Friday, April 29, 2011

Historical Stars Jersey Numbers

If nothing else, these historical jersey numbers teach us that you should not choose to wear #29 for Texas unless you want to be traded midseason by Dallas. Fabian Brunnstrom and Ivan Vishnevskiy both wore the number for Texas. (Credit: Ron Byrd)

The Dallas Stars have a feature similar to this in their media guide so I thought I'd roll one out for the Texas Stars. Here is the list of all of the jersey numbers worn by the Texas Stars and who wore them. The page link is going in the sidebar and will continue to be updated as the years go by.

As a side note, I did not include players who may have signed or been assigned but never dressed for a game (Judd Blackwater, Alex Auld, and Brad Miller). I also only included regular and post-season jersey numbers since the AHL does not keep publicly accessible preseason statistics.

Here are a few interesting bits of jersey number trivia:
  • Texas has never issued a jersey number higher than 41.

  • The only two numbers under 42 that have never been worn are 6 and 39.

  • Luke Gazdic wore the number 2 in a game once after tearing his #34 jersey in a fight. For the second and third periods of the Stars' April 9, 2010, game against the Rockford IceHogs, Luke shortly wore #2.
As a frequent reader pointed out, "When you get that big callup to ride the pine as the backup goalie, ask for #39, and you'll be in the record books!"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Season Recap: Who Was The Stars' MVP?

In recapping the season after a tough season-ending loss to the Admirals on Monday, I wanted to start light and begin with something that lets us look back at the best parts of the season. Today we seek to answer the question: Who was the Texas Stars' MVP this season? I'll present the case for a few different folks and let you guys fight it out in the comments, on the Twitters and on Facebook.

Richard Bachman
Bachman in April 8th game at Milwaukee (Credit: Chris Jerina)

I think from a Stars fans' perspective, this is the most obvious candidate for the season MVP. Richard Bachman wasn't even supposed to be the guy this season. In re-listening to the media day interviews from October, I am reminded that Brent Krahn and Bachman were supposed to work together as a 1 and 1A combo in nets for Texas this season. Then, Brent Krahn was struck down by injury in the early season and the entirety of the goaltender burden was shifted to Richard Bachman.

And the young rookie responded beautifully. In 55 games of action, Bachman had a 28-19-5 record with a 2.20 GAA and .927 SV%. His stats were good for the 4th best goaltender in the AHL and top ranked rookie goalie as well. He faced the second most shots in the league (1,478) and had the 3rd highest save percentage (.927) anyways. His workhorse demeanor also showed through his minutes, second most in the league with 3,191.

Goaltending coach for the Dallas Stars Mike Valley has paid close attention to Bachman's work in Cedar Park, especially after he took over the starting role. "He got a lot better of an opportunity here than we expected. [He was] thrust into a situation we didn't expect him to be in but [he has] handled it great." Coach Gulutzan has also been consistently glowing in his praise of the young netminder, calling him a "quiet competitor". Gulutzan cited many of the stats that are mentioned above to show his confidence of moving into the playoffs with a "rookie" goaltender. From what we saw in Cedar Park this season, Bachman was certainly not playing like a rookie and was one of the Stars' most valuable players this season.

Greg Rallo
Rallo in a March 25th game against Grand Rapids (Credit: Ron Byrd)

It's a little bit of a cop out, perhaps, to select the leading point and goal scorer as one of your MVP candidates, but with Greg Rallo, there is a certain something more to his game than a scoring touch.

Rallo definitely found a scoring touch this season, scoring career record numbers of goals (26), assists (28), and points (54). He had a knack for clutch scoring as well with seven game-winning goals, including some very memorable game-winners against San Antonio in overtime period at the CPC. Greg played in every situation for Coach Gulutzan, the ultimate sign of trust from a Coach. Whether PP, PK or even-strength though, Rallo was a competitor: strong on the forecheck, strong on the backcheck, sticks in lanes and blocked shots on the PK.

And of course, if you'd like to send a congratulatory letter to Greg on his selection here as a candidate for Stars MVP, just send it to his office address in the left wing circle. On the power play, Rallo had a Stamkosian ability to get open and bang home one-timers from the left wing circle. And finally, the workhorse 29-year old only missed two games out of 80 this season. The only reason he missed them was that Texas had already made the playoffs, and his coach and team needed him to rest up for the first round. MVP, indeed.

Maxime FortunusFortunus in a March 20th game at Manitoba (Credit: Manitoba Moose)

Ever so quietly, Maxime Fortunus had a career year. You might not know it though because Cedar Park Center fans have become so accustomed to seeing from the 27-year old defenseman excel on both sides of the puck. Fortunus did not have as many goals as last year (5 as opposed to 11) but set career highs in assists (29) and total points (34). While offensive numbers are nice and Max's are great this year, what really sets him apart for the MVP award in my mind is his mentorship.

Looking back at the defensive pairings for the year, Coach Gulutzan consistently paired Max with some of the younger players on the squad. It was pretty much a guarantee that whenever Jordie Benn was in the lineup, he was going to be paired with Fortunus.

After Benn got enough seasoning to stand on his own, Fortunus got paired with newcomer Brenden Dillon through the last games of the season and the playoffs. Dillon garnered high praise from Dallas media as the ATO signee played like he'd been in Austin all year long. Fortunus is a key piece for the Stars moving forward and with all of the new players on this year's club, his veteran leadership was a valuable piece of the Stars puzzle this season.

So what do you think? Agree or disagree? Did I miss someone? Let me know in the comments, @100degreehockey on Twitter or on the Facebook page.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stars' Season Ends in 2OT in Milwaukee

Bachman had 43 saves on 46 shots in the game. (Credit: Scott Paulus)
After last year's long playoff run, the Texas Stars season ended far too early for their liking tonight in Milwaukee. In the longest game in Stars history, Milwaukee defeated Texas 10:42 into double overtime on a rebound goal from Mark Van Guilder. The crowd of 3,339 Milwaukee fans cheered on their Admirals who will now face the Aeros in the second round.

Milwaukee was the one getting the early start in this one with a rebound goal on the third try from Mike Bartlett. The goal, just 4:20 into the first period, set Texas in an early hole. Milwaukee and Texas both had a lot of shots in the period at 15-12 for the Ads, but no more scoring was seen in the frame.

At near the same time in the second period, it was Colton Sceviour with his first goal of the playoffs to tie it up with the first. Dan Spang and Ray Sawada assisted on the power play tally which came with Texas on the PP for only 30 seconds.

Early in the third it was Milwaukee regaining their lead with Andreas Thuresson getting what was also his first of the playoffs. Travis Morin decided that Texas would not go quietly however and evened things up at two with a nice backhand snipe. Ray Sawada had his second assist of the night on the goal and Ondrej Roman also added an apple, his first point of the playoffs. The Stars held off a late power play from the Ads and took the game to overtime for the third time in the series.

Texas seemed to have all of the control in the overtime period, outshooting the Ads 18-6 through the two overtimes. In the end, it was a rebound goal from the stick of Mark Van Guilder that beat Richard Bachman just under 11 minutes into the 5th period in the game.

I'll have more thoughts about the season as a whole as we go through the next few days. It takes a little while to gather things up at the end of such a long season. Thank you so much for reading this season, and I look forward to an exciting summer of signings, rookie camps and prospects and a new season in September.

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

Fortunus-Dillon
Larsen-Lukowich
Spang-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Tousignant, Ludwig, Benn (injured)
Schultz, Embach, Monast (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 3,339.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - April 25 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals, Game 6

Texas Stars
41-29-4-6, 92 pts
#4 West Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
44-22-6-8, 102 pts
#1 West Division
Milwaukee leads 3-2

April 25th at 7:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

The Stars face elimination tonight against the Milwaukee Admirals at the Bradley Center. In elimination games, Texas has a historical record of 3-1 based on only one year of existence.

Texas is pulling from those experiences from last year to motivate and inspire them for this year. "All we can do is look to the next game," said Matt Stephenson after Friday's loss. "Some of us have been in this situation before. We went back to Hamilton and took two in their barn. We're going to try to use that."

