Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stars come from behind, beat Ads in SO 3-2

To emphasize what I just wrote in the title, I am going to say it again. The Texas Stars came from behind at the 2nd intermission and beat a team. Texas, down 2-1 in the 2nd intermission tallied their first W in 21 such situations with the shootout win tonight in Milwaukee. Texas is now 1-18-1-1 when trailing after two and is the last team to complete such a come-from-behind victory in the entire AHL, doing so in the 75th game of the season.

Matt Climie got the start in net tonight. Aaron Gagnon scored first for Texas as Colton Sceviour and Luke Gazdic forced a Milwaukee turnover. Gagnon scored unassisted and Texas would take the lead to the locker room in the 1st period.

Dave Scatchard would have a part in both Ads tallies in the 2nd period. Scatchard scored shorthanded during Triston Grant's tripping minor early in the period. It was only the 8th Texas shorthanded goal against on the year. It was also scored unassisted. Ten minutes later, Jonathon Blum beat Climie on a cross-ice pass from Mike Santorelli. The Stars were down 2-1 at the second intermission.

Aaron Gagnon scored again for the Texas Stars in the 3rd period, beating Chet Pickard on a backhand shot to tie it at 2. Texas made it to overtime and survived a minor penalty to Perttu Lindgren to go to the shootout. Sceviour, Gagnon, and Morin scored for Texas and Matt Climie stopped 3 of 5 to preserve the win. Texas is now 5/9 in games decided in the shootout.

And so ends the horrible dreaded 7-game road trip. Could Texas have asked for a more successful trip? The Stars went 6-1-0-0, including two wins over division leading Chicago. They also clinched a playoff berth for the first time in team history. Texas is 8-2-0-0 in their last ten and has won four straight, all on the road. Now they travel home to face San Antonio twice (6-4-0-0), Houston (8-1-0-1), and Rockford (6-1-0-0). I think it's going to be a good home stretch for Texas.

Tonight's lines:
Sceviour, Gagnon, Sawada, Chupp, Lindgren, Morin, Peters, Beaudoin, Korostin, Gazdic, Wathier

Jancevski, Stafford, Hutchinson, Fortunus, Stephenson, Graham, Tr. Ludwig

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson, Rallo, and McCulloch (injured)
Tousignant, Ty. Ludwig and Shelast (scratched)
Benn (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 3,481.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - March 31 2010

Playoffs tickets on sale now

Usually I don't put out posts about mostly publicity type things, but I think this is important. Calder Cup Playoff tickets are on sale now. Texas did their part; now we need to do ours as fans. I want the Cedar Park Center to be rocking for the playoffs. As I've always said, Texans love a winner so go to Ticket Master and buy your tickets now. Do it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
43-24-3-4, 93 pts
#2 Western Conf.
atMilwaukee Admirals
38-28-1-6, 83 pts
#4 Western Conf.
March 31st at 7:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

The last time these two teams met was only a week ago, but my how things have changed. Milwaukee chased Brent Krahn from the net after the first period and rode a three-goal opening frame to a 3-2 victory over the Stars last Tuesday. At the time, Texas held a tenuous lead over Rockford for #2 in the West and Milwaukee had just shut down Houston in two straight to further lock down their playoff chances.

Since then, the Stars left Milwaukee and traveled to Chicago, Grand Rapids, and back to Chicago, collecting three wins and clinching the franchise's first ever playoff berth. Milwaukee, meanwhile, played a home-and-home series with Grand Rapids and came up short in both games.

Elsewhere, don't look now, but the Peoria Rivermen just won three of their last four and are only 3 points behind the Ads for the last playoff spot. Milwaukee plays Peoria twice (5-3 advantage MIL) and Chicago twice (6-1-1 advantage CHI). In fact, the only team that Milwaukee has left on their schedule that they have a winning record against is the IceHogs (5-4), and they only play each other once more.

Texas has a recently minted playoff berth but cannot rest on its laurels with the possibility of sealing first round home ice advantage within their reach. The maximum number of point that Rockford can achieve is 98. With Texas at 93 with 6 games to go, if the Stars can get three more wins, they will have locked up their #2 seed and guaranteed game one will be in Cedar Park.

On to the game at hand though. This will be the eighth and final meeting between these two teams. Texas holds the advantage at 4-3. Stars fans should already be familiar with the top scorers on this team: Mike Santorelli, Robert Dietrich, and Hugh Jessiman. The Predators, who are set to make the playoffs in the NHL, are doing the Ads no favors in terms of call ups. Milwaukee is missing #3 scorer Cal O'Reilly, Colin Wilson, and Nick Spaling due to injuries in Nashville.

As we've mentioned before, Mark "Dex" Dekanich is the top guy in Milwaukee, earning a 24-16-4 record with 2.40 GAA and .912 SV%. Despite this, he has only faced the Stars once, earning a win last week in Milwaukee. Chet Pickard has been the goaltender of record in all six other games between the two teams. On Texas's side, everyone's played against Milwaukee: Matt Climie with 3, Brent Krahn with 2, and Todd Ford with 2 also.

I think tonight's game is a battle of momentum. Texas is rolling, big time. They went out on the road and have won 5 of 6. Tonight is the 7th and last game of the trip and they are facing the only team that beat them. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is staggering into the playoffs, just trying to keep ahead of Peoria. They've just lost two winnable games against a non-playoff team and have perhaps the worst of it still to come. They may play pretty desperately tonight, because the big push has to start somewhere.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (ribs), McCulloch (upper body), Rallo (foot)
Benn (call-up)

Admirals Web Resources:
Website: milwaukeeadmirals.com
Blog (Official): In The Crease
Blog (Unofficial): Short Shifts (@Short_Shifts)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Monday, March 29, 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Playoff Bound

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D was published this morning. Here's the lead and a link to the rest:
The Texas Stars continued their longest road trip of the season with four games this week, none in the same city back-to-back. However, with three wins in those four games the Stars have now punched their ticket for the Calder Cup playoffs. In only their first season in existence, the Stars were the 6th team in the AHL to clinch a playoff berth with their win over the Chicago Wolves (Atlanta Thrashers) on Sunday night.

We'll take a look at the rest of the playoff race, some possible affiliation changes, a few new faces on the Stars bench, and look at who is hot for the Stars, who's not, and who's sitting in the press box with injuries after the jump.
Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Playoff Bound

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Texas clinches Calder Cup playoff berth, sinks Chicago 5-0

It was a sparkling effort from the net on out as the Texas Stars closed the door on the Chicago Wolves and punched their ticket to the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 5-0 win today.

Texas took the early advantage on a rather strange play. Colton Sceviour threw the puck at the net casually and it managed to squeak between MacIntyre's leg pads. The goal, Sceviour's 8th of the year, was originally unassisted but Aaron Gagnon was added as the primary assist later in the game. The goal was scored on the first Texas shot of the night just 139 seconds into the game.

Texas and Chicago both hit a lot of posts in the first period and each netminder had to make a lot of stops. Toward the end of the first, Travis Morin beat Drew MacIntyre from the right side on a roofed puck. Morin was wide open and had no one molesting him for his 20th of the year.

Seven minutes into the second, Colton Sceviour broke out the puck of the Stars zone and shot in on MacIntyre. Mathieu Tousignant, trailing the play, followed up on the backhand to beat the tender to make it 3-0. It was his 4th of the year and Sceviour's 2nd point of the night.

Only 21 seconds later, Ray Sawada fed a puck to Luke Gazdic who scored his 3rd of the year to make it 4-0. Texas broke their team record for fastest goals in team histroy, previously 23 seconds and only set last night in Grand Rapids. The goal by Gazdic would end Drew MacIntyre's night. MacIntyre stopped 13 of 17 shots and played a total of 27:44. Peter Mannino, whose last game action was on Friday night against the Stars, would replace the goalie. MacIntyre started last night as well in Rockford, shutting out the IceHogs on 33 shots.

At the 12 minute mark of the second, newcomer Cody Chupp laid a nasty hit on the Wolves' Nathan Oystrick. There was no call on the play, and Oystrick was not so happy with that. He chirped at the Texas bench and would not leave the ice, so the linesman escorted him off, giving him a ten-minute misconduct and a game misconduct under AHL Rule 75.4. The Wolves took a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct only 4 minutes later. It was clear the 4-0 deficit was not sitting well with Chicago.

Francis Wathier decided that 4-0 wasn't enough though with 22 seconds left in the period. He took a faceoff win from Warren Peters and ripped it on net for his 16th of the year and a 5-0 Texas lead.

Both teams took the 3rd period relatively easy, and there was no more scoring. After about 10 minutes, Chicago seemed to want to just hit the showers. With only a few minutes left in the game, Brent Krahn got sat on by a Chicago player and looked like he might need to come off the ice. He shook it off and finished the game. Krahn completed his 5th shutout of the year.

With the win, Texas is only six points behind Chicago for the West Division lead and now has opened up a five point lead on #3 Rockford. The Stars still have one game in hand over the IceHogs. And of course, most importantly, Texas will be playing in their first Calder Cup playoff in their first season in the AHL!

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
Sceviour-Gagnon-Tousignant
Morin-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Gazdic-Chupp

Jancevski-Stafford
Graham-Fortunus
Hutchinson-Tr. Ludwig
Ty. Ludwig

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson, Rallo, and McCulloch (injured)
Graham and Shelast (scratched)
Benn (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 9,816.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Chicago - March 28 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
42-24-3-4, 91 pts
#2 West Division
atChicago Wolves
46-20-1-6, 99 pts
#1 West Division
March 28th at 3:00 PM
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

As usual, an abbreviated gameday preview for a semi-back-to-back game. Since the Stars last saw the Chicago Wolves, both have played one game. Chicago shutout the IceHogs 3-0 in Rockford, and Texas squeaked by the Griffins 5-4 in a shootout.

Both teams have played a 3-in-3 this weekend, so they are on even turf there. However, Chicago was able to finish off their opponent in regulation on Saturday which may put the Stars top lines at a disadvantage for having to play the extra five minutes.

