Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Charlotte Grinds Out 3-2 Win Over Texas

The Charlotte Checkers proved why they are the top team in the Midwest division this evening. The Checkers struck first, and Texas came back with two quick ones. Charlotte was not deterred, coming back to score two of their own and win 3-2, locking down a third period where they were outshot 13-7. Texas drops to 8-11-0-1 with the loss.

Charlotte got on the board first with a goal from Zac Dalpe, his third of the year, just 4:23 into the game. Texas was being outshot early and did not gather their first shot until after the eight minute mark of the game. At that point, they poured it on though.

Jordie Benn grabbed his seventh of the season on a rebound of a Travis Morin shot. The goal pushed Benn into the goal scoring lead among all AHL defensemen. Just two minutes later, some low cycle work was rewarded when Luke Gazdic got his fifth of the year, going five-hole on Mike Murphy for a 2-1 lead. Linemates Ryan Garbutt and Mathieu Tousignant were credited with the assists. That lead would only last five minutes, as Brett Sutter tied it up late int he period to send things to the locker room at two a piece. Shots were curiously low at eight each in the period.

The second period's only scoring came when Jon Matsumoto beat Tyler Beskorowany at 11:24 for his ninth of the year. Shots were led by Charlotte in the period at 9-6 to lead by a 17-14 total count after two.

Texas would go on the power play multiple times in the third period, including a short 5-on-3, but they were ultimately 0/5 on the night. A late period bench minor for too many men stalled any momentum they might have had from the two immediately preceding power plays. Even with the extra skater, Texas couldn't break through and the final would end up at 3-2 for Charlotte.

Mike Murphy finished with 25 saves on 27 shots. Beskorowany had 21 saves on 24 shots.

Tonight's lines:
Glennie-Sceviour-Wathier
Fraser-Morin-Sawada
Gazdic-Garbutt-Tousignant
Schultz-Roman-Hedden

Lukowich-Fortunus
Benn-Dillon
Spang-Labrie

Beskorowany

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Coyle, Neal, Godard (scratched)
Larsen, Vincour, Bachman (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 3,839.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Charlotte - November 30 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
8-10-0-1, 17 pts
#12 Western Conference
atCharlotte Checkers
13-6-1-1, 28 pts
#3 Western Conference
November 30th at 6:00 PM
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

The Texas Stars travel to the state of North Carolina for their first ever game against the Charlotte Checkers this evening. The Checkers are in their second year in the AHL and are playing in the Western Conference this year to accomodate the move of Manitoba to the East. Charlotte previously played in the ECHL since the 1993-94 season. Coach Pyle has played against this team often with Gwinnett and Travis Morin saw a few games against them in his time with the South Carolina Stingrays. Otherwise, they are unknowns.

The Checkers are a solid team. They are currently #3 in the conference and #1 in a division with the likes of Chicago and Milwaukee. They made the playoffs last year in their first season, defeating the Bears and Penguins before losing to eventual Calder Cup Champion, Binghamton, in the East Final.

Starting in goal, the Checkers have two solid players. Justin Peters has 10 games under his belt this season with a 6-2-1 record, 2.17 GAA and .932 SV%. Mike Murphy is 7-5-0 in 13 GP with 2.43 GAA and a .924 SV%. Leading scorers for the Checkers include Jerome Samson and Jon Matsumoto.

The Checkers are a strong team at home, going 7-1-0-1 in the TWC Arena. They also love playing from ahead, as do most teams, going 8-1-0-0 when scoring first. They do have a tendency to be outscored in the third with a 7 goal deficit in that period over the season. If Texas does get behind, there is a precedent for the team to catchup. Chasing Checkers notes that the team has had trouble playing a full 60 recently.

Their power play is midpack at home (#17 at 17.4%) but stellar overall (#5 at 20.4%). PK is also midpack at home (#13 at 82.4%) and overall (#18 at 81.4%). Expect a lot of shots in this game. Texas shoots a lot (#4 at 33.16 per game) and Charlotte allows a lot (#24 at 32.43).

In other notes, Checkers forward Chris Terry is on a 7 game scoring streak with 10 points in that time. The Checkers are on a 3 game home win streak as well.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Vincour, Bachman (callup)

Website: gocheckers.com
Checkers Social Media: Social Media
Blog (unofficial): Chasing Checkers
Twitter: @checkershockey
Twitter: @mikelappan (PR)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dallas Assigns Wathier

Just a quick note here that Texas received Francis Wathier back from Dallas today. Vernon Fiddler was able to play in last night's game against Colorado, eliminating the need for the callup. Wathier will be available for tomorrow's game in Charlotte.

As a side note, I usually cover transactions on my Twitter before I write up a blog post about them. If you want to know about up-to-the-minute transaction information, why don't you give me a follow at @100degreehockey?

Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced on Tuesday that the NHL club has assigned forward Francis Wathier to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Wathier (pronounced WATH-ee-ay) was recalled on Nov. 27 and was a healthy scratch in Monday night's game at Colorado. Wathier has skated in 19 games for the Texas Stars this season, posting five goals and seven assists totaling 12 points while earning a team-leading plus/minus rating of +3. The 6-4, 218-pound forward has gone scoreless in his eight career games with the Dallas Stars, posting an even-or-plus rating in six of the contests. The St. Isidore, Ontario, native was Dallas’ sixth-round selection (185th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
(Image credit: Steven Christy)

Texas Stars Report: The Ripple Effect

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
As you can imagine, the Texas Stars (8-10-0-1, 17 pts, #12 Western Conference) are feeling the ripple effect this week of Dallas's 3-0 loss in Phoenix on Saturday night. As soon as I got word that Kari Lehtonen was out for the Stars, I knew I was watching Richard Bachman's last game in the Cedar Park Center for a while. Further bad news came as Francis Wathier was also needed to fill in after Fiddler's injury. The only saving grace is that Texas didn't need to give up another defenseman. It is unclear who would even be sent at this point.

The other side of the coin for AHL fans is the callup from the ECHL. Who does Texas get to replace the departing players? The Dallas organization does not have a 5th goaltender under contract as we have had in the past, so Texas has signed goalie Jimmy Spratt to a PTO (Professional Tryout) to backup Tyler Beskorowany. Texas has a back-to-back next weekend and a 3-in-3 the week after that, so Spratt will have to get at least one start in the next three weeks. Michael Neal, brother of the Penguins' James Neal, was also called up to bolster the forward ranks. If Trevor Daley can't go for whatever reason moving forward, Texas will have to sign a defenseman as well.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Texas Adds Forward Neal, Signs Goalie Spratt

With two glaring needs in their lineup, Texas added to their ranks today by pulling from Idaho. Forward Michael Neal and goalie Jimmy Spratt will join the club in Cedar Park before they embark on a two game trip to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Michael Neal is under contract to Dallas and has played for Texas here and there before. He never really impressed a lot in his time here, but has done good work this year in Idaho and earned this callup through his play.

Credit to Justin Goldman of the Goalie Guild for calling the callup of Jimmy Spratt as the Dallas system's fifth tender. He has seen action in the ECHL and CHL in his three year career and will backup Tyler Beskorowany in his first callup to the AHL. I think this is more of a Adrien Lemay type callup, where he will not be expected to start any games, but it will remain to be seen if Coach Pyle has a different philosophy on giving his backups starts.

Here's the full release:
The Texas Stars announced on Monday that the club has recalled forward Michael Neal from the Idaho Steelheads, the Stars’ ECHL affiliate. Texas also announced the team has signed goalie Jimmy Spratt to a Professional tryout agreement (PTO).

