Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stars Rock Barons in Their First Visit to CPC, 5-2

After a first in team history four game skid in late October/early November, the Stars have rattled off seven wins in the last nine games. Their wins have included some of the division leaders such as San Antonio and tonight's victim, the Oklahoma City Barons. "It wasn't the prettiest two points tonight," said Francis Wathier, who had a goal in the game, "But it got the job done."

Even though it was ultimately Texas's night, the Barons opened the scoring with former Wolf Greg Stewart tallying his second of the year just 6 minutes into the game.

Just over a minute later, Luke Gazdic would tally his second off the year on a tap in at the post from Brad Lukowich's shot. Gazdic was playing on a new line this evening with Tomas Vincour and Cody Chupp.

Texas scored again only 70 seconds later off the stick of the Stars' leading scorer, Travis Morin. Morin scored by collecting a rebound in the crease for his 8th of the year.

Coming off a penalty kill for Mathieu Tousignant's holding the stick penalty, Tousignant collected his 4th of the year. At Texas's blue line, Tousignant beat a pinching Barons D-man and generated a 3-on-1 against Shawn Belle. Tousi took it in himself and beat Deslauriers easily, as Deslauriers seemed to think the shot would go wide and didn't even go down for it. Texas would end the period ahead 3-1 by score and 15-10 by shots.

Bryan Pitton came out of the tunnel for the Oklahoma City Barons in the second period, his first game action since October 23rd. Liam Reddox cut the lead in half for the Stars at the midway mark of the period.

This was one of those points that Coach Gulutzan has talked about, buckling down when things get tight. Texas came together and generated a goal from Colton Sceviour on a backhand into a wide open net just 5 minutes later to make it 4-2. Texas led on shots 29-16 at the end of the second.

The Stars got one more for insurance in the third period on a great forechecking effort from Sean Backman. Backman got in deep and forced a stickhandling error by goalie Bryan Pitton. He sent the recovered puck out front where Francis Wathier buried his eighth of the year.

Richard Bachman turned aside 29 of 31 shots on the night and earned first star honors yet again. The rookie graciously deflected praise onto his teammates, "They're clearing a lot of pucks for me and letting me see it so they're making my job pretty easy back there actually." Bachman has now brought his stats to an enviable 8-3-0 record with a 1.94 GAA and .933 SV%.

There are still points for improvement though. A power play that is struggling to maintain consistency will need to step up before the team goes out on the road, where they have the worst power play percentage in the league (8.1%). The Stars have 3 more home games to tune up before heading out on the road for a four game road stretch.

Tonight's lines:
Brunnstrom-Morin-Rallo
Wathier-Gagnon-Backman
Sceviour-Tousignant-Sawada
Gazdic-Vincour-Chupp

Larsen-Lukowich
Fortunus-Spang
Ludwig-Blindenbacher

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Benn, Stephenson and McCulloch (scratched)
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)
Roman (unspecified injury)

I like moving Sean Backman to a line with Gagnon and Wathier. It worked tonight, generating a goal. Greg Rallo had a fight, of all things, in the game, throwing down with Colin McDonald in the first period.

Tonight's attendance was 3,368.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - November 30 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Home, Sweet Home

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
The Texas Stars returned home this week for the longest home stand on the season, seven games in all against mostly West Division rivals.

Coach Gulutzan and the Stars are looking forward to the coming homestand as an opportunity to pick up points and help define the team's identity. "Young guys sometimes take longer to find their rhythm and tempo. You hope after Christmas if we find that tempo and that identity, we'll be better."

Gulutzan felt overall that the younger guys on the team could have gotten more ice on the week, but the veterans are still being relied on for heavy minutes to kill off PP opportunities and other key situations. The point where Texas has to begin trusting and passing the reins over to the younger players is approaching, according to Gulutzan, and this week's wins are great to show them the way.
Read more on Defending Big D...

Blindenbacher Reassigned To Texas

Severin Blindenbacher has been reassigned to Texas. The defenseman did not appear in any games for the Dallas Stars.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
12-8-0-0, 24 pts
#6 West Division
v.Oklahoma City Barons
13-7-1-1, 28 pts
#3 West Division
November 30th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Oklahoma City Barons make their first regular season visit to the Cedar Park Center this evening for the season's third match-up between the two teams.

In the last battle in the series, Texas and OKC fought a defensive match that ended in the shootout with the Stars emerging victorious. Texas lost their first matchup against the Barons in a 6-1 drubbing at the Cox Convention Center.

Oklahoma City has the right combination of offense and defense to keep them where they are in the standings. In their last 6 games, they have allowed more than 2 goals only once. In the same stretch, they have scored 3 or more goals 5 times. The only time those two stats didn't match up: Texas's 2-1 victory two weeks ago.

In the last 4 games since the two teams met, it's been the Jeff Deslauriers show for the Barons. Since Martin Gerber's call up to Edmonton, Deslauriers has been called on in every Barons game. Backup Bryan Pitton has not played in a game in over a month, his last start being a 5-2 loss to the Marlies on October 23rd.

Texas, in the meantime, has split their games 3-2-0-0 since the last matchup with Richard Bachman taking the lionshare of the load and doing a pretty good job at it. The rookie has a 1.94 GAA and a .932 SV%, good for #6 in the league among all goaltenders.

Texas will look to continue their luck at home. Texas has had a vastly home-based schedule with an 8-5-0-0 record at home and a 4-3-0-0 record on the road. With three more home games to come, all of this home-cooking will come back to bite the Stars at some point. With any luck, the team will continue to mature as a group and the early home scheduling will benefit the team in the long run.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)
Roman, McCulloch (undisclosed)
Blindenbacher (call up)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Oil Field Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stars Halt Rampage Win Streak at 7 With 5-2 Win

Texas played a game quite the opposite of last night's goalie battle this evening in Cedar Park. With seven goals between the two teams tonight to last night's one, offensive fireworks helped the Stars to end the Rampage's seven game win streak.

Texas got started early on offense, with the opening line scoring just 24 seconds in. Raymond Sawada collected his second of the year on a good second effort shot in the low slot. "The role players definitely responded tonight," said captain Brad Lukowich, pointing to the effort on Sawada's goal as a prime example.

Texas closed the period with a goal as well on a tip in front of the net by Sean Backman on Brad Lukowich's point shot. The goal was Backman's second of the year and first since his call up from Idaho. Texas finished the period with an 11-4 lead on shots as San Antonio had trouble putting together a coherent offensive effort.

The remainder of the game was all special teams goals. San Antonio got the next tally on the power play as Mikkel Boedker put on past Bachman at the right post. Texas responded, also on the power play, with a goal by Francis Wathier. Wathier tapped in a rebound off Matt Climie's left pad from another point shot by Brad Lukowich. Texas and San Antonio each got off 5 shots in the period of plodding offensive effort.

In the third, San Antonio would cut the lead to 3-2 with a power play goal from former Star Mathieu Beaudoin. With 8 minutes left in the 3rd period, the Stars had a game on their hands. Coach Gulutzan commented after the game, "I liked the way our guys responded [when] it got dicey down there."

Texas indeed came back, holding off a Rampage power play opportunity with 5 minutes left in the game and earning one of their own. With just over a minute left in the game, Greg Rallo caught a pretty feed from Francis Wathier to beat Climie for the 4th time on the night. The goal was Rallo's 6th of the year. As if that wasn't enough, Fabian Brunnstrom put the very last nail in the coffin, scoring an empty netter with 5 seconds left in the game for his 4th on the year.

