five minutes in five of their last six. Tonight, they didn't allow a goal for 60 minutes.

Just after the six minute mark, Francis Wathier and Stu Bickel traded punches at center ice, with Wathier ending up on top of his man and drawing a raucous round of applause from the crowd. At 9:43 of the first, the Rampage took a roughing minor. The Texas Stars needed to capitalize on this opportunity. The Rampage were the 3rd best penalty kill in the league on the road coming into the game today. As I said in the preview, scoring on the power play would be a huge signal of a good game. With Ray Sawada planted in front of the net, bugging the heck out of Justin Pogge, Ivan Vishnevskiy bombed one from the point that beat Pogge. Score 1-0 Texas. They bested a strong PK with lots of shots and a man in front of the net.

But the toughest stretch of the night was killing a 5-on-3 that lasted for 1:06 late in the 1st. The Stars got physical, getting sticks in lanes and taking the body on shots. This was the defensive team that I knew from October and November.

The Stars added another on a deft 2-on-1 play from Aaron Gagnon to Sergei Korostin. Bearing down on Pogge, Gagnon tapped the puck across the crease to Korostin who redirected it through Pogge's legs to make it 2-0. The Stars locked it down the rest of the way, including not allowing a goal for an extended two minutes 6-on-5 empty net session to end the game.

This is what the Stars needed. They played defense; they scored on the PP. They got a really good game out of the goaltender and didn't allow a power play goal or any other type of goal. If we can keep this up, can we climb back into the first seed in the West Conference? I think we can.

Also, did Todd Ford play out of his mind tonight or is he a better goalie right now than Matt Climie? I know that a lot of folks, myself (and the wife) included, have a soft spot for him, but he's been letting in easy goals and having difficulty. Ford tracked the puck well tonight and really shut down the opposing attack, which laid 36 shots on him. I think Ford and Climie should share duties like Krahn and Climie shared in the early season. Matt played a lot better when he was sharing the load, and Ford has proven that he can help carry a heavy burden.

Lines for tonight:

Rallo-Gagnon-Wathier
Brunnstrom-Lindgren-Sceviour
Korostin-Morin-Beaudoin
Sawada-Tousignant-McCulloch

Jancevski-Stafford
Hutchinson-Ludwig
Vishnevskiy-Stephenson

Ford

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Gazdic and Shelast (scratched)
Lukowich, Fortunus, and Peters (NHL call ups)

Stafford was back to wearing his usual number, 5, tonight. Francis Wathier wore some sort of brace on his left arm after the fight for about half a period. The Rampage had a goal waved off late which resulted in a game misconduct for San Antonio. There was a broken stick in the crease after the play, so I'm guessing it was related to that. I'll update if I find out.

FOX Sports Southwest to broadcast three total Texas Stars games; two home games

Good news everyone!! The Texas Stars, the Houston Aeros, and the San Antonio Rampage will be coming to your home TV screens via FOX Sports Southwest this spring. Very exciting! Here's the release:
In conjunction with State Farm, FSN, the Houston Aeros and San Antonio Rampage, Texas Stars President Rick McLaughlin announced on Tuesday that State Farm is the title sponsor of the Lone Star Faceoff and six games of the in-state rivalry will be televised by FSN.

FSN will televise the State Farm Lone Star Faceoff live in the greater Austin area, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio on a combination of FOX Sports Southwest, FOX Sports Houston and FOX Sports Plus. The home team is responsible for providing the play-by-play talent, while FSN analyst and former NHL defenseman, Brent Severyn will broadcast all six games. Joe O’Donnell, the voice of the Aeros, will broadcast two games with Severyn in Houston. Stars broadcaster, Josh Fisher, will broadcast both games at Cedar Park Center with Severyn. The Rampage will supply the play-by-play talent to partner with Severyn for their home broadcast.

"As part of our 'Hockey Night in Texas' initiative, we’re excited to showcase the talented AHL teams and players across the state," said FOX Sports Southwest Senior Vice President/General Manager Jon Heidtke. "This series will give fans throughout the state a chance to witness the exciting style of hockey played in Texas and will allow them to follow the future stars of the NHL on television. We look forward to a successful partnership as we continue to promote hockey in Texas."