If the Stars can come out strong on the puck, shooting in on the Chicago tender, then Texas has a very real chance of sweeping this weekend's games. Today's game with Chicago is the last of the regular season. Texas is 3-3-1-0 against the Wolves on the year and would certainly like to get another statement win on this big roadtrip.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (ribs), McCulloch (upper body), Rallo (foot)
Benn (call up)

Website: chicagowolves.com
Blog (official): UnMic'd with Jason Shaver
Message Board: Wolves Forum
Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves

Stars inch closer to playoffs with 5-4 SO win over Griffins

The second shootout win for the Texas Stars in as many night put them just 2 points away from their first playoff berth in franchise history. Now, with a win tomorrow or a Peoria loss at Houston, Texas will be set for a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs in their first season in Austin.

Texas opened the scoring on the power play on a redirected pass by Andrew Hutchinson, his eighth of the year. Only 23 seconds later, Warren Peters scored his 3rd goal of the weekend with a tip on Ray Sawada's centering pass.

The Griffins answered with two more goals of their own. Mattias Ritola and Jan Mursak beat Matt Climie to tie the game at 2. Before the first was up though, Mathieu Beaudoin would score his 18th of the year on another tipped shot originally from the stick of Trevor Ludwig.

Grand Rapids tied it up early in the second on a goal by Cory Emmerton. Mathieu Beaudoin staked the Stars to a 4-3 lead at the halfway point of the game with his 19th of the year and second of the night. Texas never trailed in the game. Jamie Tardif evened things up at 4 only 20 seconds later and the score would stay at four through the end of 60.

Texas was outshot drastically in each period and overall in the game, with the final tally ending at 38-21 in favor of Grand Rapids. In the second alone, Grand Rapids outshot Texas 15-6 and in the overime period, Texas did not get a shot off.

Texas went to the shootout for the second time in as many nights. It only took 3 and a half rounds to decide as Matt Climie shutout all Grand Rapids shooters and Sceviour, Lindgren, and Morin all scored for Texas.

Tonight's lines:
Sceviour, Gagnon, Sawada, Chupp, Lindgren, Morin, Peters, Beaudoin, Korostin, Gazdic, Wathier, Tousignant

Hutchinson, Fortunus, Stephenson, Jancevski, Stafford, Tr. Ludwig

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson, Rallo, and McCulloch (injured)
Ty. Ludwig, Graham, and Shelast (scratched)
Benn (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 10,503.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Grand Rapids - March 27 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
41-24-3-4, 89 pts
#2 West Division
atGrand Rapids Griffins
31-35-3-3, 68 pts
#7 North Division
March 27th at 6:00 PM
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

Your Texas Stars are coming off a huge win against the team that leads their division, the Chicago Wolves. Now they travel eastward to take on the bottom-feeder of the North Division, Grand Rapids. However, it has not been a cakewalk for Texas this year in five games against the Griffins already. On the season, Texas has only mustered one win, a 2-0 victory at home on October 15th, only the second regular season game ever played in Cedar Park Center. Since then, Texas has fallen four times and has yet to win a game in Van Andel Arena. Tonight's game is the last between the two teams in the regular season.

The Griffins are certainly outside of the playoff picture but have been playing decent hockey recently nonetheless. Grand Rapids is 6-2-1-1 in their last ten and is coming off back-to-back wins against Milwaukee on Thursday and Friday. Tonight's game will be the third of a 3-in-3 for Grand Rapids and the second for Texas, who will return to Chicago for a matinee game on Sunday.

The Griffins are led up front by Jeremy Williams. Williams leads in goals, assists, and point on the season (26-28-54). Patrick Rissmiller and Mattias Ritola round out the top three on the season. Defenseman Paul Crosty leads the Griffins in PIMs with 166. Daniel Larsson and Thomas McCollum are in net for the Griffins. Larsson has gained the majority of the starts at 48 games played and has garnered a 22-22-1 record with a 2.84 GAA and a .905 SV%. McCollum is 8-14-2 with a 3.55 GAA and .878 SV%.

Interestingly, Grand Rapids is top 10 in the league on home ice when it comes to penalty killing. The Griffins are not a good second period team, which could play to the Stars' advantage. Grand Rapids has allowed 94 second period goals while only scoring 70. Texas holds a 78-52 advantage in the second over the course of the season.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson, McCulloch, Rallo (injured)
Benn (call up)

Website: griffinshockey.com
Twitter: @GriffinsHockey

Friday, March 26, 2010

Warren Peters, Texas down Chicago 4-3 in SO

Can you say colossal win? Tonight, the Texas Stars could and did. Texas handed Peter Mannino his first loss of any kind since January 6th and only his fourth loss of the season overall with a shootout win over Chicago. Two of Mannino's four losses on his 23-3-1 record have come against Texas. This was a statement win for the Texas Stars. Yes, someone can beat the Chicago Wolves: your Texas Stars.

Texas opened the scoring in the 2nd period after bombing the net with shots in the first. The first period shot total was 16-6 in favor of Texas. Warren Peters scored just 4 minutes into the second on a power play shot that deflected in off Mannino's gear. Peters did it again seven minutes later when he got the homerun pass from Dan Jancevski and beat Mannino with a wrist shot glove side high. Before the end of the period though, Chicago would score on Krahn to bring it to 2-1. Texas again beat Chicago on shots in the period at 13-7 and was leading overall after two at 29-13.

The Wolves claimed the next two goals of the night, from Paul Postma and Matt Anderson. Then, Texas did something quite extraordinary: they didn't lose. The Stars managed to tie the game to take us to the extra period. Again, Warren Peters got a pass to the crease where Ray Sawada put it home to tie us at three.

The Stars and Wolves skated to a tie after overtime and went to a shootout. Texas brought Sceviour, Graham, Lindgren, Gagnon, and Peters (duh) against Mannino. The Stars' first and last shooters scored while Brent Krahn stopped four of the five Chicago attempts.

Warren Peters had one heck of a night. He scored the first two goals of the night, setup the third, and scored the game-winning shootout goal. I had included Warren on my list of players who were not doing so well last week for the Texas Stars Report, but there are certainly signs of life tonight in the young centerman.

Elsewhere in the AHL, Peoria lost to Rockford 4-3 as well tonight. This brings Texas's magic number to 4 to clinch the playoffs but keeps the IceHogs only one point back of the Stars in the West Division. Texas can now clinch a playoff berth as early as tomorrow if the Stars can win at Grand Rapids and Peoria loses to Houston in any way (L/OTL/SOL). Rockford can also clinch tomorrow. In addition to their own win and a Peoria regulation loss, they would also require a San Antonio loss of any kind against Lake Erie.

Tonight's lines:
Sceviour, Gagnon, Sawada, Chupp, Lindgren, Morin, Peters, Beaudoin, Korostin, Gazdic, Wathier, Tousignant

Jancevski, Stafford, Hutchinson, Fortunus, Graham, Trevor Ludwig

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson, Rallo, and McCulloch (injured)
Tyler Ludwig, Stephenson, and Shelast (scratched)
Benn (call-up)

Was not able to watch the game live so no lines tonight. Cody CHupp played in his first professional game the same day as being signed. He did not record a point but had two shots on net.

Tonight's attendance was 7,415.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Chicago - March 26 2010

Stars Injury Update: Wilson, McCulloch, Rallo on the mend

The Stars have a few folks on the "IR" so I thought I'd do an update on their statuses.
  • RW Landon Wilson

    Landon has been stricken with the injury bug again, this time a rib injury that will have him out until early April. The captain of this young team will be a vital presence on the ice for the playoffs. Also, his scoring touch will be needed. Wilson has 5 points in the 8 games he has played this season.

  • LW Scott McCulloch

    McCulloch was originally out with the flu, but his injury has been upgraded to an upper body injury. There is no timetable for his return. Scott started the year on a PTO and earned a player contract with Texas at the end of November. He had started to click on a line with Perttu Lindgren and Mathieu Beaudoin before getting injured. he gained 6 of his 17 points in February while shifting with that line.

  • C Greg Rallo

    Greg Rallo took a puck to the foot on the 21st of March against Peoria. He is currently week-to-week and may not be back until the playoffs start. Rallo has been up and down the lineup this year but is a solid contributor. He is the third leading scorer with 45 points and is tied for second in goal scoring with 19.

Stars sign forward Cody Chupp to ATO

The Stars have picked up another player for their run to the Calder Cup, forward Cody Chupp out of Ferris State University. Chupp played four years for the Bulldogs, earning a total of 95 points in 144 career games. Chupp was the third leading scorer this year for Ferris State, which went 21-13-6. Current Stars center Greg Rallo also attended Ferris State for four years, leaving in 2006 around this same time of year to join the Idaho Steelheads for 7 regular season and 7 playoff games. Chupp will wear the number 15 for the Texas Stars.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
40-24-3-4, 87 pts
#2 West Division
atChicago Wolves
45-20-1-5, 96 pts
#1 West Division
March 26th at 7:30 PM
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Texas and Chicago tangle for the 7th and 8th times this weekend starting tonight in Rosemont. Texas holds a record on the season of 2-3-1 against Chicago. The Stars' most recent games against Chicago were at home on the 12th and 13th of February, both dreadful 3-goal deficit losses.

Since then, Texas and Chicago have both done relatively well. Clearly, Chicago has been a beast in the West Division, being the only team that has locked up a playoff spot thus far. In the time since the teams last met, Chicago is 13-3-1-1 and Texas is 11-6-0-0. Texas's pace has helped them crawl from 4th in the West to 2nd, while Chicago's play has firmly entrenched them in 1st place in the West. Both teams have won 7 of their last 10 games and are coming off regulation losses.

The Stars' weekend is set to be a doozy, with a 3-in-3-in-3 in store for Texas (3 games in 3 days in 3 cities). Texas will be back in Chicago on Sunday for a matinee rematch and the last game of the year between the two teams. The Stars travel to Grand Rapids to take on the Griffins in between the games against Chicago.

