Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fraser Back to Texas After NHL Taste

Matt Fraser (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
Left wing Matt Fraser has been reassigned to the Texas Stars today after a short stint in the NHL in which he scored his first NHL goal.

Fraser got a chance to play on the top six in Dallas and is sure to come back fired up and ready to show that he deserves a longer stay in the show. He will be available for tomorrow's game against Chicago.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that Dallas has returned left wing Matt Fraser on loan to Texas

Fraser, 22, returns from his first recall to Dallas of the season. The Red Deer, Alberta native appeared in two NHL games for the Stars and scored his first career NHL goal on Monday at Nashville. He currently leads the Stars with 35 points (24 goals, 11 assists) in 51 AHL games this season and ranks third in plus-minus (+12). Fraser still leads the AHL with 13 power play goals and ranks fifth in the league in goals (24). Earlier this season, Fraser was selected to represent the Western Conference at the 2013 AHL All-Star Game after posting a team-leading 35 points (24 goals, 11 assist) for Texas in 51 games so far this season. The 6-foot-1 left wing played his first career NHL contest last season on Jan. 24, 2012 against the Anaheim Ducks. Fraser went undrafted and was signed as a free agent on Nov. 17, 2010.

Texas Stars Report: Desjardins Keeps Texas Winning Despite Injuries, Callups

Jack Campbell (Credit: Steven Christy)
The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
The Texas Stars (33-14-4-4, 74 pts, #1 Western Conference) are a little thin all over the roster. Count them up. Here is the callup and injury sheet from the Stars' game in Cleveland last Saturday:

Reilly Smith, Antoine Roussel, Cristopher Nilstorp, Matt Fraser, Jordie Benn (call up)
Scott Glennie, Patrick Nemeth, Tyler Sloan, Travis Morin, Alex Chiasson, Maxime Fortunus (injured)
Texas got Morin back on Tuesday but lost winger Luke Gazdic. This list doesn't even count Cody Eakin and Brenden Dillon, who Cedar Park fans know they will never see in a Texas jersey again.

And yet this week, Texas compiled a five game win streak. They fell one game short of tying the franchise record, which was set only a month ago. Overall in the 2013 calendar year, the Texas Stars are 17-3-1-2.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Even With Nilstorp Assigned to Texas, Campbell Isn't Really The Backup Anymore

Nilstorp (Credit: TSG Photos)
The Dallas Stars announced today that they have reassigned goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp to the Texas Stars. Nilstorp has played in five games for Dallas this year and returns to Texas as Kari Lehtonen appears ready to go for the Dallas Stars.

The Swede joins a hot Texas team that is surging in no small part thanks to its goaltending. Jack Campbell has started all the games while Nilstorp has been in Dallas and rattled off a recent five game win streak. Campbell is 6-2-1 in February with a 1.65 GAA and .932 SV%. After early season jitters and the uncertainty of being the backup, it seems that Campbell is really pushing the coaching staff to make Texas a 1/1A type goaltending situation.

It will be very interesting to see how the Stars start their tenders for this weekend's games. With back-to-backs in the past, Texas has trotted out the same tender many times. While Nilstorp deserves a start this weekend certainly, it's not clear he deserves both with Campbell's recent play. Either way, Campbell should not be relegated solely to shot count duty after his excellent month.

While there is no movement yet, Texas should be sending Tyler Beskorowany down to Idaho as a result of the transaction.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that Dallas has returned goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp on loan to Texas.

Nilstorp, 29, has been recalled to Dallas twice this season and has skated in five NHL games. The Malmo, Sweden native has a 1-3-1 record with a .897 save percentage (SV%) and a 3.09 goals-against average (GAA), recording his first career NHL victory by making 31 saves last Saturday in a 3-1 win against San Jose. Nilstorp made his NHL debut on Jan. 20 against Minnesota stopping 31-of-32 shots in 59 minutes of play. In 31 AHL games for Texas this season he is 17-10-1 record with a 2.17 GAA, .914 SV% and four shutouts. Nilstorp went undrafted and was signed by Dallas as a free agent on June 5, 2012.

Idaho Steelheads Report: Steelheads Play with the Bulls Friday, Get the Horns Saturday

Steelheads fans cheer an Idaho goal at the CenturyLink Arena in Boise. (Credit: Steelheads)
John Mulhern with his weekly update on the Idaho Steelheads. To hear a little bit more about this past weekend, checkout twosportsnuts.podbean.com as Jerome Shell III and John talk a little more in depth about this past weekend of Steelheads hockey as well as thoughts on other sports.

After last week’s midnight game in Las Vegas, the Idaho Steelheads had 3 days off for the first time in two weeks. The Steelheads returned to the ice this past Friday to start a 9 game home stand against the San Francisco Bulls (Worchester Sharks). The Bulls came into the two game set with a 2-2 record against the Steelheads including a 6-3 victory back on Wednesday February 13th.

Friday Feb 22 vs. SF Bulls 4-0 Win
After an uneventful start to the game, the Steelheads were able to get on the board as Ben Ondrus found newly assigned (Toronto Marlies) Brad Ross, who made a great move on goaltender Thomas Heemskerk and flipped the puck over his glove hand for the 1-0 lead. Then with just over 30 seconds left in the first, Patrick Cullity picked his spot and snuck the puck past Heemskerk for a 2-0 lead. Heemskerk would not return for the start of the second period. 

The Steelheads power play would strike again in the 2nd period as this time Ondrus would get the goal to make a 3-0 lead. The last goal of the game came at the 7:48 mark of the 2nd as Tyler Gron got his 11th of the season to cap the scoring at 4-0. Josh Robinson earned his 2nd shutout (first career at home) stopping all 26 shots sent in his direction, including 14 in the final period. Idaho was 2-4 on the power play and a perfect 4-4 on the penalty kill.

Saturday Feb 23 vs. SF Bulls 4-3 SOL
Tristan King was re-assigned to the Bulls this week (see previous update) and after being nearly invisible during his first game with the Bulls on Friday, he made sure to leave his mark on Boise one more time before he left. King would get a goal and an assist, to go with the clinching shootout goal as the Bulls sent the Steelheads to a shootout loss. 

Mike Towns would open the scoring with under a minute to go in the first period as the Steelheads did take a 1-0 lead after one. In the second period, the Bulls would tie the game up just 3:21 into the period on Simon Danis-Pepin’s first goal as a Bull. The two teams would split goals the rest of the period as Tyler Gron gave the Steelheads a 2-1 lead only to have Bryan Cameron tie the game once again for the Bulls. The game headed into the 3rd period tied at 2. In the third Tristan King would strike for the Bulls to give them a 3-2 lead 10:59 into the period. It looked to be the game winner, until Gron would get his second of the game to tie the game at 18:06 of the third on a nice move past the Bulls defense and an even better shot. San Francisco had the only 2 shots in the overtime period and all three of their players scored in the shootout as the Steelheads were once again shutout in the skills competition.

This past weekend is a mirror image to the 2 game set these two teams had played last week. The Steelheads once again come out on top in the first game looking in control for the majority of the night, however, the Steelheads at points on Saturday looked a bit out of sorts and almost just going through the motions at times.

What’s Next?
The Steelheads continue their 9 game home stand with 3 games against the Utah Grizzlies (Abbotsford Heat) this upcoming Wednesday, Friday & Saturday. The Steelheads are 5-4-0-1 against the Grizzlies this season. Josh Robinson will continue to get the starts in net while Tyler Beskorowany remains in the AHL with Texas

Prospect Update:

  • Josh Robinson: Went 1-1 this past weekend, allowing 3 goals on 63 shots. Will be the number goaltender for the foreseeable future with Beskorowany in the AHL.
  • Austin Smith: Just re-assigned by Texas earlier this week. Should be in the lineup for Wednesday night’s game. He comes back to Idaho having played 23 games  scoring 19 goals and 11 assists good for 30 points and immediately becomes the teams active leading goal scorer.
  • Matt Case: Normally would put him here since he got a look with Texas last year and at camp this year, but he has been loaned out to the Manchester Monarchs. He has 6 goals and 29 assists for 35 points and has a plus-31 rating this year with the Steelheads.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stars End Win Streak With 3-2 Loss in OKC

Colton Sceviour, who had a goal and an assist tonight, works to defend against  CJ Stretch, who scored the game winning goal. (Credit: Steven Christy)
Texas had a chance to tie their franchise record six game win streak tonight in Oklahoma City, but ultimately it was not to be. The Stars fell 3-2 in regulation to the Barons. Texas got goals from Colton Sceviour and William Wrenn and added 22 saves from Jack Campbell, who took only his second regulation loss of February.