FSN Broadcast Schedule

Texas at Houston on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7:35 PM
San Antonio at Texas on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5:00 PM
Houston at San Antonio on Wednesday, Mar. 3 at 7:00 PM
San Antonio at Houston on Friday, Mar. 5 at 7:35 PM
Houston at Texas on Saturday, Apr. 3 at 7:00 PM
Houston at San Antonio on Thursday, Apr. 8, 7:00 PM

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
21-13-2-4, 48 pts
#4 Western Conf.
v.San Antonio Rampage
17-16-3-2, 39 pts
#13 Western Conf.
January 12th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Despite Texas's proximity to San Antonio, the Rampage have only made 1 visit to Cedar Park Center over the first half of the season. That game was the very first regular season home game for the Texas Stars, a thrilling 3-2 OT victory over the Rampage. The Rampage now make the 2nd of their eventual 6 visits to the CPC.

San Antonio had been stuck in the mud for much of the first half of the season and the Texas Stars were surely contributors to their rankings going 4-2 against them. The Rampage even hold the record for second longest winless streak this season at 11 games. But San Antonio has improved recently, going 7-2-0-1 in their last ten games. They also boast a solid PK, ranked 3rd in the league on the road, which certainly won't help the Stars' efforts to get on the board. Adding insult to injury here for the Stars is the fact that the Rampage have allowed more than 2 goals only once in their last eight games. With Matt Climie allowing 2.75 goals per game since the departure of Brent Krahn, those numbers don't look so good.

Stars D Ivan Vishnevskiy (2 G, 3 A) and C Perttu Lindgren (1 G, 4 A) are the team leaders in points against the Rampage. I am hoping for Sergei Korostin to jump back into the lineup reinvigorated from his stint in Idaho, where he was very successful (4 G, 2 A in 4 games). Also, Travis Morin has been making some noise of late (7 G, 14 A) and is currently tied for 15th on the season for rookie scoring.

The fact still remains that the Stars are a different team than the last time the Rampage came to Cedar Park. The Texas Stars are without Brent Krahn (injury), Maxime Fortunus, and Warren Peters (NHL call ups), all great contributors to the efforts of the team. Here are some statistical tidbits compiled by Mark Stepneski from Andrew's Dallas Stars Page:
  • Texas is 7-9-0-2 since Krahn last played on November 22.
  • The Stars were allowing 1.91 goals against as a team before Krahn went out and are allowing 3.00 goals against since he went out with the injury.
  • Since Krahn went out Matt Climie has started 15 of Texas' 18 games.
  • Climie is 6-8-1 in those 15 starts with a 2.75 goals against average and a .901 save percentage.
  • Before Krahn went out and when he was alternating with Krahn in net, Climie was 4-4-2 with a 2.06 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.
Texas needs to bring their A game against a team that has suddenly gotten hot. They will need to get shots on net and cause confusion for the opposing netminder with players in front. They need to not wait for the perfect "pretty" shot; just shoot. What's that overused phrase? "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take". Words to live by, Texas; when The Great One speaks, you listen. If the Texas Stars can score on the power play against a stingy San Antonio PK, then they will win. If the Texas Stars allow a goal in the first 5 minutes of the game, as they have in five of their last six games, then they will be lucky to come out with even one point in the match.

Injuries of note: Krahn definitely out; Wilson possibly still out. No word on what his injury is or if he's even injured.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Texas recalls Korostin, sends Neal to Idaho

According to the AHL transaction wire, the Texas Stars have sent LW Michael Neal back down to the Idaho Steelheads and have recalled RW Sergei Korostin. Neal played in one game on this stint in the AHL, recording one shot and two penalty minutes against Abbotsford on the 9th.

Sergei Korostin, at one point Texas's leading scorer, was sent down to Idaho after he hit a bit of a dry streak. Korostin picked up 4 G and 2 A for a total of 6 points and a +4 rating while in Boise. I like this move to help a struggling offense. Korostin previously played in 32 games for Texas before being sent down and racked up 9 G and 5 A for 14 points and a +6 rating.