Coach Gulutzan felt overall that the younger guys on the team could have gotten more ice, but the veterans were relied on for heavy minutes to kill off 4 Rampage PP opportunities. Texas was 2/7 on the PP and 2/4 on the PK. The point where Texas has to begin trusting and passing the reins over to the younger players is approaching, according to Gulutzan, and this win is a great one to show them the way.

Tonight's lines:
Sceviour-Tousignant-Sawada
Wathier-Gagnon-Vincour
Brunnstrom-Morin-Rallo
Gazdic-Chupp-Backman

Stephenson-Spang
Larsen-Lukowich
Ludwig-Fortunus

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Benn, McCulloch (scratched)
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)
Roman (unspecified injury)
Blindenbacher (call up)

Tonight's attendance was 5,961.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - November 27 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
11-8-0-0, 22 pts
#6 West Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
15-4-1-0, 31 pts
#1 West Division
November 27th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After quite the goalie battle in Cedar Park last night, the Texas Stars will face off against a team on one heck of a roll. The San Antonio Rampage come into tonight's game on a 7-game win streak with no indication of slowing down.

The Rampage are solid on both sides of the puck. San Antonio ranks #5 in the league with a 3.40 goals for per game but is equally stingy, ranking #4 with a 2.50 goals against average per game.

On the top scorers list, Stars' fans will recognize a few names from last year's Texas team. Mathieu Beaudoin leads the Rampage with 9-13-22 in 20 games. Brett MacLean (9-10-19) and Mikkel Boedker (5-13-18) round out the forward scoring. Top defensive scorer is Garrett Stafford with 3-12-15 in 15 games. Stafford has had a callup to Phoenix.

In the pipes, Matt Climie (9-3-0) and Al Montoya (5-2-0) have both been solid. Climie sports a 2.06 GAA and a .935 SV%, Montoya 2.88 and .901.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)
Roman (unspecified injury)
Blindenbacher (call up)

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Twitter: @SARampage
Twitter: @SARampage_Voice (play-by-play for SA)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Admirals, Dekanich Pitch a 1-0 Shutout in Goalie Battle

There isn't really a lot to say about this game for the Texas Stars. It was a fantastic performance by both goaltenders Bachman and Dekanich. In the end, Dekanich was the victor.

Texas and Milwaukee both finished the game with 29 shots each in the game. Where Texas could have made the difference is the power play. Texas was 0/7 on the power play in the game, including a 64 second long 6-on-4 stretch at the end of the third period.

The only goal of the game was scored with 6:34 remaining in the third period from former Dallas Star Steve Begin. Richard Bachman received 3rd star honors for the 28 save performance.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Gagnon-Vincour
Brunnstrom-Morin-Rallo
Sceviour-Backman-Chupp
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Ludwig-Spang
Larsen-Lukowich
Benn-Fortunus

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Stephenson, McCulloch (scratched)
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)
Roman (unspecified injury)
Blindenbacher (call up)

Tonight's attendance was 5,198.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - November 26 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
11-7-0-0, 22 pts
#5 West Division
v.Milwaukee Admirals
9-6-1-3, 22 pts
#6 West Division
November 26th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Milwaukee returns to the Cedar Park Center this evening for the second of the game in the Stars-Admirals season series. Last week's visit to Texas was not kind to Milwaukee. Richard Bachman stoned the Ads and got a shutout win 2-0.

Milwaukee is in the middle of their longest road stretch of the season, 10 games in 18 days in 6 different cities. Since playing Texas last week, the Ads have twice faced off against the Oklahoma City Barons, losing 5-2 and 4-1. Their two losses have dropped them from #2 in the West division to #6, tied with Texas at 22 points in one more game overall.

Against the Barons, Milwaukee ceded 5 PP goals on 12 opportunities and allowed a shorty as well. The Ads, who rank in the bottom seven of the league in overall PP and PK.

Mark Dekanich is still statistically in good shape with an 8-3-2 record, a 1.81 GAA and a .938 SV%. Texas's Bachman is 6-2-0 with a 2.01 GAA and a .931 SV%. From the teams' overall styles of play, strong defensively and a lack of refined offensive prowess, expect a lower scoring game, much as last week.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)
Vincour (day-to-day, upper body)
Blindenbacher (call up)

Admirals Web Resources:
Website: milwaukeeadmirals.com
Blog (Official): In The Crease
Blog (Unofficial): Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stars Shoot Down Aeros, 5-3

The Texas Stars opened up their longest home stretch of the season this evening with a convincing win against the Houston Aeros. While Coach Gulutzan felt like it was not the best game that Texas had played, he noted that they played well enough to get the win.

Texas opened the scoring in this one with Ondrej Roman taking advantage of Texas power play. Receiving a deft between the legs tip from Tousignant and just tapped the puck over in the crease.

Aaron Gagnon would have the next two. Gagnon finished off a frenetic play in front of the net with a wrister over a sprawled out Anton Khudobin and then scored on a goal that trickled in over the line. Khudobin was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots. Matt Hackett relieved him. The Aeros would get one back before the end of the period with Max Noreau capitalizing on an Aeros PP opportunity. The goal was the first allowed by Texas goaltender Richard Bachman in his last 115 minutes of play. Texas outshot the Aeros 9-4 in the period.

In the second period, Fabian Brunnstrom started off the scoring early. Greg Rallo found a hard-charging Brunnstrom's tape and landed a pass on his stick for a simple redirect on the breakaway. Hackett had over-committed right and gave up a yawning open net goal.

Texas would give up another power play goal in the contest, allowing a 5-hole tally from Houston's captain DiSalvatore at the 11 minute mark of the 2nd.

Texas was the recipient of a five minute major to Colton Gillies for boarding Greg Rallo late in the second. Rallo got up under his own power and continued playing in the game. Gillies is the same player who took out Tomas Vincour in Sunday's game. With less than a minute left in the period, Travis Morin would get it back to +3 for Texas with a wicked wrister stickside high on Hackett off a nice dish from Dan Spang.

"We've done a lot of work on [the power play]," said Aaron Gagnon, who had two goals in the game. "It's more keeping it simple and getting on net. That's paid off."

Houston would get one more in the third period at even strength from J-M Daoust. The Stars would hold off Houston for the rest of the game thanks in large part to being on the power play for 4 of the last 5 minutes of the game.

Coach Gulutzan and the Stars are looking forward to the coming homestand as an opportunity to pick up points and help define the team's identity. "Young guys sometimes take longer to find their rhythm and tempo. You hope after Christmas if we find that tempo and that identity, we'll be better."

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Gagnon-Sceviour
Brunnstrom-Roman-Backman
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Larsen-Lukowich
Ludwig-Spang
Benn-Fortunus

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Chupp, Stephenson (scratched)
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)
Vincour (day-to-day, upper body)
Blindebacher (call up)

Ondrej Roman left the game in the 3rd period after collision with an Aero.

Tonight's attendance was 4,489.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Houston - November 24 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
10-7-0-0, 20 pts
#6 West Division
v.Houston Aeros
10-7-1-2, 23 pts
#4 West Division
November 24th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas and Houston face-off again in the back half of a home-and-home. As per usual with consecutive games against the same team, we'll limit the analysis a bit here.

Texas should be putting out Richard Bachman for this evening's game. Bachman, last week's AHL Player of the Week, is 5-2-0 on the season with a 1.91 GAA and .937 SV%. Backup Tyler Beskorowany stopped 27 of 30 shots in his AHL debut but took the loss in H-town.

On the Houston side, Matt Hackett actually returned to the team in time for Sunday's game. Anton Khudobin is having an excellent statistical year (2.06 GAA and .933 SV%) despite his mediocre record of 6-5-1.