The special teams battle definitely goes to the Texas Stars. Chicago is fair to middling on the home power play and penalty kill, ranking #17 and #13 respectively. Texas, as always, cleans up on the road penalty kill ranking #6 in the league with 84.3%. Texas is not as shiny on the road power play at #12 with 17.3% but still dangerous.

Chicago features three players over 50 points on the year, while Texas only features one, Aaron Gagnon. Jason Krog leads the Wolves in points with 14-56-70. Tim Stapleton and Brett Sterling come in #2 and #3 with 29-29-58 and 34-22-56, respectively. Chris Chelios has been recalled to Atlanta and will not be in the lineup for the rest of season, most likely. Former Star Ivan Vishnevskiy is 2-7-9 in 20 games for the Wolves and is gaining points at a .45 points per game pace, which is only .02 off from his rate in Texas. He is earning more assists in Chicago and fewer goals, but the overall points number is very similar.

In the pipes for Chicago are Peter Mannino and Drew MacIntyre. Peter Mannino has been superhuman in net for the Wolves this year. In 26 decisions, Mannino has gone 23-3-0. That's right: only 3 losses. In fact, since January 1, Mannino is 16-1-0. On the year, he has a 2.22 GAA and a .923 SV%. One of his three losses this year came against Texas, a 5-3 win back on December 5th. Drew MacIntyre is slightly more mortal with a 19-15-2 record and a 2.45 GAA and .919 SV%.

This is a big game for Texas. If the Stars can get the matchup they want agaisnt Rockford in the playoffs, Texas may be facing off with Chicago in round two. The Wovles have given the Admirals fits this year and will likely dispatch them handily. This is a good "where are we at" type game for the team. Can Texas hang with Chicago like we did early in the year or will they fall flat like in February? We will find out starting tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (ribs), McCulloch (upper body), Rallo (foot)
Benn (call up)

Website: chicagowolves.com
Blog (official): UnMic'd with Jason Shaver
Message Board: Wolves Forum
Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crunch, Falcons find new NHL affiliates; what does this mean for Texas?

The Syracuse Crunch and the Springfield Falcons have already changed up their affiliates for next year and this year isn't over yet!

On Thursday, the Syracuse Crunch made the long-expected announcement that they would be affiliating with the Anaheim Ducks organization. The Crunch's old team, the Blue Jackets, moved over the Springfield and took up the affiliation there. The Falcons are affiliated with the Oilers this season, but the Oilers will be starting a still yet to be named AHL franchise in Oklahoma City next year.

So what now? The only team without an affiliate for this year, Anaheim, found a home in the AHL. With Edmonton's dormant franchise resurfacing in OKC, the AHL now has 29 active franchises, 1 inactive and soon to be unsuspended franchise, the Iowa Chops, and 1 temporary franchise, the Texas Stars. And now the Iowa Chops are without an NHL affiliate, and no one else needs one, at the moment. Sounds like a match made in heaven? Texas gets the franchise they originally tried for and purchases the Iowa Chops. I think it's the most likely situation right now. What do you think?

EDIT: Also, there is still the mess out east. Albany's franchise is relocating to Charlotte to be closer to the Hurricanes. This leaves Albany without an NHL affiliate or an AHL franchise and now there is no one left to affiliate with and only one left to buy. Without an affiliate in place, how likely would that sale be to go through?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tomas Vincour signed to ELC

The always up-to-date Andrew's Dallas Stars Page reports that Tomas Vincour has been signed to an entry level contract with the Dallas Stars organization. We should expect to see him in Cedar Park next year, as he is still playing in the WHL for the Vancouver Giants. He was 29-19-48 with 31 PIMs in 57 games split between the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Giants this year. He was Dallas's fifth round pick in 2009.

Andrew's DSP: Prospect note: Vincour signed to ELC

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stars can't mount comeback in third, fall 3-2 in Milwaukee

The Admirals came out of the gate on fire tonight, up and down the ice and laying the hits on the Stars all across the sheet. Krahn played well at the outset, especially during Colton Sceviour's hooking minor. Krahn stole a few great chances from the Admirals. Brent got lucky a bit too, with Sulzer ringing not one but two shots off the post. Trevor Ludwig did the goaltending on the second shot, making sure that the bounce off Krahner stayed under the goalie and not over the goal line.

Unfortunately, the Sceviour minor would be the only shiny part of Krahn's night. Over the last nine minutes of the period, Krahn gave up three goals. First, Triston Grant, usually a pugilist, scored his 12th of the year on one that Krahn didn't even see coming. He got screened by his own player on Grant's dump-in toward the net. The puck beat him high glove-side.

Dave Scatchard was next in line as he scored coming out of the penalty box. No one picked him up on his way down the boards, leaving him open for a pass and score play on net to make it 2-0.

With just 6 seconds in the period, Mike Santorelli scored on a weird five-hole play that was not well-described on the radio. Brent Krahn allowed 3 goals on 20 first period shots. That's right: 20. Where was the defense in the first? At that rate, that's 60 shots in the entire game. Ridiculous.

Krahn got the hook, and Matt Climie took the reins in net for the second period. It was the first time this year that Brent Krahn had been pulled. I personally think it wasn't fair to Krahn to pull him, but the team needed something to change. It really wasn't his fault that it was 3-0, and it should have been 6-0 without some spectacular plays from Krahn.

The shots rate slowed with the start of the second. Dan Jancevski made the first dent in the score at 10:41 of the second. Aaron Gagnon had the assist with the pass down low to Jancevski.

Less than 2 minutes later, Perttu Lindgren gets his 14th of season on a slapper from the high slot. The goal beat both Milwaukee goalie Mark Dekanich and a Milwaukee defender five-hole. Just like that, Texas had brought the score to a manageable level. Shots in the second were in Texas's favor at 14-7. Texas got a lot of great chances at the end of the period on the power play with Fortunus hitting the post once.

Then something horrible happened, the second period ended. Coming into tonight's game, the Texas Stars were the only team in the AHL to not have a third period comeback. With a record of 0-17-1-1, Texas would have to do something they'd never done before: stage a third period comeback.

Despite three 3rd period power plays and pulling tender Matt Climie for the last 1:59 of the game, Texas couldn't do it. Perttu Lindgren had the best chance but Texas would come no closer than a 'good chance'.

Texas now drops to 0-18-1-1 after trailing at the end of two. Climie didn't even have as many saves in two periods as Krahn had in one. Matt earned the 2nd star of the game with the 14 saves of 14 shots performance, but sadly, the damage was already done by that time. Krahner now drops to 14-3-0 and suffers his first loss since returning from injury at the beginning of March.

Why can't this team pull off a third-period comeback? The answer seems pretty simple: it's not built for offense. Texas ranks 13th in the league on offense though, and even the team that ranks dead last, Toronto, has 5 wins when trailing after two. At some point, you have to go to the whip in the third and stop playing as defensive of a game. If the Stars are still trailing by one with 5 minutes left, defensive players should jump into the play more and be more aggressive. Maybe this has been happening and I'm missing it, but whatever is happening, it isn't working. It's time for a change in the third period next time Texas is trailing. You can't do much worse than we already are.

Tonight's lines:
Lindgren-Morin-Beaudoin
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin
Gazdic-Tousignant

Hutchinson-Fortunus
Stephenson-Jancevski
Stafford-Tr. Ludwig
Ty. Ludwig

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson, Rallo, and McCulloch (injured)
Graham and Shelast (scratched)
Benn (call-up)

Apologies for any errors on the lineup. It was radio only for me tonight.

Greg Rallo took a puck off the foot in the Peoria game and will be out for at least a week.

Tonight's attendance was 3,143.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - March 23 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
40-23-3-4, 87 pts
#2 Western Conf.
atMilwaukee Admirals
37-26-1-6, 81 pts
#4 Western Conf.
March 23rd at 7:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

It's late March, and every point counts in the Calder Cup Playoff race. Texas is hitting their stride at just the right time. With the return of Brent Krahn between the pipes, Texas is now 8-2 in their last ten games and is currently on a four game winning streak. With the most recent win, Texas vaulted Rockford for 2nd place in the division and has a chance to do more damage with the IceHogs idle again tonight. Texas still has three games in hand over Rockford and already leads them by a point.

At the other end of the rink tonight, the Milwaukee Admirals may have punched their ticket to playoffs this past weekend in Texas. Coming into last weekend, Milwaukee had only won three of their last ten games and was feeling the heat from San Antonio catching up to their point total and fast. After losing three straight coming into last weekend, including Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Stars, the Admirals posted back-to-back wins in Houston. With the wins, they have now built a six point cushion between themselves and the Rampage. Milwaukee also has two games in hand over San Antonio making it a steep climb for the Rampage if they want to be in the playoffs.

Since these teams last played on Thursday in Cedar Park, both teams have won two very important games for their clubs. Texas jumped into 2nd with wins in Rockford and Peoria, and Milwaukee beat up on Houston to widen the gap between them and San Antonio.

Mark Dekanich started both games against Houston this past weekend for Milwaukee and has yet to face Texas. Chet Pickard has amassed a 2-3-1 record against Texas in the six games played with a 2.54 GAA and .898 SV% in the series.

Otherwise, not much has changed between the 6th and 7th meetings of these two teams. Aaron Gagnon is on fire for Texas, and the Admirals should watch out for his scoring touch tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (rib injury), McCulloch (flu)
Benn (call-up)

Admirals Web Resources:
Website: milwaukeeadmirals.com
Blog (Official): In The Crease
Blog (Unofficial): Short Shifts (@Short_Shifts)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Monday, March 22, 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: On The Road Again...

In this Texas Stars Report, we'll take a deeper look at each of the Stars three games from this past week and look ahead to next week. We'll discuss the first natural hat trick in Stars history and the signing of yet another Ludwig to the Dallas Stars organization. Most importantly, we'll take a look at where teams stand in the playoff race and how Texas might be able to lock up a playoff spot as early as this weekend...

