Saturday, March 30, 2013

Texas Overpowers Griffins With Campbell's 42 Save Effort

Jack Campbell tracks a puck into his pads, one of 42 saves on the night. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
A packed Cedar Park Center played host to a battle between two of the top teams in the AHL on Saturday night with the hometown Texas Stars coming out victorious on the back of a career-high 42-save effort by rookie goaltender Jack Campbell.

"This was a must win game, and I knew I needed to step it up and get back to how I played in January and February," said Campbell.

Texas allowed the first goal of the game to Grand Rapids but shut the door on all further attempts. Justin Dowling evened the score and Travis Morin put the Stars ahead for good in the dying seconds of the first. Matt Fraser added his 33rd of the year on the power play in the final frame to put the game out of reach for the Griffins.

"It was a playoff atmosphere a bit," said Coach Desjardins. "We were lucky Jack played well. He won the game for us tonight."

Texas moves to 89 points with the win and continues to hold the top spot in the American Hockey League.

Early in the first, Texas did need a lot of help from their rookie tender. The Griffins and Stars traded extended offensive zone visits. Texas turned the puck over several times but Campbell stood tall.

"We don't usually make those mistakes," said Desjardins. "We weren't moving our feet. I don't know why. We turned a couple over, and he bailed us out."

Grand Rapids scored the first goal of the game as Jan Mursak picked the top-right corner of the net while Campbell was screened by bodies from both teams. It would be the only goal he allowed on the night.

Justin Dowling scored his 13th of the year just over a minute later.

"You've got to drive the net and create havoc," said Travis Morin. "It was a prime example in [Dowling's goal]."

Dowling was the beneficiary of a rebound which he put between Mrazek's pads for the 1-1 tie. Alex Chiasson assisted on the goal.

With time ticking down in the first period, Texas picked up the eventual game winner off a crafty play by Colton Sceviour and Travis Morin.

"I was going to the net," said Morin. "Sceviour made a great play getting it through to me. I tipped it, and it just found a hole."

With 7.4 seconds left in the period, Morin's goal set the score at 2-1.

As the second period wore on, Texas and Grand Rapids both poured on the shots. Fifty seven total shots were racked up in the first forty minutes alone.

"The guys started to take over the game in the second half," said Campbell.

After fifty one minutes of five-a-side hockey, the game's first and second penalty were called back-to-back against Grand Rapids. This led the to the Stars' third goal of the night, an insurance power play goal off the stick of Matt Fraser.

"It's sure nice to get that third one," said Desjardins. "It was a great shot by Fraser and a great screen by Sceviour."

Texas immediately went on the kill with Tyler Sloan in the box for high-sticking. The Stars closed out the penalty and the game with solid defensive play and stout goaltending. Both are things Texas and Grand Rapids will need as they hurtle towards the playoffs.

"It really was a playoff game," said Campbell. "We're both battling for that top spot in the Western Conference."

What a difference a year makes.

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

Oleksiak-Sneep
Wrenn-Morrow
Fortunus-Sloan

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Roussel, Benn, Vincour, Petersen (call up)
Nemeth, Nilstorp, Wandell (injured)
Commodore, Labrie, Baldwin (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,462.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - March 30 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
38-17-5-6, 87 pts
#1 Western Conference
atGrand Rapids Griffins
38-22-3-3, 82 pts
#3 Western Conference
March 30th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Dallas recalled Toby Petersen this morning.

After a bit of a layoff since the crazy game in Houston, Texas comes home for their only game this weekend and only game until next Friday. That rest time comes at a nice spot for Texas as they've still got several players on the IR and are looking at their last three-in-three of the season next weekend. However, that's a week away. Tonight, Texas will battle a worthy foe in third-ranked Grand Rapids.

This evening's game will be the last of the regular season between these two. In three previous meetings, Texas is 1-2 on the season. Overall things are pretty even between these two clubs historically, especially at Texas. The Stars are 4-4-1 at CPC against the Griffins in the past four years. The two clubs haven't played since December 1st when one of the main storylines was still the brother matchup of Reilly vs. Brenden Smith.

Since that point, the Griffs are 27-16-2-2 and have held onto the #3 spot they had on that day as well. With only occassional visits from Jonas Gustavsson, Grand Rapids goaltending has been a back and forth between Tom McCollum and Petr Mrazek. Mrazek's coming out party really started against the Stars back in November. It was his first AHL start and he allowed just one goal on 30 shots. Mrazek has since compiled a 21-12-2 record.

The Griffins are coming in having played in Houston last night, a 3-2 win.

Grand Rapids and Texas are similar in that both clubs have excellent power plays and poor penalty kills. Texas is 3rd with 20.7% on the power play and 24th with 81.5% on the PK. Grand Rapids is 7th (18.6%) and 29th (80%), respectively. The Griffins take far more penalties per game than the Stars (1097 on the season vs. 835). The special teams 'balance' could work out in the Stars' favor if that follows through tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Roussel, Benn, Vincour, Petersen (call up)
Nemeth, Nilstorp, Wandell (injured)

Website: griffinshockey.com
Twitter: @GriffinsHockey
Blog: Griffins Hockey on MLive.com

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Texas Wins a Wild One in Houston 7-6 in OT

Spending today in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK as my last stop on the grand European tour. As such, here's just a short recap of the high points in last night's game. Wifi is limited in the Highlands. This is the last game I'll miss in Europe. See you all Saturday.

The Aeros may have scored the first, but Texas scored the last in a wild game in Houston on Tuesday night. After going up 4-2 after 40, Texas allowed four third period goals and score two of their own to knot things at six after full regulation time. Alex Chiasson was the overtime savior for the club.

Newcomer Joe Morrow popped in two assists. Reilly Smith had a goal and an assist in his Texas Stars return with a plus-4 rating. Justin Dowling had two goals and an assist.