When you see stats like that, it's an indication of a lack of scoring support. Indeed, Houston ranks in the bottom half of the league in goals for per game at 2.65. Their goals against per game is top ten at 2.55 and Texas is not far behind at 2.59. The Stars also lack offensive punch at times, tied with the Aeros at 2.65 GF/Game as well.

In the Stars last meeting with the Aeros, Tomas Vincour was knocked out of the game in the first period by an elbow from Colton Gillies. Vincour did not return and is currently listed as day-to-day with an unspecified upper body injury. Goalie Brent Krahn is still on the shelf with a lower body injury but is listed day-to-day as well.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (day-to-day lower body)
Vincour (day-to-day upper body)
Blindenbacher (call up)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dallas Recalls Blindenbacher

Texas is sending Severin Blindenbacher up to the NHL for a cup of joe as Mark Fistric is out with an injury. Blindenbacher may not play in Wednesday's game against Ottawa since Dallas has Jeff Woywitka at their disposal. Texas should be fine as they have an extra pair of D-men in Benn and Stephenson.

Here's Dallas's release:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has recalled defenseman Severin Blindenbacher from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Blindenbacher, 27, has appeared in eight games for Texas, scoring one goal and three assists for four points with four penalty minutes. He represented Switzerland at the 2010 Olympic Game in Vancouver, recording one goal and one assist in five games. Blindenbacher signed as a free agent with Dallas on July 1, 2010.

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Richard Bachman Overdrive

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D:
Texas found themselves in a strange place this week, playing more than one game in 7 days. What a concept! The Stars put together a 3-1-0-0 record in their 4 games this week. Rookie goaltender Richard Bachman was the start of the week and earned AHL Player of the Week honors while the Stars released unfortunate news about one of their other goaltenders.

Texas called up Adrien LeMay from the Allen Americans on Tuesday to backup Bachman in Wednesday's game against the Chicago Wolves (Atlanta Thrashers). The temporary fix goaltender was sent down in favor of Tyler Beskorowany from the Idaho Steelheads. This pointed to a more serious issue for Brent Krahn. Krahn was held out of all the weekend's action with Beskorowany getting his first AHL start on Sunday. Krahn is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury.

The Stars broke several records this week on offense in a blockbuster game against Chicago and also played defensively strong later in the week. Inside we'll discuss all of these things and more.
Read more on Defending Big D...

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Early Evaluation of the Two Referee System in the AHL

This year, the AHL has instituted a two referee system in 25% of their regular season games and all of the Calder Cup playoff games. Given that the AHL is a development league for players, coaches, and referees alike, this has been presented as an opportunity for all of those people to gain experience with the two referee system that is used in the NHL.

The NHL first switched to a two referee system on a trial basis in 1998-99 and made the switch permanently in 2000-01. With the renewal of the NHL's development contract for officials in the AHL this year, the NHL requested that the AHL phase in a two referee system to allow developing refs to gain experience with the system.

Surprisingly, one of the major concerns voiced by the NHL is the officials' proficiency in backwards skating. "When you are in the one-ref system, you are like a forward -- going forward all the time," NHL Director of Officiating Terry Gregson told NHL.com. "And when you go to the two-ref system, you have to switch to backwards skating, which is a very important part of the skills set."

So far this year, Texas has played 17 games with 4 of them using four on-ice officials. In the four games with the extra official, Texas has averaged an extra minor penalty (11.23 PIMs/game vs. 13.75 PIMs/game). However, the statistical validity of a 4 game sample is debatable, surely. Overall, the Stars and their opponent have been penalized only slightly more often in two referee games (27.75 PIMs) than singles (26 PIMs).

Texas Stars Head Coach Glen Gulutzan is a fan of the changes. "I think if you let guys at this level do it for a longer period of time, they'll get a little better at it, a little cleaner at it and the games will become more well managed."

Gulutzan hasn't seen a huge difference in the number of penalties called in his estimation, which we've shown with our data. He does feel like it brings more certainty to the game. "Every night [referees are] making calls that they kind of see because it's hard for one guy. [Having two refs] takes a little bit of that guesswork out of it."

Photo credit to Rick Dikeman and Wikimedia Commons.

Bachman Named Reebok/AHL Player of the Week

A well deserved honor for the rookie goaltender. Bachman was spectacular last week and is getting the recognition of the league for his efforts. In my recollection, Mathieu Beaudoin is the only other Texas Star to receive Player of the Week honors in the franchise's history. Here is your release from the AHL:

The American Hockey League announced today that Texas Stars goaltender Richard Bachman has been named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 21, 2010. Bachman went a perfect 3-0-0 in three starts for the Stars last week, stopping 87 of 90 shots (0.97, .967) along the way.

Bachman began his week by turning aside 26 of 28 shots in an 8-2 win over Chicago last Tuesday. On Friday, Bachman made 35 saves and denied four of Oklahoma City’s five shootout bids as the Stars took a 2-1 road decision from the Barons. And on Saturday, he earned his second shutout of the season with 26 saves in a 2-0 home-ice triumph over Milwaukee.

In recognition of his achievement, Bachman will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Stars home game.

Drafted in the fourth round by the Dallas Stars in 2006, Bachman is currently 5-2-0 (1.91, .937, 2 SO) for the season and ranks among the AHL’s leaders in both goals-against average and save percentage. The 23-year-old native of Salt Lake City, Utah, spent two years at Colorado College and then split his rookie professional season in 2009-10 between the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads and the Stars, for whom he went 4-4-0 (2.15, .932) in eight appearances.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Houston Stops Streaking Stars, 4-2

Texas's win streak came to a close this afternoon in a Saturday matinee against the suddenly hot Houston Aeros. The Aeros and Stars now have the same win-loss record of 10-7 but the Aeros are higher in the standing as they have played 3 more games and got the extra "loser" point in each other them.

The Aeros opened the scoring in the game with Matt Kassian grabbing his first of the year on the wraparound. The early 1-0 lead would be quickly relinquished. Severin Blindenbacher bombed one on Khudobin from the right wing circle and beat him stickside to make it 1-1. The goal was Blindenbacher's first of the year.

Texas jumped ahead in the 2nd period on a power play goal from forward Greg Rallo, his fifth of the year. From there on out however, it was all Aeros. Houston tied it up on the power play with one second remaining in the period. Former Stars Warren Peters tapped in a rebound to make 2-2 heading into the third.

With less than 2 minutes remaining in the third, Jarod Palmer showed why he is the Aeros leading scorer. Despite Texas only allowing 6 shots in the third period and no shots for the first 16 minutes of the frame, Palmer found yet another rebound and potted his fourth of the year. Jon DiSalvatore scored an empty netter to close out the game with 30 seconds remaining

Tonight's lines:
Brunnstrom-Roman-Vincour
Wathier-Gagnon-Sceviour
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Ludwig-Blindenbacher
Spang-Fortunus
Larsen-Lukowich

Beskorowany

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Chupp, Backman, Benn, Stephenson (scratched)
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)

Sean Backman swapped spots with Tristan King before the game. King is now assigned to Idaho where he will get a chance to get into some games, something that he is not getting right now here in Cedar Park.

Tomas Vincour did not return to the game after taking an elbow from Colton Gillies in the first period.

Tonight's attendance was 8,587.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Houston - November 21 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
10-6-0-0, 20 pts
#6 West Division
atHouston Aeros
9-7-1-2, 21 pts
#5 West Division
November 21st at 4:05 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

Texas looks to continue their hot streak in Houston and beat the Aeros for their 5th win in a row. Texas and Houston both played last night in cities other than Houston with divergent results. The Stars, of course, won in Cedar Park while the Aeros fell to the Chicago Wolves in Rosemont 5-2. Houston scored their two goals late in the third period when the Wolves were already up 5-0.