Neal is in his third season within the Dallas Stars organization. The Whitby, ON native has played 22 games with Texas over the previous two seasons. During his time in Texas, the forward has three goals and 14 penalty minutes. The 22-year old played in 19 games with Idaho this season, totaling three goals and seven points. For his career, Neal has played in 144 pro games with Idaho and Texas, scoring 17 times and totaling 40 points. He was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round (#149 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Spratt is a third-year pro who started the season with the Idaho, going 5-5-0 with a 2.95 goals against average and a .920 save percentage over 12 games. He split last season between Toledo and Victoria of the ECHL, as well as Rapid City of the CHL. In all, Spratt made 20 appearances, going 9-7-1 with a 3.91 goals against average and a .873 save percentage. The Calgary Flames drafted the 26-year old in the seventh round (#213 overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Chaparral Ice Gets 30 Day Reprieve

In an email sent out to league members over the weekend, the Chaparral Ice has announced that the sale of the rink has been delayed by one month. The original closing date of December 1st was quickly approaching, and the buyer has requested an extension, according to the email.

After that point, likely the end of the year now, all games in Austin will move to the Northcross Mall location of Chaparral Ice. In addition, leagues have also formed to play at the Cedar Park Center on nights when the ice is unoccupied by the Stars or special events.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Texas in a Bind as Dallas Calls for Bachman, Wathier

Last night in Phoenix, the Dallas Stars suffered three injuries to key players. None of them was more key than the groin injury to starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Texas starter Richard Bachman finished up last night's game and is now headed to Colorado to meet the team in time for their game against the Avs on Monday.

An injury to Vernon Fiddler will send Francis Wathier with him as well. Wathier is an obvious choice for this callup. He has been doing very well offensively and defensively in the AHL; he knows Gully's system well, having played it for 2 years; and he can fill a similar energy line role to Fiddler.

This leaves Texas in a bit of a lurch. Currently, Texas has one forward over their nightly needs. That scratch has generally been Eric Godard. With Wathier leaving, they need another for those just in case situations. Michael Neal and Tristan King are both in the ECHL right now, but I'm unsure if they would either get a callup. It could be a PTO signing that gets the call. GM White has a lot of connections, so this could come out of left field (for fans). Kael Mouillierat is still kicking around in Boise, so he's a possibility. So are preseason invitees Chad Klassen and David Fredriksson.

More pressing are the needs in goal. Tyler Beskorowany is now your starter, Stars' fans. Who will back him up remains a mystery. The Stars had Billy Sauer in the preseason and Scott White said that they would keep his number on the top of the pile, if he's needed. He is currently with Coach Pyle's former team, the Gwinnett Gladiators. In 5 games, he is 2-3-0 with a 2.84 GAA and .876 SV%. Jimmy Spratt is the top goalie in Idaho and is a possibility as well.

Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced on Sunday that the NHL club has placed goaltender Kari Lehtonen on injured reserve and recalled goaltender Richard Bachman, as well as forward Francis Wathier from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Lehtonen, 28, suffered a lower-body injury on November 26 in the game against the Phoenix Coyotes. The 6-4, 217-pound goaltender leads the NHL with 13 wins and has compiled an overall record of 13-4-1 with a 2.35 goals against average (GAA) and a .926 save percentage (SV%) in his 19 appearances this season. The Helsinki, Finland native has registered a .920 SV%-or-higher in 12 of his 19 contests and was named the NHL’s, “Second Star of October,” where he posted an 8-1-0 record with a .947 SV% and a 1.75 GAA.

Bachman (pronounced BAWK-mahn) has a 7-5-1 record earning a 3.13 GAA and a .887 SV% in 15 contests for Texas this season. The Salt Lake City, Utah native appeared in a career-high 55 games for Texas in 2010-11, posting a 28-19-5 record with a .927 SV% and a 2.20 GAA. He played in his first and only NHL game last season, appearing in relief on Dec. 11, 2010 against the Phoenix Coyotes where he surrendered zero goals on four shots in 9:35 of play. The 5-10, 175-pound goaltender was Dallas’ fourth-round selection (120th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Wathier (pronounced WATH-ee-ay) has skated in 19 games for the Texas Stars this season, posting five goals and seven assists totaling 12 points while earning a team leading plus/minus rating of +3. The 6-4, 218-pound forward has gone scoreless in his eight career games with the Dallas Stars, posting an even-or-plus rating in six of the contests. The St. Isidore, Ontario native was Dallas’ sixth-round selection (185th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Texas Falls to Visiting Houston 4-2

It was the same story, but just a different weekend for the Stars this Saturday. Following a nice OT win in Houston last night, Texas returned home for another matchup with the Aeros and dropped it in regulation. The Stars again had a mixed bag night. "I know it's cliched," said winger Luke Gazdic, "But we're not playing a full 60." Coach Pyle added to that, looking to the veteran players to provide consistency to the younger ones. "Our best players have got to be our best players, and right now, they're not."

The Stars gave up a goal in the first minute of the game but gained the lead in the first minute of the second at 2-1. Texas gave up the lead with two goals against in the second and trailed all the way to a 4-2 loss. "We get what we deserve, if you're not totally committed every shift you're going to struggle"

The first shift starting things off on the wrong foot for Texas. "Veterans guys make a mistake and didn't cover a guy in the slot," said Coach Pyle. That guy in the slot, Joel Broda, made them pay, sneaking down and gunning one past Richard Bachman just 42 seconds into the first. Texas had the quick answer with Mike Hedden's first of the season exactly two minutes later. The fourth line was really earned the goal with Brenden Dillon and Ondrej Roman picking up assists on the tying goal.

The Stars jumped ahead on the power play just 34 seconds into the second period. Jordie Benn blasted one from the point to score his 6th of the season. Glennie and Sceviour assisted, and Texas was in the driver's seat. Texas gave Houston a 5-on-3 opportunity six minutes into the period, and the Aeros made them pay. "The penalty to give them to 5-on-3 was a game changer," said Pyle. "You're only going to kill off so many penalties." Texas Stars-killer Jon DiSalvatore had the goal.

Penalties have been a going concern for Texas. "It's one thing if a guy's battling and maybe he makes a hit like the Wathier penalty in the third period," said Gazdic. "But the trips and the little things, that's just not working hard."

Houston got the next one as well on another missed coverage play by Texas's veterans. The Stars got cuaght watching the puck in their zone and Bachman had no chance to stop a puck off the stick of Chad Rau, which went five hole and set the score at 3-2. "You've got to be able to read and react, head on a swivel. You can't blame [Bachman] for [the third goal]."

Houston added another in the third period, again from Joel Broda. Texas pulled Bachman for the final two and a half minutes of the game in an attempt to get things back to even to no avail.

The Stars now head on the road for two games against the Checkers, a team they've never played before. Charlotte will then travel to Texas for their first game in the Cedar Park Center.