Here's the Stars' release:
Alex Chiasson scored the game-winning goal in overtime as the Texas Stars reclaimed first place overall in the American Hockey League with a wild 7-6 win over the Houston Aeros Tuesday night at Toyota Center.

Jason Zucker gave Houston an early lead as his centering pass went off the heel of Stars captain Maxime Fortunus’ skate and into the net for a power play goal at 5:49 of the first period. Texas responded three minutes later as Justin Dowling redirected a William Wrenn shot from the point, tipping the puck down to the ice and bouncing it over the right shoulder of goaltender Matt Hackett at 8:32. Rookie defenseman Joe Morrow, making his Texas Stars debut, recorded the second assist on the goal. With their first power play of the night the Stars capitalized to grab their first lead. Travis Morin made a beautiful cross-ice pass to Matt Fraser for a one-timer into the far post at 11:34, just six seconds after the power play began. The goal was Fraser’s AHL-leading 16th power play and tied him for the league lead with 32 goals on the year.

Fortunus gave Texas a 3-1 lead at the 12-minute mark of the second period as his shot deflected off a Houston defender and went into the net. Steven Kampfer pass hit off Tyler Sloan went in to make it 3-2 at 14:21, however, Texas responded 26 seconds later. Reilly Smith, sent down from Dallas earlier in the day, scored his 12th AHL goal of the year, assisted by Scott Glennie and Taylor Vause, the second assist of the game for both forwards.

Houston rallied early in the third period with three goals to erased the Stars lead. The Aeros first struck at 3:28 when Justin Fontaine’s shot went off the leg of Sloan and into the net for the third “own goal” of the night. Less than two minutes later Brett Bulmer was awarded a penalty shot and he beat goalie Jack Campbell Campbell through the legs at 5:14 to tie the game at four. Bulmer’s goal with the first penalty shot goal allowed by Texas in the team’s four-year history. David McIntyre completed the comeback by one-timing a rebound from a Fontaine shot at 11:11 to give the Aeros a 5-4 lead. The Stars gave Houston a taste of its own medicine by tying the game with an Aeros’ own goal. Dowling fired a cross-crease pass that hit off Kampfer and went in at 13:05 for his second goal of the night, assisted by Alex Chiasson and Morrow, who tallied his second assist of the game. A mere 55 seconds later Tyler Sloan one-timed a dazzling pass from Smith past the glove of Hacket to give Texas a 6-5 lead. The Aeros pulled their goaltender and were able to tie the game in the final minute as Mikael Granlund scored at 19:08 to force overtime.

The Stars recorded all the shots on goal in the extra session and at 3:17 Chiasson and Dowling executed a scintillating give-and-go that ended with Dowling threading a pass across the crease for a back-door goal from Chiasson to win the game in overtime.

Jack Campbell stopped 23-of-29 shots to record his 15th win of the season in goal for Texas. Matt Hackett made 24 saves on 31 shots and was tagged with the loss in goal for Houston. The Stars out-shot the Aeros 31-29 in the game and both teams went 1-for-2 on the power play. Texas improved to 4-1-1-0 in six games at Toyota Center this season and 6-2-2-1 overall against Houston with one game remaining in the 2012-13 season series. Rookie Reilly Smith finished with two points (1 goal, 1 assist) and set a Stars season-high with a +4 plus-minus rating.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Roussel, Benn, Vincour, Campbell (call up)
Nemeth, Nilstorp, Wandell (injured)
Cameron, Commodore, Labrie, Baldwin, Tousignant (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 3,120.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Houston - March 26 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
37-17-5-6, 85 pts
#1 Western Conference
atHouston Aeros
33-22-4-5, 75 pts
#5 Western Conference
March 26th at 7:30 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

Texas makes its way to Houston today for the last game in the Toyota Center for this regular season and what could potentially be their last regular season game in the building for quite some time. With no word of a pending arena deal in H-town the Aeros could be headed north for good starting next season.

Regardless of that, the Aeros are very much still in Houston for the moment and are also in the middle of the playoff hunt as the fifth seed in the West. If they continue their current pace, they are likely to make the playoffs and stay above the fray forming from about 7th to 13th place, currently only separated by five points. Four teams are tied for 8th at 69 points.

The battle for Houston right now is one for home ice advatnage, at least in the first round. As things are shaping up today, the Aeros would face off against the Checkers in a 2-3-2 format. Four games would be in Charlotte, which owns the season series between the two currently at 5-2-1. Any little bit helps.

Texas and Houston haven't played in a month and a half, surprisngly. Since then for Houston, the Wild have traded away Chay Genoway. Jason Zucker was called to Minnesota, concussed at the hands of Corey Perry but has now returned to the lineup in Houston. Mikael Granlund has returned from the NHL and has an active ten game point streak reaching back to before the lockout.

Also out for Houston currently is Darcy Kuemper, playing his trade in Minnesota for the moment. Matt Hackett, John Curry and Cody Reichard are tending the net for the Aeros for the time being.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Nilstorp, Wandell (injured)

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)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Robinson, Beskorowany Swap Spots as Texas Backup

Josh Robinson (Credit: Texas Stars)
Hot off being named the Steelheads' team MVP in Idaho's final regular season home game, Josh Robinson has been recalled to the Texas Stars and Tyler Beskorowany has been assigned to the ECHL in his place. It's not surprising and it's well-earned for Robinson.

Consider this: after winning just two games his sophomore and junior seasons on a dreadful Michigan Tech squad, Robinson was a standout player for them in his senior season (15-14-4). He played in all but four of their games and won 15 just a season after playing for a club that lost 30 games in a 38 game season. His play earned him a contract with Texas. At the time, he looked to be just a solid backup to Tyler Beskorowany in Idaho. He took over once he did get into the lineup, taking 13 games to suffer his first regulation loss. Robinson ranks second in the ECHL in wins, shutouts and save percentage. He is fourth overall in minutes (2,362) and saves (1,245) and is 10th in the league in GAA.