Houston has started Anton Khudobin in their last 2 games on Friday and Saturday. He was chased from the net last night, giving back to backup Michael Ouzas, up from the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers. It's anyone's guess if Ouzas gets his first start or if Khudobin mans the pipes again for the Aeros today. Ouzas is 5-1-0 in the ECHL this season and Khudobin 5-4-1-1 in the AHL. Usual backup Matt Hackett is away from the team attending to unspecified family affairs. Josh Tordjman was not called up from the ECHL due to a 6 game suspension for abuse of an official. Whoa.

In Texas's net, Coach Gulutzan said that he expects to start Tyler Beskorowany. If Beskorowany and Ouzas start then we will be seeing both goaltenders' first AHL start.

The usual suspects are leading the point totals in Maxim Noreau and Jon DiSalvatore are tied with 10 points. However, the leading scorer for the Aeros is a rookie, Jarod Palmer, with 3-8-11.

Texas's leading scorer is Travis Morin at 6-8-14. He is followed by Dan Spang at 1-7-8. Morin and Spang are also defensively sound, sporting plus-6 and plus-5 ratings on the season.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (day-to-day lower body)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bachman, Stars Shutout Milwaukee 2-0

Back-to-back games were no problem for rookie goaltender Richard Bachman this evening as he turned away all 26 shots he faced for his second shutout of the year.

After trading early scoring chances turned aside by Bachman and the crossbar, Texas and Milwaukee spent a lot of time on the power play. The two teams are the least penalized in the league yet combined for 14 penalty minutes in the first period.

Neither team could capitalize on the power play as the periods only goal came at even strength from Greg Rallo. Rallo skated in alone and, using the defenseman as a screen, beat Mark Dekanich gloveside high. It was Rallo's fourth of the year and was assisted by Morin and McCulloch. Texas beat the Admirals in shot count 10-4 in the period.

Texas continued its shot dominance in the early second period, leading 23-7 at one point in the frame. One of those 23 was off the stick of Ray Sawada at 3:45. After repeated Howitzer shots from Larsen on the blue line, Sawada potted his first of the year in the crease.

Milwaukee evened up the shots in the second half of the period with a 96 second long 5-on-3 power play. The Admirals could not make the power play count as Texas crushed the advantage, gaining hearty applause from the CPC crowd. Later in the period, Texas continued excellent special teams play by spending an entire power play in the Milwaukee zone. The shot count on the period closed at 24-15.

Texas shut it down in the third period and got the shutout for Richard Bachman, who was the first star of the game for the second night in the row. Bachman has allowed 1 goal in the past 120 minutes of play and 4 in the last 180. He has now dropped his GAA to 1.91 with a .937 SV% and a 5-2-0 record. "I though Bachman made the saves he had to tonight," said Coach Glen Gulutzan. "Last night I thought he won the game for us."

Texas has now won 4 in a row, a season high for a winning streak. "We're gelling more as a team," said Bachman postgame. "We know where guys are going to be and what to expect." Coach Gulutzan credited the streak to Texas's continuing maturation as a young team while tipping his hat to the veteran players who have helped to reinforce his system of play. "Our game is starting to develop an identity," added Coach Gulutzan. "I think we might have had it earlier last year, but we're certainly starting to develop it."

Tonight's lines:
Brunnstrom-Roman-Vincour
Wathier-Gagnon-Sceviour
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Ludwig-Blindenbacher
Spang-Fortunus
Larsen-Lukowich

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Chupp, King, Benn, Stephenson (scratched)
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)

Tonight's attendance was 5,716.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - November 20 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
9-6-0-0, 18 pts
#6 West Division
v.Milwaukee Admirals
9-3-1-3, 22 pts
#2 West Division
November 20th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas and Milwaukee face off for the first time on the 2010-11 season in Cedar Park this evening. These two playoff teams from a year ago will face each other six times this season. Texas got the better of the Admirals in last year's series completing a 5-3-0 record against the Ads.

The Admirals will be coming from San Antonio last night where they skated to a shootout loss against the Rampage. Overall, Milwaukee is doing very well with the #2 ranking in division. They're acheiving such high heights on the backs of two very steady goaltenders. Mark Dekanich sports a 1.60 GAA and a .945 SV% in 12 games with an 8-1-1 record to boot. Dex's backup Jeremy Smith has only appeared in one game and won it. Chet Pickard, a highly touted pick, has been assigned to Cincinnati of the ECHL.

On the offensive side, the Admirals are getting it done as well. Left winger Linus Klasen is averaging a point a game with 8-6-14 in 14 games of work. Other strong threats include RWs Matt Halischuk (6-5-11) and Andreas Thuresson (3-8-11). Some of your more familiar faces from last year have now departed to other teams including Mike Santorelli (Florida Panthers), Hugh Jessiman (Rockford), captain Nolan Yonkman (San Antonio) and the unforgettably named Wacey Rabbit (Europe).

The Ads rank middle of the road on road PP and PK. Predictably, they are #1 in the league in goals against with a 2.13 rating. Texas, for comparison, is #16 at 2.79.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (injury)

Admirals Web Resources:
Website: milwaukeeadmirals.com
Blog (Official): In The Crease
Blog (Unofficial): Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stars Need Shootout to Finish Barons, 2-1

Texas and Oklahoma City played a much more evenly matched game than their last content this evening. Instead of a blowout, the Stars needed a shootout to put a ribbon on this one.

Texas opened the scoring in match with the goal ultimately credited to Travis Morin. A point shot from Dan Spang was originally credited to Dan Spang on the goal but eventually given to Travis Morin for the tip in front of the net at 10:21. Despite trailing on shots 14-6, Texas led after one.

The Barons tied it up in the second with a power play goal of their own. With Texas's goal scorer, Travis Morin, in the box, Hartikainen collected a rebound in the high slot off Bachman for the tying goal.

Texas played through a scoreless third period, which including a penalty shot by Colton Sceviour. Sceviour went for his signature move, the high backhand, but was stopped by Jeff Deslauriers. Deslauriers catches right, which is a rarity in hockey, and that may have contributed to the stop. More defensive hockey followed as Texas went to OT tied at 1 with shots at 32 a side.

The Stars killed a power play in the OT period but couldn't get the game ender in the even strength time. The game would go to a shootout.

The first goal in the skills competition came from Oklahoma's Hartikainen in the third round. Vincour matched it with a weaving bobbing goal of his own to the top right corner. Gagnon finished the thing off in the 5th round to grab the extra point for Texas. The Stars were 1/5 on the PP this evening while holding OKC to 1/4.

Texas will return to Cedar Park for their first contest of the year against the Milwaukee Admirals.

Tonight's lines:
Brunnstrom-Gagnon-Sceviour
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Wathier-Roman-Vincour
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Spang-Fortunus
Stephenson-Lukowich
Benn-Blindenbacher

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Chupp, King, Larsen, Tr. Ludwig (scratched)
Krahn (injured)

Marcus Vinnerborg, who became the first European referee to call a game in the NHL in Dallas's game on Tuesday, called tonight game.

Tonight's attendance was 4,481.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - November 19 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
8-6-0-0, 16 pts
#6 West Division
atOklahoma City Barons
10-6-1-0, 21 pts
#3 West Division
November 19th at 7:05 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Texas heads to Oklahoma City today for their second crack at the newly minted OKC Barons. The Barons are currently on the 6th game of a season-long eight game home stand that started on November 5th with the Stars' first visit to Cox Convention Center. The Barons are 3-2 on the home stand so far with victories over Texas, Toronto and Chicago but losses to San Antonio and Houston.