Tonight's lines:
Garbutt-Morin-Sawada
Gazdic-Sceviour-Tousignant
Glennie-Wathier-Fraser
Schultz-Roman-Hedden

Benn-Dillon
Labrie-Fortunus
Spang-Lukowich

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Coyle, Godard (scratched)
Larsen, Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 6,274.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Houston - November 26 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Texas Wins 2-1 Over Houston in OT

Texas posted a win in OT at Houston tonight. I wasn't able to watch the game, so here's the official presser. Good win for Texas against a division foe. Again, it would be good not to give up a point to a divisional foe, but still a good win.
The Texas Stars (8-9-0-1, 17 points) defeated the Houston Aeros (10-3-2-4, 26 points) 2-1 in overtime in front of 7,009 fans at the Toyota Center on Friday night. Defenseman Maxime Fortunus blasted a shot past Houston’s Matt Hackett with 37 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Stars to victory. Texas goalie Richard Bachman (7-5-1) stopped 32 shots for the win, helping the Stars improve to 5-4-0-0 on the road this season. Stars rookie forward Scott Glennie also scored, as Texas picked up its second consecutive win at Houston this season. Aeros forward Jed Ortmeyer forced overtime, scoring with 46 seconds remaining in regulation to spoil the Stars shutout bid. Houston goalie Matt Hackett (7-3-3) stopped 24 shots in the loss. The Stars host Houston this Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

Texas scored the only goal of the first period, as Scott Glennie opened the scoring at 14:10. Defenseman Jordie Benn sent a cross-ice pass to Glennie in the left-wing circle of the Houston zone. Glennie snapped a wrist shot past Matt Hackett for his second goal of the season and a 1-0 Stars lead.

After a scoreless second period, Houston pulled the goalie for the extra attacker and scored the game-tying goal at 46 seconds remaining in regulation. Forward Jeff Taffe ripped a shot to the net with heavy traffic in the crease. Jed Ortmeyer tipped the shot past Texas goalie Richard Bachman, scoring his fifth goal of the season and tying the game 1-1.

The Stars worked the puck deep in the Aeros zone with less than a minute remaining in overtime. Center Travis Morin and forward Mike Hedden worked the puck to Maxime Fortunus, who blasted his second goal of the season past Hackett, giving the Stars a 2-1 victory at the Toyota Center.
Tonight's attendance was 7,009.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Houston - November 25 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
7-9-0-1, 15 pts
#11 Western Conference
atHouston Aeros
10-3-1-4, 25 pts
#5 Western Conference
November 25th at 7:35 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

As it's Thanksgiving weekend, I don't have a lot of time ot throw into the gameday preview today. The biggest stat that I can throw out there for this game is this, from Josh Fisher: The Texas Stars have been outscored 42-28 when skating at even strength this year.

If you want to win hockey games consistently, you have to do more than that at 5-on-5. As always, watch for Jon DiSalvatore against the Stars.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Vincour (callup)
Lukowich (injury)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (official): Pilot to Gunner
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros
Twitter: @aero_joe (play-by-play)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chicago Uses Quick Start to Beat Stars 3-2

Excepting the first five minutes, Texas played a great game tonight. But unfortunately, hockey game are made up of three 20 minute periods and you have to play hard in every minute to get the W. Texas gave up two goals in the first four minutes of the game before getting one of their own on the power play. Each team would add another power play tally to set the final at 3-2 for Chicago.

"We're a team that needs to play 60 minutes," said defenseman Jordie Benn, who scored a goal in the game. "Our starts aren't the greatest right now, and we need to change that."

Chicago got the first one of the night just 76 seconds in. A faceoff win by Nate Longpre was fed back to Polasek, who blasted it from the point. Coach Pyle recognized tying up on the faceoff as a going concern, "I'd like to see us block out around the net, tie up around the net off faceoffs."

The Wolves scored again at 3:55 off the rush. The rebound goal was potted by Antoine Roussel, his second of the year, on a rebound. "We gave up a deflection and a rebound and we really didn't tie up around the net," said Pyle. "It's been a problem off and on throughout the year."

So Texas was once again playing from behind. Ryan Garbutt collected his second of the year on the 5-on-3 power play on quite the bang-bang play, with at least 4 of the 5 Stars players on the ice touching the puck within 5 seconds of the goal being scored. Garbutt's tally, assisted by Glennie and Benn, set things at 2-1 to end the first. Texas outshot Chicago 16-8 in the period and 12-5 following Chicago's second goal.

Chicago collected the only goal of the second period, a power play goal on a questionable boarding call to Brenden Dillon. Kevin Connauton's 6th of the year beat Beskorowany from other leading scorers Mark Mancari and Darren Haydar. Chicago outshot Texas in the period 13-11.

Again behind after the second, Texas battled into the third, claiming an early power play. Jordie Benn potted his 5th goal of the year with a puck that seemingly had eyes, finding twine from the blue line to make it 3-2. Assists went to Wathier and Glennie.

Texas was then tasked with mounting a comeback in the third while Chicago didn't give them anymore power play opportunities. Matt Climie didn't help matters, playing lights out in the third by stopping all 15 shots. "5-on-5 we can't buy a goal," said Pyle, a concern that has also been voiced by GM Scott White.

With 1:19 of extra man time, Texas could not find the equalizer and lost in regulation. Coach Pyle has the players, who are mostly Canadian, practicing tomorrow, Thanksgiving. The team then travels to Houston Friday for the first game of a home and home weekend series.

Tonight's lines:
Gazdic-Sceviour-Tousignant
Garbutt-Morin-Sawada
Wathier-Glennie-Fraser
Schultz-Roman-Hedden

Labrie-Fortunus
Benn-Dillon
Spang-Coyle

Beskorowany

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Godard (scratched)
Lukowich (unspecified injury)
Larsen, Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 5,901.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - November 23 2011

Texas Stars Report: Wanted: A Full 60 Minutes

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
If you happen to find a full 60 minutes hiding somewhere, please return them to the Texas Stars (7-8-0-1, 15 pts, #11 Western Conference) care of the Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX. At last report, the Stars were in possession of them on Friday night in Houston but lost them on the way home to Cedar Park.

All snark aside, Texas had an up and down week. Only two games on the schedule for the week, both against Houston, resulted in only two points. The Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild) are a strong club and splitting the weekend might have been a good showing, if it weren't for the way it went down. Texas gave up a point by going to OT on Friday and just flat gave up on Saturday in a 5-1 regulation loss.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
7-8-0-1, 15 pts
#11 Western Conference
v.Chicago Wolves
7-6-0-2, 16 pts
#9 Western Conference
November 23rd at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Chicago Wolves come to town this Thanksgiving Eve for their second game against the Texas Stars this season, the first between the two in Central Texas. Texas is coming off a bad effort loss to the Aeros on Saturday while Chicago had a four game winning streak broken up on Saturday with a 4-3 loss to the San Antonio Rampage.

Texas will be minus one of their best players in this game as Tomas Vincour is in the NHL with Dallas. Vincour played only 8:16 in Monday's game against the Oilers, but he made a solid impact whether it was in the checking game or with some finesse in front of the net. Texas will miss his .87 points per game. He was the only goal scorer in the Stars' only other game against Chicago, a 2-1 loss.

The loss of Vincour juggles the lines, which were already in flux, once again. The lines of Sawada-Morin-Fraser and Vincour-Garbutt-Wathier were mixed up to the below:

Wathier-Morin-Vincour
Sawada-Sceviour-Fraser
Glennie-Gazdic-Garbutt

It worked Friday; it didn't work Saturday. In fact, coach Pyle began shuffling lines throughout the second and third to try new combinations and see what would work. The third period was better, but the lines weren't the impetus. The simpler style of play slowed things down and lower the chances for Houston.

The Stars will likely see an old friend in net for the Wolves tonight, Matt Climie. Climie is the Wolves top tender at the moment. He is sharing time with last year's top rookie, Eddie Lack, but has a 5-2-0 record compared to Lack's 2-4-2 effort. Darren Haydar, predictably, leads the Wolves in scoring with 7 goals and 12 assists, 10 points higher than the next closest skater. There are some strange curiosities on the roster though as plus-minus ratings vary wildly from a minus-6 by top players Mark Mancari and Kevin Connauton to an outlier plus-12 (!) for Mark Matheson. The next closest plus player is at plus-7.