The loss also ends the Stars seven game point streak. Texas stays at 74 points with the loss but does not lose any ground in the standings thanks to an idle Charlotte Checkers' squad.

Travis Morin had the best Stars chance of the first period in his first game back from injury. The center rang one off the post midperiod. The Barons got the only goal of the first period as Brett Clark snuck down the wing unmarked on a delayed call and finished off a pass from Philippe Cornet for his first as a Baron.

The low scoring first trend continued in the second as the teams traded goals. Colton Sceviour went first late in the second, tipping a Justin Dowling shot past Yann Danis for the one all tie. Mike Hedden picked up the second assist on Sceviour's 14th goal of the season. Just two minutes later, Tanner House finished off a Toni Rajala pass to make it 2-1. For what it's worth, Rajala has been the Barons' equivalent of Justin Dowling this season. He's evolved into a constant presence on the top six and is a force to be reckoned with.

C.J. Stretch would score his first as a Baron in his first game off a one-timer to make it 3-1 for the Barons late in the third. It would be the ultimate game winner. The Stars would get one more very late to make it interesting. William Wrenn scored his first AHL goal with 33 seconds left in the game. The goal, while not a power play tally, was assisted by the tired Barons' penalty killers and was scored 6-on-5 after an extended 6-on-4 sequence.

The Stars will next be in action on Friday against Chicago.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Wandell-Vincour
Hedden-Dowling-Sceviour
Petersen-Morin-Cameron
Fyten-Vause-Tousignant

Sneep-Johnston
Labrie-Wrenn
Coyle-Baldwin

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, Fraser, Benn, Oleksiak (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Chiasson, Fortunus, Gazdic (injured)
Jones (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 2,400.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - February 26 2013

Gord Baldwin Earns a Contract; Texas Signs Jones to PTO

Gord Baldwin (Credit: Steven Christy)
The Stars announced two signings today. Gord Baldwin has been signed to a standard player contract after 18 games with the Texas Stars and forward Doug Jones has been signed to a PTO out of the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators.

Baldwin, who started the season in Idaho, has been become a steady hand on the Stars' blue line with all of the callups and injuries to the roster. Locking him down for the season puts Texas into a good spot on defensive depth. As the season end draws near, the Stars need to make sure they have the pieces necessary to make a run. Remember Ethan Graham?

Secondly, the signing of Doug Jones can't be good news for the Stars overall roster health. There was some hope that the assignment of Austin Smith indicated that someone was coming back from injury this evening to allow for the extra forward spot. That appear to not be the case.

In an interesting connection note, Jones played with Richard Bachman in Cedar Rapids of the USHL in 06-07.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that the team has signed right wing Doug Jones to a professional tryout contract, calling him up from the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL. Texas also announced that defenseman Gord Baldwin has been released from his PTO and has signed a standard AHL contract.

Jones, 25, began his first full professional season with Gwinnett and has 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists), 22 penalty minutes and a +16 rating in 54 ECHL games. The Marietta, Georgia native leads the Gladiators in shots (197), he is tied for the lead in goals and ranks third in both points and plus-minus. He signed a PTO with San Antonio on January 31st and made his AHL debut with the Rampage on February 1st against Rockford. Jones played in two AHL games for San Antonio, recording zero points, before returning to Gwinnett on February 10th. The 6-foot 205-pound forward played four years of NCAA Division I college hockey for Dartmouth College of the ECAC. In 127 career NCAA games for the Indians he tallied 107 points (29 goals, 78 points) and 107 penalty minutes. Jones led Dartmouth in scoring during his freshman year (2008-09) and was named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team.

Baldwin, who turns 26 this Friday, is in his sixth pro season and has 3 assists, 24 penalty minutes and a +1 rating in 18 AHL games for Texas this season since signing a PTO on December 28th. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native began the season with the Idaho Steelheads, the Stars’ ECHL affiliate, where he recorded 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists), 39 penalty minutes and a +11 rating in 26 ECHL games. Baldwin was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the third round (69th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and spent parts of four seasons with the club’s AHL affiliate in Quad City and Abbotsford. To date he has appeared in 252 career AHL games and tallying 51 points (8 goals, 43 assists) and 231 penalty minutes. Baldwin (6’5”, 225 lbs) played three seasons of junior hockey with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League, where he played for Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins. He was a member of the Medicine Hat squad that won the 2007 WHL Championship and went to the 2007 Memorial Cup Tournament.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
33-13-4-4, 74 pts
#1 Western Conference
atOklahoma City Barons
24-20-2-5, 55 pts
#12 Western Conference
Feburary 26th at 7:00 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

The Oklahoma City Barons are not pushovers, and the Stars would do well to remember that going into tonight's contest beaten and bruised from injuries and callups. Half of the players the Stars will have on defense this evening weren't even with the team the last time that these two clubs played only ten days ago.

After the last set with Texas, OKC played and split two games with the Aeros last weekend with Yann Danis starting both contests. Texas comes into Oklahoma with a chance to tie their franchise best win streak at six, which was set this season on January 13th also in Oklahoma City. Anything resembling that 3-0 contest would be a solid outing for a Stars team that wants to keep ahead of the always looming Charlotte Checkers in the standings.

Also notable are the Stars' seven game point streak and the recent contributions of Jack Campbell. Campbell has started each game in the streak and allowed fewer than two goals per game (nine total) and tallied a .933 SV%. Campbell has talked about the difficulty of riding the bench and the difference in being the starter versus the backup. It's pretty clear why Campbell has never been a backup in his career given his play over the past month.

The biggest thing to watch for will be what the Stars coaching staff can do with the defense. Looking at the defensive lines, only Carl Sneep started his season in the AHL this year. If Doug Lidster and Willie Desjardins can continue to work their magic with this group and get another win, this stretch has to put Desjardins in the discussion for AHL Coach of the Year.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, Fraser, Benn, Oleksiak (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Morin, Chiasson, Fortunus (injured)

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

Austin Smith Bound For Boise

Austin Smith (Credit: Steven Christy)
In a somewhat expected move, the Stars assigned forward Austin Smith to the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads today. Smith was called up immediately following the end of the NHL lockout and played in 12 games since that point and 16 overall this season. Smith has fallen out of the regular lineup and has not played since February 12th against Houston.

The rookie winger has some notable size issues on the ice and tends to get bumped off the puck easily. Smith is a goal scorer at heart and needs to get minutes to do that and continue to grow his game. He certainly isn't getting those minutes in Cedar Park.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that Dallas has reassigned right wing Austin Smith from Texas to the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL.

Smith, 24, has been recalled to Texas four times this season and has appeared in 16 AHL games for the Stars, posting three points (2 goals, 1 assist) and 6 penalty minutes. The Dallas, Texas native returns to Idaho where he has played in 23 ECHL games this year, recording 30 points (19 goals, 11 assists), a +17 plus-minus rating and averaging 1.30 points-per-game. Smith has appeared in 28 career AHL games for Texas over the last two seasons, tallying six points (2 goals, 4 assists) and 14 penalty minutes. He was Dallas’ fifth round selection (128th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Texas Stars Have Six D With Return of Sneep

Carl Sneep (Credit: Christina Shapiro)
The Texas Stars made it to six healthy defenseman this afternoon with the return of Carl Sneep from a short recall to Dallas. Dallas D-man Trevor Daley was activated off injured reserve, which returned the recently acquired Sneep to Texas.

The Stars now have the following defenseman healthy: Carl Sneep, Gord Baldwin, Hubert Labrie, Jace Coyle, William Wrenn and Jacob Johnston. Captain Maxime Fortunus made the trip with the team but it is uncertain if he will play tomorrow. Patrik Nemeth and Tyler Sloan did not make the trip.

Stars Sign D Jacob Johnston to ATO, Still Needing One More

Texas announced today that they have signed defenseman Jacob Johnston to an amateur tryout contract. Johnston played four seasons at Dalhousie University of the CIS. He was 11-35-46 in 109 games of work in that league. This is the first ATO of the season for the Texas Stars.

The Stars still have at least one more slot to fill on the blue line, either by tryout contract or by assignment from Dallas. If Trevor Daley can play tonight for Dallas, Carl Sneep would be assigned. However, Dallas has to have a backup.

In an interesting note, Johnston played four games with Cornell in 2007-08, lining up along side former Star Ray Sawada who was then in his senior season for the Big Red.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today defenseman Jacob Johnston has signed an amateur tryout contract.