Indeed, last year's club was in a similar situation after a game five loss to the Bulldogs at Cedar Park Center. The Stars came back from two one goal deficits in game six to win it in overtime and force game seven. In the seventh game, Hamilton broke out a two goal lead before roared back with a goal in the second and three in the third to make it 4-2.

Stephenson, who had some of his better offensive play of the year in those two games with three assists and a plus-4 rating, spoke to the mindset going into Milwaukee. "Play loose; don't panic. Stay to your identity and anything can happen with crazy bounces."

With that said, it's more of the same for Texas and Milwaukee tonight. Texas did a great job of getting the early jump on the Ads in Friday's game but was unable to seal the deal in the final minute. The Stars even had a chance at an empty net once or twice but were unable to make it a 2-0 game late.

So not only does Texas need a great start, they need a great finish. That is what defensive teams should be known for. Texas will be out to prove that their identity is what they say it is, a strong defensive club, tonight in Milwaukee. With their season on the line, sixty minutes or maybe more of play-your-brains-out hockey will be required to get it to seven.

Stars injury/call up report:
Tousignant (unspecified)
Benn (day-to-day unspecified)
Ludwig (upper body)

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Elsewhere, Americans Move On, Steelheads Finished

Dave Bonk, who scored the series-winning goal for the Americans this weekend, gets a stick in a lane against the Chicago Wolves.(Credit: Ross Dettmann)

While the Stars wait for tomorrow night's game six against Milwaukee, we take a look around the Stars' farm system as the playoffs are in full swing in every league around.

The Allen Americans faced a tough road. After beating the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in three games, the Americans moved on to face the Odessa Jackalopes. The Americans and Jacks took their series last year to seven games. This year's series ws a best-of-5 and the teams would need all five to decide it. The top seeded Americans dropped their first two games at home and went to Odessa on the verge of elimination.

The Jacks then proceeded to drop their two home games, setting up a deciding Game 5 on Friday at the Allen Event Center. The Americans won the game 3-1 on an 18 save effort from Chris Whitley and a two point night from Dave Bonk. Bonk scored the game-winning goal in the second period and added an assist on the game-sealing empty net goal. The Americans will face the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in the Conference Finals starting on Friday at 7:30 in Allen.

The playoffs were not as kind to the Idaho Steelheads. In all reality, the Steelheads should have had a wonderful shot at a Kelly Cup this year, but had inconsistency throughout. Part of the issue was goaltending. Tyler Beskorowany spent most of the year with Texas when he should have been with Idaho. In his short time in Idaho, he was named ECHL goaltender of the month, if that gives any indication of his role as a difference maker.

The Steelheads were bounced from the playoffs by the Alaska Aces 4-0. The Steelheads did make it to the second round however by defeating Coach Gulutzan's former club, the Las Vegas Wranglers, 3-2 in the opening round. In the playoffs, Tristan King had 2-1-3 in 6 games played, Kael Mouillierat had 3 assists in 8 games and Tyler Ludwig had a goal in nine games played.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Admirals Take 3-2 Series Lead With 2-1 OT Win

Ray Sawada had the Stars' only goal in the game on the power play in the first. (Credit: Ron Byrd/Texas Stars)
Texas's final home game of their opening playoff series was exactly what you would have expected from these two teams coming in: sixty hard minutes of grind-it-out hockey with sparkling goaltending and only a one goal difference between the two clubs. The match almost went completely to script but ran off the rails at the end of 60 minutes for Texas. The Stars now find themselves in a 3-2 series hole heading back to Milwaukee on Monday.

The Stars staked themselves to a one goal lead early in the game. Ray Sawada tapped home a redirect from Philip Larsen on the power play just 10:20 into the first period. It was the sort of start that the team has talked about having. The first period ended with a 1-0 lead for the Stars. So did the second.

It was the combination of fantastic goaltending from Bachman and Smith and the Texas penalty kill. Brenden Dillon commented on the penalty kill: "We were working well with sticks in the lanes and doing our best to get those clears down the ice."

The Stars held on for 59:55, staking Richard Bachman to what would have been his first AHL playoff shutout. The Admirals pulled Jeremy Smith with 1:34 left in the third period. With six on the ice, the Admirals crashed the net and got one past the rookie Bachman. The puck popped up over his right shoulder and into the net with 4.4 seconds left on the clock.

The game went to overtime and the Stars struggled at times to leave their own zone. "[Milwaukee] had more puck possession and time in our zone," said defenseman Matt Stephenson. "When you spend too much time in your zone, bad things happen."

In the end, it was Ryan Thang with the game winning goal in the first overtime. Sixteen and a half minutes into the period, Ryan Thang broke into the zone and snapped a slapshot past Bachman to take the 3-2 series lead. Game six will be in Milwaukee on Monday night.

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

Fortunus-Dillon
Larsen-Lukowich
Spang-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig, Benn (injured)
Roman, Schultz, Embach, Monast (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 6,126.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - April 22 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals, Game 5

Texas Stars
41-29-4-6, 92 pts
#4 West Division
v.Milwaukee Admirals
44-22-6-8, 102 pts
#1 West Division
Series tied 2-2

April 22nd at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX


With the series even at two, Texas and Milwaukee are now in a best-of-3 series with Milwaukee holding home ice advantage. The Stars have their last home game tonight and are looking for all the crowd support they can get to head out to Wisconsin with a W. "It's a three game series," said Coach Gulutzan. "And the teams that stay to their identity best are going to be the team's coming [out of the first round]."

The series is working out just as everyone thought it would. Cedric Golden thinks the series is going to seven games, and I'm inclined to agree. The teams are so evenly matched that it's coming down to the oft-cited differentiators of the special teams to decide games.

The Stars and Admirals, it could be argued, are both clicking on the power play. Each has a 25% power play percentage, and Texas has even scored five goals compared to Milwaukee's four. Despite that it feels like Texas is losing the special teams battle, it is yet another measure of evenness.

Shutting down the Milwaukee offense period may best come through shutting down the Bourque-Mueller-Thang line, which has run roughshod over the Texas defense. Gabriel Bourque and Chris Mueller have combined for six points on the power play among fifteen total points in the series.

Adding a new wrinkle to the Milwaukee lineup is the likely return of Kelsey Wilson. Wilson, who has played with the Ads in 294 regular season games, return to the lineup from injury after 78 games this season with 10g-12a-22p.

Overall, the Stars see Game 5 as more of the same. "Going into Friday, I don't think we need to make any major changes," said forward Greg Rallo. "Just stay the course."

Stars injury/call up report:
Benn (day-to-day unspecified)
Ludwig (upper body)

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Texas Falls To Milwaukee 3-2, Series Tied at Two

Texas's Aaron Gagnon in tonight's game against Milwaukee (Credit: Ron Byrd/Texas Stars)

The Milwaukee Admirals evened up the West Division semi-final with the Texas Stars tonight in Cedar Park thanks to a strong start and a great power play effort. The Stars, who chipped in a power play goal themselves, got in an early hole at 1-0 and never led in the game. Unlike last night, they could not bring the game back to even by the end of sixty minutes. "One thing we need to focus on is our starts," said Greg Rallo.

Coach Gulutzan echoed the same sentiment, "If you have to chase the game all the time because you aren't coming out, then defensive teams know how to play defensive games. You'd like to get the lead and force somebody out of their comfort zone."

It was Texas out of their comfort zone early as Gabriel Bourque scored his fourth of the series on the power play fourteen minutes in. Roman Josi found Bourque in front of the net for the 1-0 lead. Mueller had the second assist on the goal.

The Stars would even it up in the 2nd with Scott Glennie's first professional tally. "I just threw a puck on net and went and got the rebound," said Glennie. The rookie winger collected his own rebound and picked the top right corner to beat Smith for a 1-1 tie. Taylor Beck would ensure that Milwaukee stayed in the driver seat on the power play just six minutes later. The oft-penalized Grant Lewis found Beck on the back-door with the man advantage, giving the Ads winger a tap-in tally to make it 2-1.

Milwaukee extended their lead in the third period with what would ultimately be the game-winning goal. Mark Van Guilder chipped in his first of the playoffs on a rebound to make it 3-1 just three minutes into the period. "I think it was the third goal that really hurt us," said Coach Gulutzan. "We made a turnover in our zone that put us in a hole."