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: On The Road Again...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gagnon powers Stars past Peoria 4-2 with natural hat trick

Texas opened up the scoring early coming off a sequence that the Rivermen would soon like to forget. Lars Eller and Mitch Love managed to both receive separate minor penalties during the same play. This gave Texas a full two minutes on the 5-on-3 advantage. Texas would not disappoint. Aaron Gagnon scored one minute into the five on three, assisted by Stafford and Hutchinson.

Gagnon scored again just 83 seconds later, this time not on the power play. Again, Aaron Gagnon beat Joe Fallon. This time he was assisted by Greg Rallo and Max Fortunus. Peoria would take a timeout. Texas ended up outshooting the Rivermen 11-7 in the first period.

Gagnon decided he hadn't had enough yet in the second period. With a shot from the high right wing circle, Aaron pinged one off the pipe and beat Fallon for the third time on the night. It is only the second hat-trick in Texas history and the first natural hat-trick in Stars history. Matt Stephenson collected his 3rd assist and 3rd point of the year on the play.

Before the period was out, Texas would surrender one goal. On the power play, Peoria beat Matt Climie off a juicy rebound, and we would go to the locker room with the score 3-1.

To start the third, Ryan Reaves crushed Peters in the Stars zone and earned himself a two minute minor for roughing. Texas wasted no time whatsoever as Perttu Lindgren snapped one from the left-wing circle past Fallon glove-side high for a 4-1 lead just eight seconds into the power play.

Just one minute later, Brent Sonne picked off a Texas pass that was sent cross ice to Pascal Pelletier who scored his 15th of the year. Matt Climie tried to get back to the puck but actually fell backwards flat on his butt trying to make it across the crease.

Texas held on for the rest of the third to keep it 4-2 and preserve the win. This was a big game for the Stars who are trying to lock up home-ice advantage in the playoffs. With the win, Texas passed Rockford for 2nd place in the West Division and brought their magic number down to 8 to make the playoffs. The drop of 4 is due to beating the team closest to making the playoffs (#5 seed Peoria). Texas closed out the season series with Peoria at 4-3-1.

Matt Climie seemed to track the puck well tonight and stopped a lot of good chances as well. This weekend's games in Rockford and Peoria have to give Texas confidence for the next 5 they have on the road. Texas is in action again on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

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

Jancevski-Stafford
Hutchinson-Fortunus
Stephenson
Tr. Ludwig
Ty. Ludwig

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and McCulloch (injured)
Gazdic, Graham, and Shelast (scratched)
Benn (call-up)

Offensive and defensive lines were shuffled quite a bit on the night. Tyler Ludwig played his first shift of his pro career in tonight's game. He wears the number 3, like his father did in Dallas.

Tonight's attendance was 4,795.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Peoria - March 21 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Peoria Rivermen

Texas Stars
39-23-3-4, 85 pts
#3 West Division
atPeoria Rivermen
33-28-2-6, 74 pts
#5 West Division
March 21st at 3:00 PM
Carver Arena, Peoria, IL

Texas jumps from one team whose number they've had in Rockford, to one that's had theirs with a day game today against Peoria. Texas is 3-3-1 in their season series with Peoria and has struggled overall against this team.

These two teams last met on March 10th in Cedar Park, a 3-2 win for the Stars. Teas has since gone 3-1 as part of an overall 8-2-0-0 record in the last ten games. Peoria has also gone 3-1 since the last meeting with an overall record of 6-3-1-0 in the last ten games. The single loss for both teams came against San Antonio in the AT&T Center.

Peoria is clawing at Milwaukee to try to make the playoffs. With only 11 games left, it seems like the 5 point deficit they find themselves in might be too much. Milwaukee also has 11 games left. The Rivermen do have a chance to control their own destiny a bit with two games against the Admirals before the end of the season, but they will be watching the out-of-town scores intently from here on out.

Leading scorers for the Rivermen include Lars Eller (14-35-49), Pascal Pelletier, and Nicholas Drazenovic. The fourth ranked point scorer, Jonas Junland (13-26-39), was last seen by Stars fans laid out on the ice by a punishing hit from Ray Sawada at the end of the March 10th game. Sawada may get some payback attempts in the game today, so be on the lookout for that.

Between the pipes for the Rivermen are Joe Fallon and Ben Bishop. Bishop is 19-16-3 on the year with 2.91 GAA and .898 SV%. Interestingly, he does not have a shutout on the year. Fallon is 18-13-1 overall and 3-3-0 with the Rivermen. Fallon played the majority of the season with Rockford before being traded for Hannu Toivonen in a multi-player deal.

For Texas, Brent Krahn has now started four of the last five Texas games. And why not? He's yet to lose in the month of March and looks to be back on his game. That being said, Matt Climie will likely get the start today since Krahn started against Rockford. Climie last played in San Antonio last Friday, a loss in which he allowed only 2 goals. Usually, two goals is enough to get the win, but not on that evening. Overally, Matt is 18-16-3 with a 2.42 GAA and .920 SV%. Look for his number to improve as he is less overworked with Krahn around. Goaltending is one of those positions that requires a huge amount of minor league work. This is Climie's first full year in the AHL and it seems he's still adjusting. Give him time though; he'll come through it.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson, McCulloch (injured)
Benn (call-up)

Website: rivermen.net
Blog (unofficial): Cleve's World
Twitter: @peoria_rivermen

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Krahn, Stars shutout Rockford 2-0, one point behind 2nd in division

The Stars started off their epic seven game road trip on the right foot this evening with a 2-0 shutout win over the Rockford IceHogs in Rockford. Brent Krahn picked up his 4th shutout of the year and his 14th win. Krahn has yet to lose a game in four starts since returning from injury at the beginning of March. Krahn is 4-0-0 in the month of March with a 2.26 GAA and a .927 SV%. Krahn is overall 14-2-0 with a 1.62 GAA and .950 SV%.

Fans in Rockford were just settling into their seats when the Stars opened the scoring at 59 seconds of the first. Mathieu Beaudoin beat Corey Crawford short side on a rebound from an Andrew Hutchinson shot for his 17th of the year and a 1-0 lead.

Toward the end of the first, Greg Rallo took a hit in the offensive zone corner. Tousi laid a hit on Richmond. Richmond took exception and got a double-minor for roughing and a ten-minute misconduct. Klinkhammer, who also started beating on Tousignant, got no penalties.

In the second, Texas extended the advantage on a "power play" tally. Brophey's cross-checking minor expired at 8:09, and Texas scored at 8:14. Perttu Lindgren scored his 12th of the year on a cross-ice pass from Travis Morin.

Two goals would be all Texas needed to win after Brent Krahn's 29 save shutout performance. Rockford put 14 third period shots on net but couldn't penetrate Krahn. The only penalty in the third period was a delay of game minor to Maxime Fortunus with 2:15 remaining in the game. Rockford pulled Crawford for the 6-on-4 advantage to try to even the score. But Rockford was ineffective, only getting a few shots on the net.

Texas has now beaten Rockford six of seven games this year. This is definitely the playoff matchup that Texas wants to have. With this win, the Stars are only one point behind the IceHogs, who are idle tomorrow. With a win, OTL, or SOL tomorrow, Texas will jump Rockford for second place in the West.

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

Jancevski-Fortunus
Hutchinson-Graham
Tr. Ludwig-Stafford
Stephenson

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and McCulloch (injured)
Gazdic, Shelast, and Tyler Ludwig (scratched)
Benn (call-up)

I missed the transaction that sent Shelast back to Texas on the 16th. He is now with the Stars.

All 7 defenseman saw time on the blueline tonight.

Tonight's attendance was 4,673.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Rockford - March 20 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
38-23-3-4, 83 pts
#3 West Division
atRockford IceHogs
40-26-3-3, 86 pts
#2 West Division
March 20th at 7:05 PM
MetroCentre, Rockford, IL

Texas travels to Rockford this evening for their last game of the regular season in the MetroCentre. The Stars could return to the Rockford in the first round of the playoffs. Players and fans alike would certainly rather return for the 3rd game of a seven game series than the 1st and the first game of the Stars seven-game roadie is pivotal in gaining that home ice advantage for the first round.

Texas and Rockford are currently separated by three points in the West division standings, with Rockford at 86 and Texas at 83. The important thing to note here is that Texas has four games in hand over the IceHogs, who have played more games to this point than any other team in the league.

Since the last time these two faced each other, an overtime win for Texas on March 5th, Texas has taken care of business as part of a 4-1 stretch of games. Rockford has gone 3-3-0 including big losses at San Antonio (7-2) and Manitoba (6-1). The game tonight will be the second of a seven game homestand for the IceHogs, which features all divisional opponents except for the North Division's Lake Erie. Rockford finishes the season by playing all three of the Texas-based teams on the road, including Texas on April 9th.

As I've mentioned here before, Texas and Rockford played a lot of games early in the season. Texas gained a 4-1 record in 5 games between November 13th and December 12th. The Stars improved to 5-1 against Rockford on March 5th.

Rockford is midpack on the road power play and penalty kill. Kyle Greentree leads the IceHogs in goals with 24 (24-19-43) and Bracken Kearns leads in points (15-33-48). In the pipes for Rockford are Corey Crawford and Hannu Toivonen. Crawford's most recent game experience came with the Blackhawks where he allowed 3 goals and took the loss.

Tonight's game is huge for playoff potential. It is one of those "four point" games that sports folks often talk about. If the Stars want to make a push for the home ice advantage, this is the game to start.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson, McCulloch (injured)
Benn (call-up)

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

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reports: Dallas Stars sign Tousignant to ELC

Andrew's Dallas Stars Page reports that the Stars have signed Texas Stars forward Mathieu Tousignant to a 3-year entry-level contract. Working to confirm.

Texas Stars Attendance Data Published on HDH

I've been compiling attendance data for the Texas Stars home games for a few weeks now and thought I would publish it on the site for all to see. I've broken down the home games by day of the week and by opposing team. Obviously, Fridays and Saturdays have the biggest draws. The permanent link is in the sidebar now as "Texas Stars Attendance".