And so that unlikely story has led to this place. Texas only has one 3-in-3 left on the calendar and that's the first weekend in April. The team is very unlikely to use the same goalie all three nights and needs someone they can be confident in for the rubber match. Beskorowany clearly isn't that player for Coach Desjardins. Is Robinson? He hasn't gotten a single minute of AHL ice yet this season, but as the Stars learned on Saturday, that really doesn't matter.

My prediction is that if Nilstorp isn't ready for April 5-6-7, Josh Robinson starts his first AHL game that weekend.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that the team has recalled goaltender Josh Robinson from loan with the Idaho Steelheads. Additionally, Dallas has reassigned goaltender Tyler Beskorowany from Texas to the team’s ECHL affiliate.

Robinson, 23, is recalled to Texas for the second time this season and has severed as the Stars backup goaltender for one AHL game. The Frankenmuth, Michigan native has played in 39 games for Idaho this year, posting a 27-8-1-3 record, with a 2.57 goals-against average (GAA), a 0.925 save percentage (SV%) and five shutouts. Robinson ranks second in the ECHL in wins, shutouts and SV%, he is fourth overall in minutes (2,362) and saves (1,245) and is 10th in the league in GAA. Currently in his first professional season, he was undrafted after playing four years for Michigan Tech (WCHA) and signed a standard AHL contract with Texas on June 6, 2012.

Beskorowany (pronounced behs-kohr-WAH-nee), 22, has been reassigned to Texas three times this season and he has served as the Stars’ backup goaltender for a total of 13 AHL games. The Hanmer, Ontario native has appeared in 30 ECHL games this year for Idaho, posting a 16-11-3 record with a 2.80 goals-against average, a 0.911 save percentage and one shutout. Beskorowany was drafted by Dallas in the second round (59th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and has played in 51 career AHL games for Texas, with a 17-27-1 record, 3.10 goals-against average, an 0.899 save percentage and two shutouts.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Texas Stars Likely to Acquire D Joe Morrow in Trade with Penguins

The Dallas Stars heart and soul captain, Brenden Morrow, is on an expiring contract, and his best years are certainly behind him at this point. However, he's a gritty veteran player and could be that last piece to push a team over the edge to the Cup. The Pittsburgh Penguins thought so at least, acquiring him today in a trade with the Dallas Stars. In return for Brenden Morrow and a third round pick, the Dallas organization picked up defenseman Joe Morrow and fifth round pick.

Joe Morrow is a former first round pick, going 23rd overall in 2011 to the Pens. He played his WHL hockey with Portland where he shared the ice with Texas Stars forward Colton Sceviour, defenseman William Wrenn and likely future Star center Taylor Peters. By his final season, he was highly regarded as a puck moving defenseman.

Kirk Luedeke, regional scout for Red Line Report and a Boston Bruins and NHL Prospects writer for New England and New York Hockey Journal, had this to say about Morrow in his 2011 draft preview:
Puck moving, puck rushing d-man likes to dictate pace of play from back end & carries puck up ice himself w/o hesitation. Loves to join the rush & jump up into the play...has a big-time shot from the point & is the triggerman on the PP. Still has a way to go in d-zone coverage down low but improving his defensive awareness.
A lot of scouts had their eye on him and thought he could be a decent sleeper pick. Then he scored 17 goals and 47 assists in his final season in major junior and any hopes of a sleeper pick went out the window. Everyone knew who Joe Morrow was.

Morrow began his professional career with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The always quotable Jason Iacona had this to say on Morrow this season, who has compiled four goals and eleven assists in 57 games.
[Morrow] can play all situations, PP/PK. nothing flashy, still learning pro game. Hard slap shot. Doesn't get pushed around often.
Morrow has been on the second or third pairing this season for WBS, mostly paired with second year man Philip Samuelsson, according to Iacona.

Mike Heika reports that Dallas will work out Morrow in Frisco this week and determine whether he should start his Stars' career in Cedar Park or Dallas. My guess is Cedar Park, but a Dallas team desperate to win could throw a curveball into things and completely invalidate all of the above analysis by keeping the blue liner. The fact that he was getting second and third pairing minutes in Wilkes-Barre leads me to believe he still needs to simmer in the AHL. If Dallas wanted another defensive player in Dallas, they wouldn't have sent Jamie Oleksiak down this week.

Heika also reminds us that the Stars scout the WHL very well (Fraser, Dillon, Jamie Benn). The WHL scouts are probably very familiar with his game and if they recommend him highly, I'm sure Dallas's Joe Nieuwendyk is more likely to listen after their recent successful track record.

The Stars are more than a little crowded on defense now. Let's assume that Jordie Benn isn't coming back to Texas this season, for the purposes of this analysis. Here are the lines from Saturday:

Oleksiak-Wrenn
Sneep-Baldwin
Fortunus-Sloan

Nemeth (injury)
Commodore, Labrie (scratch)

Who sits to make room for Morrow? It's probably Wrenn. But then once Commodore gets in shape and Nemeth gets healthy? Labrie would probably be assigned to Idaho for the playoffs. Maybe they release Wrenn? The Stars have really thrown him into the fire and continue to do so. Texas would still be scratching two or three players, and not insignificant ones, if they did get everyone back.

On the other hand, it would be nice for Doug Lidster to have such riches to choose from instead of the duct tape and bailing wire situation he was faced with last month.

Texas Stymied By Checkers Rookie Goalie, Falling 4-2

Rob Madore tracks the puck on Alex Chiasson's stick (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
Diminutive goaltender Rob Madore stood tall for the Checkers in his first AHL start as he turned away 43 Stars' shots to put Charlotte past first-place Texas 4-2 on Saturday night.

"They had a great goalie tonight," said Taylor Vause, the only Star who managed to beat Madore, scoring two goals in the game. "He deserved to win. I don't know if we matched well."