The Stars would get one more but it would not be enough. With Johnson and Van Guilder in the box, Greg Rallo cut the score to 3-2 with a fine one-timer from his usual spot in the left-wing circle. Gagnon and Spang assisted on the goal. However, Gagnon would take a penalty during the remaining power play time to take Texas off the man advantage. Texas would ultimately come up short with Bachman on the bench as Milwaukee forced Game 6 back at the Bradley Center with the win.

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

Fortunus-Dillon
Larsen-Lukowich
Spang-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig, Benn (injured)
Gazdic, Schultz, Embach (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 5,323.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - April 20 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals, Game 4

Texas Stars
41-29-4-6, 92 pts
#4 West Division
v.Milwaukee Admirals
44-22-6-8, 102 pts
#1 West Division
Stars lead 2-1

April 20th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After last night's OT thriller, the Stars prepare to take on Milwaukee once again tonight at the Cedar Park Center. Texas and Milwaukee both have to surely be thankful for little miracles. With a game in less than 24 hours, a long OT battle could have sapped the energy from both teams. Travis Morin's goal at 8:44 wrapped things up by 10:30 PM.

The Stars are expecting more of the same tonight against the Ads. We're going to see another tight, physical game that is likely low scoring. We should also expect Jeremy Smith and Richard Bachman to square off again in net. Travis Morin pointed out in the postgame last night that Smith, like Bachman, is a smaller netminder, so when he goes down, there is a lot of space at the top corners of the net. That is exactly where Texas scored the game-winning goal, in fact.

What the Stars don't want to repeat from last night is the slow start they had. A lot of time hemmed into their own zone made for a 12-6 shots advantage for the Ads after 20 minutes. By sheer luck and the skill of Bachman, Texas was only down 1-0 after the first. Tonight, Texas will have to come out on fire with the energy that they had when they finished the game last night.

Stars injury/call up report:
Benn (day-to-day unspecified)
Ludwig (upper body)

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stars Earn 2-1 Series Lead With OT Win

Brad Lukowich scored the game-tying goal with 20.8 seconds left in the third to send the game to OT. (Credit: Ron Byrd/Texas Stars)

The Milwaukee Admirals had the Stars' number for fifty-five minutes. It wasn't that Texas didn't have good chances; they had four power plays in the second period and came this close to scoring multiple times. "[Milwaukee] did get some puck luck," said Coach Gulutzan. "You have to work to create that luck, and I think they did in the first." The Stars turned it on in the last 5 minutes of the third period to take the game to overtime, where their momentum carried them to a 2-1 series lead.

Chris Mueller got the scoring started in the first period off a fluky misplay from Richard Bachman. Working behind the net to cut off a rim-around, the puck bounced out to the left wing circle where Mueller found it and put it into the empty net. The Stars spent a lot of the period hemmed into their own zone. Shots were at 12-6 for Milwaukee in the period and Texas seemed lucky to come out with a 1-0 deficit.

The Stars played a frustrating second period where, as previously mentioned, they went scoreless on four power plays. Texas outshot the Ads 11-1 but couldn't break through Jeremy Smith. Smith seemed to get caught swimming in his crease at times and gave up many rebounds.

The third period brought another Admirals goal with Gabriel Bourque getting his third of the series just 34 seconds in. Then, with just under five minutes left in the game, Gabriel Bourque took a holding call to put Texas on the power play. Rookie defenseman Philip Larsen went to the net and got a Ray Sawada pass deflected past Smith. The crowd was back in it and so were the Stars, who were buzzing in the Stars zone.

With Bachman on the bench, Travis Morin found Brad Lukowich at the point. "Morin just made a great play," said Lukowich. Lukowich shot the puck into the melee in front f the net and it found twine. "We call it a puck with eyes," said Lukowich. With 20.8 seconds left in the period, the game was tied at two.

In the overtime period, it was Travis Morin again, who had three points on the night. Morin deflected a point shot from Maxime Fortunus in the high slot. Smith had already committed low and Morin tipped it high left corner. Just under nine minutes into overtime, the Stars put a bow on a three goal comeback and now focus on tomorrow night's Game 4.

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

Larsen-Lukowich
Fortunus-Dillon
Spang-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig, Benn (injured)
Roman, Schultz, Embach (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 5,320.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - April 19 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals, Game 3

Texas Stars
41-29-4-6, 92 pts
#4 West Division
v.Milwaukee Admirals
44-22-6-8, 102 pts
#1 West Division
Series tied 1-1

April 19th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Stars return to Cedar Park Center for central Texas's first taste of playoff hockey since last year's defeat in the Calder Cup Finals. After dropping game one in Milwaukee by a mark of 5-2, the Stars surged back to even the series with a decisive 3-1 victory on Saturday night. Texas played their game with excellent goaltending from Bachman, opportunistic offense, and lockdown defense.

The difference in Texas's play was the physicality and the Stars' willingness to go to the tough areas of the ice. Milwaukee coach Lane Lambert pointed to the Stars getting a man in front of the net occupying goalie Jeremy Smith as a key to their power play success on Saturday, "That’s the way they work their power play, and you can’t really get tied up with them because if you do, you open up other things." Milwaukee felt they were undisciplined in the game, giving Texas six straight power play opportunities. They scored on two of them.

The Stars will look to Richard Bachman for more game-saving stops in Game 3. (Credit: Chris Jerina)

Coach Gulutzan doesn't put much stock in home ice advantage after winning a series after being down 2-0 last year and losing one being up 2-0 as well. "Teams can win away and at home; every games a battle in the playoffs," said Gulutzan. "I'm glad that we're not coming down here 2-0 because then it's certainly an uphill battle."

Texas knows however that coming home with the split was definitely the ideal situation for their chances in the series. Getting the win in Game 2 coming home also gives them a bit of momentum coming into Cedar Park Center. "It's nice having a win under your belt," said goalie Richard Bachman, who stopped 29 of 30 on Saturday. "With a couple days off between games, you're not thinking about a loss. It puts you in a good mindset going into the next game."

Milwaukee is a tough road team, winning twice as many as they lost away from home this season. However, they went 1-1-0-1 in Cedar Park this season. Coach Lane Lambert added, "We’re comfortable playing on the road, and we play well in Texas, so we’ve got that to look forward to."

The Stars however are without a home playoff win in their last four tries. Texas fell in game five to Hamilton and then dropped games three, four and five against Hershey. The last win for Texas was May 21st in OT off a Jamie Benn rebound goal from a Mathieu Beaudoin shot. "[The losses last year] weren't what we were looking for coming back here," said Bachman. "It's a different year with new guys, so it'll be nice to play a home game."

So the Stars look to the fans to keep the building hostile for the visitors and friendly for the Stars. "I think if we can get going here, we'll get some real good crowds," said Coach Gulutzan. "The support has been tremendous. Hopefully we can continue on and create some excitement."

Stars injury/call up report:
Benn (day-to-day unspecified)
Ludwig (upper body)

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

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Postgame Quotes from Game 2

Travis Morin celebrates his 3rd period insurance goal. Two Texas fans, identified by the photographer as Hundred Degree Hockey readers, celebrate along with Morin. Please let me know if you are them! (Credit: Chris Jerina)

Coach Gulutzan on the difference between tonight and Game 1:
"We needed to be more physical on their D. They have a veteran D back there. They're not going to cough up plays unless you force them into it. It may not happen in the first period, but if you keep playing physical, hopefully we can create chances in the third. Collectively, our team was more physical."

Coach Gulutzan on going back with a 1-1 series tie:
"To be honest with you, I put absolutely no stock in being down, up, or whatever. Each game's its own. If you want to go back a year, we were up 2-0 going home for three [against Hershey], it doesn't help you. Won a series where we were down 2-0 [Ed. note: Hamilton], lost a series where we were up 2-0. Every team we've got to play, especially when the teams are so equally matched."

Richard Bachman on bouncing back from Game 1:
"In game 1, some bounces didn't go my way and some goals went in that I didn't like. You have to move on and forget about it in playoff hockey and that's what I tried to do. It was nice to come out tonight and have the performance that we had and get the support from the team in front of me."