Both teams have done a bit of goalie shuffling coming into tonight's game. With Brent Krahn currently on the shelf with an undisclosed injury, Texas recalled Tyler Beskorowany from Idaho yesterday. I would expect Richard Bachman to take 2 of 3 starts this weekend. If Beskorowany does start, it will be his first AHL action. Richard Bachman is 3-2-0 with a 2.43 GAA and .920 SV%. His stats rank him #13 in the league on GAA.

Meanwhile, Edmonton's Nikolai Khabibulin is on IR which necessitated the callup of Martin Gerber to the Oilers. Gerber has all but one of the Barons' wins this year, going 9-4-0. The only other goaltender with a win for OKC is Bryan Pitton, who was recalled yesterday from the Stockton Thunder. He is 1-1 in the AHL but is a more impressive 4-0-1 in the ECHL with a 1.91 GAA and .922 SV%. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (often called JDD) is the main netminder for OKC in Gerber's absence. JDD is 0-2-0 with a 4.61 GAA and .836 SV%.

Texas will look to continue their power play success from Tuesday night against the Barons. Texas currently ranks #1 in home PP percentage but dead last on the road, a trend they certainly hope to buck.

As for the Oklahoma City offense, it is quite a potent one. Scorers Linus Omark, Liam Reddox, and Alexandre Giroux lead the Barons up front. Omark recently had a 5-goal game and is always an offensive threat. Stars fans are painfully familiar with the skills of Giroux as well from last year's Finals series.

I wouldn't expect the same offensive production as Tuesday's game from Texas but Coach Gulutzan feels that the confidence gained in that game will help the Stars to succeed in the tighter game. Additionally, the players picked up some good habits through the game that they will want to continue. "If you want to win the tight ones," said Gulutzan, "you have to be the team that's on the puck."

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (undisclosed injury)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Oil Field Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goalie Beskorowany Recalled, LeMay Assigned

It looks like Texas performed a bit of a goalie swap today. Allen Americans goalie Adrien LeMay has been returned to the CHL, according to the CHL website, and Tyler Beskorowany has been recalled from the Idaho Steelheads, according to the ECHL. Both transactions have been added to the AHL transaction list as well.

In my estimation, this is not good news for the Texas Stars. Sending down a player like LeMay and recalling a Dallas guy like Beskorowany points to a longer term issue for Texas's other goaltender, Brent Krahn. With a 3-in-3 stretch coming up over the weekend, Texas is clearly feeling that Krahn will not be ready for Friday and the team does not feel comfortable having LeMay possibly start a game in the stretch. Since the AHL is indeed a development league, it would make more sense from a business perspective to allow Dallas prospect Tyler Beskorowany to get a start at the AHL level.

It also sets Texas on a difficult path with regard to experienced goaltending. Richard Bachman has played in 58 professional games, most of them last year with the Idaho Steelheads (43). Beskorowany is only 10 games into his professional career after coming out of the OHL to join the Dallas organization.

Beskorowany is currently 4-3-3 with a 2.27 GAA and .932 SV% in the ECHL. The Steelheads have struggled a bit out of the gate, ranking third in their four team division.

Stars Raise Over $25,000 For Breast Cancer Research

Francis Wathier prepares for a faceoff decked out in the Texas Stars pink uniforms for the October 30th game against Houston. (Photo credit: Brian Hackert)
The charity totals from the Texas Stars' recent Pink in the Rink event have been released by the team. Texas raised over $25,000 for Komen Austin and the Texas Stars Foundation, the teams charitable organization. Fans contributed via tickets sales to the tune of $10,616.50. Great job, Austin!

Here's the full release:
The Texas Stars Foundation, in conjunction with the Austin Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and the Cedar Park Regional Medical Center, announced on Thursday that Pink in the Rink raised over $25,000 for the Komen Austin Affiliate ® and the Texas Stars Foundation.

The Texas Stars hosted their first ever Pink in the Rink night on Saturday, October 30th at Cedar Park Center. In a game against the Houston Aeros, the Stars wore themed jerseys to promote breast cancer awareness. Local area survivors participated in game activities and the Stars hosted several fundraising activities with proceeds going to both Komen Austin Affiliate® and the Texas Stars Foundation. In addition to the jersey auction, many players used pink taped sticks during warm-ups which were also auctioned off. The Texas Stars Foundation, with the assistance of Texas Stars player wives and girlfriends, sold autographed Pink in the Rink pucks. The Texas Stars donated $2 for each individual or group ticket sold. In all, $10,616.50 of the net funds raised were donated to the Komen Austin Affiliate®.

The Texas Stars Foundation will present a check to the Komen Austin Affiliate® prior to the Stars home game on Friday, December 3rd at 7:30 PM as Texas will host the San Antonio Rampage at Cedar Park Center.

The Texas Stars Ice Girls participated as a team in the Komen Austin Race for the Cure® on Sunday November 7th. The Ice Girls were able to generate $942.85 in donations for the race. As presenting sponsor of the event, Cedar Park Regional Medical Center handed out pink aluminum water bottles to the first 2,500 fans who attended the game.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Texas Hangs Eight on Chicago, Sets Scoring Records

The Texas Stars had a historic night, dropping a franchise record eight goals on the Wolves, including six in the second period. It was a complete game for the Stars that can build momentum as they move toward more rigorous scheduling ahead.

Chicago opened the scoring in the game as Akim Aliu maneuvered down the left wing side and edged out Philip Larsen to score stickside high on the backhand. Later in the period, with one player in the box for each team, Texas would get a 4-on-4 goal. Severin Blindenbacher hit Greg Rallo with a pass right in the crease from below the goal line. Rallo took the pass falling down and scored both with the puck and his body for a 1-1 tie. Chicago would take the lead to close the period as Pettersson scored on a slow dribbler to the right corner of the net.

The second period was where the Stars really lit it up though. Texas scored six goals in the period, including five power play goals on five chances. It got started with a point shot from Fortunus was tipped by Francis Wathier to even the score at 2. Fabian Brunnstrom found Travis Morin in the high slot for a 3-2 lead and then Texas didn't look back. Luke Gazdic scored his first home goal of his Texas Stars career on a wraparound on the right post to make it 4-2. The crowd went wild.

With 5:52 left in the period, Andre Deveaux boarded Trevor Ludwig, with Ludwig's head going right into the top of the dasherboards. Ludwig got up successfully and Texas was awarded a five minute major PP. Texas got PP goals from Tomas Vincour, Tousignant, and Aaron Gagnon on the PP. Gagnon's goal was scored on an extended 5-on-3 with Boris Valabik in the box for roughing after Tousignant's goal. At the end of the period, Texas was up 7-2. "So much of this game is momentum," said Dan Spang after the game. "We got it and the last thing we want to do is give it back, so we kept our foot on the gas pedal." Spang had 3 assists on the night.

The third period was mostly quiet. With under two minutes left, Texas forward Vincour got his 2nd of the night on a nice pass from Roman in the left wing corner. The final was 8-2.

The six goal second period was the most goals scored in a period by the Stars in Texas history. Prior to tonight, Texas had scored 6 goals in all of their second periods combined. Texas's 5/5 power play night vaulted them from #28 in the league on the overall power play to #11 with an 18.5%. Additionally, Texas jumped from #15 in the league on home power play to #2, just behind Peoria, with a 27.5% clip. Coach Gulutzan commented postgame: "Now we just have to find that level of consistency night in and night out."