Hundred Degree Hockey: Texas Stars Attendance

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Texas downs Milwaukee 4-3, looks ahead to important road trip

The Stars jumped on an early power play after some pushing and shoving in front of the net ended with Scott Ford's fist in Mathieu Tousignant's face. Texas only took 22 seconds for Maxime Fortunus's slapshot to find the back of the net with a redirect in front from Aaron Gagnon. Texas was up 1-0 just 4 minutes in.

Again, Milwaukee found themselves in penalty trouble when Triston Grant took a charging minor 200 feet from his own net in one of the all time most unnecessary penalties I've ever seen. This time, Texas took a whole 68 seconds to score on the power play. Andrew Hutchinson's blast was aided by Mathieu Beaudoin occupying Chet Pickard and a Milwaukee defender in front of the net. Texas had a good front of the net presence when they were in the offensive zone tonight. Fourteen minutes into the game, Texas had scored two goals on five shots.

Milwaukee would get one back at even strength before the period was finished. Triston Grant made up for his unnecessary penalty by getting one back. Maxime Fortunus got rocked behind the net on the play and Grant managed to come across the crease and put one past Krahn for a 2-1 game.

The second was mostly quiet until Dave Scatchard took a tripping minor at 15:15. Milwaukee did not agree with the call. In general, there were a lot of questionable tripping calls on both sides of the ice tonight. Francis Wathier put in his 15th of the year on the doorstep on the backhand on the ensuing power play.

With just 48 seconds elapsed in the 3rd, Ray Sawada leveled Nolan Yonkman, who is not a small man by any means, and Yonkman took exception. Nolan cross-checked Ray to the ice and then started waling on him. Sawada took to the challenge but already being on the ice the fight was over quickly. Yonkman got the extra two minutes for cross-checking, and Sawada got under the skin of the Admirals.

Texas staked itself to a 4-1 lead late in the third when Greg Rallo scored his 19th of the year and his first since the Grand Rapids game on February 21st. The play was simple really. Greg outdeked a defender and snapped a sick wrister glove-side high on Pickard, and Chet just didn't get to it in time.

With only 4:35 left in the game and a 4-1 lead, Texas seemed ready to lock up two points. No one told Milwaukee they were out of this game yet, though. The Ads scored two in the next 3 minutes to bring the score to 4-3. Both goals, score by Thuresson and Jessiman, were put in off the backdoor. On the first, Krahn did not even have time to move back. It looked like a blown assignment, as no one was covering Thuresson in front of the net. It was an extra attacker goal, but he was in a very juicy scoring area so I would expect some coverage. Instead, he was basically shooting for an empty net. The Jessiman goal was scored five-hole as the puck went through just before Krahn went full splits on the ice. As has been mentioned before, I don't think I've ever seen a goalie so quick to get down in the splits for his butterfly style.

Texas managed to lock it down with 93 seconds left in the game and seal the 4-3 win. There was a little bit of nastiness at the end of the game by the door where the Stars enter and exit the ice. A few punches were exchanged and surely some unprintable words. The officials doled out three 10-minute misconduct penalties for the fracas, one each to Jessiman, Sawada, and Wathier.

Maxime Fortunus had a bit of an off game. He was on the ice for two of the power play goals for but also two of the goals against. He took an uncharacteristic tripping minor and had a few blown assignments.

Ray Sawada continues to impress me with the elevation of his game. He has 3 goals and an assist in March's 6 games and 10 penalty minutes. He also brings an all-important element of energy to the team by leveling good legal hits that get the team and crowd pumped up. Also, it has to feel good for Greg Rallo to find the net again after a month without it. Once the Stars leading goal scorer, Rallo was surpassed by Aaron Gagnon but now is only two goal behind Gagnon's 21, a Stars record. Of course, then again, every "best" stat this year is a franchise record, eh?

Texas had a great game on special teams as well. The Stars scored on three of six opportunities and did not allow a power play goal on three chances. Milwaukee outshot Texas in the contest 29-20.

The Stars now head out for a seven game road trip that will help decide their fate in the playoff seeding. Everything is still up in the air right now for the West Division, but this trip is key for Texas with 6 of the 7 games coming against division opponents. It all starts Saturday against Rockford.

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

Stafford-Jancevski
Fortunus-Graham
Hutchinson-Ludwig
Stephenson

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and McCulloch (injured)
Gazdic and Tyler Ludwig (scratched)

Stars only dressed 11 forwards again, but the extra d-man, Matt Stephenson, did not see the ice in this game. Doing the math, I think this is a matter forced by the clear day roster. Currently we only have 3 players "out": Benn, Wilson, and McCulloch. We can thusly only sub in one player who is 'in residence' Tousi gets the call, and we can't add anyone else. This situation won't be alleviated until Wilson or McCulloch gets healthy. I'm guessing McCulloch, since his issue is the flu.

Tonight's attendance was 6,381.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - March 18 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
37-23-3-4, 81 pts
#3 Western Conf.
v.Milwaukee Admirals
35-25-1-6, 77 pts
#4 Western Conf.
March 18th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

You've got to hope the boys enjoyed their time off over the past five days because tonight's game starts a 13 game in 23 day stretch that ends the season and will decide where Texas places in the final standings. Twelve of the thirteen games are against divisional opponents, and only five of them are at home. The first of those thirteen games is tonight against another team battling for the playoffs, the Milwaukee Admirals.

Milwaukee is currently seeded fourth in the division and is holding on to the last playoff spot in the West. Fellow Texan team, San Antonio, is only three games behind the Admirals, but the Ads have three games in hand over the Rampage. Milwaukee is definitely going to play tonight as if it were the playoffs. If they don't make it to the the third seed or better, they will have to face the juggernaut that is the Chicago Wolves. The Wolves have been killer for the Admirals, beating them in 6 of their 8 meetings on the year, most recently on Tuesday night by a score of 4-3. Admirals blog, Short Shifts, was not pleased by the performance.

Texas has not played since Saturday, a victory over the San Antonio Rampage in front of the sold-out Cedar Park Center. Brent Krahn got the start and the win, his 12th of the year in 14 decisions. Texas overall will play eight games against the Ads this season, tonight's game being the 6th. Texas is 3-2-0-0 against Milwaukee this season overall and 2-1-0-0 at home. The remaining games after tonight are both in Milwaukee at the Bradley Center.

The Ads are without a few of their top scorers from the last faceoff between these teams. Cal O'Reilly and Colin Wilson are both in Nashville, and Peter Olvecky was loaned to Manitoba. Milwaukee gained Marty Murray in return for loaning Peter Olvecky. Murray has 2 points (1-1-2) in two games for the Ads. Leadign scorers still on the roster for the Ads include Mike Santorelli (21-33-44), Robert Dietrich (5-32-37), and Hugh Jessiman (17-18-35). Triston Grant leads the team with 189 PIMs, and Dave Scatchard leads the league in shooting percentage at 24.1%.

The Ads are great on the road power play, connecting on 20.8% of their chances for the #3 ranking in the league. The road penalty kill is not as strong though, ranking #25 in the league at 79.1%. Of course, Texas's excellent PK is well documented, especially at home, killing 87.9% of chances for #3 in the league.

Milwaukee's netminders, Mark Dekanich and Chet Pickard, have done well this season. Dekanich was selected as the Goalie of the Month for February after posting a 5-1 record with 2 shutouts. Dekanich has been more human this month with a 1-4-1 record, a 2.39 GAA and .910 SV%, which match his year to date totals. Overall, Dekanich is 21-14-4 on the year. Pickard, a rookie, has only started one game this month, a loss to Peoria in which he allowed 3 goals on 21 shots. On the year, Pickard is 14-12-2 with 2.85 GAA and .891 SV%.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (rib injury), Lindgren (upper-body), McCulloch (flu)
Benn (call-up)

I'm going to go ahead and start including Jamie Benn on the "roster" list here since he was on the clear day roster. He'll always be a call up pretty much.

Also, there are four players now 'incapacitated' in one way or another from the clear day roster, so the Stars can enter two players who are 'in residence' on to their line-up.

The Stars are now carrying 8 defensemen and do not expect to send Tyler Ludwig down to Idaho.

Admirals Web Resources:
Website: milwaukeeadmirals.com
Blog (Official): In The Crease
Blog (Unofficial): Short Shifts (@Short_Shifts)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hundred Degree Hockey on Defending Big D Live Podcast

I'll be joining Art Middleton and Pat Iversen on the Defending Big D Live podcast tonight at 8 PM CDT. We'll be talking about the AHL playoff race, Dallas players in Texas, and all kinds of other Texas Stars related material. You can even call in and ask questions of the panel. You can also join the chat to ask your questions if you're too timid to call. Details on calling in and links to the podcast and chat page below:

Chat with Defending Big D Live Podcast panel

Defending Big D Live Podcast, Episode 17: Talking Texas Stars, the AHL and the Dallas Stars home stretch so far

Texas Stars "On The Ice" report on ESPN Austin

Luke Gazdic joined "The Bottom Line" hosts for the "On The Ice" report today for an abbreviated interview.

D Tyler Ludwig, twin brother of Trevor, signed to ATO

The Stars signed some defensive help today with an amateur tryout contract to Tyler Ludwig. Ludwig is the son of former NHLer, Craig, and twin brother of current Stars blue liner, Trevor. According to the AHL transactions page, Tyler has not been assigned to Idaho and will wear #3 here in Austin. Here's the release.
The Texas Stars announced on Wednesday that defenseman Tyler Ludwig has been signed to an ATO (Amateur Tryout Agreement).

Ludwig turns pro after a four-year career at Western Michigan University. In four years with the Broncos, Ludwig scored 16 goals and dished out 54 assists for 70 points in 152 NCAA games. During his junior and senior seasons, the 6-foot-2, 205 pound defender led the Broncos in points by a defenseman. The Colleyville, TX native posted a +12 rating as a senior and finished his NCAA career a +5 overall. Ludwig is the twin brother of current Texas Stars defenseman Trevor Ludwig and the son of former NHLer and Dallas Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Playoff Picture Getting Clearer By The Day

It's time for the weekly Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D. This week, we discuss the franchise rumor post from last week, explain clear day rosters to NHL fans, recap this past week's games, and look at the playoff race.