Aaron Gagnon on the intensity rise from Game 1 to 2:
"I think we were a little guilty of trying to feel them out a little bit in Game 1. Tonight we emphasized that before the game, being more physical, and I think we were."

Milwaukee Coach Lane Lambert on penalties and special teams:
"I think the frustrating part was we took some bad penalties too. We talk about discipline and staying out of the box against that hockey team, and they’ve got a good power play. Eventually it’s going to catch up to you. At the end of the day [special teams are] the difference in the game. Their power play scored and ours didn’t; their penalty kill held and ours didn’t. Special teams are going to be a huge factor in these games, and we’ve got to find a way to win that special teams battle."

Stars Tie Series With 3-1 Win

Richard Bachman stopped 29 of 30 shots against this evening with a little help from his friends. (Credit: Jeff Hanisch/Admirals)
The Stars got the win they needed tonight in Milwaukee. With a 3-1 win at the Bradley Center tonight, the Stars tied up the series at one and got themselves "home ice advantage" as the series heads back to Cedar Park on Tuesday. Richard Bachman had 29 saves on 30 shots and performed like a rock star as the final minutes of the game wound down. Texas killed two near consecutive penalties in that time, not allowing a goal.

Milwaukee jumped out to an early lead after the Stars got into penalty trouble and ended up on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 power play. Teemu Laakso scored to set the score at 1-0 on the power play with assists from Roman Josi and yet another from Gabriel Bourque.

The Stars surged back in the second period with two. Philip Larsen started the rally with a nice low tip on a pass from Travis Morin. The power play goal came at 12:52 of the second and tied the game at one. Three minutes later, the Stars got a bit of a gift from goalie Jeremy Smith. Smith managed to tap the puck into his own net with the skinny part of his stick. Aaron Gagnon got credit for the goal and Brenden Dillon picked up his first AHL point of any time with the first assist on the goal. The Stars outshot the Admirals 14-8 in the second.

Travis Morin extended the lead in the third period with a water-bottle popping roofer. Ray Sawada fed a sweet centering pass to Morin on the right side of the net. The power play goal set Texas at 2/9 in the series, a 29% power play percentage. The series now moves back to the Cedar Park Center on Tuesday at 7:30 PM.

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

Larsen-Lukowich
Fortunus-Dillon
Spang-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig, Benn (injured)
Roman, Schultz, Embach (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 6,819.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - April 16 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals, Game 2

Texas Stars
41-29-4-6, 92 pts
#4 West Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
44-22-6-8, 102 pts
#1 West Division
Admirals lead 1-0

April 16th at 7:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

The Stars attempt to rebound after a tough series-opening loss to the Ads on Thursday. A lot of the loss can be attributed to puck luck, something that Coach Gulutzan talks a lot about around the playoffs. After no player in the season series scored more than four points, Gabriel Bourque and Chris Mueller exploded for five and four points respectively in just the first game. Puck luck indeed.

Part of puck luck, however, is your own creation. Fortunus intoned after Thursday's game: "Milwaukee got good bounces but you create your own luck by skating hard, working hard and winning the battles." The Stars intend to come out with the same basic game plan but they need to come out with more intensity.

Jeremy Smith showed his playoff experience in nets on Thursday. Despite playing behind Mark Dekanich all season in Milwaukee, Smith led the Cincinnati Cyclones to victory over the Bachman-led Idaho Steelheads in last year's ECHL Finals.

Special teams, as always, are very important in the playoffs. Texas was 1/4 on the PP Thursday including a scoreless 65-second 5-on-3. Milwaukee, however, only got one opportunity on the power play and made it count for their second goal. Surely chances were limited for both sides but you have to make them count in the playoffs.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (lower body)

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Postgame Quotes from Game 1 in Milwaukee

Maxime Fortunus on puck luck:
"Milwaukee got good bounces but you create your own luck by skating hard, working hard and winning the battles. It's those little things that we're going to have to work on for the next games."

Maxime Fortunus on what to change for Saturday:
"We have to come out the same way. We have confidence in our goalies that they're going to make the big saves. If we have opportunities, we'll get the puck in the net. It's a battle. We've had good games against them all year long. If we play good defensively, we'll get our chances."

Ray Sawada on the night overall:
"It was frustrating, just a couple mental breakdowns where we weren't going to the right places at the right times and weren't strong on the puck. It's a tough one. A lot of those goals against were preventable, I thought."

Ray Sawada on what to change for Saturday:
"Getting pucks out of our zone and being stronger on the puck. In my case, being in the right position, backcheck. Some of those goals don't go in if we're in the right places."

Admirals Overwhelm Stars In Game One 5-2

Mathieu Tousignant in tonight's game in Milwaukee (Credit: Jeff Hanisch/Milwaukee Admirals)
The Milwaukee Admirals had all the puck luck in tonight's game as Chris Mueller and Gabriel Bourque combined for 9 points. Richard Bachman, the Stars' rookie phenom goalie, was pulled after two periods, allowing four goals on 17 shots. Tyler Beskorowany spelled Bachman and allowed two of his own on seven shots.

Texas seemed guilty of a lot of standing around. After backing into the postseason scoring no goals in 120 minutes of hockey, the Stars played an unenthused brand of hockey against an energized and ready Ads squad. The Stars will re-rack for Saturday, taking a hard look at the game footage from tonight to determine what they need to improve.

The Stars opened the scoring in the game halfway through the first period. Aaron Gagnon scored his first of the postseason on the power play with Ray Sawada screening out Jeremy Smith in front. Dan Spang and Travis Morin got the assists.

The Admirals roared back over the next 30 minutes, scoring 4 unanswered goals. Gabriel Bourque tallied two of those goals and had assists on the other two. Two of those goals came before the end of the first period, setting Texas at a 2-1 disadvantage after 20 minutes.

The Ads continued to beat on the Stars in the 2nd. Texas squandered a 65-second 5-on-3 power play in the period and allowed two goals, both assisted by Chris Mueller, who had a goal in the first as well.

Richard Bachman would not finish the game as Tyler Beskorowany took the reins for the last period. Mathieu Tousignant would add another in the period on a nice shot from the left wing side using Ray Sawada as a screen. However, it was just the Admirals night as Travis Morin was stripped of the puck heading out of the Stars zone and Chris Mueller collected his second of the night.

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

Benn-Fortunus
Larsen-Lukowich
Spang-Stephenson
Dillon

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (upper body)
McCulloch, Schultz, Embach, Chupp (scratched)

Jordie Benn did not return to the game after a hard hit in the second period.

Tonight's attendance was 2,587.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - April 14 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals, Game 1

Texas Stars
41-29-4-6, 92 pts
#4 West Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
44-22-6-8, 102 pts
#1 West Division
Series tied 0-0

April 14th at 7:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

The Texas Stars begin their quest for the Calder Cup this evening in Milwaukee against the West Division's #1 team, the Admirals. After a hectic last few weeks jockeying for position, the Stars probably drew the most favorable matchup of all the possibilities. Texas achieved a 5-1 mark against the Ads in the regular season series, including a 3-0 record at the Bradley Center.

Coach Gulutzan has a cautious optimism about the team's regular season success. "We've had success, but this is playoffs. I think the only thing [our record] gives us is knowing that we can win in that building." The goal differential in the six games was only seven goals. The games were wins for Texas, but they were all tight.

With the two teams being so evenly matched on paper, a lot of ink is being spilled on Richard Bachman. The rookie goaltender was around for part of the Stars run last year but is now firmly in the starter role. "We feel like we have the goaltending from both of our guys to compete," said Gulutzan, who is unconcerned with Bachman's rookie status. "If I say we have a rookie goalie, I can also say we've had the fourth best GAA goalie and the third best save percentage goalie."

Bachman played in eight postseason games for the Steelheads last year but this will be his first AHL playoff experience. "He gave us a lot of wins this year," said defensemen Maxime Fortunus. "He's gained a lot of experience." despite playing 3,191 minutes, second in the league, the goalie feels ready to go. "[In the playoffs] you feel rejuvenated," said Bachman. "We had a busy stretch, but my body feels good."