While we won't see 8 goal games very often in the league, Gulutzan is confident that the net presence and other "little things" that the Stars did tonight will help them to have to confidence to win those 3-2 and 2-1 type games.

Tonight's lines:
Brunnstrom-Gagnon-Sceviour
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Wathier-Roman-Vincour
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Larsen-Lukowich
Spang-Fortunus
Tr. Ludwig-Blindenbacher

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Chupp, Stephenson, Benn, King, Krahn (scratched)

Lots of shuffling and other attempted lines tonight. Gazdic scored his goal shifted up on a line with Morin and Rallo. I think he deserved a "fourth" star in the game. He had a goal, some great offensive plays, and excellent back checking. "It was exciting [to score at home]," said Gazdic. "It's good to get that one off my back and do something at home other than fight."

Tonight's attendance was 4,699.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - November 16 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
7-6-0-0, 14 pts
#6 West Division
v.Chicago Wolves
6-9-1-0, 13 pts
#8 West Division
November 16th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The long six day layoff for the Texas Stars is finally over. After the Stars victory over the Chicago Wolves to break their four game losing streak, they again face... the Chicago Wolves here in Cedar Park.

Chicago has been busy while the Stars lay dormant. In visits to Oklahoma City on Friday and San Antonio on Sunday, Chicago only mustered two goals for while giving up 5 and 6 goals against respectively.

Ed Pasquale was chased from net on Friday after giving up 4 goals in the first period. He was relieved by Drew MacIntyre who allowed one goal in the remaining forty minutes. Peter Mannino took the loss on Sunday, allowing 6 goals on 43 Rampage shots.

The Chicago offense has been steady but has come up short. Scoring two goals or fewer in their last 5 contests, the Wolves will need to increase their scoring or shore up their defense to increase their win total.

Chicago has fallen to last place in the West Conference, a spot that Texas occupied recently. The good news for Texas, which is ranked #6 in the Division, is that the Stars have at least two, and as many as 4, games in hand over every team in the division.

For Texas, they will look to continue the success of their power play from the last game against Chicago. The Wolves helped the Stars break out of a losing and power play goal funk that had gotten the team stuck in the mud. Chicago allowed 3 power play goals in four opportunities against San Antonio this weekend and ranks dead last in both road penalty killing (70.9%) and overall PK (71.8%).

As to Texas's goaltender situation, Brent Krahn did not skate today in the gameday practice. All signs point to Bachman taking the start with LeMay as backup. MacIntyre looks to start for the Wolves. For MacIntyre, it will only be his 3rd start and 4th overall game of the year. He has a 0-2-0 record with a 4.03 GAA and .871 SV%.

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Texas Recalls G Adrien LeMay

Texas announced that they have recalled Adrien LeMay from Allen this afternoon. Release follows.
The Texas Stars announced on Monday that goalie Adrien LeMay has been recalled from the Allen Americans, the Stars’ Central Hockey League affiliate.

The rookie goalie has seen action in six games this season, compiling a 4-1-0 record while posting a 2.85 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. A Moncton, New Brunswick native, Lemay went to Allen after two seasons in the QMJHL with the Lewiston MAINEiacs.

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: A Ridiculously Light Schedule

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D:
Texas had a ridiculously light schedule this week, but that extra practice time no doubt contributed to their success in the week. After going 0/25 on the power play over their last 4 games and losing all 4, Texas needed a spark. They got that spark from winger Francis Wathier this week. Texas only had the single game but made the best of it...
Read more on Defending Big D...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Texas Halts Skid, Uses PP to Beat Chicago 3-2

Texas, now without a game on the schedule for 6 more days, certainly has something to build on from tonight's game against Chicago. A power play that struggled mightily in the early season and was on an 0/25 streak coming into the game tallied two goals including the game winner off the stick of Francis Wathier. "Having a loss in the back of your head for seven days is not so good," said Wathier after the game. And now Texas can confidently move forward after tonight's win.

Texas and Chicago skated to a scoreless first period with shots even at seven a side. Goaltender Brent Krahn made a few sparkling saves, including one early in the period getting back across the crease to cover the back door with the tips of his leg pad.

With Noah Welch in the box for hooking in the second period, the scoring would get underway. Unfortunately, that was true for both teams. Texas had a lot of trouble getting through the neutral zone on their power play to get setup. That came back to haunt them as they allowed a shorthanded goal, their second on the year. Jason Krog and Angelo Esposito got a 2-on-1 opportunity against Dan Spang that Esposito buried up high after the pass from Krog.

Texas would score 37 seconds later on their power play to even the score. Colton Sceviour nudged the puck into the crease where a tumbling Francis Wathier knocked it in to the yawning net with the tip of his stick. The goal ended Texas's 0/25 skid on the power play. "My job on the power play is to get in front of the net and obstruct the D and make sure the goalie doesn't see anything," said Wathier of the goal. "It was a little luck and a little hard work."

Texas had a 84 second long 5-on-3 chance to end the second but could not score. Both penalties were drawn by Francis Wathier, who was the #1 star of the game.

Greg Rallo potted his second goal of the season early in the third period. With McCulloch and Morin both pounding away at the puck, the pill squirted out to the high slot where Rallo put it top shelf over the splayed out Pasquale.

Chicago tied it up at two with Philip Larsen in the box for his first professional penalty. Fredrik Pettersson scored from the slot stickside high on Krahn to even the score.

Texas's work on the PP this week paid off again as Francis Wathier scored Texas's second power play goal of the night and his second of the night as well with 4:25 remaining in the game. And that would be the ender. Texas fended off the 6-on-5 to get their first win since 10/28 at Chicago, ending a four game winless skid.

"That little skid we went on, we knew we weren't playing all that bad," said Greg Rallo, who had a goal on four shots in the contest. "We just had to stick to our game plan and get a couple of bounces to go our way."

Tonight's lines:
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Brunnstrom-Gagnon-Sceviour
Wathier-Roman-Vincour
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada

Spang-Fortunus
Larsen-Lukowich
Tr. Ludwig-Blindenbacher

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Chupp, Stephenson, Benn, King (scratched)

All players on IR returned to the lineup tonight.

Tonight's attendance was 4,090.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - November 10 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
6-6-0-0, 12 pts
#8 West Division
v.Chicago Wolves
6-6-1-0, 13 pts
#6 West Division
November 10th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The number 1 and 2 finishers from last year's West Division are both currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Of course, it's a little silly to mention the playoff picture 12 games into the season.

Those of you who watched the standings all year last year will recall that both Texas and Chicago went through stretches similar to their current one last year. Texas's stretch was in the mid season and Chicago's was at the beginning. The Wolves were outside the playoff picture in January and had a great second half of the season to skyrocket into first place. Texas had the same situation in reverse.

Since Chicago and Texas last squared off in Rosemont, Chicago has played four games and is currently in the middle of an 8 game road trip. The Wolves dropped 2 of 3 over the weekend against other West Division opponents.

Currently the Wolves are in a bit of a goaltending predicament. Both members of last year's tandem of Peter Mannino and Drew MacIntyre are still in Chicago. However, injury to Atlanta tender Ondrej Pavelec forced the call-up of Edward Pasquale, a rookie. His play so far (5-3-0, 2.41 GAA, .916 SV%) has surpassed the play of both other netminders and has been stealing starts from Drew MacIntyre. Over the last four games, Mannino has started three and Pasquale once. MacIntyre backed up Mannino in two of his starts but was a healthy scratch in the other two games.