Chicago is #4 in the league on the PK with an 87.3%. Texas's power play, which has now fallen to #2 in the league behind the Bears, will have a tough time with this crew. If they can get opportunities and score on them, the night will go well.

Additionally, a very interesting stat for Texas: The Stars are winless when trailing after any period (0-3-0-1 trailing after 1st, 0-5-0-0 trailing after 2nd) but are unbeaten when leading after any period (4-0-0-0 when leading after 1st, 7-0-0-0 when leading after 2nd).

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Vincour (callup)

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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dallas Recalls Vincour


The Dallas Stars announced today that they have recalled Tomas Vincour to the NHL. Vincour, who started the season with Dallas, is expected to play on Monday night against Edmonton. Dallas, currently mired in a five game losing streak, is looking for any answers they can find right now and thinks Vincour could help. Philip Larsen will also dress for the game.
The Dallas Stars announced on Sunday that the club has recalled right wing Tomas Vincour (Vin-sooer) from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). He will join the Stars for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Vincour, celebrated his 21st birthday with his tenth goal of the season on Saturday against Houston. The right wing leads the Texas Stars with ten goals in 15 games played. In all, he is tied for third on the team with 13 points. He had a five-game goal scoring streak from Oct. 27 – Nov. 6. Vincour’s streak tied Warren Peters’ team record for consecutive games with a goal. Vincour also tied a team record by recording a point in six straight games from Oct. 25 – Nov. 6. He currently has a goal in six straight road games. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, scored five goals and totaled 12 points in 44 games as a rookie with Texas in 2010-11.

He made his NHL debut last season with Dallas, registering one goal and one assist in 24 games with the NHL club. The Brno, Czech Republic native was selected by Dallas in the fifth round (129th overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Image credit: Ron Byrd

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Houston Outworks Texas for 5-1 Final

Texas got outworked, outhustled and ultimately outscored in tonight's game against the Houston Aeros in Cedar Park. "There's not one guy that played well tonight," said forward Francis Wathier. "It was a team lack of effort."

Texas was down one after the first period but gave up two in the second and only managed one shot on goal in the period. "It was probably one of our worst periods of the year." The Aeros tacked on one more in the third to set Texas below .500 at 7-8-0-1 on the season.

Houston opened the scoring in the first with an even-strength goal off a misplay of the puck by Richard Bachman outside the crease. The goal, just 87 seconds into the game, came off the stick of Carson McMillan. Texas tied things up with a shorthanded goal, their first of the season, just 3 minutes later. Tomas Vincour finished a breakaway play by collecting a fat rebound off a Ryan Garbutt shot. It would be Texas's only goal of the night. The Stars went on the penalty kill late in the period and Cody Almond netted his first of the season to take the lead for Houston.

Things fell apart truly in the second period, however. "Our shifts were way too long," said Wathier. "We didn't put the puck where we wanted it to be." The Stars' were outshot 10-1 in the period. It looked like Texas would get out of the period unscathed, but the last three minutes of the period yielded two Houston goals.

Penner scored on a lucky play from behind the net, as the puck bounced off the skate of a sliding Bachman and in for a 3-1 lead. Casey Wellman collected his 11th of the year with a sniper shot from the left wing circle.

Tyler Beskorowany would start the third and allow one goal in the period, a late tally to Chad Rau to make things 5-1. Texas was a better team in the third. "We kept everything simple. As soon as we got the puck, we went forward, dumped the puck and finished our checks."

Texas is suffering from some consistency issues. Not every period is an even effort and not every game is either. "You've gotta go for 60 or 65," said Wathier.

Two of the next three are against Houston and Texas has to see Houston as a good measuring stick for their overall game. However, the Stars' next game is on Wednesday against the Chicago Wolves in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Morin-Vincour
Sawada-Sceviour-Fraser
Glennie-Gazdic-Garbutt
Roman-Tousignant-Godard

Fortunus-Dillon
Lukowich-Coyle
Spang-Benn

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Labrie, Schultz, Hedden (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 4,930.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Houston - November 19 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
7-7-0-1, 15 pts
#10 Western Conference
v.Houston Aeros
9-3-1-3, 22 pts
#5 Western Conference
November 19th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

As per usual, a shorter preview for a back-to-back with the same team.
The Stars got what they needed in Houston. Now it's time for them to do the same here in Cedar Park.

Last night's game was a view of what this team is looking to become, really what any team is looking to become: efficient on the power play, stingy on the PK, infrequently penalized and getting shots on net. Texas would do well to try for the full two points in regulation this time. As the Dallas Stars saw last season, even one point can make the difference between playoffs and a long, reflective summer.

That's not to say that Texas gave away a point last night; they stole one from Houston. If given the opportunity, like last Friday's game against Abbotsford, Texas needs to "finish him". Don't allow a talent team like Houston to even get one, because the momentum builds and is suddenly hard to overcome. A 2-0 lead evaporates to 2-2 and then a shootout loss. Those are character building losses and the hope is that Texas learned from last week's.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen (callup)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (official): Pilot to Gunner
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros
Twitter: @aero_joe (play-by-play)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stars Take Two in Houston with 3-2 OT Win

Texas took two much-needed points from the Houston Aeros tonight at the Toyota Center, winning in overtime on a rebound goal from winger Ray Sawada. Texas opened the scoring in the first with a power play goal from Jordie Benn but trailed in the third. Tomas Vincour collected his 9th of the year to send things to OT. Sawada collected the game winner 90 seconds into the extra period.

Texas did all the things tonight that they couldn't seem to do last week. They capitalized on PP opportunities with 1/5 effort; they only took one penalty and didn't allow a goal on the minor. They fought from behind in the 3rd and overcame excellent goaltending to get the win. The win breaks the Stars' three game losing streak.

Texas opened the scoring on their first power play of the night. With Medvecin the box for inteference, Texas mixed things up and got Jordie Benn down low. A shot from Travis Morin was tipped by the defenseman to beat Hackett. Max Fortunus collected the secondary assist on the goal. Having a defenseman down low like that has been part of what makes the Texas power play so confounding for the opposition. Shots were 14-7 for Texas after twenty.

Houston evened the score at one with a goal just 50 seconds into the second period. Chad Rau wristed one to the net from the left wing circle and the puck tipped off Bachman's glove to find twine. The goal was assisted by Jed Ortmeyer. Texas came up empty on two power plays in the period and killed off their only penalty kill. The Stars still outshot the Aeros in the period at 9-6 but came out tied at one.

It was another early goal in the third pushing Houston ahead. Jeff Taffe threw one at the net, and the puck ticked off a defenseman's skates to beat Bachman on an unexpected redirect. The goal came just 34 seconds into the third. The only assist on the play went to Cody Almond.

Tomas Vincour tied things up late in the third with an even-strength goal from the right wing circle. The rocket of a shot beat Hackett from the right wing circle and ultimately sent the game to overtime. Assists on the goal went to Wathier and Fortunus.

Texas would come up victorious as Ray Sawada collected a rebound goal off a Travis Morin shot just 90 seconds into the extra period. The Stars face Houston again tomorrow night in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:
Sawada-Sceviour-Fraser
Wathier-Morin-Vincour
Glennie-Gazdic-Garbutt.
Roman-Tousignant-Godard

Fortunus-Dillon
Lukowich-Coyle
Spang-Benn

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Labrie, Schultz, Hedden (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 9,036.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Houston - November 18 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
6-7-0-1, 13 pts
#12 Western Conference
atHouston Aeros
9-3-0-3, 21 pts
#5 Western Conference
November 18th at 7:35 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

The Stars and Aeros meet in Houston for only their second matchup of the season, the first in Houston. Texas and Houston will meet a total of twelve times this season, including four of Texas's next five games.