The rookies on the team and those who weren't here for last year's run are excited to make their own bit of Lone Star hockey history. "This team is excited," said Fortunus. "These new guys have heard about [the run] for a year. They want to carve out their own little niche here in Texas."

The Admirals, as we have documented, are a very similar team to Texas. The biggest potential vulnerability for the Admirals compared to the Stars is their goaltending. Mark Dekanich has been out of the lineup with an ankle injury, and Milwaukee will be looking to Jeremy Smith for their playoff tending. Smith is no slouch with a 16-8-2 record, 2.26 GAA and .921 SV%. Dekanich, however, was a magic bullet for the Ads this season, stealing games with regularity.

Overall, the two very similar teams are going to have a grinding series. If Texas can get one of the two games in Milwaukee, their chances to clinch at home with the crowd behind them is huge. Texas has yet to clinch a playoff series win on home ice and would love to do just that next week.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (lower body)
Segal (callup)

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

AHL Announces 76 Game Schedule, Other Modifications For 2011-12

The AHL announced today that they have made several modifications to the schedule structure for the 2011-12 season.

Here's the release:
Under the plan, the regular-season playing schedule will be reduced to 76 games; the AHL playing calendar will be extended by one week; all sequences in which teams play four games in five nights will be eliminated; and the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs will be reduced to a best-of-five series.
This is good news for West Division/Conference teams. Four games in five nights is always a killer for teams that have to fly between cities more often, like Texas and others in the division. With the subtraction of four games and the extension of the season by a week, hopefully scheduling will not be so hectic.

As to the first round change, the CHL and ECHL already have five game series in at least the opening round. Technically, teams that this would benefits, those who are travelling long distances, would still take the same number of trips between cities. However, this is more pointed at having fewer games and less wear and tear on the players. President Andrews said:
"As our league has grown and our game has become faster and more physical, the wear and tear on our players has begun to affect player development and at times the quality of competition. These steps are intended to provide a safer environment for our players through increased rest and recovery time, and also to provide our fans with an even higher caliber of play as a result of reduced player fatigue."
The overall plan will mean the elimination of two home games, which will minorly affect revenue, but the league feels that the changes positive benefits outweigh the revenue concern.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Vincour, Lukowich Assigned to Texas

The Dallas Stars have assigned Tomas Vincour and Brad Lukowich to the Texas Stars for the AHL postseason. The Stars only other callup, Brandon Segal, was not assigned and at this point there is no indication if he will be an assignment at a later date or will not be coming to Cedar Park.

Texas defenseman Guillaume Monast was also assigned to Idaho this afternoon.

Texas Stars Report: The Playoffs Begin

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
The Texas Stars (41-29-4-6, 92 pts, #4 West) completed their regular season on Sunday with a playoff spot already secured. Coming into the final game, there were 10 possible combinations for the final seeding in the West Conference. With the Oklahoma City Barons and Stars losing on Sunday, Texas will now play the Milwaukee Admirals in the first round.

The Admirals are a good matchup for the Stars. Despite the Ads' spot as the #1 team in the West, the Stars have taken five of six from the Predator's farm club. Certainly it is a better matchup than the alternative of Houston, who Texas struggled against this season mightily. Tickets are on sale now, and Texas is only a short jaunt down I-35.

The Stars biggest news in the past week, aside for the playoff clinch, was the addition of Scott Glennie on an amateur tryout contract. The Dallas Stars' first round draft pick from 2009 played in the last four games of the season. He has not registered a point and is minus-2 with 2 PIMs.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas Opens Western Conference Defense Against Milwaukee

Francis Wathier jockeys for position in front of the Milwaukee net in a December 11th game at the Bradley Center. (Credit: Chris Jerina)

After the dust settled in today's games, the Stars are set to play the Milwaukee Admirals in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. Texas has to like this matchup with a 5-1-0-0 season record against the Ads. Here is the full schedule:

Game 1: Texas at Milwaukee on Thursday, April 14 at 7:00 PM
Game 2: Texas at Milwaukee on Saturday, April 16 at 7:00 PM
Game 3: Milwaukee at Texas on Tuesday, April 19 at 7:30 PM
Game 4: Milwaukee at Texas on Wednesday, April 20 at 7:30 PM
*Game 5: Milwaukee at Texas on Friday, April 22 at 7:30 PM
*Game 6: Texas at Milwaukee on Monday, April 25 at 7:00 PM
*Game 7: Texas at Milwaukee on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:00 PM

* - if necessary

The series will be played in a 2-3-2 format due to the distance between Milwaukee and Texas. Around the AHL, Peoria will visit Houston and the Oklahoma City Barons will crossover to play Hamilton in the first round. Lake Erie hosts the Manitoba Moose as well.

Stars End Season With Loss In San Antonio

Tyler Beskorowany makes a save in today's game at San Antonio (Credit: San Antonio Rampage)

The Stars finished their season out on the road in San Antonio this afternoon, falling to a Rampage squad that is not going to the postseason in their last home game. San Antonio only needed one goal to get past Texas as the Stars finished their regular season campaign with six scoreless periods. Tyler Beskorowany stopped 27 of 28 in the game. With the loss, Texas is now set to play Milwaukee in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Viktor Tikhonov had the game's only goal just six minutes into the first period. Tikhonov worked his way around the offensive zone, outmaneuvering many of the Stars skaters before beating Beskorowany from the high slot through traffic. San Antonio led the shot count through the first and the entirety of the game.

Texas could not get on the board despite six power play opportunities in the game, including an extended 5-on-3 set. Coach Gulutzan was trying some different lineups on the special teams units though, so the Stars had a less cohesive group on the ice for those times. Luke Gazdic, for example, picked up PK time while newcomer Scott Glennie was out on the PP.

The Stars now rest for tomorrow, have media day on Tuesday and will leave that afternoon for Milwaukee to face the Admirals. I'll have the schedule in a separate post to come in a bit.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Gagnon-Glennie
Tousignant-Morin-Schultz
Sawada-Sceviour-Backman
Gazdic-Roman-Chupp

Benn-Larsen
Spang-Stephenson
Dillon-Monast

Beskorowany

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (upper body)
McCulloch, Rallo, Fortunus, Embach (scratched)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 9,909.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - April 10 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
41-28-4-6, 92 pts
#3 West Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
39-33-4-3, 85 pts
#7 West Division
April 10th at 4:30 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Around the midpoint of the season, the prevailing thought was that the West Division playoff race was going to come down to the very last day. We were close. Last night's game against Oklahoma City decided the last playoff spot in the AHL and certainly put an unwelcome damper on the last home game for the San Antonio Rampage, who will not be going to the postseason.

After leading the conference in points for much of the year, San Antonio dropped off the radar in the second half of the season and fell all the way to 7th in the standings, which is where they will finish. Surely the Rampage know that their 3-3-3-0 record against Texas this year could not have helped matters.

"It's pride for everybody," said Aaron Gagnon. "It's the last game of the season and no one wants to just go through the motions."

Former Star Matt Climie has taken the lionshare of the starts against Texas this season, garnering a 3-4-0 record with a 2.89 GAA and .910 SV%. Joe Fallon started for the Rampage last night in Chicago after Climie let seven past him in OKC on Friday.

With Richard Bachman taking the past two starts, it would only make sense for Tyler Beskorowany to get one more start before the playoffs start and Bachman takes over. Expect again to see some players resting and ATOs and callups like Embach, Schultz, Glennie and Monast in the lineup.

As to the Stars' first round playoff matchup, I would point you to Ryan Aber's rundown on NewsOK. Since the Stars and Barons' fates are intertwined, he covers all of the possibilities for Texas as well as OKC. The Stars will announce the schedule for playoff games on Sunday night after the dust settles from the end of the season.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (lower body)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (call up)

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

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Barons Shutout Texas 2-0 For Second Time In Week

It was a matter of motivation tonight in Cedar Park for the Texas Stars and the Oklahoma City Barons. The Stars got the monkey off their back last night with a win in Milwaukee, clinching their playoff berth for 2011. Oklahoma City needed at least a point in the game to make their playoff berth final. It was clear that one team had more to fight for than the other.