Johnston, 24, joins Texas from Dalhousie University of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).  The Sudbury, Ontario native appeared in 28 games for the Tigers this season, scoring 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) and 50 penalty minutes.  Over his four-year career in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Johnston played in 109 career CIS games for Dalhousie, posting 46 points (11 goals, 35 assists) and 138 penalty minutes.  The defenseman also played one season of NCAA Division I college hockey with Cornell University of the ECAC, appearing in four games with the Big Red and scoring one goal.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dallas Calls Sneep and Oleksiak

Oleksiak (Credit: Steven Christy)
Are you an ECHL defenseman? If so, keep your phone on and close by because Texas Stars GM Scott White might be calling you up today to fill the roster holes on his injury and callup riddled squad. Injuries to Aaron Rome and Philip Larsen on Saturday against the Sharks necessitated the callup of two defenseman from Texas, Jamie Oleksiak and Carl Sneep.

Texas is already hurting on the blue line, and these recalls make it worse. Stars captain Max Fortunus, rookie Patrick Nemeth and vet Tyler Sloan are injured. Barring no assignments or recoveries from injury, the Stars will ice a blue line squad on Tuesday that has zero players that started the season in the AHL.

The Stars are very familiar with adversity though. They are in the middle of a five game winning streak and had a similar bit of adversity (the NHL lockout ending) in the middle of their franchise-record six game streak. As long as Willie Desjardins can keep working these ECHL callups in to AHL ready players, this team will be fine. It's very good news all around though that the Stars have a five point cushion in the West.

Texas Streaks to Five Wins with 4-2 Victory in Cleveland

Jack Campbell stops one of his 29 shots against in the game. (Credit: Ben Hall)
The Stars finished up their weekend with a 4-2 win in Cleveland, stretching their win streak to five games, one short of tying the franchise record set this year at six. Jamie Oleksiak contributed two power play goals on ten total shots in the game, including the game winner. Carl Sneep picke dup his first goal as a Star and Mike Hedden had the insurance goal in the third period. Overall, Texas went two for nine on the power play as an undisciplined Lake Erie crew playing their third in three nights gave up too many man advantages.

Jack Campbell won his 13th of the season, stopping 27 of 29 in front of the largest crowd that Texas has playing in front of this season at over 12,000.

The Monsters and Stars traded penalties but not goals in a mostly even first period. The first scoring came in the opening minutes of the second. Relative newcomer Carl Sneep accepted a pass from Tomas Vincour and blasted the puck from point and past Calvin Pickard for his first of the season and first as a Star.

The power play got revved up in the middle of the second, scoring on consecutive opportunities and both off the stick of Oleksiak.  Taylor Vause found the rookie blueliner open in the right circle for the first tally with Oleksiak roofing the puck over Pickard for the 2-0 mark. Just three minutes later, Oleksiak collected his sixth goal of the year on a netmouth scramble off the initial shot from Tomas Vincour.

The Monsters would fight back, scoring power play goals of their own. Karl Stollery went first just before the end of the second period. A simple point shot through traffic beat Jack Campbell to breakup the shutout bid. The period would end at the 3-1 score with shots in Texas's favor by a solid 33-19 margin.

The clubs would trade goals in the third period, not ultimately affecting the games outcome. Mike Hedden regained the Stars' three goal lead early in the third as he received the backhand pass from Justin Dowling on a two on one and beat Pickard high for the 4-1 score. The goal would end Pickard's night.

Lake Erie collected one more before the end of the game, regrettably a power play goal. The Stars allowed two on four total opportunities, a flaw in their game that they know they need to improve on.

The Stars retain their hold on first place in the league, moving to 74 points on the season. Charlotte beat Abbotsford to move to 69 and is their closest challenger in the Western Conference. The Stars will stay on the road, playing Oklahoma City on Tuesday before returning home next weekend.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Wandell-Vincour
Hedden-Dowling-Sceviour
Gazdic-Petersen-Cameron
Fyten-Vause-Tousignant

Oleksiak-Coyle
Baldwin-Sneep
Labrie-Wrenn

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, Fraser, Benn (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Morin, Chiasson, Fortunus (injured)
A. Smith (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 12,108.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Lake Erie - February 23 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
32-13-4-4, 72 pts
#1 Western Conference
atLake Erie Monsters
25-20-2-7, 59 pts
#6 Western Conference
February 23rd at 6:30 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

The Texas Stars really stunned the hometown crowd last night as they came back to win last night's game 4-3 in the shootout. Tonight's crowd is expected to be even bigger in Cleveland and the Monsters will surely remember the events of the prior game quite clearly.

Overall, this team is showing that it is really a legitimate contender in the West. Despite roster shuffling previously unseen in Austin, Coach Desjardins' club keeps winning. There are some little things that they'd like to improve; there always will be. But the number that matters, wins, continues to tick up night after night.

Pickard has started the past two nights so it's probably Patterson in net for LE. Campbell could start for Texas again and likely will.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, Fraser, Benn (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Morin, Chiasson, Fortunus (injured)

Website: lakeeriemonsters.com
Blog (unofficial): Cleveland Plain Dealer
Twitter: @monstershockey

Friday, February 22, 2013

Texas Comes Back to Win 4-3 in the Shootout

Tom Wandell had two assists and the game-winning shootout tally to push Texas past Lake Erie. (Credit: Ben Hall)
If you didn't believe the Stars were legit before tonight, Texas's 4-3 comeback shootout win over the Lake Erie Monsters should make you sit up and take notice. Losing 3-1 going into the third period, goals from Francis Wathier and Jamie Oleksiak pushed the score to 3-3. Jack Campbell stopped five in the overtime and five of six in the shootout for the win. Tom Wandell has the shootout game winner and two assists in regulation to help the team to the win.

Texas started the game with a five minute power play but suffered the same fate as they had at home against Houston last week in a similar situation. The Stars had a chance to score early but the power play couldn't get churning off the major 71 seconds in.

Tomas Vincour scored the first goal of the night as he beat Calvin Pickard off a solid pass from Tom Wandell. It was Vincour's third goal on the trip and Wandell's second assist. The Monsters tied it up just a few minutes later as Mike Connolly redirected a shot from Karl Stollery past Texas tender Jack Campbell. The rookie netminder didn't have a chance on the shot, and it was tied at one all. A rebound tally for Paul Carey set the score at 2-1 late in the first period.

Texas would outshoot the Monsters 12-8 in the second period, but Lake Erie was the club with the period's only goal. With David van der Gulik in the box for interference, Mike Connolly picked up his second of the night on the penalty kill and put the game at 3-1 for the Cleveland club.

The Stars had a 4-12-2 record coming into tonight's game when trailing heading into the third period. They would add to the win column tonight as the comeback kids did it again. Francis Wathier picked his spot from the right circle off the pass from Tomas Vincour to make it 4-3.

Coming into the last minutes of the game, Texas pulled Jack Campbell for the extra man. Oleksiak collected his own rebound with 66 seconds left and scored his fourth of the season, tying the game at three and stunning the home town crowd. William Wrenn picked up his first AHL point on the primary assist.

The Stars would outshoot Lake Erie 15-8 in the period trying to make the comeback. Overtime saw Jack Campbell stop five shots to Pickard's two and the game went to a shootout.

Tied after five rounds, the Stars went into extra rounds, as is their custom. Coming in forehand, Wandell went backhand in the sixth round to beat Pickard and give Campbell the chance to win the game with a save.  Brad Malone failed to score as Campbell stopped his backhand shot and won.

Texas will stay in town to play Lake Erie again tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Wandell-Vincour
Hedden-Dowling-Sceviour
Gazdic-Petersen-Cameron
Fyten-Vause-Tousignant

Oleksiak-Coyle
Baldwin-Sneep
Labrie-Wrenn

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, Fraser, Benn (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Morin, Chiasson, Fortunus (injured)
A. Smith (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 10,025.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Lake Erie - February 22 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
31-13-4-4, 70 pts
#1 Western Conference
atLake Erie Monsters
25-20-2-6, 58 pts
#7 Western Conference
February 22nd at 6:30 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

The last time Texas played Lake Erie, it wasn't looking so great for the Stars. Coming off a 29th place finish in the prior year, Texas was 3-6-0 going into a Saturday night matchup with the Monsters. Things looked alright for the Stars, who had it tied after two periods. Then it got bad as two goals scored 14 seconds apart made it 4-2 Lake Erie. What cam next just might have changed the Stars' season.

Cody Eakin struck first to make it 4-3 with just two minutes to go. And then Matt Fraser scored a goal that many Stars fans likely still remember clearly. With one second left on the clock, Fraser shoveled the puck into the net from a bad angle and tied things at four. Texas would go on to lose in the shootout, but it was about the comeback.

"We could have gotten disheartened but we stayed in it," said Desjardins in the postgame.

Take a second to read this post that I wrote on November 14th entitled "Was Saturday's Game Against Monsters the Most Important of the Season?" and tell me you don't agree at least a little bit with the assertion that it was a turning point. Just look at the Stars' record in games where they get scored on first (15-12-4-1) to see the difference that believing in the team together can make .