In the special teams department, Chicago is near the top of the list in power play (#3 at 22.8%) and near the bottom in penalty kill (#29 at 74.6%). Hopefully Texas has taken advantage of the time off this week to work on the power play and can make it click tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Sawada, Blindenbacher (injured)

Sawada likely to return tonight.

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dallas Reassigns Backman to Idaho

Texas Stars forward Sean Backman has been assigned by the Dallas Stars to the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads. I am imagining this bodes well for the health of winger Ray Sawada. Here is the release:
The Texas Stars announced on Tuesday that right wing Sean Backman has been reassigned by the Dallas Stars (NHL) to the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL, the Stars’ ECHL Affiliate.

The rookie forward played in eight games for the Texas Stars in 2010-11, scoring his first pro goal and adding his first pro assist for two points. The 24-year old forward was signed to a one-year deal by the Dallas Stars on March 30th, 2010 after completing a four-year career at Yale University. Backman was named the 2009-10 Ivy League Player of the Year and also selected to the First-Team All ECAC and Reebok All America second team after his senior season with the Bulldogs. The Cos Cob, CT native, scored 77 goals and totaled 126 points in 122 NCAA contests.

About Those Red Flowers: A Canadian Civics Lesson

The Oilers coaching staff wears red poppies for Remembrance Day.
You may have noticed in your watching of the NHL and AHL games of the past two weeks that coaches around the leagues are wearing red flowers on their lapels. Red poppies are worn during the two weeks prior to Remembrance Day (November 11th). Remembrance Day is much like Veteran's Day in the United States, a holiday that commemorates the end of World War I. Remembrance Day is celebrated throughout the British Commonwealth.

So why red poppies? One of the best known pieces of literature created out of the war was the poem "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian John McCrae. The battlefield at Flanders during World War I bloomed with red poppies and are now used to signify the event. Additionally, the red of the poppies is an appropriate reminder of the blood shed in the war. Poppies have been worn as a marker of the day since 1921.

"In Flanders fields"
by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: On a Bit of a Skid...

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D:
It was a light week for the Texas Stars with only two games on the schedule. After the heavy schedule over the prior two weeks, the Stars were looking to come into this past weekend's games rejuvenated by 4 days off. However, the Stars fell flat in both games this weekend. Both Coach Gulutzan and captain Brad Lukowich emphasize that the team is "not panicking". However, fans certainly have their trepidations as the Stars have just completed their first-ever four game losing streak. Over those four games, the Stars have scored 4 total goals, allowed 16 and gone 0/22 on the PP

Read more on Defending Big D...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Texas' Attack Stymied By Marlies, 3-0

The Texas Stars came into tonight's game hoping to right the ship on home ice and avoid the team's first ever four game losing streak. The Marlies were too much for the Stars as Texas fell for the 4th game in a row.

Texas had a lot of chances in the game overall, including a highly energetic first period. Despite leading on shots 10-3 at one point the period, Texas went to the locker room with a 1-0 deficit on a drive-by garbage collection goal by Ryan Hamilton. Overall in the period, Texas outshot Toronto 15-8.

Toronto collected a second goal in third period, a laser beam from Joey Crabb that beat Krahn stickside high. The play came off a turnover by Texas during a messy breakout on a line change. The Marlies polished off the night with an empty netter. The Stars pulled Brent Krahn with 2:30 left in the game and could not come up with the goal to cut the lead. Texas led on shots overall 32-28. Brent Krahn stopped 25 of 27 Toronto shots.

The Texas power play struggled mightily in the game and has continued to struggle on the season. The power play was 0/4 on the night and has not scored in 22 opportunities since the win at Chicago. Coach Gulutzan summarized, "Our power play is non-existent."

The power play is not the only issue. In general, the Stars are having offensive issues of late. In the past 4 games, Texas has scored only 4 goals. Before tonight's game, Texas was ranked #23 in goals for in the league. Including tonight's stats, Texas is now averaging 2.33 goals per game.

In general, 2 goals against in the AHL is enough to get yourself a win. Brent Krahn did his part this evening but the skaters have to hold up their end of the bargain.

"We're not panicking," says captain Brad Lukowich. "We've got some [young guys] who are still getting their feet wet." Lukowich pointed to last year's veteran team as the reason why the Stars have not experienced a run like this yet. "[Team defense] has been our focus," Lukowich added. "We haven't really focused on offense too much. Maybe we should."

Coach Gulutzan's system, which is highly defensive minded, is certainly one that is harder to ingrain in younger players. However, with the run to the Calder Cup last year, the younger guys get great feedback from the veterans of last year's team that the system does indeed work.

The captain certainly put the onus on himself and the players though, "We have no excuses. They scored more goals than us tonight."

Texas is now idle until Wednesday's game against Chicago. The Stars could enter that game in last place in the conference with Toronto, Rockford and Lake Erie all having games between now and then.

Tonight's lines:
Brunnstrom-Morin-Rallo
Wathier-Gagnon-Vincour
Sceviour-Roman-McCulloch
Gazdic-Tousignant-Backman

Larsen-Lukowich
Tr. Ludwig-Fortunus
Stephenson-Spang

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Benn, King (scratched)
Sawada (undisclosed injury)
Blindenbacher (concussion-like symptoms)

Tonight's attendance was 5,734.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Toronto - November 6 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Toronto Marlies

Texas Stars
6-5-0-0, 12 pts
#6 West Division
v.Toronto Marlies
3-6-0-1, 7 pts
#7 North Division
November 6th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After last night's disappointing performance in the Sooner state, Texas hopes to improve their luck against the last place team in the North Division, the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies game last year was a great game for the Stars. Texas won a 5-1 decision in front of a sellout crowd that was treated to three fights.

The Stars get the Marlies early in the season this year. So far, Toronto has been mostly down but mercurial. Despite being the last place team in the North, they have strong wins against the Barons and Rampage, the #1 and #2 teams in the West Division. This can be a dangerous team so they should not be written off because of their record.

The Marlies are led on offense by rookie Nazem Kadri. Kadri, the Maple Leafs' 1st round draft pick in the 2009 draft, is a highly regarding prospect in the Toronto system. Many, include Hockey's Future, believed that Kadri could move directly into the NHL and indeed the assignment of Kadri to the Marlies upset some Maple Leafs fans. He has been sent down to get some AHL seasoning and is doing rather well with 4 goals and 5 assists. Others to keep an eye on include Tyler Bozak and Carl Gunnarsson.

In net for Toronto is another much-touted prospect, Jussi Rynnas. Rynnas was yet another highly sought-after Scandinavian netminder that the Leafs picked up in free agency. The 6'5" Finn has yet to win a game in the AHL with a 0-3-1 record, 2.56 GAA, and .909 SV%. James Reimer is the other man in the mask for Toronto. The Leafs' 4th round draft pick from the 2006 Draft is 3-3 on the young season with a 2.90 GAA and .915 SV%. Rynnas started the Marlies game against the Aeros last night, a 3-2 shootout loss. The Marlies will play on Sunday in Oklahoma City as well.

For Texas, clearly Brent Krahn is over his illness since he started last night. Texas does not have a game on Sunday, so it is possible that Krahn could start again. I would still expect Bachman.

Stars injury/call up report:
Sawada, McCulloch, Blindenbacher (injury)

Website: torontomarlies.com
Blog (official): Bart's Bytes
Twitter: @TorontoMarlies

Friday, November 5, 2010

Barons Crush Stars 6-1 in First Visit to Oklahoma

It was not a good night for Austin hockey fans. Whether it was rust or just a good Oklahoma City team getting all the bounces, the Stars first visit to Cox Convention Center was not a memorable one.