For Texas, this might be just the right timing to catch the Aeros off their game. The Minnesota Wild have been struck down by injuries and some of the Aeros' top players have been called up to pitch in. Out of the lineup currently are centers Warren Peters and Casey Wellman and defensemen Kris Fredheim and Nate Prosser. Of the four players, Wellman has to hurt the most, as he has been a point per game player this season. Losing Peters will affect the teams status on the faceoff dots negatively.

Leading the way once again for Houston on offense though is the captain, Jon DiSalvatore, a noted Star-killer. In 25 career games against Texas, DiSalvatore has collected 11 goals and 9 assists for 0.8 points per game. Rare is the game when he is not on the scoresheet when these two teams meet. Watch for #14 tonight; he leads the team in offense this season with 7-9-16 in just 15 games of work.

In short, the Stars may have a bit of an opportunity here with callups, but they can't get caught being outworked again like in the San Antonio game. Houston is a much better team right now than the Rampage and they are much more dangerous. If Texas wants to win, they need to play the full 60 minutes.

Additionally, Texas needs to work on 5-on-5 scoring. GM Scott White called this out on the radio this past week and he's right; the numbers don't lie. Texas has scored 47 goals on the season. Twenty-one of those, or 45%, have been power play goals. That isn't a sustainable strategy. What happens when the power play isn't clicking, the other club's penalty kill is out of this world or the other team just won't take penalties? I can't see a team based around the power play performing well against a team like Milwaukee or Chicago, currently both bottom 3 in penalties taken.

Houston, by the way, is also in the bottom five of penalties taken. And they are #7 in the league on home ice penalty kill. Is this a good time to break out the 5-on-5 scoring? You bet.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen (callup)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (official): Pilot to Gunner
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros
Twitter: @aero_joe (play-by-play)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Texas Stars Report: A Rough Weekend

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
It's been a rough week for the Texas Stars (6-7-0-1, 13 pts, #10 Western), who came up winless in their first three games in three nights stretch of the season. Texas faced off against the division rival Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) at home for two before heading to San Antonio on Sunday for a matinee game against the Rampage (Florida Panthers). The Stars earned only one point on the weekend, losing their first game in a shootout 3-2.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rampage Break Through Against Stars, 3-2

Stars goalie Richard Bachman tracks a puck as Rampage forward Bracken Kearns looks to collect a rebound. Bachman had 25 saves on 28 shots in the game. (Credit: Darren Abate/pressphotointl.com)
The Stars have now followed their season high three game win streak with a three game losing streak in their first 3-in-3 of the year. Texas fell to a scrappy San Antonio crew this afternoon at the AT&T Center after falling behind in the second period. Texas collected goals from Francis Wathier and Tomas Vincour on the night but came up short on the game tying goal.

The game started out with a bang as Brenden Dillon dropped the gloves with Bracken Kearns only 18 seconds in to the first. It was the Stars who struck first on the scoreboard, however, late in that first period. On the power play, Francis Wathier tipped a point shot from Jordie Benn to make it 1-0. Tomas Vincour collected as assist on the play as well. The Stars would end the first at a 1-0 lead with a shots advantage of 9-7.

The Rampage controlled the second period though as they outshot Texas 11-5 and outscored them as well. Late in the period, San Antonio tied it up with snipe of a goal by Tim Kennedy that beat Bachman over the left shoulder. Four minutes later San Antonio would jump ahead of Texas with a rebound goal by Mark Cullen.

San Antonio also opened the scoring in the third period as Scott Timmins netted his third of the year on the rush with assists to Evan Oberg and David Marshall. Shortly thereafter, second would go on the power play with Oberg in the box for holding. It was Tomas Vincour finding the net for the 8th time this year. The power play tally went off the post and in with assists from Sceviour and Wathier. The lead was cut to 3-2 for San Antonio.

Texas attempted to even things up in the dying minutes of the third, but San Antonio's Jakob Markstrom kept things at a one goal lead for the Rampage. The win broke a three game losing streak for the Rampage. Texas was 2/5 on the PP and held San Antonio without a power play tally on 4 attempts.

Texas is idle until Friday when they will travel to Houston to meet the Aeros.

Tonight's lines:
Fraser-Morin-Sawada
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sceviour
Wathier-Garbutt-Vincour
Hedden-Glennie-Schultz

Dillon-Lukowich
Fortunus-Labrie
Spang-Benn

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Coyle, Godard, Roman (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 5,735.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - November 13 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
6-6-0-1, 13 pts
#10 Western Conference
atSan Antonio Rampage
4-8-0-0, 8 pts
#15 Western Conference
November 13th at 3:30 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

The Stars come to San Antonio for another Sunday matinee game this afternoon. The same two teams played last weekend with great result for the Stars, a 4-0 win. Texas comes into this game playing their third in three nights. San Antonio is on one day's rest.

For the Rampage, this has to have been a maddening stretch. The club is winless in their last three, starting with last week's loss to the Stars. The Panthers have returned wunderkind goalie Jakob Markstrom to the club, but he has lost both games with the team (both against Lake Erie). Really, beat writer Tony Uminski sums things up best:
If these guys were paid on production, they’d be living under a bridge.

Other than Eric Selleck, NO ONE seems to care enough to drop the gloves.

No one seems to care enough to hit anyone for that matter. These Rampage have brought to mind the true meaning of AHL, Anti-Hitting-League.

Aggression is extinct when this team is on the ice.

The only individual statistical category the Rampage show up on top is Nolan Yonkman’s 10 minor penalties — tied for third.

Nobody is doing anything.
It's scathing and also a reminder that while Texas is not enjoying its usual success, it is certainly not without positives. A strong power play has had a power outage in the past two games and could look to get back into the swing of things against an abhorrent PK from the Rampage (#30 in the league at 72.1%).

Uminski points to the infamous oh-for-November stretch in 2008-9 that got Greg Ireland fired. The Rampage have a tough time with the month of November historically. They are 1-3 this year and went 1-6-1 in 2009 and 0-16-1 in 2008. The only good year in recent memory is 2010, when they went 8-4-0.

Despite all this, the game against San Antonio is not one to look past. Texas will have a team on its hands that has all the pieces but just isn't clicking at 100%. Sound familiar? Stars fans know firsthand how dangerous that combination can be once things come together.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen (callup)

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, November 12, 2011

Heat Skate By Stars, 3-1

Ray Sawada bears down on Heat goalie Leland Irving. Irving was phenomenal in the game, earning the first star with a 35 save performance. (Credit: Portraits by Deena)
The fell to the Heat for the second consecutive night this evening in Cedar Park, falling this time in regulation by a score of 3-1. The majority of scoring came in the early second period as both teams came out of the gate with a track meet mentality. Abbotsford and Texas traded goals with the Heat collecting two to Texas's one. The only other goal of the game came in the third to seal it up. Texas's power play went zero for six on the night. Jordie Benn was the only goal scorer for Texas.

Both teams skated to a scoreless first period as the tight checking game mentality from last night's first period seemeed to be the rule. As the second opened, both teams got into a pacey game. Abbotsford struck first with a goal by Jon Rheault on a turnover in Texas's D zone.

The Stars scored just 18 seconds later to make it 1-1. Jordie Benn scored his third of the year off a faceoff win by Ryan Garbutt. Brad Lukowich also assisted on the play. The Heat struck back themselves with another from Raitis Ivanans, his first pro goal since December 27th, 2008.