Vause opened the scoring, but Charlotte answered back with four straight to claim victory. The Stars would make it interesting in the final frame with Vause's second of the night to make it 4-2, but ultimately the Checkers earned the two points.

"We've got to go to their rink for two more and those will be tough games," said Coach Willie Desjardins. "I think we outchanced them, but we didn't outscore them."

Texas registered 45 shots on Madore to the Checkers's 27 on Campbell. Neither club scored a power play goal in the contest on their five combined chances.

Taylor Vause's third of the season opened the scoring. "The first one was off the forecheck. Wathier made a nice pick there that gave me a chance to walk the wall." Vause picked a corner from the left wing faceoff circle for the 1-0 lead. Scott Glennie got the only assist on the play. The Stars would finish the period with that lead but only after coming perilously close to giving up the tying goal. Captain Maxime Fortunus did his best goaltender impression and swiped a puck off the goal line that had trickled in behind Campbell to maintain the lead.

Taylor Vause celebrates his third of the year. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
The second period was all Charlotte. "They came out scoring in the second period," said Vause. Riley Nash collected his first of the night to tie things up. Nash simply walked around Tyler Sloan and picked his corner on Campbell. Sloan was minus-3 on the night, an uncharacteristic performance for the vet defenseman.

Chris Terry and Brett Sutter teamed up next as Terry swooped around the net with two Texas defenseman and Jack Campbell between him and the net. He dished the puck out front to Sutter who was uncovered by any backchecking forward. Sutter scored on the shot all-alone in front to go ahead 2-1.

"Jack played a good game," said Vause. "But it's tough when we're giving [Charlotte] point-blank opportunities."

Charlotte extended their lead in the third period with Zach Boychuk and Riley Nash joining the action just under two minutes apart. Boychuk went five-hole on Campbell and Nash scored off a 2-on-1 with Matt Marquardt as the Stars' started to take more offensive opportunites and left their defensive stance a bit.

With 65 seconds left, Taylor Vause collected his second of the night and fourth of the year.

"The second one was a good shot from the point and I just buried the rebound."

The Stars would pull Campbell to no avail in the final minute.

Texas stays at 85 points with the loss, still leading the Western Conference. Charlotte has now caught up to the Stars in games played and has a worse win percentage. The Checkers will need to pick up their pace to have a shot at toppling Texas by the end of the season. The importance of Texas' two games in Charlotte in April cannot be overstated.

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

Oleksiak-Wrenn
Sneep-Baldwin
Fortunus-Sloan

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Vincour, Campbell (call up)
Nemeth, Nilstorp, Wandell (injured)
Fyten, Cameron, Commodore, Labrie (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,073.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - March 23 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
37-16-5-6, 85 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Charlotte Checkers
36-23-2-3, 77 pts
#4 Western Conference
March 23rd at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After not seeing them since December, this will be the third time in a week that the Texas Stars will play against the Charlotte Checkers. Texas took three of four possible points against the Carolina Hurricanes' farm club in last weekend's contests.

Big news for Texas (in more ways than one) was the late news before last night's game that Jamie Oleksiak had been assigned to the Texas Stars from Dallas. The game-changing defenseman had been playing in Dallas after his All-Star Game appearance in the AHL. The big man hasn't played a game for Texas since February 23rd. Despite only having 48 games of work, Oleksiak leads all defenseman in scoring with 6-23-29 and is tied for the team lead in plus-minus at plus-20.

Texas is 4-1 against Charlotte all-time at home and 4-0-1 against the Checkers this season overall. Charlotte comes in with their only win in their last five games coming against the Stars last Sunday in OT. The only change to their lineup since Sunday was the loss of Brett Bellemore to NHL callup. Bellemore is 2-11-13 this season with a plus-12 rating for Charlotte.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Nilstorp (injured)

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

Gazdic Returns From Injury to Push Stars Past Amerks 2-1

Luke Gazdic scores the game-winner in the second period. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
Dressed in their military fatigues, the Stars got contributions from two players recently off injury to sneak past the Rochester Americans 2-1 at Cedar Park Center.

"I don't think it was one of our prettier games, but we battled hard," said Scott Glennie, who scored his third of the season.

Stars fourth-year forward Luke Gazdic scored the game winner for Texas on a tip in the second period. It was his first game back from a broken hand injury suffered in a fight in February. Gazdic was awarded his first number one Star honors of his Texas Stars career.

Richard Bachman had a better performance on the night than against San Antonio, stopping 29 of 30 shots against. David Leggio had his hands full at the other end with 41 Texas Stars shots on his net.

The Stars move to 85 points with the win as Charlotte comes to town tomorrow to face the first-place Stars.

Texas stepped up first to score with Scott Glennie getting a goal that was very peculiar indeed.

"I haven't scored too many goals this year," said Glennie. "Someone shot a puck. It went off me, and it went in. We'll take anything."

All three Texas forwards and four Rochester skaters all crowded the crease with Americans' tender David Leggio after the initial Wathier shot. The puck bounced off Vause and Glennie on its way into the net. By the Stars own admission, it wasn't a pretty goal, but it set the score at 1-0 early in the first.

Late in the period, the Stars gave up their only goal against of the game. Shorthanded, the Rochester Americans rushed the net with less than 10 seconds left in the period. Phil Varone swooped behind the net, similarly to Cody Eakin's famous swoops in the early season, and dished the Mark Mancari in the slot. Mancari popped the puck home past Bachman with just 5.6 seconds left in the first.

The Stars regained their lead in the middle of the second period. "My stick was just in the right place," said Gazdic. "Wrenn had a great shot, and I just got a stick on it." William Wrenn had the initial shot from the point which Gazdic tipped home for the 2-1 lead. It was Gazdic's third goal of the season and first since February 9th.