The Stars sat three of their top players who needed rest before the playoffs: Colton Sceviour, Greg Rallo and Philip Larsen. Texas never quite got up for the game, failing to net a goal in the contest. Despite the playoff lockdown, Aaron Gagnon says, "We can't just let these games pass by. It's something you don't want sneaking into your head. You still want to show up and compete."

Oklahoma City waited until the second period to open up the scoring on Texas. Milan Kytnar collected his 13th of the year off the rush with a puck that crawled up Bachman's torso, up and over into the net.

The only other goal of the game came just as a power play expired and was, for all intents and purposes, a PPG. The Stars were caught deep in their zone on the second of back-to-back minors. Outchanged by the Barons, Texas gave up a goal on a cross-crease pass from Brad Moran to Colin McDonald, his 41st of the year.

Texas was outshot through the game and ended with a 32-22 shots deficit. Richard Bachman had a good performance with 30 saves on 32 shots.

Tonight's lines:
Schultz-Gagnon-Wathier
Backman-Morin-Glennie
Tousignant-Roman-Sawada
Gazdic-Chupp-Embach

Dillon-Fortunus
Spang-Stephenson
Monast-Benn

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (upper body)
McCulloch, Rallo, Larsen, Sceviour (scratched)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 6,863.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - April 8 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
41-27-4-6, 92 pts
#3 West Division
v.Oklahoma City Barons
39-28-2-9, 89 pts
#5 West Division
April 9th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars return home victorious in their playoff hunt. Texas will be returning to the playoffs thanks to their win last night in Milwaukee. Their reward is a home matchup against a team that is desperate and hungry to make it in themselves, the OKC Barons.

The Barons sit at 89 points, on the edge of qualifying for the playoffs in their first year in the league. By my math, the Barons need to collect at least one point and see the Heat and Wolves lose tomorrow to clinch a spot. They could also go the easy route like Texas and just win in regulation. In that case, 91 points would put them out of reach of Chicago, San Antonio and Abbotsford.

The Barons come in to the CPC after crushing the Rampage 7-2 in San Antonio. Alexandre Giroux extended his point streak to 10 games with a four assist night (3-12-15 on the streak overall). Colin McDonald, not to be outdone, chipped in four goals in the effort. Jeff Deslauriers made 19 saves on only 21 Rampage shots.

For Texas, it will be interesting to see the adjustments made. If you are locked in a playoff battle, sometimes you play hurt or banged up. Might Texas Stars skaters with nagging injuries get some time to heal with a healthy scratch? That's what the Stars did last year when players like Sawada, Beaudoin and Peters got a few games off to heal up. Texas has players like Embach, Schultz, McCulloch and Monast waiting in the wings if that is the case. Especially with it being a 3-in-3, there is no reason to expose banged up players to that kind of exertion when the playoff spot is already locked.

Texas holds the advantage in the season series at 6-2-0-1, but that means nothing when the playoffs are on the line. Expect a very competitive game from the Barons, but don't expect the Stars to be pushovers.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (upper body)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stars Clinch Playoffs With 3-2 Win Over Ads

Travis Morin celebrates after scoring the game winning goal late in tonight's game at Milwaukee. (Credit: Chris Jerina)

The Texas Stars clinched their second consecutive berth in the Calder Cup playoffs by controlling their own destiny and winning in regulation against the Milwaukee Admirals at the Bradley Center this evening*. Two goals from Travis Morin, including the game winner, and 31 saves on 33 shots for Richard Bachman set the score at 3-2. While seeding has yet to be determined, what Texas does know is that they are going back to the postseason no matter the outcome of their last two games.

Texas opened the scoring early and never trailed in the game. Ray Sawada got his 11th of the year on a tip from a Jordie Benn point shot to make it 1-0. The deflection made it past goalie Jeremy Smith just 3:05 into the game. The Stars would not look back.

Travis Morin scored the first of his two goals in the game on the power play in the second period. The tally, assisted by Ray Sawada and Aaron Gagnon, was his 20th of the season. The score drew closer in the third as Grant Lewis scored on a shot from the high slot, unassisted. The Stars buckled down for the remainder of the third depite being outshot 11-5 in the frame.

Travis Morin collected his second of the night on a rebound from a Greg Rallo shot with 3:19 left in the third. Shortly thereafter, Morin took a tripping penalty and Lane Lambert pulled Jeremy Smith for the 6-on-4 power play. Mike Bartlett made it count with just 27.2 seconds left in the period. The power play ended, setting the advantage at 6-on-5. Texas prevailed and earned their second straight playoff berth.

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

Larsen-Benn
Dillon-Fortunus
Spang-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (upper body)
McCulloch, Embach, Monast, Schultz (scratched)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 5,893.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - April 8 2011

* - In my gameday preview, I indicated that Texas would need losses from other teams to get into the playoffs tonight. This was based on incorrect information from TheAHL.com that was later corrected to indicate that the Stars could clinch with a regulation or OT victory. Hundred Degree Hockey apologizes for the mistake.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
40-27-4-6, 90 pts
#3 West Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
42-21-6-8, 98 pts
#1 West Division
April 8th at 7:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

Texas will lace up their skates for the last time this regular season at the Bradley Center this evening. With Milwaukee already in the playoffs and Texas on the verge, it may not be the last time overall in the 2010-11 campaign.

Milwaukee has a chance to lock up the division championship with anything but a regulation loss to Texas. The Stars improve their chances of clinching a playoff berth with a win against Milwaukee but will need help in the form of a Chicago loss at Peoria or a Barons loss at San Antonio. If Texas gains a point and no more in Wisconsin, the Stars can still clinch a spot tonight with a Chicago loss in regulation and a San Antonio loss. As you can see, it's pretty complicated right now.

Depending on how things shake out in the West, tonight's battle could be a first round playoff matchup. It might be the one that Texas would prefer at this point, as opposed to Houston. Texas is 4-1 this season against the likely division champ Ads. However, the 4-1 record is misleading as to the overall play between the two teams. In the five games, only one was decided by more than one goal, one went to OT and another to a shootout. The Ads and Stars play very similar games and that is what makes the matchup so tight.

One missing piece of the puzzle is Ads goaltender Mark Dekanich, who has not played for Milwaukee since leaving their March 16th game in OT with a lower body injury. Dekanich has been sparkling for the Ads in 43 games played, going 23-12-5 with a 2.02 GAA and .931 SV%. The Admirals called up a young prospect from Europe, Atte Engren, instead of Chet Pickard from Cincinnati. The callup of a player from Europe instead of a short term fix like Pickard points to a more serious situation for Dekanich.

On the Stars side, I would be interested to see what changes Coach Gulutzan might make to his lineup. He has used the same lines for the past several games. The addition of Scott Glennie gives a good scoring winger. Perhaps swapping Backman with Glennie from Wednesday's lines would provide some pop. The Gazdic-Chupp-Backman line had success in mid-season, and a reunion might be good for them. Meanwhile, Glennie would get a chance to play with two high skill players in Morin and Rallo and show us his much-touted offensive potential.

The Stars come in on a three game losing streak while Milwaukee is at two straight losses. One streak will break tonight, and the winning team will know a little bit more about their playoff fate.


Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (lower body)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Peoria Spoils Texas's Night 3-2 With Late Push

Texas had a chance to clinch a playoff spot outright for the first time tonight but Peoria spoiled the party in the third period with two goals. The Stars took a second period lead on goals from Philip Larsen and Francis Wathier but ultimately came up short to the Rivermen's final frame push. The Stars will try again to lock up a playoff berth on Friday against Milwaukee.

The Rivermen started the scoring in the first period with a goal, predictably, from Nicolas Drazenovic, who always performs well against Texas. The rebound goal came at the midpoint of the first period. Texas's power play struck back before the end of the period with Philip Larsen tipping in a centering pass from Aaron Gagnon. Dan Spang had the second assist on the goal.

Another tip beat Jake Allen in the second. Francis Wathier redirected a shot from Jordie Benn to take the 2-1 lead six minutes into the second. However, Peoria poured it on in the third, outshooting Texas 12-4 and outscoring them 2-0. Nathan Oystrick's slapshot goal tied the game just a hair shy of halfway through the frame. With the game poised to go to overtime, Jake Gannon found the net for just the second time this season. Gannon scored from the right wing boards on a shot that found the net through traffic.