Lake Erie has gone the opposite direction but is still in the hunt. The Monsters started hot and have played bubble hockey over the last little bit here. They are 2-4-0-4 in the last ten games and, until last night, were on an eight game winless streak.

They are led up front by Andrew Agozzino, a former juniors teammate of Jamie Oleksiak. The undrafted and (to some) undersized center has 13 goals and 24 assists this season to go with a plus-13 rating. Former Rampage winger Bill Thomas is second in active scoring at 17-13-30 but carries a minus-4 rating.

In an interesting statistical note, every goalie that has been with the Monsters this season is a rookie. Calvin Pickard, former teammate of Brenden Dillon in Seattle, has the majority of starts with a 14-11-4 record, 2.59 GAA and .915 SV%.

Sami Aittokallio, who has 20 games palyed, is out with a lower body injury. Kent Patterson has three games of action in his stead, going 0-2-1 with a 2.30 GAA and .915 SV%. Patterson is an Avalanche draft pick who just finished his college career in Minnesota and had been with the Denver Cutthroats (CHL) this season.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, Fraser, Benn (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Morin, Chiasson, Fortunus (injured)

Website: lakeeriemonsters.com
Blog (unofficial): Cleveland Plain Dealer
Twitter: @monstershockey

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tristan King Reassigned to San Francisco Following Weekend Arrest

Tristan King in a game this season with the Steelheads. (Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
Forward Tristan King has been re-assigned within the ECHL from the Idaho Steelheads to the San Francisco Bulls. King is under contract to the Dallas Stars. The reassignment comes after King was arrested this weekend in Las Vegas for possession of a controlled substance.

"It was an accumulation of things, and there was a recent discipline issue," said Will Hoenike, director of broadcasting and media relations for the Steelheads, referencing the weekend's arrest. "The team got together with Tristan, and both sides decided there needed to be a change."

This marks the fourth different ECHL club for the talented winger in the last two seasons, including stops in Greenville and Ontario. Steelheads GM and head coach Brad Ralph spoke on the matter last night on the Idaho Steelheads hockey show on KTIK in Boise saying that it was a mutual decision and that the two parted on good terms.

King was the Steelheads leading active scorer this season but was only called upon to play for the Texas Stars once in his career, an eleven game stint in 2010-11. Talent was overshadowed by off-ice issues for the past few seasons and ultimately led to his de facto departure from the organization. While King is still under contract to Dallas, these revelations make it unlikely that he will ever be called to play in Texas again.

In return for the King assignment, the Bulls have sent Rylan Galiardi to join the Steelheads.

Idaho Steelheads Report: With Playoffs Secured, Steelies Look For Some Rest

Josh Robinson heads out to the ice. (Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
John Mulhern joins us again for the weekly Idaho Steelheads Report...

Nine games in 12 nights. Five games in 6 nights. The Idaho Steelheads have just completed their toughest stretch of games this season. For a reward they get 4 days off starting 9 straight home games to finish the month of February and start the stretch drive in March. Let's look back at the 5 games played this past week.

Tuesday Feb 12 vs. San Francisco Bulls 3-2 Win
The Steelheads got away with playing 30 minutes of hockey on this night. They got outplayed and mistake prone for the first 10 minutes of the game. The turnovers also led to the Bulls (Worchester Sharks) first goal of the game as they would take a 1-0 lead after the first period. In the second period Brett Robinson, Sam Carrick and Tristan King each got a goal as the Steelheads had a nice bounce back period to take a 3-1 lead into the third period. Tyler Beskorowany, in net for the Steelheads, only had to make 8 saves in the second, but came up with a couple of great saves including a glove save on a point plank slot shot as well as a couple of others to allow the Steelheads to hold onto the 2 goal lead. In the third period, the Steelheads were content to sit on a 2 goal lead and were out-shot 20-4 as a result of it. The Bulls did make it interesting with a late power play goal and a couple of great chances with the goaltender pulled, but the Steelheads got a couple of bounces and were fortunate to get out with the win.

Wednesday Feb 13 vs. San Francisco Bulls 6-3 Loss
The Steelheads once again tried to only play a partial game against the Bulls, but on this night they were “rewarded” with what they deserved. It looked promising for the Steelheads as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead just over 16 minutes into the first on goals from Tyler Gron and David de Kastrozza. However, the Bulls would get a goal at the 17:07 mark of the period to zap some of the Steelheads momentum heading into the break. The Steelheads would take a 3-1 lead as de Kastrozza got his second of the game in the second period. With the partisan home crowd believing another win was in the cards, Idaho took their foot of the gas and the Bulls were able to capitalize. Peter Sivak and Rob Kwiet would each score twice and Kris Belan would add one more as the Bulls scored 4 straight goals against Josh Robinson, then would add an empty net goal to take a 6-3 victory. The worse part of the game is that the Steelheads were only 2 points away from officially clinching a playoff spot. What was a great opportunity, turned into a chance lost.

Friday Feb 15 @ Las Vegas Wranglers 4-2 Loss
After a day off, the Steelheads would travel down to Las Vegas to take on the Wranglers (Independent) who had won 7 straight, and were the hottest team in the ECHL. The Wranglers would increase the streak to 8 as the Steelheads never really posed a threat to the Wranglers. After Las Vegas took an early 1-0 lead in the first, Bryce Reddick would tie the game up at 1 just past the halfway point of the first, and that is the closest the Steelheads would come. The Wranglers would add two goals in the first 4:44 of the second period to take 3-1 lead. David de Kastrozza would pull the Steelheads to within one, but a Judd Blackwater goal at the 16 minute mark of the third made to 4-2 to put the game out of reach. Tyler Beskorowany got tagged with this loss after only saving 19 of 23 shots.

Saturday Feb 16 @ Ontario Reign 4-2 Win
Due to yet another odd scheduling quirk, the Steelheads had to hop on a bus for about a 4 hour bus ride from Las Vegas to Ontario to take on the Reign (Manchester Monarchs). Not sure what exactly was talked about on the bus ride over, but the Steelheads got back in form as the teams would split goals in the first period. David de Kastrozza matched Dan DaSilva’s goal for the Reign and Brett Robinson would answer a goal from Ontario’s C.J. Stretch. After one, the game was tied at 2. The Steelheads would get the only goal in the second as Jace Coyle would make it 3-2 at the 10:15 mark of the period. In the third the Steelheads would again be the only team to score a goal. This time it was David Toews with the tally to create the difference and the giving the Steelheads and Josh Robinson (27sv 29sh) a 4-2 win, and officially clinching a playoff spot. The Steelheads are the 3rd fastest team in ECHL history to clinch a playoff position, having done so in 53 games.

Sunday Feb 17/Monday Feb 18 @ Las Vegas 3-2 Win
The Wranglers had their second midnight game of the season as the Steelheads got a little bit of unexpected rest after travelling back from Ontario. The late start allowed the team to get a little extra rest and a little more time to sleep, but you wouldn’t know it from the first period as the Wranglers outshot the Steelheads 10-4. Josh Robinson getting his second consecutive start (Tyler Beskorowany was called up prior to Saturday’s game) stopped all 10 of the shots that the Wranglers directed at the Steelheads net. All the fireworks started in the second after an extended intermission, the Steelheads scored twice in the first 1:39 as Jace Coyle and Ian Watters would give the Steelheads a 2-0 lead. However, just for good measure, the Steelheads would win the fights as well. Scott Todd and Matt Case both scored decisions in their fights at the 2:11 and 3:54 marks of the second respectively. Ben Ondrus would add on the Steelheads third and ultimately game winning goal at the 12:12 mark of the same period. The Wranglers, looking to extend their streak to 10 wins in a row, threw everything they had at the Steelheads. They would two past Robinson, but no more as the Steelheads ended a brutal stretch of games with the 3-2 win.

Prospect Notes:

  • Tristan King has been called up by the Texas Stars with the intent that he will be re-assigned to the San Francisco Bulls. This marks the second time in two seasons that the Dallas Stars have re-assigned him away from Idaho.
  • Jace Coyle has been called up by the Stars and in his first game contributed with an assist and a plus 1 rating.
  • Tyler Beskorowany has also been called up to fill in while Christopher Nihlstrop is up in the NHL.
  • Josh Robinson has played well during the first half of February as he has a 2.57 GAA and a .932 SV% to go along with his first professional shut out earlier this month.