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Playoff Picture Getting Clearer By The Day

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Message to Everyone Who Wants to Learn to Play Hockey

I'm incredibly proud to say that I am a hockey player. I didn't get started when I was 3 like most professional players. I couldn't even skate before I got started last June. I took the Learn to Skate classes at the Chaparral Ice Center here in Austin for a few months and then jumped into the learn to play classes on Sunday nights at the Northcross Mall location. I have loved all of my time spent there. Hockey is an amazing game to watch and an even more amazing game to play. I've started in a mixed league, and I'm looking forward to joining the summer C league. I play drop-in hockey any time I can and go to stick and pucks as much as my schedule (and wife) will allow.

My point in this post is not to regale you with my story of hockey. It is to inspire you.

Hey you! Yea, you. I've seen you at the rink. You go to the drop-in games and just watch from behind the boards. You've even shown up to watch the learn to play class a few times. Maybe I've seen you at the public skating sessions. We might have talked even on the ice while we skated.

You asked me about how I got into hockey, and I tell you about how easy it was to learn thanks to the resources here in Austin. I tell you about how nice every single person I've ever worked with has been. And still, I don't see you on the ice at learn to play. You aren't there at drop-in. You haven't joined the league. It's not the 'right time'. You aren't sure if you're ready.

Guess what? You're ready.

I've watched too many hockey friends sit on the sidelines waiting to start playing, hovering at drop-ins and hanging out in the pro shop, waiting to enjoy the greatest game on this earth for themselves. Don't be intimidated. I'll tell you a secret. I still can't skate backwards very well. I fall down a lot, too. But no one cares. We are all on the ice to play this great game. And you should be out there, too.

Please, if you want to learn to play hockey, do it. Step up right now and say, "I'm coming to the Saturday morning learn to skate class this weekend" or "I'll be at the Sunday afternoon learn to play class". Step up and be a part of the best game on the planet, because you're ready.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Texas defeats San Antonio 5-4 on third period flurry

We're going to have something of a recap here despite the fact I wasn't in attendance at the game. I'm excited to hear that Texas had its 3rd ever sellout crowd. You can read the Texas Stars game summary here. I also asked friend of the blog, Teresa, to take some notes on what she notedthat wouldn't appear on the score sheet. Here are her observations.
1st period:
You'll see Meyer and Tousi got into it at 12:54. I didn't see what exactly happened, but just before the fight Meyer dropped his stick and bent over with his hands over his face...I'm guessing highsticking from Tousi? When Meyer regained his composure he turned around and threw himself at Tousi, who was battling for the puck. Took the players a heartbeat or two to figure out Meyer wanted to stop playing hockey and start boxing, but eventually they got it figured out and off went the gloves. Fight was a draw, Tousi picks the fights but he doesn't finish them terribly well yet.

2nd period:
Scoresheet shows a goal from Wathier at 2:16, but it was announced as Jancevski's goal.

Fight broke out at 3:16 right in front of 101, again not really sure what started it, but Sawada was getting into it with Bickel and Gaz was hot after Picard. In fact, Gaz was trying so hard to get at Picard that a couple of times he threw a punch over the linesman's shoulder (never really landed one) and at one point shoved the linesman. Everyone in 101 held their breaths waiting to see if Gaz was going to get kicked out of the game...but the officials called a bunch of 2 minute roughing penalties and called it a day. I've seen Gaz out for blood, but this was a new intensity even for him.

3rd period:
Second half of the third period was explosive, with five goals scored between 7:01 and 17:37. Both teams REALLY wanted this win.

Other random thoughts:
There were two busses of San Antonio fans at CPC, but you couldn't tell. Our 23 fans last night made a heck of a lot more noise than their at-least-twice-that tonight.

It's no wonder Krahn gets groin injuries, as many times as he did the splits tonight. I find his style interesting, because he doesn't bring his legs in and butterfly nearly as much as he throws his legs out and ends up on his ass. He doesn't have as much of a five-hole issue to worry about that way, but his recovery time getting back on his feet is way longer. There were a couple of times we got lucky our D was able to get the puck clear, because Krahn was WAY out of position. Maybe his past knee injuries have something to do with it?

Stephenson played on the wing again tonight. I didn't write down lines, but I did pay enough attention to see that.

Tonight's attendance was 6,862.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - March 13 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
36-23-3-4, 79 pts
#3 West Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
31-27-3-6, 69 pts
#5 West Division
March 13th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

As usual, we have a shortened gameday preview for the 2nd game of a back-to-back set. The brevity of today's post is influenced by my lack of sleep as well.

San Antonio is hitting its stride at just the right time. With 13 games remaining on their schedule, they know they have a shot at the playoffs if they can start playing playoff hockey today. San Antonio knows this, but does Texas? Neither Texas nor any other team in the West has punched their ticket to the big dance yet. Even mighty Chicago is only 11 points from #4 Milwaukee. If San Antonio can start winning each and every night, including three remaining against Texas, then they have a shot at the playoffs.

The counter to this argument is that Texas had better not get complacent. Yes, Texas is in an excellent position to make the playoffs now. But the West is competitive and the Stars have only one remaining game outside of their division (at Grand Rapids). Even the #7 Houston Aeros are playing .500 hockey on the season. The West may well be the best division in the AHL and I think we may not know who goes to the playoffs and who goes golfing until the final buzzer sounds on April 11th.

Sadly, I will not be attending the game tonight myself so there will not be a postgame report for the first time since I started the blog. I have been invited with a group of my co-workers to present at the dorkbot conference for South by Southwest (SXSW). I am part of a group called "Waterloo Labs" for my day job. We recently modified an Oldsmobile Delta Eighty-Eight to be controlled by an iPhone and made a video about it. The video received over 400,000 views across the globe on YouTube and was featured on CNN, the BBC and various local broadcasts. In case you're curious, here's the video:



You can follow us on Twitter @waterloolabs and see more videos on our YouTube channel including a more in depth "making of". </shameless self promotion>

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Twitter: @SARampage

RARARARARARARARAR

Friday, March 12, 2010

Texas falls 2-1 against determined Rampage

Tonight's game was a new experience for me. It was my first time traveling to an away game as a visiting fan. I will have to write something up on my impressions of the fan experience in the AT&T Center at a later date. My executive summary of that later post would be this: "Not impressed". Oh, so there was also a hockey game. Let's get down to that.

The Stars lineup, which I have recorded below, included Gaz and Tousi. Coach Gulutzan scratched McCulloch and Lindgren along with Wilson. Not sure of the motivation here. Regardless, the Stars came out hard charging with some good chances but no finish. Texas gave up the first goal of the game on the penalty kill when Kyle Turris took a puck down the board, passed to Brett MacLean who skated along the goal line and passed to an unabated Alexandre Picard on the back door. It was Picard's 21st of the year.

Texas had a lot of power play chances in the first, three to be exact, including a 13 second 5-on-3 PP. Despite 11 Texas shots in the first, Josh Tordjman turned back everything he saw. Texas would score next however. Also on the power play, Aaron Gagnon potted his 19th of the season when Dan Jancevski's point shot generated a juicy rebound off Tordjman's pads. Texas was overall outshot in the 2nd period, 14-7.

In the final period, San Antonio would be the only team to score. Early in the period, Morgan's shot from the left-wing boards was redirected practically on Climie's lap by Meyer to make it a 2-1 game. Texas tried to fight back but couldn't pull it out in the last period. It was a tough game to watch because the Stars had good chances but couldn't finish. Texas put 28 shots on goal, a high number for them, and Josh Tordjman earned the #1 star of the game. That tells you about the quality of the shots.

Finally, usually I don't comment about such things, but Texas's efforts were not aided by the referee much this evening. Referee Terry Koharski missed a few blatant calls and made phantom calls on Texas players. Greg Rallo received a cross-check that knocked his helmet off for example. Also, the more obvious example was when Matt Climie had lost his stick in the corner and a Rampage player knocked it further out of his reach. That's interference. Goalie Brent Krahn was the last player off the ice tonight as he spent a little bit of time at center ice explaining to one of the linesmen that moving a player's (unbroken) stick is indeed interference. It was a badly called game by Koharski, who had a questionable night on Wednesday when he also reffed Texas against the Rivermen. You can't blame lost games on officials; that's just being a crybaby. I will however say that things were missed.

The Rampage are now 7-3-0-0 in their last ten and face the Stars 3 more times. Texas loses those games and suddenly the West Division standings get a little dicey...

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
Beaudoin-Gagnon-Korostin
Sceviour-Morin-Rallo
Gazdic-Tousignant-Stephenson

Stafford-Jancevski
Fortunus-Graham
Hutchinson-Ludwig

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson, McCulloch, and Lindgren (scratched)

Once again, the Stars only dressed 11 forwards but this time they played their 7th defenseman up on the wing. Stephenson shifted with Gazdic and TOusignant.

Tonight's attendance was 7,210.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - March 12 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
36-22-3-4, 79 pts
#3 West Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
30-27-3-6, 69 pts
#5 West Division
March 12th at 7:00 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Texas takes the short trip down Interstate 35 to battle the San Antonio Rampage this evening in the ninth of twelve games between the two teams this year. Texas holds a 5-3-0-0 advantage over the Rampage overall. This will be the last game of the regular season for the Stars at the AT&T Center. The Stars have gone 3-2-0-0 against the Rampage on their home ice. With a win tonight of any kind, the Stars will clinch inaugural the Lone Star Cup, as no team will be able to match their point total.

Texas and San Antonio are both on 6-4-0-0 runs over their last ten games and both have winning streaks coming into tonight's game, three and two games respectively. The Stars sit at 3rd place in the West Division while San Antonio is standing just outside the playoff party in 5th place, eight whole points behind 4th place Milwaukee. San Antonio needs to win almost every game from here on out to match Milwaukee's points pace. San Antonio is in playoff mode and that desperation should be out in full force tonight.