Richard Bachman and the Texas defense came up big in the final period to keep the score set at 2-1. Bachman stopped twelve shots including a post-to-post stop on Zemgus Girgensons.

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

Labrie-Wrenn
Sneep-Baldwin
Fortunus-Sloan

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour, Campbell (call up)
Nemeth, Nilstorp (injured)
Fyten, Tousignant, Wandell, Commodore (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,658.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rochester - March 23 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rochester Americans

Texas Stars
36-16-5-6, 83 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Rochester Americans
33-24-3-1, 70 pts
#6 Western Conference
March 22nd at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas will kick off their Military Appreciation weekend attempting to defeat the Americans, ironically, at the Cedar Park Center. It is Rochester's only visit to Central Texas for the season and only their second ever.

The Amerks and Stars faced off in New York earlier this season, a 5-1 Texas win. That very day, Buffalo had announced the firing of their long-ternured coach, Lindy Ruff, and replaced him with Ron Rolston, then the coach of the Americans. That coaching shuffle set the Americans into a state of uncertainty. They lost three straight after the loss to the Stars. The club got their bearings over the next few as theywent on a six game point streak including five wins. They followed that up with a 1-2 sequence as they approach Texas tonight.

The Stars will likely be without one of their top contributors tonight as Alex Chiasson was recalled yesterday to Dallas as a result of some injuries in the NHL. Chiasson was returned today but Texas still features a long list of players who are out for Texas, fully listed below.

It wouldn't be surprising if Texas put Bachman in the pipes for both contests this weekend. Dallas is seeking ice time for the tender and he had some early issues in the game on Tuesday. The third period was solid for Bachman though and he needs more time to increase both his confidence level and the confidence that the Stars organization has in using him in the backup role in Dallas.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour, Campbell (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Nilstorp (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

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Texas Loses Chiasson to Dallas Callup

Alex Chiasson (Credit: Grand Rapids Griffins)
With the way Alex Chiasson has been playing, it was really only a matter of time before he got a look in Dallas. With his current callup, announced today by Dallas, it's not certain if he'll practice with the team, let alone play.

Dallas is suffering from some injuries at forward so they've called up Chiasson in case he is needed. It is more likely though that Chiasson will stay in the press box as a healthy scratch.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that Dallas has recalled right wing Alex Chiasson.

Chiasson, 22, has earned 32 points (12G-20A) and 41 penalty minutes in 53 games for Texas this season. The St. Augustin, Que., native ranks third on the club in scoring and began his professional career last season with Texas after spending three seasons at Boston University. Chiasson led BU with 46 points (15G-31A) last year in his junior season and was named a 2012 Hockey East Honorable Mention All-Star. The 6-foot-4, 187-pound forward was Dallas' second-round selection (38th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Idaho Steelheads Report: Steelheads Sweep Aces, Have Shot at Conference Crown

Josh Robinson (Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
John Mulhern fills us in on the Idaho Steelheads this week. Note that the ECHL schedule is almost at a close, and the Steelheads only have six more games in the season before the playoffs start.

About a week ago in this very spot, I just about wrote off the Idaho Steelheads chances of winning not only the Mountain Division, but also the Western Conference. While I’m still not ready to give them great odds, after sweeping the Alaska Aces (Independent) this past week and taking 6 points, (Alaska did get 1 courtesy of an OTL) I’m willing to concede that there is a chance, albeit a small one, that the Steelheads can pull off what have to be considered an upset and win a division or a conference.

In what best can be described as playoff hockey in a playoff atmosphere, the Steelheads would have to battle hard for 60 minutes for 3 straight nights to come away with victories. Even more impressive is that they did it while getting significantly outshot in every game. When the dust settled, the “Good Guys” always were able to skate away victorious.

Wednesday March 13 @ Alaska Aces 4-3 OTW
In one of the most absurd games from a Steelheads fan perspective you can ever get, the Steelheads came away with a 4-3 victory while garnering only 16 shots which include a stretch of 18:50 between the first and second period where they did not register even a single shot.

However, even after you take all of that into consideration, the Steelheads would go into the 3rd period tied with the Alaska Aces at 2 goals a piece. Ian Watters and Ben Ondrus provided both goals for the Steelheads and they were 2 for 3 in terms of shots in the first period.

Alaska’s Evan Trupp made it 2-1 Idaho after one and Bobby Hughes tied the game at 2 a little past the halfway mark of the 2nd period. In the third period, the Steelheads took advantage of carry over power play time as again Ian Watters would get the Steelheads on the board and give them a 3-2 lead. Alaska took a penalty at the 2:27 mark of the period and what looked to be a great opportunity to stretch the lead, came back to haunt the Steelheads as Nick Mazzolini scored short-handed to tie the game at 3.

The Steelheads would out-shoot the Aces 8-6 in the 3rd, but the Aces certainly had the better of the chances, hitting a post and a crossbar during the frame. It wouldn’t take long to decide the game in overtime as Austin Smith would come out of the penalty box and lead a 2 on 1 rush with Chase Schaber. Smith was able to find Schaber in stride, and Chase made no mistake in burying the one-timer to give the Steelheads the emotional win. The Steelheads score 4 goals on 16 shots while goaltender Josh Robinson, 30 of the 33 shots he faced to get the win.

Friday March 15 @ Alaska Aces 4-3 W
Josh Robinson got the start again on Friday. His play certainly warranted another start, however Tyler Beskorowany was called up to the Texas Stars to take away any decision head coach Brad Ralph may have had to make.

Once again the Steelheads would jump out to an early lead as Austin Smith put the Steelheads on the board first. The Alaska Aces would answer right back however just 1:10 later to tie the game at 1. Tyler Gron would give the Steelheads a 2-1 lead heading into the break with his 17th goal of the year. Justin Taylor would add to his great play of the last two weeks getting his 9th of the season early in the second for a 3-1 Steelheads lead. Once again, the Aces had the answer as they would get two more goals including one on the power play to send the game into the third tied at 3 goals apiece.