What’s Next:
The San Francisco Bulls come back into town. The Steelheads are 2-2 against the Bulls this season. While the Steelheads have clinched a playoff berth already, the Bulls are sliding back a bit and are currently only 4 points up on last place Bakersfield Condors.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Texas Stars Victorious Over Rochester 5-1

Tomas Vincour had two goals tonight in his first game back from callup to Dallas. (Credit: Rochester Americans)
Texas and Jack Campbell won their third straight game and first ever in Rochester tonight by a 5-1 score. The Stars scored on the power play, at even strength and shorthanded to move to the 70 points and maintain first place in the league. Tomas Vincour had two goals in the game and Colton Sceviour picked up a shorthanded goal and an assist in the win.

Jamie Oleksiak was plus-3 on the night and Jack Campbell added an assist on Vincour's second goal.

Texas opened up the scoring late in a physical first period with Rochester. Taylor Vause snapped a shot on David Leggio, which the goaltender stopped but allowed to slide through his pads. The puck sat behind the Amerks' tender where Mathieu Tousignant tapped it in for his first of the season.

The Stars ended the first up 1-0 with shots in their favor 11-7.

Texas had an excellent second period, outshooting Rochester 19-6 and outscoring them 3-1. Colton Sceviour was up first on the penalty kill. Francis Wathier fed the fourth year winger a breakout pass which he took up the ice, forehand, backhand and into the net behind Leggio for the 2-0 lead.

Mike Hedden and Tomas Vincour went next in quick succession. The Stars' power play struck with Hedden deking to the backhand and scoring forehand off the assist of Sceviour. It was Heddden's third goal in as many games against the Americans in his career. He also has two assists.

Shortly thereafter, Tomas Vincour tipped a point shot from Jace Coyle to make it 4-0 with just over three minutes left.

Alex Biega would break up the shutout bid by Jack Campbell on the penalty kill, going top shelf to score the Stars' fourth shorthanded goal against on the season and make it 4-1 Texas.

A relatively quiet third period was punctuated by Tomas Vincour's second of the night and eighth of the year. The winger swatted his own rebound out of the air and finish up the evening's scoring. Jack Campbell picked up an assist on the goal.

Texas plays again on Friday at Lake Erie.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Wandell-Vincour
Hedden-Dowling-Sceviour
Gazdic-Petersen-Cameron
Fyten-Vause-Tousignant

Oleksiak-Coyle
Baldwin-Sneep
Labrie-Wrenn

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, Fraser, Benn (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Morin, Chiasson, Fortunus (injured)
A. Smith (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,219.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Rochester - February 20 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Rochester Americans

Texas Stars
30-13-4-4, 68 pts
#1 Western Conference
atRochester Americans
27-18-2-1, 57 pts
#7 Western Conference
February 19th at 6:05 PM
Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY

The Americans and Stars have only placed twice in team history. Last season was the first opportunity for these Western Conference foes to battle it out on the ice rather than by proxy through the standings. Across just two games, each team won their home matchup by a lopsided score. Texas spotted Rochester a two goal lead at home and then scored six straight to win. In the rematch at Blue Cross Arena, the Stars got throttled. After giving up two in the first, Texas allowed five in the second and took a 9-4 loss.

The Stars surely are looking to be a little more composed in their play this time around in New York. The Americans are led by Kevin Porter on offense, the former San Antonio forward has 15-29-44 in 48 games. Just behind him is RW Mark Mancari (15-28-43), a veteran presence returning to Rochester in his eighth professional season. He had previous played his first three years as a pro in Rochester. Other notables include rookie RW Brian Flynn at 16-16-32 and top defenseman Brayden McNabb at 4-24-28.

In net, the Amerks have pretty much been a one-man shop. David Leggio has started 40 of the 48 Amerks games this season. He has a 2.68 GAA and .919 SV% to equal a 26-13-1 record. His backups have not faired so well. Connor Knapp (1-6-0) and Nathan Lieuwen (0-1-0) have proven why Leggio has gotten so many starts.

Texas is facing some issues of its own right now as injuries have ravaged the lineup. Over the weekend, Texas lost Patrik Nemeth, Tyler Sloan, Travis Morin and Alex Chiasson in two games against the Barons. The Stars have the forward numbers to go on without a callup as Tom Wandell was assigned as an extra body for a conditioning stint. However, Texas needed to sign another defenseman to fill in after Jordie Benn was recalled to Dallas. William Wrenn will likely not play tonight but can act as the safety valve in case of injury on the road trip.

Stars injury/call up report:
Benn, Fraser, R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Chiasson, Morin (injured)

Website: amerks.com
Americans Social Media: Social Media
Blog (beat): Democrat and Chronicle
Blog (amateur): Let's Go Amerks
Twitter: @AmerksHockey
Twitter (beat): @kevinoDandC
Twitter (amateur): @LetsGoAmerks

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Texas Stars Pick Up ECHL D William Wrenn

With healthy defensemen at a premium on both the Texas and Dallas roster, the Texas Stars were feeling a little bit skittish today on the injury front. According to Alaska Aces' press release and the ECHL transaction sheet, Texas has signed William Wrenn, a rookie defenseman playing his first pro season with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL.

Wrenn has 5-16-21 in 51 games in the ECHL. He has one previous AHL callup to the Worcester Sharks. He had no points in three games. Wrenn was drafted by the Sharks in the second round of 2009 but was not signed. He played for Portland in the WHL prior to turning pro. Texas is next in action at Rochester tomorrow.

Here's the release from Alaska:
Alaska Aces defenseman William Wrenn has been loaned to the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, Aces Head Coach, Rob Murray announced on Tuesday. The call-up to the AHL marks the second of the year for Alaska's rookie defenseman.

Wrenn, 21, made his AHL debut in January when he appeared in three games for the Worcester Sharks. The 6'1", 210 lbs. defenseman is a former second round (43rd overall) draft pick of the San Jose Sharks - Worcester's NHL affiliate. He has 21 points (5g, 16a) in 51 Aces games this season. Wrenn is currently the fourth highest scoring rookie defensemen in the ECHL. A local product from Anchorage, Wren represented the Aces in the 2013 All-Star Game. He began this season in Worcester's training camp. Wrenn's call to the Stars marks the fifth AHL different team that has called up players from Alaska this season. The Aces have also sent players to the Sharks, Oklahoma City Barons, Houston Aeros, and Toronto Marlies. Alaska additionally sent players to AHL training camps in Abbotsford and Lake Erie.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fraser Gets His NHL Chance Among Multiple Roster Moves

Matt Fraser after scoring his first AHL goal in 2011. (Credit: Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars announced today that they have recalled forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Jordie Benn from the Texas Stars. At the same time, Dallas has assigned Tomas Vincour and Tom Wandell to Texas. In a separate, unrelated move, Texas recalled Jace Coyle from the Idaho Steelheads earlier today.

With the injury to Trevor Daley in last night's game, a defense recall was imminent. The only question was whom. Jordie Benn gets the call here. To me, it's a coin flip between Oleksiak and Benn. Both have made some mistakes in their NHL games this season. However, the Stars would probably like to keep the 6'7" rookie in the minors getting massively important minutes than put him on the third pairing in Dallas.

The big news in this callup, I think, is Matt Fraser's callup. This is his chance to blow away the Dallas organization with his skill and show them how much his game has matured this season. It's not something that we've mentioned a lot in this space, and that's my mistake. After getting much criticism for his defensive game last year, he's #1 among Stars forwards in plus-minus this year at plus-12. He has 24 goals and 12 of them are on the power play. Just let that sink in for a second. The team's leading scorer is plus-12 just a season removed from being minus-13 and hasn't let that defensive shift change his offensive game. That's maturity.

For the record, this isn't Fraser's first NHL stint. However, he played single digit minutes in his one and only game.

Finally, Tomas Vincour returns to Cedar Park as his yo-yo ride continues. He was steadily in the lineup but apparently did not show enough to stick around. New to Stars fans is Tom Wandell. Wandell fits very much into the always a healthy scratch category. It just so happens that Dallas has enough going for it in the youth movement (in terms of able bodies) to make Wandell an AHL player, at least for a two week conditioning stint.

Additionally, earlier today Jace Coyle was recalled from the Idaho Steelheads after having 5-5-10 in the month of February. His recall comes as Texas lost Tyler Sloan and Patrik Nemeth to injury this weekend. At this time, nothing further is known on the condition of either defenseman or Travis Morin and Alex Chiasson, also injured.

Around the League: Don't Let the Standings Fool You

(Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)

Luckily for Stars fans, this post isn't about Texas. There are a lot of moving parts in the calculation of the standings, and most people tend to only concentrate on one number: current standing. I'm not saying that's bad or wrongheaded. It's just a bit shortsighted.

See, the problem with concentrating on that one number is that not all teams are created equal. Well, more specifically, not all schedules are created equal. Take, for example, the North division. (Open this up for easy reference.)