The Rampage were one of the West Division teams most affected by the trade deadline last week. San Antonio lost forwards Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik, stalwart defenseman Anders Eriksson, and goalie Justin Pogge. Porter and Kolarik were the Rampage's #4 and #5 top scorers on the season, combining for 32 goals and 43 assists for 75 points. Justin Pogge was traded to the Hurricanes and now hangs his skates in Albany. Pogge was 12-7-3 with a 2.57 GAA and .920 SV%. San Antonio did gain forward Alexandre Picard in the melee, who was one of the top goal scorers on the Syracuse Crunch and has already potted three goals in four games for the Rampage.

Also, the Rampage picked up goalie Miika Wiikman from the Rangers. Wiikman has played in almost every level of professional hockey this season, going from the Checkers of the ECHL to the Wolf Pack of the AHL to the New York Rangers. He played the most games with the Checkers, going 9-3-3 with 2.84 GAA and .906 SV%. He played in 7 games for the Wolf Pack, going 2-4-0 with 4.20 GAA and .869 SV%. He has seen backup duty in two games with the Rampage since the deadline but has not accumulated any wins or loses to his name in San Antonio. Al Montoya is still out with an upper-body injury so the main netminder for the Rampage is Josh Tordjman.

On the Rampage injury side, Ryan Hollweg is still out with a broken jaw. Francis Lessard will be out for tonight's game as well with a suspension from the league for receiving his fourth game misconduct of the season in the Rampage's March 7th game versus Rockford.

The postgame report from me on this game might take a bit, as I will be traveling with a group of Stars fans to see the game in San Antonio.

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Twitter: @SARampage

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stars Clear Day roster set

The Stars Clear Day roster was announced today along with the other 28 teams in the AHL. Here is the AHL's decription of what the Clear Day roster means:
Each Clear Day roster consists of a maximum of 22 players. According to AHL by-laws, only those players listed on a team’s Clear Day roster are eligible to compete in the remainder of the 2009-10 AHL regular season and in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs, unless emergency conditions arise as a result of recall, injury or suspension.

Teams may also add signed junior players or players on amateur tryout contracts, only after their respective junior or college seasons are complete.
Without further delay, here is the list:
Goalies (2):

Matt Climie (G)
Brent Krahn (G)

Forwards (13):

Mathieu Beaudoin
Jamie Benn
Aaron Gagnon
Sergei Korostin
Perttu Lindgren
Scott McCulloch
Travis Morin
Warren Peters
Greg Rallo
Raymond Sawada
Colton Sceviour
Francis Wathier
Landon Wilson

Defensemen (7):

Maxime Fortunus
Ethan Graham
Andrew Hutchinson
Dan Jancevski
Trevor Ludwig
Garrett Stafford
Matt Stephenson
Any surprises here? Well, first of all, let's talk about the non-surprises. Our two goaltenders and seven defensemen remain the same as we expected. Luke Gazdic and Mathieu Tousignant are not listed on the clear day list. I think we all sort of expected these things.

Now for the big surprise. The listing of Jamie Benn on the clear day roster, despite never having played a game with the Texas Stars is an interesting turn. Benn was assigned to the Texas Stars and immediately recalled last week. He will obviously play in Dallas for the rest of the season and count as a "call-up", so Texas may replace him with another player not on the Clear Day list. Benn will likely be assigned when the Stars season is over and play out the rest of the season with Texas for more experience. I wonder if he would play center here or move back to wing. Also, Ondrej Roman may see some playing time with Benn still in Dallas. He was in the press box last night.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brent Krahn returns to shut down Peoria Rivermen at home, 3-2

Tonight, a tinier than usual crowd for the Cedar Park Center was witness to Brent Krahn's first victory since mid-November. Krahn stopped 29 of 31 shots for his 11th win of the year, putting him at 11-2-0-0 with a 1.46 GAA and a .956 SV%. Texas closed out their home series with the Rivermen at an even 2-2.

Peoria opened the scoring at 9:11 of the first with a shot from Justin Fletcher that was wired to the top right corner of the net. Krahn put up his glove, but it was too late and Peoria took the early 1-0 lead.

As I mentioned in the preview, Peoria is deadly on the road power play, clicking at 22.4% coming into the contest. Texas loaded the gun too many times in the game by taking penalties. Peoria had seven PP opportunities in the game. However, Texas turned the tables at 17:09 of the first when Dan Jancevski's homerun pass found Colton Sceviour who put one past Joe Fallon on the backhand five-hole for a shortie. It was Peoria's first shorthanded goal against on the road and Texas's first shorthanded goal for at home. We would go to the break tied 1-1.

Texas and Peoria traded power play goals in the second period; Peoria went first. On a tripping minor by Trevor Ludwig, Pascal Pelletier put home a rebound off Brent Krahn from close range to make it 2-1. Dan Jancevski had a chance to stop the chance or at least impede it but did nothing. Despite the assist, I don't think it was a strong game for him.

Texas took their shot next. Maxime Fortunus had a fancy keep up at the left wing blue line and Francis Wathier simply lifted a puck from behind the net on his backhand. The puck ended up hitting Joe Fallon on the right shoulder blade and bounding into the net. You'll take a goal anyway it comes. Texas was 1/4 on the PP on the night while Peoria was 1/7.

In the final minutes of the second, Brent Krahn went all "Marty Turco" on Peoria and skated out of his net to reach a puck nearly at the blue line and perform a sliding poke check to deny a 1-on-1 chance for the oncoming Riverman. You could almost hear the collective gasp in the building as we waited to see the outcome of the gamble. It paid off, for the record. No chance.

Texas scored the final goal of the night five minutes into the third. Andrew Hutchinson collected a puck coming by the penalty box as he exited at the end of his minor for slashing. After his initial shot, Aaron Gagnon stayed at the net and collected a rebound off Fallon on the left side of the net for his 18th of the year.

The only other item of note was in the final 3 minutes of the game. Ray Sawada laid a punishing hit on Jonas Junland that had him laid out in the Texas zone for several minutes. On the replay it appeared that Sawada had made contact with Junland's head, but it was difficult to tell because only one angle was shown. I would watch for an announcement on a suspension tomorrow. I'm not saying I completely expected one 100%; I just think it's a strong possibility. This is the sort of thing that the AHL has been much more consistent on than the NHL.

Texas, Milwaukee, and Peoria were the only team in action tonight in the West Division. All other teams are idle until at least Friday. Milwaukee won against Lake Erie but still stayed behind Texas. Texas still has three games in hand over Rockford and is on a points pace to surpass the IceHogs and gain home-ice advantage in the playoffs. Peoria will need to play better than 90% hockey to keep pace with Milwaukee for spot #4. San Antonio has to be better than 92% (26 of 28 remaining points) and Houston must beat nearly 97% (29 of 30 remaining points).

Elsewhere in the league, Hamilton can become the second team to clinch a playoff berth and the first from the West Conference with a win on a Lake Erie loss on Friday. Full playoff predictions, including elimination numbers for every team, are at the playoff projections page.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin

Various combinations of:
Korostin/Gagnon-Morin-Rallo

Stafford-Ludwig
Fortunus-Hutchinson
Jancevski-Stephenson
Graham

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson, Tousignant, and Gazdic (scratched)

I know: the lineup is weird tonight. The Stars only dressed 11 forwards. They did however dress 7 defensemen. The 7th, Ethan Graham, didn't even sniff the ice in the game. My guess is that they were unsure of Garrett Stafford's status and decided to play it safe and dress the extra D. Now, why Landon Wilson was the scratch is a whole other matter...

Tonight's attendance was 3,909.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Peoria - March 10 2010

Texas Stars "On The Ice" report on ESPN Austin

Texas Stars "On The Ice" report brought in Josh Fisher on the phone for an abbreviated report this afternoon. Josh suggested Krahn will start tonight. Audio below.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Peoria Rivermen

Texas Stars
35-22-3-4, 77 pts
#3 West Division
v.Peoria Rivermen
30-26-2-6, 68 pts
#6 West Division
March 10th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

It's Clear Day and it's Game Day! Time to get excited, Stars fans. The Peoria Rivermen come to town tonight for their fourth and final game of the regular season in the Cedar Park Center. The Stars have dropped two of the three contests against the Rivermen in Austin. In all three games, the winning team has scored at least five goals and won by a margin of at least three. Overall, Texas is 2-3-1 against Peoria this season despite their less than impressive record against the league on the whole.

Peoria is currently fighting for its life in terms of playoff chances. In order to draw even with Milwaukee's current points pace, Peoria will have to gain better than 80% of their points from here on out, that is, 26 of 32 remaining. Every game is a must win for this club. Peoria is currently 6-2-1-1 in their last ten games and is coming off an overtime loss in San Antonio last night by the mark of 6-5. Rivermen goalie Ben Bishop was pulled half way through the game after allowing four goals on 24 Rampage shots. Backup Joe Fallon took the loss, as he allowed the game winning goal.

This is the first time that Texas has played Peoria since the trade deadline so there will be some new faces on the Rivermen bench. As previously mentioned, Peoria's backup tender is no longer Hannu Toivonen, who now laces them up in Rockford. Joe Fallon now splits starts with Ben Bishop. He is 1-1 in two starts for the Rivermen and 16-11-1 overall on the season with 2.64 GAA and .913 SV%. Ben Bishop is 18-16-3 in 39 games for the Rivermen with 2.85 GAA and .899 SV%.

The Rivermen also picked up D Daryl Boyle and F Pierre-Cedric LaBrie. The Rivermen lost RW Aaron Palushaj, C Yan Stastny and D Danny Richmond as well. For the record, that's 65 points worth of offense between the players leaving (16-59-65) and 26 points for the incoming players (9-17-26).