The Stars have another chance to seal up a playoff spot on Friday with their game at Milwaukee. The Admirals are currently without their top goaltender, Mark Dekanich, but that's a matter for Friday's gameday preview.

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

Dillon-Fortunus
Spang-Stephenson
Larsen-Benn

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (upper body)
McCulloch, Embach, Monast, Schultz (scratched)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

Scott Glennie stepped into the lineup for the first time tonight. He recorded only one item on his stat sheet, a minus-1 after being on the ice for Peoria's second goal. Glennie wears #15 for the Stars, formerly worn by Michael Neal.

Tonight's attendance was 2,668.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Peoria - April 6 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Peoria Rivermen

Texas Stars
40-36-4-6, 90 pts
#3 West Division
atPeoria Rivermen
40-29-3-5, 88 pts
#4 West Division
April 6th at 7:05 PM
Carver Arena, Peoria, IL

The Stars finish yet another season series tonight in Peoria against the Rivermen. It has been an up and down season for the Rivermen, who shot out of the gate at a breakneck pace thanks to strong play by rookie goalie Jake Allen and forward TJ Hensick. Peoria has since cooled and is now crusing along at a still repectable .571 points percentage, on pace to make the playoffs, but still surely nervous about it.

It looked like it was going to be a long season series for the Stars back in October after facing Peoria in two of their first five games and getting thrashed in both. In the sixth game, Texas came back and put together their most complete game of the season to that point, a 3-0 shutout victory at home against Peoria. The start was Bachman's first of the season, presaging his success to come over the year. "You didn't see the huge highlight reel saves [from Bachman]," said Coach Gulutzan after that game. "But he made the big saves when we needed them."

In the Stars' last visit to Peoria, they were embarrassed at the hands of Brennan Evans. Evans scored his first professional hat trick in the February 23rd game with his tenth, eleventh, and twelfth goals of his eight-year AHL career. Nicholas Drazenovic is the only other three goal player against the Stars for the Rivermen.

Now the two teams are separated by two points in the standings, both with an eye on the Calder Cup playoffs. Peoria comes in having come back from pulling Ben Bishop against Milwaukee to get a win on Sunday. Texas is on a two game losing streak after falling to Oklahoma City and Rockford this weekend. Most importantly, the Stars can clinch a playoff spot with any kind of victory tonight in Peoria. Both will be motivated for a win.

The Stars could also have some new blood in the lineup with the anticipated addition of Scott Glennie to the roster today. Glennie was a high scoring forward in the WHL and Texas Stars fans have to be excited to see what the young winger can do at this level.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (upper body)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (call up)

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scott Glennie Coming to Texas Stars

According to the Brandon Wheat Kings, Scott Glennie, Dallas's first round selection in 2009, will be joining Texas for the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs. This is a pretty exciting add for Texas Stars fans. Take a look at his stats to understand why.

No confirmation yet from the Texas Stars on this though. Here's the release from Brandon:
The 2010-11 hockey season isn’t over yet – at least for one member of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Wheat Kings have confirmed that 19-year old center Scott Glennie will join the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League for the balance of the regular season and playoffs.

Glennie, who finished second in team scoring this season with a career high 91 points including 35 goals, was chosen by the Dallas Stars in the first round (8th overall) of the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He signed with the Stars last summer.

A 4-year Western League veteran, the 6’2” 192 lb Winnipeg product led Brandon in playoff scoring this spring with three goals and 10 points in six games as the Wheat Kings fell to the Medicine Hat Tigers in their best of seven opening round playoff series.

A former second round bantam draft choice of the Wheat Kings, Glennie played in 252 career games for the Wheat Kings and became the first Brandon player since Marty Murray in 1994 to eclipse the 300-point plateau when he reached the milestone in March.

Glennie is one of only eleven players to score over 300 career points in franchise history, joining the likes of Brian Propp (511), Ray Allison (476), Ron Chipperfield (470), Bill Derlago (437), Kelly Glowa (424), Dale McMullin (418), Murray (392), Byron Lomow (347), Rick Blight (336) and Danny Bonar (312).

During his illustrious Wheat King career, Glennie scored 121 goals and 308 points. In 39 playoff games with Brandon, he had ten goals and 39 points – good for 15th place on the club’s all time list.

With the Stars, he’s joining a team – coached by former Wheat King center Glen Gulutzan – that is currently 40-26-10 on the season and sitting in third place in the AHL’s Western Division.

Glennie is expected to join the Stars in time for Wednesday night’s game against the Peoria Rivermen.

The curtain came down on the Wheat Kings’ playoff run Monday night at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg with a 7-5 loss to the Tigers in game six.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Texas Stars Report: Playoffs In Sight

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
The Texas Stars (40-26-4-6, 90 pts, #3 West) slogged their way through another busy weekend in the AHL, taking only one of their three games. Texas had most of the week off to rest up and work on strategy before a 3-in-3 weekend series.

The weekend started with an OT win over the Chicago Wolves to complete the season sweep of the Atlanta Thrasher's farm club. They immediately turned around and headed to Oklahoma City, arriving at 5:30 AM, where they dropped a 2-0 decision. Travel is always a difficult consideration in the AHL, since teams want to pack the house with weekend games. The Stars went back to Cedar Park Center, again arriving at 5:30 AM, and fell to the Rockford IceHogs in a matinee showing by a score of 5-1.

Despite all of that, the Stars have the playoffs well within their sights. Their magic number is currently at four with four games remaining on their schedule, one home and three away. It is anyone's guess who will be behind them in the division standings on the last day of the season, but it looks like the Houston Aeros will be the likely first round playoff matchup. Road trip, anyone?
Read more at Defending Big D...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rockford Crushes Texas 5-1

After taking a twenty-four hour jaunt to Oklahoma City, the Texas Stars returned to Cedar Park a tired bunch. The Rockford IceHogs, working on one day's rest and angry from a 7-0 pasting at the hands of the Barons, were waiting for them. "I feel like we played pretty well tonight," said Matt Stephenson. "We only had three or four mistakes and they managed to score on every one of them."

The IceHogs took it to the Stars through all sixty minutes. Having been all but officially eliminated from playoff contention, Stephenson commented: "They're playing like they don't have anything to lose."

The Hogs started the scoring in the first with a goal just off a faceoff that beat Beskorowany five-hole. With one second left in the first, Connelly extended the lead to 2-0 on a PPG. That would prove to be the game winner.

Texas and Rockford traded goals in the second period. Rockford went first just 36 seconds into the period with Brandon Pirri scoring on a breakaway. The Stars got their only goal of the game on the power play in the second. Travis Morin one-timed an Aaron Gagnon pass from the right-wing circle to beat Hannu Toivonen and set the score at 3-1.

Rockford sealed things up in the third though, as Jeff Taffe and Ben Smith scored 82 seconds apart to make the final 5-1 for the IceHogs. Texas finishes the season series with Rockford at 3-3-0-0. They now have two days off before travelling to Peoria to face the Rivermen, yet another team battling for their playoff lives. From here on out the Stars know that it's win to get in. Stephenson repeated the mantra: "Show up everyday like it's the playoffs."

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

Dillon-Fortunus
Spang-Stephenson
Larsen-Benn

Beskorowany

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (upper body)
McCulloch, Embach, Monast (scratched)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 4,756.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - April 3 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
40-25-4-6, 90 pts
#3 West Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
33-44-4-5, 75 pts
#8 West Division
April 3rd at 5:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas returns home to close out yet another season series, this time against the Rockford IceHogs. The IceHogs have not found success this year as they did in the last and are solidly out of the playoff hunt with just a week left. The IceHogs, however, are nothing to scoff at. The Stars are only at a 3-2 advantage over them in the season series.

Rockford had put together a late season five game winning streak of their own before getting stomped 7-0 on Friday at Oklahoma City. Sadly, they have been out of the playoff race for far too long for a late season run such as that to have any effect. Right now, their one role is to play spoiler for any team they face.