Abbotsford leads the way with 59 points and earns a third place seeding due to their leadership of the division. But now take a look at their games played; this is where the foolishness happens. Abbotsford leads the league in games played to date at 53. Just behind them in the division is Toronto, only trailing by three points but with a whopping six games in hand. The Marlies have a better points percentage by almost .04. That might not sound like a lot, but over the course of 76 games, that's three points in the final standings, which is more than enough to make or break your whole season.

Other foolish examples, all from the Western Conference, include:
  • Chicago in ninth by points and sixth by percentage.
  • Rochester in eighth by points and fifth by percentage
  • Lake Erie in seventh by points and tenth by percentage.
For the record on Texas's numbers, the Stars actually have a game in hand on their closest followers, the Checkers.

Other news and notes:
  • Idaho wrapped up a playoff spot on Saturday night with a win over Ontario. Thanks to the nine team Western Conference, in which eight teams make the playoffs, Idaho had its third quickest clenching of a spot yet. The Steelheads have never missed the playoffs since their inception in 1997.
  • Jace Coyle has been on fire for the Steelheads with 5-5-10 in the month of February. He's probably not going to be lacing them up in Boise this week though, as he is likely to be the first callup with the injuries to Nemeth and Sloan this weekend.
  • Thoughts are with Wade MacLeod after he suffered a seizure on the ice yesterday in a game between the Falcons and Phantoms.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stars, Campbell Shut Out Barons 4-0 in Front of Sellout Crowd


(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Jack Campbell shutout the Oklahoma City Barons tonight in his second game in as many nights while Texas scored four in front of him to support the 20 save effort. With the win, Texas moves to 68 points on the season, surpassing their point total for all of last season with 25 games still left to play.

"To surpass what we did last year doesn't really take that much," said Matt Fraser jokingly. Fraser had two power play goals on the night. "It comes down to the guys in the room. We're all on the same page. We come to the rink with our hardhats on and we outwork teams."

After last night's frenetic 4-3 shootout win, Texas needed no such theatrics to win this one in regulation in front of a sellout crowd. Bretton Cameron's first AHL goal was the eventual game-winner and Justin Dowling added his eighth of the year.

"I think we were a little more prepared for them tonight," said head coach Willie Desjardins. Coach Desjardins knows the team is doing well but is not looking ahead, "We're a one game at a time team. We are taking nothing for granted."

Texas and Oklahoma City traded penalties back and forth through the first period but neither broke through with the man-advantage. The Stars first goal of the game came at even-strength and with a lot of celebration from its scorer. Bretton Cameron potted the first AHL goal of his career off the high-slot deflection of a Jamie Oleksiak point shot. The puck flew past Hovinen on the glove side and set the score at 1-0.

"You can't say enough about our third and fourth lines," Fraser commented on the depth scoring. "We're successful because everyone wants to do their job."

The power play would strike for the Stars late in the period as Theo Peckham found himself in the box for closing his hand on the puck in the corner. The Stars got a fortunate bounce off some lively boards as Jordie Benn's point shot missed wide left but came out to Matt Fraser below the hashes on the right wing side. Quick action by Fraser put the puck on net where it deflected in off a Barons skater and in. The goal was Fraser's 23rd of the year and his 12th on the power play.

The second period's only action came as Alex Chiasson harassed a Barons defenseman behind the net. Chiasson tipped the puck to Justin Dowling who was crashing the net. In one motion, Dowling found an opening over Niko Hovinen's left shoulder possibly no larger than the puck itself and scored his eighth of the year, making it a 3-0 game.

The Stars got stuck in track meet mode late in the second period and Jack Campbell was forced to make quite a few more sparkling saves similar to last night's. He stopped six Barons shots in the second period in all.

"Those are critical saves because the team is playing so well in front of me," said Campbell. "If they get one rush and score, it kills everything they've been doing. I don't think we took a shift off all night."

The third period got a little out of hand on the player safety side. Alex Chiasson took a high hit late in the third period from Theo Peckham and stayed down for a while as trainer DJ Amadio tended to him. He skated off under his own power but did not return. Peckham received a major for boarding and a game misconduct for abuse of officials. Texas took advantage of the penalty as Matt Fraser collected his second of the night from nearly the same spot. Jordie Benn picked up his second assist of the night on the play.

The Stars are next in action at Rochester on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
Morin-Sceviour-Fraser
Hedden-Chiasson-Dowling
Fyten-Petersen-Cameron
Gazdic-Vause-Wathier

Oleksiak-Benn
Baldwin-Fortunus
Labrie-Sneep

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Vincour, R. Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan (injured)
Tousignant, A. Smith (scratch)

Travis Morin and Alex Chiasson will be re-evaluated tomorrow for their condition. Morin left in the first period and Chiasson in the third.

Tonight's attendance was 6,863.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - February 16 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
29-13-4-4, 66 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Oklahoma City Barons
23-18-2-5, 53 pts
#10 Western Conference
Feburary 16th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Sticking around for another night of hockey are the Oklahoma City Barons. Last night, the Barons saw their 3-1 lead evaporate at the hands of the Stars' first line and will surely be looking to avenge such a loss.

Texas, of course, wants to avoid needing any late game theatrics on the whole. Mike Hedden commented, "[The Barons] play physically and hard and we got away from that [ourselves] in the second. We have to come hard and play the full 60."

The Stars can be expected to roll with Jack Campbell again in net, who did a fantastic job of keeping the team in last night's contest through a rough second period. Cristopher Nilstorp looks to be headed to Dallas with last night's lower body injury to Dallas starter Kari Lehtonen. Depending on how quickly Tyler Beskorowany can get into town, the Stars could potentially hold off on starting the callup chain since Dallas does not play again until Sunday.

Fellow Swede Patrick Nemeth also may not be in the lineup for Texas tomorrow. Both he and Tyler Sloan left the game in the third period and did not return. The Stars might be very lucky to have both Hubert Labrie and Gord Baldwin in town.

Stars injury/call up report:
Vincour, R. Smith, Roussel (call up)
Glennie (injured)
Nemeth, Sloan (questionable)

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stars Rally in Third to Win in Shootout 4-3


(Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)

After scoring the first goal but spotting the Barons three, Texas roared back in the third period and took a nailbiter ten round shootout win off the stick of Jamie Oleksiak.

"We had the first, they had the second and the third was a battle," said Coach Desjardins. "We both battled, but we got a couple of breaks."

Mike Hedden was a difference maker for the Stars' tonight as his line continued to click. Hedden had a power play and even strength tally while Justin Dowling added his seventh of the season, a power play goal, to tie things at three late. Alex Chiasson added a goal in the shootout.

"We've been getting the chance to play together and we've got good chemistry together," said Hedden.

Texas came out on fire in the first, taking all the early chances and coming close on quite a few. Back-to-back penalties for holding and hooking in the mid-period slowed down that momentum. Texas got it back when Mike Hedden collected his fourth of the year on the power play.

The puck came to him just behind the goal line with goalie Niko Hovinen on the other side of the crease.

"It had a lot of spin on it," said Hedden. "I knew I had a lot of time. I just wanted to make sure I got it and got it on the net. It was a great job by Petersen to get it on net."

The patient move he put on made it 1-0 after twenty minutes. The Stars outshot OKC 18-6 in the frame.

Texas's second period was messy out of the gate with a lot of odd-man situations making life difficult for the Stars' netminder Campbell.

"We haven't given up that kind of two on ones and breakaways in a while," said Desjardins. "They had a lot of shots right away in the second."

Jamie Oleksiak, who was playing in his first game after assignment from Dallas, expanded on how the Barons took their second period lead: "I think they were very aggressive and had a lot of high guys."

That being said, Jack Campbell kept Texas in it, stoning at least two breakaway shooters and stretching the width of the crease to stop a two-on-one tap-in on the back door.

"Campbell is an unbelievable goalie," said Hedden. "We gave up a lot of odd-man rushes tonight, and Campbell stood on his head."

It didn't last forever as the Barons scored twice in just over two minutes in the late second period to take the 2-1 lead. Pelss scored from the right wing circle while Josh Green scored from just out in front off of a Toni Rajala pass from behind the net.

OKC extended their lead in the third as Travis Morin got called for a trip and Antti Tyrvainen was awarded a penalty shot, which he scored on. The trip looked a little forced but it was a penalty shot nonetheless. It was a situation that shouldn't have happened as Morin was forced into a bad position of having to trip Tyrvainen after the Stars let him in alone. Oleksiak commented, "[Our mantra was] there's nothing we can do about the goal. Just get one right back."

"We came out flat in the second period," added Hedden. "In front of the home barn, we wanted to have a big third."