Texas opened the scoring early in the first period with Greg Rallo getting his first goal of the year on a tip from Philip Larsen's point shot just 69 seconds into the game. The Barons' Chris Vandevelde evened the score 11 minutes later with his 2nd of the year. Seemingly with the tie in hand heading to the locker room, Linus Omark got the lead for OKC with only 1:02 left in the period. Texas led on shots in first frame 10-8.

They often say that when it rains it pours. Texas just needed to get out of the second period. Chris McDonald scored 8:50 into the period but then the Barons just added insult to injury in the end of the second. Motin and Moran added to the Barons scoresheet with tallies just 48 seconds apart with 2 minutes left in the game. Moran's tally was a power play marker. Krahn would not return for the 3rd period.

Richard Bachman came out for the third period but that didn't stop Oklahoma City. On the penalty kill, Chris Vandevelde got his second of the night. No one tracked back with the Barons forward who potted the shorthanded goal off a big initial shot rebound off Bachman. Texas appeared to have gotten one back in the last five minutes of the game but the goal was called back due to the net being knocked off its moorings. Texas squandered two late 5-on-3s that could have been used to build confidence into tomorrow night if nothing else.

From all accounts, Texas did not do all that poorly. There were not any glaring issues on the scoresheet or in the game call. Texas seemed to lack a consistent offensive attack and played a little listlessly. Truly the Stars were in the game until the end of the second period when OKC got back-to-back goals to go into the third intermission. The Stars will hope to do better against the West Conference's worst team, the Toronto Marlies.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Gagnon-Vincour
Brunnstrom-Morin-Rallo
Sceviour-Roman-Tousignant
Gazdic-King-Chupp

Benn-Fortunus
Larsen-Lukowich
Stephenson-Tr. Ludwig

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Spang, Backman (scratched)
Sawada, McCulloch (undisclosed injury)
Blindenbacher (concussion-like symptoms)

Tonight's attendance was 5,490. For reference, the Cox Convention Center holds 13,399 for ice hockey.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - November 5 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
6-4-0-0, 12 pts
#4 West Division
atOklahoma City Barons
7-4-1-0, 15 pts
#2 West Division
November 5th at 7:05 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

The Texas Stars make their first trip to Oklahoma City in the history of the team for a Friday night matchup this evening with the newly formed Oklahoma City Barons. The Barons, who the Stars did face in the preseason, are the newest AHL team and the farm squad for the Edmonton Oilers.

Oklahome City has done exceptionally well in the early going of the season, rising to the #2 overall ranking in the West Division. Their ascent in the West has been due in large part to the off-season signing of a familiar face for the Texas Stars in Alexandre Giroux. Fresh off a Calder Cup victory with the Hershey Bears, Giroux joined the Barons and has continued to score in bunches. The left winger leads the team with 6-6-12 in 12 games, but is even on the season in plus minus. Giroux recorded 2 goals and 4 assists in last year's Calder Cup Finals, including the OT game winner in the Stars' last home game of the series.

Other leading scorers on the team include rookie Linus Omark (4-7-11), Brad Moran (5-5-10) and Shawn Belle (1-9-10). Belle recorded 1 goal and 3 assists in the Hamilton Bulldogs 7 games against the Stars in last year's playoff run.

In nets for the Barons, there is a bit of a crowded mess. With Devyn Dubnyk winning the backup job in Edmonton, the Barons received NHL castoff Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers in addition to Martin Gerber. Between the two of them, they have 284 games of NHL experience (mostly Gerber). Gerber is 6-4-0 on the season with a 2.45 GAA and .913 SV%. The backup, currently, is Bryan Pitton. Pitton was the Oilers 5th round pick in 2006 and played most of his pro career in Stockton (ECHL) until this year. He may be forced out again with the assignment of Deslauriers this week.

The Barons are midpack in scoring in the AHL with 3 goals per game but rank in the top 10 on goals against with 2.67 against. Texas beats them by two ranks with a team GAA of 2.60. The Barons are fair to middling on the power play but boast one of the best PK units in the league on home ice (#5 at 91.3%) and overall (#3 at 92.9%). Texas, which has had some PP struggles as of late, may find that the Barons are no elixir to their man-advantage woes.

Overall, the Barons have outscored their opponents in the second and third periods but give up more than they get in the first. The same applies in the shots category. Oklahoma is a perfect 4-0 when leading after two. For the record, Texas has already accomplished a 3rd period comeback, something that took last year's team until March/April to achieve.

The Barons rank around the league average in attendance at approximately 4,300 a night.

Stars injury/call up report:
Blindenbacher, Sawada, McCulloch (injuries)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Oil Field Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Texas Stars' Stars Of The Game Records

I've created another data-mining project to record the stars of the game when received by your Texas Stars. I've recorded the number of times each player has received each star as well as recording the number of times Texas has been awarded X number of stars in wins and losses. Let me know if there are any other star stats you'd like to see.

Texas Stars' Stars of the Game Records

This link will also be available in the sidebar from now on and will be updated as games are completed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quick Hits: Gulutzan, Rallo and Morin

Greg Rallo in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Hamilton Bulldogs (Photo credit: Matt Kostek)

In an effort to get more great content out to you guys, I'm going to be starting up a feature called "Quick Hits". During postgame interviews, I'll often ask one-off questions like the ones below to get some insight on topics other than the game that was just played. As I collect these, I will post them here and hope you find them interesting.

Coach Gulutzan on the play of rookie Tristan King this last week. King has three points in his last 3 games for the Stars.
"[Tristan] played hard, and he's coming along. He going to be a good player down the road. He's got lots to learn but he's a real sponge and he's got heavy skill. Once he learns more about the pro game, he's going to be a really good player."
Greg Rallo on his experience at the Dallas Stars training camp. Rallo played in one game in the preseason against Tampa Bay, recording two shots.
"It was amazing. It was a great chance for me to get up there and play with those guys and see where I match up. To get a game also against Tampa was awesome. It was the first time for me playing an NHL preseason game so I really enjoyed it and just tried to take it all in."
Travis Morin on his experience at Dallas Stars training camp. Morin played in the Stars 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, recording a goal on his only shot. His goal was assisted by Texas Stars teammates Tomas Vincour and Philip Larsen.
"It was nice to get a chance up there and actually get in a game in the preseason. It was something that was new to me, and it's something that you'll always remember. Hopefully at some point this year I can get up there and play in a real one."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Five Games in Seven Days

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
The Texas Stars finally ended their long and ugly seven games in ten days stretch. You better believe you'd never see anything like that in the NHL, but in the AHL, with preferences for weekend games and trips by bus, it's a regular occurrence. The NHLPA would have a cow.

Texas played five games this past week and came away with a 3-2-0-0 record. First year AHLer Richard Bachman took four of the five starts, going 2-2 on the week. Brent Krahn played one the Stars three games in three nights stretch and then fell ill with a flu-like issue. The Texas Stars needed a backup goaltender for Sunday's game against the Houston Aeros. Texas couldn't get anyone from Idaho or Allen in time for the 4:05 PM start so they went to not the ECHL or CHL but the AA league. That would be the AA amateur recreational adult league at the Chaparral Ice here in Austin. Goaltender Joel Paprocki has backstopped various AA and A league teams since at least 2004 here in the Austin area and will certainly have a heck of a story to tell in the locker room at this Thursday's AA league game. I hope to interview him as well.

Inside we'll break down how the Stars did this past week, including power play struggles, the blossoming of one Fabian Brunnstrom, and the play of rookie Richard Bachman. Also, we'll look at who's hot, who's not, the schedule for next week and the heavy injury load for the Texas Stars squad.
Read more at Defending Big D...