Jace Coyle would give the Steelheads the 4-3 lead when he found the back of the net just 4:31 into the final period. The Aces would once again fire everything they had at the Robinson, but he kept all 11 shots out of the net en route to the victory. Robinson stopped 36 of 39 shots, while helping to hold the Aces to 1 of 5 on the power play. The Steelheads only had 1 power play the entire game and the victory also snapped Alaska’s 8 game point streak.

Saturday March 16 @ Alaska Aces 2-0 W
The top two teams in the Mountain Division met for the 3rd time in 4 nights and once again it was the Steelheads who grinded their way to a victory. In a fairly clean game, (only 3 penalties called all night) this game would follow the course of the previous 2 in that the Steelheads once again were pinned in their own end for extended periods of time, and despite being out-shot, were able to find the back of the net enough times for the win.

After a scoreless first period, the two teams played the second as if they knew one goal might be enough. Just when it looked like perhaps the Steelheads and Aces would head to the 3rd tied at 0-0, Justin Taylor tipped home a David de Kastrozza shot with just 2:25 left in the second for the 1-0 Steelheads lead. In the 3rd Austin Smith would get his team leading 26th goal of the year for the insurance marker and with another stellar performance in net from Josh Robinson (36 of 36 for 4th SO) the Steelheads got out of Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska with 6 points and a glimmer of hope that they can still win the Mountain Division and/or the Western Conference

What’s Next
The Steelheads continue to play division leaders as the Pacific Division winning Ontario Reign (Manchester Monarchs) pay a visit to Century Link Arena in Boise for another 3 games in 4 night set. Ontario has locked up the 2nd spot in the Western Conference and both teams need to get maximum points in order to keep the possibility of higher seeding in the Kelly Cup Playoffs alive. Just as it was with Alaska, expect these games to have a close checking, playoff feel to them as both gear up for the possibility of a deep playoff run.

Prospect Update

  • Josh Robinson: Coming off a 3-0-0 week where he allowed only 2 GAA over those 3 games including earning his 4th shutout of the season and 4th in his last 13 games and has not lost a game in regulation in his last 11. The Steelheads have earned a point in all but 2 of his 16 starts since Feb 1. He’ll continue to carry the load as long as Tyler Beskorowany remains up in Texas on recall.
  • Austin Smith: After being held without a point in a loss to Gwinnett on March 9th, Austin has regained his point per game rate as he score 2 goals and earner 2 assists over the last 3 games against the Aces. Since his return at the end of February he has 7 goals and 8 assists and even more importantly is plus 6 during the 10 game span. He also leads the league in rookie goals scored with 26. He has done this over 33 games played. Second place is 25 goals scored, but over 66 games played.
  • John Ryder: His return to the lineup brought some much needed grit to the blue line without Matt Case and Jace Coyle. His impact was immediately felt on Wednesday as he tallied 1 goal and 1 assist to go along with his physical presence that had the Alaska forwards looking for contact instead of looking to make a play. Having not seen action for over 2 months and contributing 4 points over the 3 games, I would call this a successful return to the lineup.
  • Jace Coyle: After spending just about a month in Texas, Jace returned this past Friday and immediately made an impact with a game winning goal to go along with an assist in Friday night’s game. As Jace readjusts back into the Steelheads line-up, I look for him to be a driving force on the blue line for the Steelheads as they take on the Reign this week.

Look for a playoff update coming soon. Until next time…

Stars Add Vet D Mike Commodore Ahead of Playoff Push

In retrospect, when Mike Commodore tweeted the other night that he was in Dallas to watch a Stars game and then a few days later asked if there were any good golf courses in Austin, Texas Stars fans could have seen that something might have been up. Indeed it was. After last night's game against San Antonio, Texas announced that veteran defenseman Mike Commodore has been signed to the Texas Stars on a professional tryout agreement. Commodore won an NCAA Championship with North Dakota and a Stanley Cup with Carolina.

The 484 game veteran of the NHL has a pedigree of winning but has been bouncing between teams since being assigned to the Springfield Falcons in 2011. The Blue Jackets placed Commodore on waivers and sought to 'bury' his contract in the minor leagues so that it did not affect their salary cap. The Wall Street Journal wrote a good article, including player quotes and some interesting tidbits, on Commodore and others who had been placed on waivers and buried in the minors in this way.

Since his time in Springfield, Commodore has played in Detroit, Tampa Bay and Hamilton. Commodore played his most recent game with Hamilton on January 21st and has been golfing since then, according to his Twitter feed.

The signing likely means that Texas is not expecting Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak or Jordie Benn to rejoin the lineup soon or perhaps at all this season. Commodore will wear #33 for the Stars. He is the only the second player to wear the number and the first skater. Commodore is the second oldest player on the Stars (1979), a year younger than Toby Petersen (1978).

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that the club has signed defenseman Mike Commodore to a professional tryout contract.

Commodore, 33, appeared in 17 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs earlier this season, tallying two assists and 26 penalty minutes. The Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta native is a veteran of 484 career National Hockey League games, where he tallied 106 point (23 goals, 83 assists) and 683 career penalty minutes. Commodore won the 2006 Stanley Cup as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes and won gold with Team Canada at the 2007 IIHF World Championships in Moscow, Russia. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound defenseman was originally drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the second round (42nd overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Currently in his 13th professional season, he has played in 261 career AHL games, compiling 79 points (15 goals, 64 assists) and 615 penalty minutes. Commodore played three years of NCAA Division I college hockey for the University of North Dakota, helping the Fighting Sioux win the 2000 NCAA National Championship.

Third Period Outburst Fuels Texas Stars 4-3 Comeback Win

Matt Fraser beats Dov Grumet-Morris for his 31st of the year. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
It's been a while since the Stars have gotten a big third period comeback but they did so tonight, erasing a two goal deficit to win 4-3 over the San Antonio Rampage at Cedar Park Center.