Texas did just that as Hedden tipped Chiasson's laser past Hovinen off of a nice blue line keep by Jamie Oleksiak. Just three minutes later, the Texas power play would get another on the night with Justin Dowling deflecting a Petersen shot in the crease for the three all tie.

A scoreless OT would give way to a shootout. This time, it was ten rounds. "It's a pressure situation, and it's tough to score with these goaltenders," said Desjardins.

Josh Green scored on the first shot of the shootout while Texas tied it up in the third round thanks to Alex Chiasson. It came down to Jamie Oleksiak in the bottom of the tenth round. Weary from travel from Vancouver yesterday, the rookie defenseman ended it with a puck off the pipe and in past Hovinen.

"I can't say enough about the effort," said Oleksiak. "It was a great character game. We just have to keep that momentum going."

Texas will try to do just that as they face the same Barons again tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Hedden-Chiasson-Dowling
Fraser-Morin-Wathier
Petersen-Sceviour-Fyten
Gazdic-Vause-Cameron

Oleksiak-Benn
Sloan-Fortunus
Nemeth-Sneep

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Vincour, R. Smith, Roussel (call up)
Labrie, A. Smith, Tousignant, Baldwin (scratch)
Glennie (injured)

Line shuffles happened in the second period tonight as the Fraser-Sceviour-Morin line was reunited and Wathier moved down to play with Fyten and Petersen.

Texas could be without Tyler Sloan and Patrick Nemeth tomorrow as both left the game and did not return.

Tonight's attendance was 5,428.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - February 15 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
28-13-4-4, 64 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Oklahoma City Barons
23-18-2-4, 52 pts
#10 Western Conference
Feburary 15th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas really wants these games. After a disappointing stretch here where they've left some points on the table against lower-tier competition, the Stars definitely are looking for a solid outing against the Barons.

The Barons, of course, are not the same Barons that the Cedar Park faithful saw on December 27th, their last visit to the Austin suburb. Six of their top seven scorers on the season are gone to Edmonton. Also gone are centers Anton Lander and Chris VandeVelde, each with ten points and both needed for their pivot position in Alberta.

The club has been getting on fine since the lockout ended. The lethal club was in ninth place the last time these two played, the week after the lockout ended, and has only dropped to ten in the past few weeks. The Barons have scored with facility all season but are having trouble keeping the puck out of their net as well.

However, they are winners in their last three and four of their last five. That one loss was to Charlotte and only by a goal. As mentioned yesterday, the Stars are in first place and that means all teams, especially bubble teams like OKC, are going to put their sights on Texas.

A recent revelation for the Barons has been the addition of former Rocket Richard winner Jonathan Cheechoo. He has played in five games and has five goals and seven assists already. That includes two power play goals, two power play assists and a game-winner to kick start their current win streak.

The long and short of it is that the Barons are not pushovers, but two points tonight and two more tomorrow would be very helpful toward the cause.

Stars injury/call up report:
Vincour, R. Smith, Roussel (call up)
Glennie, Morin, Sceviour (injured)

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dallas Assigns Oleksiak

Just a quick evening note that the Dallas Stars have assigned Jamie Oleksiak to the Texas Stars today. He will be in for this weekend's games against Oklahoma City. Texas will have eight defensemen with his return but only six will be in Dallas. Another call could be coming.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that Dallas has returned defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to Texas.

Oleksiak, 20, appeared in five games with Dallas, recording one assist and averaging 15:40 time on ice. He recorded his first NHL point in last night's contest against the Calgary Flames, notching one assist. The Toronto native is one of seven players in the League listed at 6-foot-7 or taller and became the tallest player in Dallas Stars history when he made his NHL debut on Feb. 1 against Phoenix.

Prior to being recalled by Dallas on Jan. 30, he led all Texas Stars defensemen in scoring with 23 points (3G-20A) in 43 contests. Oleksiak played in the 2013 AHL All-Star Game in Providence, R.I. where he earned the game-winning assist and a plus-3 rating in the contest.

Thursday Morning Notes: Vause PTO Expiring, Rampage Writer Already Looking For Tee Times


(Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
I'm going to use the word "realist" to describe Tony Uminski. In my time reading his work at the San Antonio Express, it is clear that he has a very clear view of the team and tells it as it is. That's why it's notable that he wrote the following this week:
"If [86 points is] the goal, and the Rampage currently have 28 games remaining and 46 points, it’s gonna be tight and two or three teams have to take the gas pipe over the next two months for the Rampage to have a reasonable chance.

Not impossible, but let’s just say, feel free to plan some time at Fiesta without hockey.
Indeed over the next few months, teams are going to start saying goodbye to their playoff chances. San Antonio will not be first. That will probably be Hamilton, in last place by a six points this morning. Regardless, things are tightening up. Every team is going to have that little extra push as they realize that the doors to the playoffs are closing.

The Stars are on the other end of that equation. Because they are in first place, they've got the target on their back. Every team gives Texas their best effort because it's quite the feather in your cap to say you beat the #1 team in the league. We saw that with Hamilton this weekend and we saw it with Houston on Tuesday. Matt Hackett, in the midst of a devastating callup to Kuemper (not him), shut down the Texas offense. Usually outshooting the other club 37-17 and only allowing one goal through 65 is enough for a win. Tuesday it wasn't because Texas got the Aeros' best effort. Expect more of the same for the rest of the season.

In other notes, Texas Stars forward Taylor Vause ends his second 25-game tryout contract this Friday. The rules stipulate that a player must either be signed to a standard contract or released after the second PTO. After having a tough time getting into the lineup during his first PTO, Vause has been a consistent lineup presence during his second. He got into nine games through the first PTO and had no points and a minus-9 rating. Immediately after signing his new PTO on December 12th, he scored a goal against Abbotsford. He's gotten into 21 games in this PTO and has 2-5-7 with a plus-3 rating.

Those numbers combined with the current roster shuffling should be enough to keep him around. If that wasn't enough though, I'm sure all Texas Stars viewers have noticed the intangible of his speed. When Vause gets a lane, watch out. He beats icing calls and is monsterous on the forecheck. He makes life difficult for opposing defenseman and has been counted on to kill penalties as well. There's no way the team can let him walk.

For those wondering, Gord Baldwin's PTO will expire on the game on February 26th at Oklahoma City. He can re-sign a new PTO at that point though since his current tryout is just his first.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Power Play No Help To Stars in 2-1 SO Loss

Patrick Nemeth had his first goal in the Stars' loss. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)

After a solid outing in Toronto, the Stars struggled to find the net at home, losing a 2-1 game in the shootout to South Division rival Houston. The Stars scored the first goal off the stick of Patrick Nemeth but allowed a shorthanded goal and fell 3-1 in the shootout.

The Stars were certainly affected by guys moving in and out of the lineup tonight. Colton Sceviour was injured in Toronto and did not play while Antoine Roussel was called up to Dallas yesterday. "It makes a difference for sure how much you've played [together] and the confidence of guys in their positions," said Coach Desjardins. "When we get all our guys back, it definitely helps us on the power play."

Desjardins referenced the power play as Texas squandered a large man-advantage opportunity early in the game. In the last meeting between these teams, Mike Hedden put a hit on Paul Mara that was not penalized in game but earned Hedden a one-game league suspension.

Just twenty seconds into the game, Mara slashed Hedden and then tried to fight him. The Texas winger wouldn't give in and Mara earned a rare 7-minute penalty, two for slashing and five for fighting. He also picked up a ten minute game misconduct.

"We struggled on the power play," said Patrick Nemeth. "I think you've got to score on a seven minute power play."

The Stars were ineffective over the first half of the power play and then stoned by Matt Hackett in the second half of it.

"We started to play better after the penalty," said Desjardins. "Right at the start of the game, they got their work ethic going because you get that on the kill and not on the power play."

Texas broke the scoreless tie on a delayed penalty with Patrick Nemeth's first AHL goal.

"I jumped up the left side and put a high shot on his left shoulder."

That puck trickled in behind Hackett and set the score at 1-0 after twenty minutes.

Houston would get one back on the kill in the second as Carson McMillan dashed down the right wing boards and fired one five hole on Nilstorp to tie it up.

The Stars had a lot of shots through the game but not enough chances. Said Desjardins, "We're not creating as many chances as we need to." Texas outshot Houston 37-17 in the game including 11-4 and 15-5 advantages in the second and third periods.

The Stars took it to an overtime period where they outshot the Aeros 3-2. In the shootout, Zack Phillips, Johan Larsson and Justin Fontaine scored for the Aeros while Alex Chiasson had the only goal for Texas.