Some unlikely players lead the season scoring for Texas: Luke Gazdic (2 goals) and Dan Spang (3). Jeff Taffe leads the season scoring for the IceHogs. A variety of goaltenders have suited up for both teams. Alex Richards and Hannu Toivonen have split starts against Texas this year. Toivonen has been far more successful with a 2-0-1 record. Richards is 0-2-0.

Bachman, Krahn and Beskorowany have all gotten starts against the IceHogs this season. I would think that Beskorowany would get the start this time around with Bachman getting the previous two starts. The Stars will be riding Bachman into the playoffs and beyond, so they would probably love to give him some rest now while they can still afford it..

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (upper body)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

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

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Barons Shutout Texas 2-0 in OKC

Colton Sceviour's three game goal streak ended this evening after five goals in the three games previous. (Credit: Steven Christy/OKC Barons)

Despite a fantastic performance by Texas' Richard Bachman, the Stars came away from Oklahoma City with a loss, their first loss in over two weeks. Bachman stopped 33 of 35 shots on the night to keep Texas within striking distance through the entire 60 minutes. The loss halts Texas's win streak at five. Texas will have one more shot at the Barons next week in Cedar Park.

Texas and OKC skated through a scoreless first period. Kevin Montgomery opened up the scoring in the second period with a goal just over two minutes in. The Stars only managed five shots in the middle frame and were being outshot 28-14 after 40 minutes.

Alexandre Giroux extended the lead in the third period, beating Bachman glove-side on screened shot. Despite their best efforts, the Stars could not beat Jeff Deslauriers, giving him his second shutout in as many nights.

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

Dillon-Fortunus
Spang-Stephenson
Larsen-Benn

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (upper body)
McCulloch, Embach, Monast (scratched)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 8,803.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - April 2 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
40-24-4-6, 90 pts
#3 West Division
atOklahoma City Barons
37-28-2-9, 85 pts
#6 West Division
April 2nd at 7:05 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK


Texas ventures out on the road to visit the Barons at the Cox Convention Center for the last time on the season. The Barons will visit Cedar Park for the last regular season game for the Stars next Saturday. Texas has owned the season series so far, collecting 13 of a possible 16 points from Oklahoma City.

The Barons are a team fighting for their playoff lives. Their "tragic number" sits at 9 as they are in a dead heat with San Antonio at a projected 89 points. At this point, it seems more likely that Peoria and Chicago are the last two in, and Oklahoma City and San Antonio miss the playoffs entirely. It is quite a fall from grace for the Barons, who were near the top of the West Division for much of the season. A dropoff in play combined with callups of important pieces like Hartikainen, Vandevelde, Belle, Petry, Omark and Reddox. Even Alexandre Giroux got a cup of coffee with the Oilers this season.

OKC crushed the IceHogs last night 7-0 at home. They only have 6 games left to make a difference on their playoff chances. They are 3-3-0-4 in their last ten and are certainly starting to get desperate. Added Colton Sceviour: "Every team from here out is going to work as hard as they can and give us their best effort."

Texas will look to continue their season-long five game winning streak and take another two points off their magic number. If Texas can win out the weekend, they will have a playoff spot locked up.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (upper body)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

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

Friday, April 1, 2011

Larsen's OT Blast Puts Stars Past Wolves 3-2

The Texas Stars completed a season sweep of the Chicago Wolves with a 3-2 overtime victory tonight at the Cedar Park Center. After Texas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period, Chicago battled back to tie it at two in the third period. Philip Larsen was the overtime hero for the Stars tonight, one-timing a puck in the high slot for the winner just 38 seconds in. "It was a really good win for us," said Larsen. "Chicago is a team that's fighting for the playoffs, too. Every point counts and we took two tonight."

The Stars came out seeming a little flat after a 6 day layoff. Luckily, Chicago was a little gassed as well with a game last night in Houston. "After a week off, it's hard to avoid the lull," said Colton Sceviour, who had a goal in the game. The Stars were outshot 10-4 in the first but stayed in it at zero all.

Texas responded early in the second period. Colton Sceviour tapped a pass out of midair to rainbow it over Mannino's blocker side and in. Ray Sawada got an assist on the goal for a deft pass from behind the net to Sceviour. Maxime Fortunus collected his fifth of the year on the power play, rotating down low for a tap-in goal with assists from Francis Wathier and Greg Rallo.

Chicago started the comeback before the end of the second with Riley Holzapfel sending a pass to Jamie Sifers in the slot. Sifers' one-timer cut the lead to 2-1. Early in the third, Andre Deveaux, who received hearty boos from the crowd all night, collected a rebound in the slot and chipped it past Bachman for the 2-2 tie. The power play goal came with Ondrej Roman in the box on a questionable tripping call.

The Stars went to OT, and it was Larsen making the Wolves pay for a mistake. Chicago's Zubarev decided to skate the puck through the crease on the way out of the zone. Travis Morin and Greg Rallo converged on him. Larsen told the rest: "[Morin] had a really good stick to get it out to me there. It was bouncing a little bit and I just wanted to one-time it." The puck beat Mannino blocker side high for the 3-2 win.

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

Dillon-Fortunus
Spang-Stephenson
Larsen-Benn

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (upper body)
McCulloch, Embach, Monast (scratched)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 5,710.

Philip Larsen played his first game back from a hip injury. "It felt good to be back on the ice," said Larsen. "I kept my shifts short." While he is still experiencing some pain off the ice, he said it doesn't bother him when he's in the game. Larsen was named the first star of the game for the first time in his AHL career.

Stephen Schultz played in his first AHL game, recording one shot and a minus-1.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - April 1 2011

Stars Add Colorado College's Stephen Schultz

Texas has signed Colorado College's Stephen Schultz to an ATO this morning. Schultz is a forward who has completed his four years of college eligibility and now joins Richard Bachman and Scott McCulloch as fellow CC Tigers on the team. Schultz played with Bachman and McCulloch in his freshman and sophomore years.

The Westbury, NY, native has attended prospect camp with the New York Islanders, as chronicled in this article from the Westbury Times. His Tigers just finished a great season with a tough loss to Michigan in the NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament.

Schultz's full stats are listed on his hockeydb.com page. He became the first Colorado College player to be named a WCHA Player of the Week this season amid 45 points in 43 games.

Schultz will wear #14 for the Stars and could be available for tonight's game against Chicago.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
39-24-4-6, 88 pts
#3 West Division
atChicago Wolves
38-28-3-6, 85 pts
#4 West Division
April 1st at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park TX

There is something to be said for consistency. If you look at the Chicago Wolves, there has been a precipitous climb in their playoff chances since early February. With only one week left in the season, the Wolves are poised to make the playoffs yet again.

However, the Wolves's rise has not been as much about their improved play as it has been about their consistency. This might sound familiar for Texas Stars fans as well. The Wolves fell victim to the great play of their divisional rivals: Peoria, Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Through much of the season over half of the teams in the West division sported win percentages around .600 or better, including the Stars.

Greg Rallo and Spencer Machacek chase down a puck in Game 7 of the West Division Finals last spring. (Credit: Ross Dettman)

The Wolves and the Stars stayed consistent at their .561 and .603 points percentages, respectively, while the Rivermen, Rampage, and Barons all had significant dropoffs in their play. Wire to wire, the Wolves have been a good team. They have just been judged relative to their peers. Now that their peers have taken a slide, they are showing their true colors and may make the playoffs despite sitting in 7th place in the West for most of the season.

The Stars are 5-0 against the Wolves this season and have outscored the Atlanta Thrashers' farm club 22-11 over those games. The margin is a lot tighter when you eliminate the Stars 8-2 win on November 16th, at a 14-9 advantage for Texas. The Stars come into the game on a four game winning streak and with a 99.2% chance of making the playoffs, according to Sports Club Stats.

Chicago meanwhile visits Texas in between games in Houston yesterday and tomorrow. The Stars will travel to Oklahoma City on Saturday and return home for their last regular season game against the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (upper body)
Larsen (day-to-day, hip)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (call up)

Trevor Ludwig is out for at least a month after sustaining an upper body injury in last Friday's game against Grand Rapids. Philip Larsen should be available for tonight's game.

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