"It's a good feeling to come from behind," said forward Matt Fraser, who scored twice in the contest. "We had belief we could do it, and it shows the character of the team."

Falling behind 3-1 in the second after a Greg Rallo power play goal, Texas put three pucks past Dov Grumet-Morris in the opening seven minutes of the final frame to go ahead 4-3.

"We knew if we had a quick start in the third, we could win it," added Colton Sceviour, who had a goal and two assists in the game. "Coming back to win like that takes character."

Texas reclaims outright possession of first place in the league with the win and the two points, pushing them to 83 on the season overall. The Stars only have 13 games left on the season. The club's season record for points (99) was set in the 80-game inaugural season.

Texas allowed an early first period goal off a turnover. Richard Bachman was beat glove side off a two-on-one by John MacFarland under three minutes into the match. Matt Fraser answered back on the power play with his 30th of the year from one of his favorite scoring spots, the right wing circle. Fraser's one-timer off the pass from Morin tied the game.

San Antonio would go ahead by a goal less than a minute later, however. Evan Barlow, the former and current Rampage forward just re-signed on a PTO, beat Bachman off the near post to end the period at a 2-1 lead.

The Rampage extended their lead in the second with former Texas Star Greg Rallo picking up his 22nd goal of the season, a notable feat considering his slow start. Looking to do Fraser one better, Rallo scored his tally on the power play from the left-wing circle on a one-timer, also a favorite spot for Rallo.

Andre Deveaux sustained an unsightly injury in the second period as well that caused a long stoppage of play. Deveaux fell to the ice after appearing to be hit with a high stick. Rampage captain Nolan Yonkman attempted to jump over the sliding Deveaux but missed and cut Deveaux's face with his skate blade. Deveaux was taken to Cedar Park Regional Medical Center and was released later in the evening, travelling home with the team, which waited for his release.

The Stars came alive in the third period, scoring three to go ahead and win. It was the sixth come from behind win for the Stars this year.

Matt Fraser went first, scoring his 31st of the year off a nifty backhand pass form Colton Sceviour. Sceviour himself went next under two minutes later off a turnover. The Rampage pass from O'Hanley was broken up by Sceviour as snapped the puck past DGM for the 3-3 tie. The unassisted tally was his 18th goal of the year.

Justin Dowling capped off the night's scoring with his 10th of the season. "Hedden tried passing it down low to me and it went off the backwall," said Dowling. "I went to shoot it, and it somehow squeaked through."

Rampage penalties all but closed the door on their chances to tie in the final frame. Texas's power play kept possession and shut down any chance at a comeback.

Richard Bachman stopped 23 or 26 in his first game back in Austin.

Texas is now idle until Friday when they will face the Rochester Americans for their only appearance at the Cedar Park Center this season.

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

Labrie-Wrenn
Sneep-Baldwin
Fortunus-Sloan

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour, Campbell (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Nilstorp (injured)
Fyten, Tousignant (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,484.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - March 19 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Surprise Move: Dallas Recalls G Jack Campbell and Assigns Richard Bachman

Ready for the NHL? Maybe. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
Jack Campbell wasn't supposed to be recalled to Dallas this season. The rookie tender was supposed to spend the season in Texas, playing his first season splitting time with Cris Nilstorp. It looks now like, thanks to an injury to Nilstorp and subpar play from Richard Bachman, Campbell will sit the bench in Dallas and may actually play. The Stars have a back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday.

I'm not sure that he's ready for it personally, but this is how the cards are being dealt for the organization. Dallas needs better backup goaltending and they're going to give their 'goalie of the future' a shot at spelling Kari Lehtonen.

Meanwhile in Texas, Richard Bachman will get the assignment. I think it's likely that Texas plays Bachman tonight. Coach Desjardins has shown no confidence in Tyler Beskorowany this season as he has gotten no ice time.

Things just got really interesting in net for the Dallas organization

(Side note: Check out Josh Robinson's numbers in Idaho this season.)

Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has recalled goaltender Jack Campbell and assigned goaltender Richard Bachman to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). The club also placed forward Ryan Garbutt on injured reserve with a hand injury, retroactive to March 14.

Campbell, 21, has skated in 32 games for Texas this season and has a 14-10-3 record with a .906 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.59 goals-against average (GAA). The Port Huron, Mich., native was Dallas’ first-round selection (11th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to beginning his professional career, Campbell represented Team USA at three consecutive IIHF World U-20 Championships (2010-12), capturing a gold medal in 2010 and a bronze medal in 2011.

Bachman, 25, has played in seven games this season with Dallas, recording a 2-3-0 record with a .838 SV% and a 4.27 GAA. The Salt Lake City native has appeared in 26 career NHL contests, posting a 10-8-1 record with a .894 SV%, a 3.13 GAA and one shutout. He was Dallas’ fourth-round selection (120th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Additionally, the club has placed forward Ryan Garbutt on injured reserve, retroactive to the game against the Anaheim Ducks on March 14. The 6-0, 190-pound forward from Winnipeg has appeared in 43 career NHL games (all with Dallas) recording five goals and three assists with 42 penalty minutes.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
35-16-5-6, 81 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.San Antonio Rampage
27-26-1-6, 61 pts
#13 Western Conference
March 19th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Having earned five of a possible six points since last playing the Rampage, Texas is certainly feeling better about themselves now than they probably were a week ago. Still the way they lost that sixth and final potential point and who they lost it to should be more than enough to motivate them to perform well against the Rampage tonight.

Texas has had a lot of success against the Ramapge this season. In fact, Texas has not failed to collect at least one point against the San Antonio club in eight games this season. Continued injury issues in Florida and a Stars' team that is getting healthier may continue that trend.