With the 'loser' point, the Stars ensure that Charlotte cannot catch them for first place before Friday's Stars' game against Oklahoma City. Charlotte faces Chicago on Thursday and is idle Friday. The Checkers have 61 points to the Stars' 64.

Tonight's lines:
Hedden-Dowling-Chiasson
Fraser-Petersen-A. Smith
Tousignant-Wathier-Fyten
Gazdic-Vause-Cameron

Nemeth-Benn
Baldwin-Fortunus
Sloan-Sneep

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Vincour, Oleksiak, R. Smith, Roussel (call up)
Labrie (scratch)
Glennie, Morin, Sceviour (injured)

Tonight's attendance was 3,718.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Houston - February 12 2013

Idaho Steelheads Report: Six of Eight Points All Against the Grizzlies

John Mulhern with the Idaho Steelheads Report...

The Idaho Steelheads had a 4 game in 5 night series against the Utah Grizzlies (Abbotsford Heat) this past weekend and it turned out about as well as could be expected considering there was travel involved after the first two games in Idaho. For the first time in a while, the roster had no significant reductions, but did get one addition with the return of Tristan King back into the line-up on Friday. Let’s take a look back at the weekend.

Wednesday vs. Utah – Steelheads Win 7-3

Tyler Beskorowany returned to the net for the Steelheads tonight and was solid as he turned away 25 of the 28 Utah shots that were sent his way. Although on this night, the focus was more on the total team effort on the offensive side of the ledger. Matt Case continued his career year as he got the first goal of the game and assisted on 3 others including David de Kastrozza’s first goal at the start of the second period. Back to the first period for a moment, after Case’s goal got the team a lead at the 1:38 mark of the first, Utah came right back and tied it at the 6:18 mark. Before the teams went to the break, Sam Carrick would get his first of the night to make it 2-1 after the first. In the second, the de Kastrozza goal was actually the third of the period as the teams would split goals within the first minute, before de Kastrozza made it 4-2 Idaho. The teams would once again split goals before the end of the period with Carrick getting his second goal of the night. After 2 the Steelheads were leading 5-3. A second de Kastrozza goal after a Ben Ondrus pass hit him stride for a breakaway and a Justin Taylor goal, his first as a Steelheads, gave the Steelheads the 7-3 margin of victory.

Friday vs. Utah – Steelheads Win 5-4 OT

A sold-out crowd got to experience an exciting hockey game as the Steelheads would prevail in overtime by a score of 5-4 in overtime. While the game had physical play and nine goals, the quality of hockey left a little something to be desired. There were 23 penalties called, and 16 power plays split between the teams. The one positive, from a Steelheads prospective, is that it's better to win an ugly game than to lose a pretty one.

The Steelheads would once again jump out to an early lead as William Lacasse would get his first goal of the year just 2:19 into the first. Mitch Wahl would get the Grizzlies on the board with their first of 4 power play goals to tie the game at 1. Tyler Gron would send the Steelheads to the locker room up by one as he continues his strong play since being acquired by head Coach Brad Ralph last month. Mitch Wahl wasted no time on the second tying the game at 2 with his second power play goal of the game. Again Idaho would take a lead as Justin Taylor scored at 17:01 of the period. Not to be outdone, the Grizzlies, and Wahl, would score a 3rd power play goal with 0.7 second left on the clock to send the game to the third period tied at 3.

In the 3rd period the Steelheads started out a man down after a Jace Coyle slashing penalty was called late in the second. Bryan Cameron would give Utah a 4-3 lead just 1:34 into the game. Tyler Gron would tie the game up at the 6:24 mark of the period and send the game into overtime. As mentioned in the open Tristan King made his return to the line-up after being out injured for the past couple of weeks. After a goaltender interference call against Kory Falite was going to put the Steelheads on the power play, he decided to argue the call and referee Don Jablonski added a second penalty for “disputing decision” which turned out to be important as the Steelheads would score at the 3:39 mark of overtime as King would stuff home a rebound from inside the crease to send the Steelheads fans home with an overtime victory.

As a note, Josh Robinson was in net for the Steelheads and despite turning aside 43 of 47 shots, there weren’t a lot of “good goals” that were allowed, despite the fact they were all on the power play. However, Robinson made a tremendous save in the extra session as Wahl was trying for his 4th goal of the night on a shorthanded attempt that allowed the Steelheads to come back and get the game winner.

Saturday @ Utah – Steelheads Lose 5-4

After the two teams travelled down to Utah overnight (Grizzlies) and early morning (Steelheads), the two teams faced off for the 3rd of 4 times in 5 days in Utah. Tyler Beskorowany was back in the net for the Steelheads as Shane Owen played his 3rd straight game for the Grizzlies. The teams split goals in the first period of the game as this time the Grizzlies jumped out to a 1-0 lead and it was the Steelheads Sam Carrick who got the equalizer on the power play to tie it at one. In the 2nd period the teams would again split goals, this time it was the Steelheads Jace Coyle, on the power play again that gave the Steelheads the lead. The Grizzlies would tie it up late on an even strength goal from Mitch Wahl.

The teams would head to the 3rd period tied at 2, but due to a late penalty against the Steelheads, the Grizzlies would start the 3rd on the power play. They would cash in on that power play and take a 3-2 lead. However, the Steelheads took the first 6 minutes of the 3rd period off and the Grizzlies would tack on 2 more for a 5-2 lead. David Toews and Jace Coyle would pull the Steelheads closer, but they were unable to get the equalizer and the Steelheads fell 5-4.

Sunday @ Utah – Steelheads Win 6-0

The Steelheads finished up their 4 games in 5 nights against Utah with strong performances from both Tyler Gron (1G 2A) and Tristan King (2G 3A) along with goaltender Josh Robinson who earned his first professional shutout (34 Saves). Gron got the Steelheads started with a power play goal halfway through the first period sending the Steelheads to a 1-0 lead after the first period. In the second Matt Case, King and David Toews put three more on the board for the Steelheads who were never really threatened in what turned into a very physical and chippy affair. The 3rd period continued to go the Steelheads way as King and Bryce Reddick added two more power play goals to give the Steelheads the 6-0 win.

What’s next?

The Steelheads continue a stretch of 9 games in 12 games as they have a quick turn and play host to the San Francisco Bulls (Worchester Sharks) for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Steelheads then get one day off on Thursday before playing 3 games in 3 nights with 2 games against the Las Vegas Wranglers (Independent) wrapped around a game against the Ontario Reign (Manchester Monarchs)

Prospect Update:
Tristan King: After returning from injury King has been on a tear over the past three games with 3G 4A for 7 points including a game winning goal on Friday night.

Jace Coyle: Has a very productive weekend with 2G 3A good for 5 points. Also he has become a force on the power play as this past weekend with 2 goals and 2 assists on the power play.

Until Next Time…

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
28-13-4-3, 63 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Houston Aeros
24-18-4-3, 55 pts
#6 Western Conference
February 12th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Texas added Bretton Cameron on a PTO today.

Despite an early season slump against the Aeros, Texas has come back against their perennial rivals to win the last four games in the series. Overall, Texas is 5-2-2-0 on the season against the Houston-based club.

The Aeros are kicking off an epic road trip. Over the next month, the Aeros will play at home just once, February 23rd against OKC. Otherwise, they will go on two separate road trips totalling 12 away games. After a rough start in Grand Rapids, a 2-0 loss, they won against Rockford and Milwaukee in back-to-back games to set their record at 2-1 on the trip and put themselves in sixth place.

Texas is also returning to Texas after a road trip. After losing in Hamilton, the Stars rebounded with a very solid performance against the Marlies. The key to the game was definitely the line of Alex Chiasson, Justin Dowling and Mike Hedden. That line has such an interesting origin. After spending much of the season on the third line, Chiasson was upgraded to the first line with Reilly Smith and Cody Eakin and instantly turned it on.

Mike Hedden was scratched quite often until the lockout was over. Hedden was a key surprise player in the 2011-12 season and it was tough to have a talent like him on the sidelines. Finally, Dowling seemingly came out of nowhere to impress in his time with Idaho. Just after being selected as a starter in the ECHL All-Star game, Dowling was picked up by Scott White and the center has been money since. He's collected six goals and three assists in just twelve games.

Starting the season, I do not think many would have decided that this was the line to be a night in and night out game changer. Then again, how many would have chosen Mike Hedden to be such an impact player last season? Or picked Greg Rallo and Travis Morin to not only make the 2009-10 team on PTOs out of training camp but both earn NHL contracts the next season after coming in #1 and #2 in team scoring? The AHL is all about finding unexpected gems and Texas may have done just that with their second line combination.

Stars injury/call up report:
Vincour, Oleksiak, Roussel, R. Smith (callup)
Glennie, Morin (injury)

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