Texas got opportunities in the game on the power play but couldn't convert. "We're still getting good looks," said Dan Spang. "But we're hitting a lot of crossbars." The Stars seemed to just have issues putting it all together on the same play. Puck possession was an issue and Texas lost a fair number of puck battles along the boards.

The only other goal of the game came as Tyler Beskorowany cleared a puck into Rheault's chest. Rheault got it to the ice and deftly went around Beskorowany, who was out at the hashes, to pot his second of the night.

Overall, the game felt very winnable at all points throughout the night. Texas will look to rebound against San Antonio tomorrow afternoon, a team they beat 4-0 last weekend. The Stars will be playing their third in three nights and the Rampage will be working on one day's rest.

Tonight's lines:
Gazdic-Sceviour-Glennie
Wathier-Garbutt-Vincour
Fraser-Morin-Sawada
Tousignant-Godard-Roman

Dillon-Fortunus
Coyle-Spang
Benn-Lukowich

Beskorowany

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Labrie, Schultz, Hedden (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 6,226.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Abbotsford - November 12 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
6-6-0-0, 12 pts
#9 Western Conference
v.Abbotsford Heat
9-4-1-0, 18 pts
#5 Western Conference
November 12th at 6:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

As per usual, today's will be a shortened gameday preview for the second game of a back-to-back against the same team. Texas faces off again tonight against the Abbotsford Heat, who proved last night that they are a real force in the West Division.

Last night's game was mostly about a breakdown of discipline listening to Coach Pyle's postgame comments. "They've got to have more discipline," said Coach Pyle. Texas isn't planning on really changing anything. Why should they? The first two periods were tight and physical hockey where the Stars took advantage of the power play opportunities given to them, which were numerous. Abbotsford is 7th in the league with 19.62 PIMs per game. They have given their past two opponents a total of 16 power play opportunities. Texas has to use their dominant power play to take charge in tonight's game.

"We're not going to change anything," said Pyle. "They're playing their third game in three nights so we have to take advantage of that."

Overall, Texas knows that points are just as important in November as they will be in March and April. "We've given away points early in the season that we haven't wanted to give away."

Stars injury/call up report:
I would expect Philip Larsen to get a callup with the Golisgoski injury, and Jace Coyle could see his first game action since last Thursday against Toronto.

Website: abbotsfordheat.com
Blog (unofficial): BC Local News: Abby News
Newspaper: Abbotsford Times
Twitter: @abbotsfordheat
Twitter (play-by-play): @RyanPinder

Friday, November 11, 2011

Heat Claw Back for SO Win Over Texas, 3-2

The Texas Stars felt the sting of their first shootout or regulation loss this evening as the Abbotsford Heat claimed the extra point in the skills competition to win 3-2. Texas jumped out to a lead in the second period with a power play tally from Matt Fraser and extended it on a goal by Ray Sawada in the 3rd. The Heat roared back with two goals in the last 4:04 of the game, including one with the goalie pulled, to tie it. The game would go to the shootout where Texas would go scoreless and see the Heat snipe three to win. "We had tons of chances to win the game throughout," said forward Ray Sawada. "So it was a frustrating way to lose the game."

The Stars and Heat skated to a scoreless first period with the Stars going 0/2 on PP opps in the period. The shots were 9-6 after one, favoring Texas. The tight physical game continued in the second. Abbotsford took an ill-advised slashing penalty with Jordan Henry slashing Brenden Dillon out of frustration with the puck on the other side of the ice. Texas capitalized with Matt Fraser's 9th goal of the season, assisted by Morin and Larsen. The goal was scored from Fraser's favorite place, the right wing circle, to set the score at 1-0. The period ended with that score and shots for Texas at 22-11.

Ray Sawada extended the Stars lead with a hard charging play to open the third. Sawada went hard to the net and got a favorable bounce off goalie Leland Irving to make it 2-0. Linemates Fraser and Morin assisted the play. The Stars continued to pour it on, getting open looks and breakaways all night, but continuously getting shut down by Leland Irving, who earned a third star for his performance. "Their goalie played very, very well," said Coach Pyle. "He made some saves that most goalies wouldn't make." Irving was quick on the glove and with any luck the Stars won't get a repeat performance tomorrow night.

Texas spent 8 minutes of PP time in the third, including two 5-on-3s totalling 90 seconds, but couldn't put the last nail in the coffin. Despite the lack of success in the game, Texas did well not to retaliate and keep themselves a man up. "We'll go on the power play all day if they're going to take cheap shots," said Sawada.

With five minutes left, Ryan Garbutt took an interference penalty that resulted in a Heat forward on the ice for an extended period. He eventually skated off without incident, but Texas was on the PK. Just nine second into the penalty, Brendan Mikkelson bombed one from the point to beat Bachman and make it 2-1. "With 5 minutes left, we take a penalty that you can't take," said Coach Pyle. "I don't care what you have to do to stay out of that position, but that penalty turns the whole game around. You cannot take that penalty."

The back-breaker came as the Heat pulled Irving and, with 46 seconds left, tied up the game on a garbage play in front of the net. Texas skated through a scoreless overtime period to arrive at the shootout for the first time this season. Only four Heat shooters were needed as three scored and Texas came up empty on three attempts of their own.

Coach Pyle was frustrated with the way the game slipped away in those last four minutes, especially given the chances the Stars had all night. "We had open nets and breakaways, and we have to find a way to manage those last four minutes better." Texas isn't looking to change anything in their early play tomorrow, but they have to work to close out games better. After last Thursday's last minute goal by Toronto, Texas was lucky to emerge with two points in overtime. This time, the luck went the other way. Coach Pyle hopes to ensure that next time, luck isn't involved.

Tonight's lines:
Gazdic-Sceviour-Glennie
Wathier-Garbutt-Vincour
Fraser-Morin-Sawada
Tousignant-Hedden-Schultz

Benn-Spang
Dillon-Fortunus
Larsen-Lukowich

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Coyle, Godard, Roman (scratched)

Tomas Vincour and Francis Wathier were scoreless in the game, ending both of their scoring streaks.

Tonight's attendance was 5,393.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Abbotsford - November 11 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
6-5-0-0, 12 pts
#8 Western Conference
v.Abbotsford Heat
8-4-1-0, 17 pts
#5 Western Conference
November 11th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After a long layoff, the Stars look to continue their three-game winning streak with a battle against the Abbotsford Heat this Veteran's Day. This is the first of eight meetings between the teams, which are division rivals for the first time this season.

Abbotsford is coming on strong in the early going on this season. Their leading scorer, Krys Kolanos, was just recently named the AHL Player of the Week with 7-6-13 so far on the season in just 6 games. Other top players include the returning Greg Nemisz with 6-6-12 in 13 games and Ben Walter, who played for Lake Erie last season, with 4-7-11 in 13 GP. The top scorer against the Stars last season, TJ Brodie, is in the NHL with Calgary for this weekend's games.