Stars are in action against San Antonio tomorrow at home. See you there.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stars drop 2nd game in BC, lose to Heat 4-2


The Heat would draw first blood just 21 seconds into the game, Brett Sutter's fifth of the year from Baldwin. This was exactly what the Stars did not need, especially with goalie Matt Climie in net for the second time in two nights. The rest of the period would be quiet on the scoreboard, sadly. The Stars had 3 power play opportunities and outshot the Heat drastically at 17-8. They could not score and at that point were 0/8 on the power play against the Heat. So we moved to the second period with the Heat up 1-0.

With Ray Sawada in the box for interference, the Heat got their first chance at the power play. Matt Climie made a great save, again one of those that he "shouldn't have made" and on the ensuing play, Travis Morin made a great play to poke the puck away from the Heat pointman and go in alone on goalie Keetley. He beat Keetley glove side to tie the score 1-1 on a shorty.

Eight minutes later, Van der Meer made a great pass from behind the net to Backlund, who was swooping through the blue and beat Climie, who could get his skate out to the pipe fast enough. Just 22 seconds later, Tyler Shelast stole a puck away from a Heat defenseman just behind their goal line. Off the wild fracas in front, Tousignant put one home on the rebound. It was his first goal in the AHL. Tied again 2-2.

The Stars really poured it on at that point. Travis Morin hit the post moments later and Aaron Gagnon hit the pipe as well just 2 minutes after that. Van der Gulik was called for a delay of game on that play for taking the net off its moorings intentionally. The Stars power play was killed by bad passing and a lack of puck control. I'm not sure the Stars ever got setup. At this point, the Stars were 0/9 against the Heat on the power play.

Coming out of the second intermission, the Heat were on a power play that spanned the periods. Lindgren was in the sin bin for hooking. On the power play, if you could get an assist on your own goal, Riley Armstrong certainly made a pretty good case for it. Armstrong came down the left side half wall and passed to Jaffray, who was camped out on the goal line. Armstrong made some room for himself in front of the net and Jaffray passed back to Armstrong, who beat Climie glove side high to lead 3-2.

The Stars were then handed a golden opportunity to even it up when Vandermeer took an elbowing penalty with 5 minutes left in the game. On the ensuing power play, the Stars peppered the net with shots and maintain the zone for 90 seconds. Then Stuart of the Heat gained control and broke out for a 2-on-1 with Jason Jaffray against Andrew Hutchinson. Stuart passed to Jaffray who scored his 14th goal and league leading 4th shorty of the season. Heat lead 4-2.

Much like the night before, this seemed to break the Stars' will. They could not muster enough puck control to maintain the puck in the offensive zone for the rest of the game and were not able to get the extra attacker. The Stars finished 0/5 on the power play and have now gone 2/28 in their last 6 games. Additionally, they allowed a goal on the power play. If you're not going to score, at least don't allow shorties. This power play needs work.

The Stars also need to work on crisp tape-to-tape passing. So many of their breakouts are killed by errant passes. In fact, they had an entire power play tonight where they couldn't get into the offensive zone because they couldn't pass.

Next game is the 12th against the Rampage here at home. Let's see if Gulutzan can show us his coaching muster and bring it against San Antonio.

Here are the lines from tonight's game:
Rallo-Gagnon-Beaudoin
Brunnstrom-Morin-Sceviour
Wathier-Lindgren-Sawada
McCulloch-Tousignant-Shelast

Hutchinson-Ludwig
Vishnevskiy-Stephenson
Jancevski-Stafford

Climie

Captain Landon Wilson (likely injury) and Neal (likely healthy scratch) were out of the lineup. Warren Peters and Maxime Fortunus were also out of the lineup due to having been recalled by Dallas. Stafford was back in the lineup tonight but wore #25, usually Warren Peters' number, instead of the #5, which he wore in the early season. Also, there was news in the broadcast of what happened last night with Perttu Lindgren. Apparently he was hit in the face with a stick and missed most of the game after the 1st period but was in the lineup tonight wearing a full shield and later a half-shield.