Between Matt Climie and Brent Krahn, I have no idea who will start tonight. Last weekend, I figured Krahn would get at least one start, but Climie started (and won) both games. My logic says that coach Gulutzan starts Krahn at home where the environment can be as controlled as possible, both before and during the game. Krahn's pregame will be more controlled. He will have slept in his own bed the night before with no bus trip, and Gulutzan will have last change to make sure he gets the best matchups. All of this being said, Matt Climie could start as well. I don't think so, but maybe.

Stars winger Ondrej Roman is currently in Austin, but it is unclear if he will play today. The Stars, and every other team in the league, must submit their 22-man roster for the remainder of the season and the playoffs by 2 PM CST today. Texas has a glut of wingers currently, which could leave some people left off. Luke Gazdic and Mathieu Tousignant have been healthy scratches the past two games and were trading spots in the lineup for weeks before that. Tyler Shelast was already sent down to Allen when Landon Wilson rejoined the lineup. The Stars likely include Ondrej Roman on the Clear Day list if he is eligible, but at this point he has not played a single (professional) game in North America. If you include Roman, that makes 24 players on the current roster. Two are going to be left out at 2 PM today.

Here's a somewhat surprising stat: Peoria leads the league in road power play at 22.4%. Here's a not-so-surprising stat: Texas is #3 in the league on the home penalty kill at 89.3%. When Texas goes to the box, it should be an interesting battle of the best of the best on the 5-on-4. Texas has to hope that they will be able to stay out of the sin bin tonight. Peoria was 3/6 on the PP last night in San Antonio and surely hungry for more extra-man success.

Stars injury/call up report:
Garrett Stafford (day-to-day lower body injury sustained on March 5 v. Rockford)

Website: rivermen.net
Blog (unofficial): Cleve's World
Twitter: @peoria_rivermen

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: And Now For Some More Good News...

Texas Stars Report just got published on Defending Big D. Admittedly it's a bit late this week due to delays in publishing. I had it done on Sunday, I promise. The Capitals game and sickness in the Defending Big D editorial family led to the late publishing. You know the routine by now. Check it out:

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: And Now For Some More Good News...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Playoff Projections Page

I've added a new link over on the sidebar here on Hundred Degree Hockey. This is the link to the playoff projections spreadsheet for the entire AHL that I originally outlined in my post "Breaking Down the West Division Playoff Picture Using Maths". I will update this daily so we can have an accurate look at the playoff picture.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Putting the Franchise Rumors to Rest

We have talked pretty extensively in this space about the Texas Stars franchise status within the AHL. To recap the basics, the Texas Stars are operating this season under a temporary franchise license under the condition that the Stars find and purchase a permanent franchise for the 2010-2011 season.

Life in the AHL is rather fluid. Teams come and go, teams move, and at least one affiliation changes every single year. The league's fluidity year-to-year has led the fans, and season ticket holders especially, of the Texas Stars to have some degree of trepidation when it comes to the future of hockey in Austin, Texas. We have been led to believe that if the Stars do not find a permanent franchise, they will be leaving Austin. Based on information I have gathered, I believe there is no way that the Stars will be leaving Austin.

While the AHL is a development league, it is also a business. Businesses have to make money to be successful, so that is a key component of the decision. We know that the Texas Stars rank in the top five of franchises in terms of ticket revenue, according to Dave Andrews, the Commissioner of the League. Additionally, here is a quote from a source inside the Stars organization regarding the current situation of the team's financials:
"The league is pleased with where [the Texas Stars] are at in terms of ticket revenue and corporate sponsorship as well as how we match up competitively with the other teams in the AHL."
Specifics of the financials of the team were withheld due to confidentiality, but we do know that the team has done better than most in the league this year. This is pretty good for a brand new team in a southern market. Strong commitments from the corporate community have also made the team successful financially.

As far as the on-ice product, do we even have to spend time talking about it? Readers of this blog know that the team is successful on the ice. We are inching closer everyday to our first Calder Cup playoff berth, and the team has already sent out information on purchasing playoff tickets to season ticket holders. A team that was a question mark at the beginning of the year has evolved into a strong group that will almost certainly make the playoffs in their first season. The on-ice product is strong.

Texas Stars Media Relations Director, Josh Fisher, offered this regarding this teams franchise situation:
"We are working hard to secure our franchise. The AHL views the Texas Stars as a valuable team and a success story in the West. Both parties are doing what is necessary to secure a long-term solution in Cedar Park. We are moving forward and planning for next season, including [season ticket] renewals. That tells me things will be in place, and we will be here. I have never heard anything otherwise and don’t expect to. I understand the reason for concern among the fans, but I am not concerned and feel confident this will be solved."
Josh raises a great point. Those of us who are season ticket holders have already received our ticket renewal letters. Also, Josh and the team at Cedar Park Center have a more vested interest in the team's continued presence in Texas; they would all be unemployed if this situation does not work out. Fish's confidence on the matter is part of what makes me so confident that the Stars will be staying.

It's important to keep in mind that the Texas Stars faced this sort of uncertainty last year as well. They were unable to purchase a permanent franchise because of the financial improprieties of the Iowa Chops franchise. The owners of the Chops had been interested in moving the franchise out of Des Moines and buying a CHL franchise to play at the Wells Fargo Arena. All of this fell through when the league suspended the team for using the franchise as collateral in a loan agreement.

The league decided to grant a temporary franchise license to the Stars after their good-faith efforts to find a franchise came up short. Until that point, there was a lot of uncertainty as to whether we were going to have a 2009-2010 season for the Texas Stars, which leads me to this quote from the same source inside the organization as before:
"I am more confident now that we will have a team next year than I was when this same situation came up about us having a team for [the 2009-2010] season."
The bottom line here is that the franchise has been successful despite all the potential obstacles. They have been successful at the box office, with corporate partnerships, and on the ice. It would be the biggest failure in the history of Austin sports if the Stars did not stay in Cedar Park next year. It just won't happen.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Texas wins 8th on the year against Aeros 4-3

Texas followed up last week's excellent performances against Houston and last night's thriller win against Rockford with yet another 'W'. Texas defeated Houston for the 8th time this year in 10 meetings and Ray Sawada picked up the Gordie Howe hat trick. Overall, it was a night for grinders, as the Three Stars selections showed.

Despite my proclamations of the return of Krahn, Matt Climie got the start tonight. Also, Anton Khudobin was in net for the Aeros. Zero for two on goaltender predictions for the day. Sometimes I wonder why I even try guessing.

The Stars came out of the room sluggishly. Two early icing calls left opening defensive pair Stephenson and Jancevski on the ice for over two minutes, causing Texas to call a timeout on the second icing. The Stars were lucky not to get cuaght tired in the early going of this game and be down before three minutes had even elapsed. Travis Morin scored the first of the night on a feed from Sergei Korostin in front of the net. It was Morin's 18th of the year.

The 'night of the grinders' started at 16:38 of the first when Perttu Lindgren skated down the left wing side and passed to a hard-charging Ray Sawada. Sawada wristed one over the pad and over the glove of an outstreched Khudobin to make it 2-0 going into the first intermission.

Ray Sawada and Petr Kalus squared off three minutes into the second. It was a spirited fight that really got the 6,000+ in the Cedar Park Center into the match. Sadly though, it was Houston that capitalized off that energy, putting one past Climie at 8:52 to make it 2-1.

Colton Sceviour and Cody Almond dropped their mitts to end the second. The ice crew came out to a bloody faceoff dot when they went to move the goal. It was Sceviour's first fight as a professional. Colton had never taken more than two penalty minutes in a game prior to tonight and was the least penalized skater on the Texas Stars until tonight at eight. Landon Wilson technically has fewer, but he has only played 8 games.

Texas opened the third with their third goal of the night. Warren Peters, another grinder, scored on a semi-breakaway, again tucking the puck between Khudobin's pads and glove for a 3-1 Texas lead. Ray Sawada got the primary assist, giving him the final piece of the Gordie Howe hat trick.

The Aeros would answer quickly with two goals in rapid succession. The first, a power play goal from Ryan Gunderson, set the score at 3-2 at 3:08. Only ninety seconds later, Duncan Milroy's tip of a Nathan Smith shot knotted the contest at three.

Late in the third, Colton Sceviour put it away. Sceviour had played well all game with the fight and a lot of pep in his game overall. Sceviour pried a pass off the left-half-wall and skated straight across the the high slot where he slapped one past Khudobin despite several Houston players hounding him. It was Sceviour's first goal in 27 games and the sixth of the year for the rookie. Texas's defense would make it stand up as the game winner.

Tonight's game demonstrated some team scoring effort. Goals came from three of the four lines, with the only one left out being McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin. It is great to see that 3rd and 4th line guys are grinding it out and getting goals. Secondary scoring is key to success for low scoring teams like the Stars. If your top line has an off night, you have to be able to count on your other guys to get it done.

Alright now standing talk. Milwaukee lost tonight, so that places the Stars in sole possession of third place with 77 points. Milwaukee will play Peoria tomorrow and Lake Erie on Wednesday when the Stars are in action again. Realistically, the most important part of the equation for Texas is getting to the #2 spot. I don't think getting to #1 is a reasonable goal at this point. Texas would need to achieve 31 of 32 points to match Chicago's pace. Getting to #2 only requires 21 of 32 points to match Rockford's pace. Additionally, Texas has several "four-point" head-to-head games against Milwaukee and Rockford coming up to bolster their chances.

Being #2 guarantees home-ice advantage and likely guarantees Texas will not play likely juggernaut Chicago in the first round. Chicago, Rockford, Texas and Milwaukee are your West Division playoff teams; now it's just a matter of what order they fall in.

Tonight's lines:
Korostin-Morin-Rallo
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
Sceviour-Gagnon-Wilson
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin

Hutchinson-Ludwig
Fortunus-Graham
Jancevski-Stephenson

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Stafford (scratched, but possibly injured)
Tousignant and Gazdic (scratched)

If you were to scratch a player to give Ethan Graham a chance to play, it wouldn't be Garrett Stafford. It would probably be Ludwig or Stephenson. This leads me to believe that Stafford might have sustained some sort of injury.

Tonight's attendance was 6,110.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Houston - March 6 2010