Texas is 4-3-0-1 all-time against the Heat and 2-1-0-1 in Cedar Park. The Heat are coming off a 5-3 victory over the Houston Aeros at the Toyota Center last night. The Third Intermission notes that the Aeros lost because they got into penalty trouble and allowed two PPGs on just four chances. The Heat PP is dangerous at 4th in the league with 26.9%. Texas, as we have documented, has a bad statistical penalty kill at 76.5% (27th), but has tightened up recently, only allowing two PPGs against in their last four games (86.7%). Part of the challenge tonight for Texas will be their own power play. Clicking along at 33.3%, they will face the #7 ranked PK of Abbotsford (85%). The road PK for ABB is even better at 89.2%.
Goaltenders for the Heat include the returning Leland Irving, who has all of Abbotsford's wins at 8-4-0 on the season. He has a 2.21 GAA and .909 SV% with one shutout. Joni Ortio is the backup for Abby, seeing action in three games and earning a record of 0-1-0. The 2009 sixth round draft pick for Calgary saw one game last year and previously played in SM-liiga for TPS Turku.

In remains to be seen how recent callup Ondrej Roman fits into this lineup. Coach Pyle is unlikely to break up any of the first three lines, in my estimation, due to the success they have been enjoying. The Fraser-Morin-Sawada line is one of the best in the conference. The Wathier-Garbutt-Vincour line features two players on scoring streaks of five games or more. And finally, the Gazdic-Sceviour-Glennie line got off to a slow start but banged in two points each on Thursday against Toronto. Hedden-Tousignant-Schultz had good chances and strong energy on Thursday night as well, and it's only a matter of time before it breaks through.

The point was raised on Defending Big D that the Ondrej Roman callup and the placement of Dallas forward Steve Ott on IR may indicate that someone is getting a callup from Texas. At this point, I think that is unlikely. Dallas is in the middle of a roadtrip on the East Coast and has done just fine without Ott or an extra body in the press box so far on the trip. With coach Gulutzan exchanging Dowell, Barch, Petersen and Wandell on the fourth line so fluidly, there doesn't seem to be a need for the call. I would be very surprised if anything did come of the situation.

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

Website: abbotsfordheat.com
Blog (unofficial): BC Local News: Abby News
Newspaper: Abbotsford Times
Twitter: @abbotsfordheat

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stars Recall Roman from Idaho

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars announced this afternoon that they have recalled forward Ondrej Roman from the Idaho Steelheads. He has had a great stint with the Steelheads, getting some good ice with the team and contributing six points in six games.

This movement presages one of two things. Either another forward will be sent to Idaho or someone is injured. I would guess the send down would be either Hedden or Schultz. It is a good and bad place to be in for Texas. They have a lot of forwards playing well right now. The line of Hedden-Tousignant-Schultz is providing a spark to the team that fourth lines rarely have. The problem is that there are too many forwards playing well. We will see what happens on Friday.
The Texas Stars announced on Wednesday that forward Ondrej Roman has been recalled from the Idaho Steelheads, the Stars’ ECHL affiliate.

The 22-year old Roman played in six games for the Steelheads this year, posting two goals and totaling six points. He played two games in Texas without securing a point. Roman is in his second full season of pro hockey after playing in 72 games with Texas last year. As a rookie, Roman scored eight goals and set up 14 for a total of 22 points. The Ostrava-Prouba, Czech Republic native is scoreless in two appearances for the Stars this season. Dallas drafted Roman in the fifth round (#136 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Texas Stars Report: Putting the Pieces Together

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
It's been a great week for the Texas Stars (6-5-0-0, 12 pts, #8 Western Conference), who returned to the Lone Star State after four on the road for contests against the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs) and in San Antonio against the Rampage (Florida Panthers). Texas won both games with key lessons learned in each.

Against a strong Marlies club, Texas allowed two early PPGs but roared back to win 4-3 in OT. The Stars showed their collective grit and character while killing a 93 second long 5-opn-3 in the second period, which was definitely the turning point of the game. "The momentum coming off that and the fans yelling pumped us up," said winger Colton Sceviour.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Special Teams Key Stars to 4-0 Victory in San Antonio

Brenden Dillon and Richard Bachman fist bump after Dillon's blast found twine thanks to a tip by Francis Wathier in the second period. (Credit: Soobum Im)
The Stars took the short trip down I-35 today and returned with a strong victory over the San Antonio Rampage to put them above .500 with a 6-5-0-0 record. Texas skaters Vincour and Wathier both extended point and goal scoring streaks on the night to six and five games respectively. Richard Bachman collected a shutout with a 29 save outing, his second shutout of the season.

And while Texas got scoring from their top three lines in the game, the big story was special teams. Texas held the Rampage without a power play goal despite six opportunities. The Stars only allowed two power play goals in their last four games (13/15).

Texas opened the scoring right away in this game with a goal from Texas's top line of Fraser-Morin-Sawada. Ray Sawada found Travis Morin on the right side of the net where he got a shot off and collected his own rebound for the first goal exactly at the one minute mark of the period. The goal was his fourth of the year and was assisted by Sawada and Fraser. With the assist, Fraser took sole possession of the lead for rookie PP points at seven. Texas outshot the Rampage nine to eight in the period.

The Stars kept the pressure on with a goal by Francis Wathier at the 12:25 mark of the second. Brenden Dillon blasted a shot from the right point, which Wathier tipped in front for the 2-0 lead. The goal extended Wathier's scoring streak to five games.

Not wanting to be left out of the scoring streak talk, Tomas Vincour picked up a goal of his own in the dying seconds of the second period. With Texas on the power play, Vincour snapped one past Foster for his 7th goal of the year and fifth in as many games. Assists went to linemates Francis Wathier and Ryan Garbutt. The period ended with a 14-5 shot advantage for Texas in the frame.

The Stars continued to pour it on in the third period. Luke Gazdic picked up his fourth of the season with assists from Sceviour and Fortunus, his second of the night. Richard Bachman was spectacular in the final frame, keeping everything in front of him, especially on the Rampage power play.

Texas now has a long layoff before the Abbotsford Heat come to town for two on Friday and Saturday. The Heat will play in Houston on Thursday night and will play the Stars to complete the 3-in-3.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Garbutt-Vincour
Fraser-Morin-Sawada
Gazdic-Sceviour-Glennie
Tousignant-Hedden-Schultz

Dillon-Fortunus
Larsen-Lukowich
Benn-Spang

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Coyle, Godard (scratched)

Tomas Vincour and Francis Wathier both extended their scoring streaks with points tonight. Tomas Vincour's streak of points stretched to six with a goal in the second and his goal streak went to five games with the same tally. Wathier picked up a goal and an assist to set his point streak at five games, going 3-3-6 over that period.

Maxime Fortunus returned to the lineup and collected two assists, both secondaries.

Tonight's attendance was 4,157.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - November 6 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
5-5-0-0, 10 pts
#10 Western Conference
atSan Antonio Rampage
4-5-0-0, 8 pts
#15 Western Conference
November 6th at 3:30 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Texas takes to the road today for a short jaunt to face the San Antonio Rampage at the AT&T Center this afternoon. The Rampage, who are currently in last place in the conference, are coming off a strong 6-1 win against the Toronto Marlies last night at home. The win was the first of current 6 game home stretch dating back four games to October 21st. With a long layoff between games, the Rampage went "back to camp", calling up several players from the ECHL and CHL levels and running a more training camp style practice schedule to make guys fight for position. It worked.

However, it also can't be overstated that the Rampage got some help in net from an NHL quality netminder last night. Scott Clemmensen, who is currently on a conditioning assignment from Florida, has played in Florida and New Jersey in the NHL. I would estimate that he is unlikely to start the second game of the back-to-back, but it's not entirely impossible. The early start time is what would make me question that. Current "backup" Brian Foster, who has played 7 games this season, is 3-3-0 with a 3.24 GAA and .892 SV%.

The Rampage's offensive outburst has to be seen as a positive sign of life for the team. The team was outscored 13-4 in their last four game, all at home, before last night's 6-1 win. Right winger Michael Repik leads the team with 2-6-8. Bracken Kearns (4-2-6) and Colby Robak (2-3-5) follow him. Former Star Greg Rallo has struggled in the early season with only two goals and one assist in 9 games. However, the center has a plus-5 rating, so things can't be all bad for his play.

Texas had a bit of a curious thing happen on Thursday. The Stars won a reasonably high-scoring game and got no contribution from their power play. For Texas, that's a good thing. It shows that this team is developing multiple dimensions and can score many different ways. Despite early power play goals against, Texas locked down their penalty killing to great effect in the second period, stopping a 93 second long 5-on-3. These little moments and single games start to add together to a greater whole. The team can build on their success on Thursday by continuing to improve that penalty kill against the #25 ranked San An PP.

Another game-within-the-game storyline is the Texas PP against the Rampage PK. Texas is ranked #1 overall in the league with a 34.0% conversion rate. San Antonio has the worst PK in the league at 70.2%. To say that the Rampage need to stay out of the box would be a massive understatement.

In other notes, Tomas Vincour is on a five game scoring streak, going 4-2-6 over that period. Francis Wathier is on a four game streak with 2-2-4, including the game winner in OT last Thursday.

Stars injury/call up report:
Fortunus (unspecified day-to-day)

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)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Texas Takes Down Toronto 4-3 in OT

Francis Wathier scores the game winning goal in overtime against Toronto this evening (Credit: Judy True)
The Stars got back to .500 hockey this evening with a great character game against the Toronto Marlies, one of the top team in the Western Conference. After falling behind 2-0, Texas roared back to 3-2 in the second and third period only to give up the tying goal in the dying seconds of the third.

Colton Sceviour and rookie Scott Glennie each scored their first goals of the season and added assists on the night as well. "Getting that first one is huge," said Sceviour. "It's was a great play from my linemates: the cycle and the pass out front." The Stars' Francis Wathier scored his third of the year to win it just 45 seconds into the OT.

The Stars and Marlies played through a scoreless first until the last minute of the period. An extended 5-on-3 put Toronto ahead on a goal from league-leader Joe Colborne, his 9th of the season. Ryan Garbutt would take a penalty at the end of the first that would extend into the second and result in a Marlies goal as well. Ryan Hamilton collected his 2nd of the season just 19 seconds in. Texas was in a 2-0 hole early in the second with both goals coming on the PK.

"Our penalty kill, statistically, doesn't look good, but we've been battling," said Coach Pyle. "The character and work ethic was good all night long."

That character and work ethic showed through over the next 20 minutes for Texas. Luke Gazdic picked up a primary assist on a pretty play from behind the net to Scott Glennie out front, who beat Rynnas stick side high. It was Glennie's first goal of the season. The Stars took two quick minors and were staring a 93 second 5-on-3 in the face. They killed it with extreme prejudice. Pucks were cleared, and lanes were blocked. It was a complete effort.

"Anytime you kill off a 5-on-3, especially one for 1:40, that's not an easy play at all," said Sceviour. "The momentum coming off that, and the fans yelling pumped us up."

Three minutes later, Tomas Vincour skated down the right wing side and sniped one past Rynnas with assists to Garbutt and Larsen. Tied at two, Texas had momentum going into the third.

Colton Sceviour potted his first of the season five minutes into the third on one that just snuck over the line. Glennie and Gazdic assisted on the play. The Stars were set for a 3-2 victory and the full two points until the last minute of regulation. With Rynnas on the bench, Toronto beat Bachman on a rebound play with just 44 seconds left. The game would go to OT.

One shift was all Texas needed in the OT to end the game. Colton Sceviour collected a missed pass at the blue line and passed it down to Francis Wathier, who was all alone and beat Rynnas on the stick side for the win. The 4-3 OT win was Texas's second OT victory of the season, both at home.

Texas plays again on Sunday at San Antonio. Coach Pyle was happy with the win, but was looking for improvement in the mental sides of the game moving forward. "We've got to manage the clock and the score better. Sometimes we don't have the patience we need."

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Garbutt-Vincour
Gazdic-Sceviour-Glennie
Fraser-Morin-Sawada
Tousignant-Hedden-Schultz

Larsen-Lukowich
Dillon-Benn
Coyle-Spang

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Fortunus (day-to-day injury)
Godard (scratched)

The newly created line of Tousignant-Hedden-Schultz played good quality hockey tonight. Coach Pyle commented positively on it in the postgame: "They don't score but they're eating up a lot of minutes. You need three lines going, but I thought tonight we had four going... Everybody is an important piece of the puzzle."

The forecheck was an important piece of the puzzle, leading to one of the Stars' goals in the game. Sceviour: "We talked about getting your feet moving on the forecheck and forcing them to go D-to-D and look for other options." It worked as the pressure got the best of Toronto on more than one occasion.

Tonight's attendance was 5,781.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Toronto - November 3 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Toronto Marlies

Texas Stars
4-5-0-0, 8 pts
#12 Western Conference
v.Toronto Marlies
5-3-1-0, 11 pts
#3 Western Conference
November 3rd at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After a long layoff for the Texas Stars, the Toronto Marlies come to town for their only visit of the season. Texas will travel to Toronto in March for the return visit. The Marlies are a hot team thanks to big scoring up front and solid goaltending in back. Unfortunately for them, some of that punch has been taken out of the picture thanks to callups by the Maple Leafs.

First, there is recently named Player of the Month for October, Joe Colborne, who leads the team and the league with 8-8-16 in 9 games. Colborne has had three 3-point games on the season. Right after him is Joey Crabb with 7-8-15 in 9 games. Crabb was just recently recalled to the NHL, however, and will not be in Cedar Park for the Marlies. He was replaced on the roster by NHL assignee Matt Frattin, a 2007 draft pick for the Leafs who has just one assist in 11 games in the NHL.

Also a large part of the puzzle, Ben Scrivens, will be out of the lineup for Toronto as well. He was recently recalled to back up Jonas Gustavsson with Reimer out for an extended period. Scrivens has four of the Marlies' five wins on the year. Jussi Rynnas is 1-3-0 with a 2.51 GAA and .910 SV%. Scrivens' replacement in the AHL is Mark Owuya from the Reading Royals, who has not yet played an AHL game.

The Stars will get a good test from the Marlies on the power play this evening. Toronto features the #3 PK in the league at 87.2%. Overall, Texas is clicking along at 37%, #1 in the league on the PP. Texas's PK is not good, but improving at #25 in the league at 75%. Luckily, Toronto is not good on the PP themselves at 12.5%, good for #25 in the league as well.

With the days off, Coach Pyle surely preached more team defense and there had to be work on that penalty kill. The team is actually allowing fewer shots this year than they did last year (28 vs. 31) but the key is shot quality. If every shot in the game comes from a high scoring area (crease out to the slot mostly), then there will be a lot more goals than if every one is a perimeter shot from the boards. Learning how to work that system, similar to what Dallas is doing, will be key to keeping opposing scoring chances low.

Stars injury/call up report:
Fortunus (day-to-day injury)

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Texas Stars Report: Finding Their Groove on the Road

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
The past week saw the Texas Stars (4-5-0-0, 8 pts, #11 Western Conf.) strike it out on the road for the longest road trip of the season. Four games over six days spanned the newly created Midwest Division, all former members of the West Division, which Texas was a part of last season. Texas split the road trip, which is really the best you can ask for from any squad on the road. The Stars won their games at the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) and Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and lost against the Peoria Rivermen (St Louis Blues) and Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks).
Read more at Defending Big D...