Rampage blogger 'Rampage Nate' often refers to the Cedar Park Center as a house of horrors for San Antonio. In four year and 22 games, San Antonio has won only five games in Austin. That's eighteen points for San Antonio to 36 for Texas, exactly double. There have been a fair share of overtime contests so there's no telling if that's in the cards tonight.

Nilstorp looks to be out again with injury. I would not be surprised to see the Stars put out the same lineup as the last two games in Charlotte.

Remember tonight's game is on TV with Dan Weiss and the FSSW crew calling the action.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Nilstorp (injured)

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)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stars Drop Close Overtime Contest in Charlotte 3-2

Tom Wandell (Credit: Gregg Forwerck/Charlotte Checkers)
It was an anti-climatic ending to the game., The overtime game-winner goal call came off a lengthy video review and put the Checkers past Texas by a 3-2 mark. Charlotte scored first in the game, but Texas got two goals in the second from Mike Hedden and Matt Fraser to go ahead. The Checkers would tie the game in the second and play a scoreless third. Jack Campbell stopped 22 of 25.

The three point game moves Texas to 81 points but Charlotte to 77, leaping past Grand Rapids at 76 for the moment.

The Stars had most of the early chances in the first period, but it was Charlotte getting the first goal. Late in the period, a soft call on Gord Baldwin for tripping led to a Checkers power play. Just five seconds in, David Marshall scored as William Wrenn mishandled the puck off a Francis Wathier faceoff win. The unassisted goal was Marshall's second of the year.

Texas answered back with two in the second period. Matt Fraser collected his 29th of the year as a Charlotte broken stick generated a 3-on-1. Fraser went shot all the way and popped the water bottle on John Muse to knot things at one. Less than two minutes later, Mike Hedden would slip the puck in off a slick backhand pass from Justin Dowling off a turnover from the Checkers.

Charlotte would even things up before the end of the period though as Matt Beca scored his third of the year, the first goal of the night with two assists actually. Turnovers had generated all the previous goals. Texas outshout Charlotte 13-7 in the period.

A frenetic at times third period couldn't decide the contest as three points would be awarded this afternoon. It was Chris Terry ending the contest in overtime for the Checkers. The slow dribbler of a goal went to a lengthy goal review by the referee but was called a good goal by referee Fred Leblanc. The goal was unassisted.

Texas returns home to play San Antonio on Tuesday in a game that will be televised on FOX Sports.

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

Labrie-Wrenn
Sneep-Baldwin
Fortunus-Sloan

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Nilstorp (injured)
Fyten, Tousignant (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,517.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - March 17 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
35-16-4-6, 80 pts
#1 Western Conference
atCharlotte Checkers
35-22-2-3, 75 pts
#4 Western Conference
March 17th at 2:00 PM
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

An afternoon game in Charlotte sees Texas with an opportunity to open up a seven point lead on the Checkers in the division standings. The Checkers however are not the closest team to the Stars in the West anymore. Thanks to a five game winning streak, just snapped by Milwaukee, the Grand Rapids Griffins are at 76 points and leading the Midwest Division. They are in second place with that total and just four back of Texas.

The Checkers believed they played a mistake filled game and that led to their downfall against Texas. The Stars will take it anyway they can as the banged-up North Carolina side is where the Stars were two weeks ago, With so many ECHL bodies at all positions, the Checkers are mired in a three game losing streak. They've started scoring goals with seven in their last three games. Only problem is that the club has allowed fifteen goals over the same span.

Expect Jack Campbell in nets for the Stars while John Muse mans the pipes for Charlotte again. Amazingly, there are no expected lineup changes for the Stars from last game to this one. According to Paul Branecky, Charlotte "will likely have same group of players in consecutive games for first time since Feb. 22-23."

In a brilliant stroke by the AHL scheduler, the Stars will play the Checkers three more times before the end of the season, once more at the end of the week in Texas and two in Charlotte in April. It would, however, be folly to expect that the club Texas sees today will be anything like their playoff team. Injuries will obviously be a factor. Also, Carolina is on the playoff bubble. Depending on if they make it, this club could look very different.

The same can be said for the Stars of course. With no Clear Day roster this year, the rules for assigning players to the AHL after the season is over are still a little unclear. More information about that in the coming weeks.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Nilstorp (injured)

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

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Stars Take First of Two Weekend Games In Charlotte 7-3

Colton Sceviour (Credit: Gregg Forwerck/Charlotte Checkers)
Sorry for the delay on this one. I was in transit to Sweden.

The Charlotte offense came alive, but it didn't matter to the Texas Stars on Friday night as they outscored the  Checkers 7-3 to start their important weekend against the club closest behind them in the standings. Colton Sceviour had two goals and an assist as one of five different goal scorers in the game. Travis Morin also collected a pair while Francis Wathier, Toby Petersen and Carl Sneep collected the others.

"The mistakes we're making you can't afford to make against anyone, let alone a great team like Texas," said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels after the game. "They're in first place for a reason."

The game was important for so many reasons for the Stars. With the win, they ensure that they will leave Charlotte with first place in the West regardless of Sunday's outcome. However, they also give themselves a chance to open a seven point lead on their closest competition with a month to go until the end of the season.

The Stars struck first, scoring the only goal of the first period on a rebound of a Sceviour wrap-around attempt that went in over Muse's right pad. Gord Baldwin was the lone assist and set the score at 1-0.

Play opened up more in the second as Charlotte's Beau Schmitz answered back. His first of the year was scored from the point with all five Stars below the hashes and inside the faceoff dots. Texas answered back with two in the period in rapid succession. Carl Sneep scored his second of the season as Bretton Cameron raced down the right wing side and found Sneep open in the high slot for the pass. Texas would take the 2-1 lead and would not trail again in the game.

With Wrenn in the box for tripping, Sceviour got his second of the night shorthanded. One too many dekes for John Muse and Sceviour found twine thru the five-hole of the Charlotte tender for the 3-1 lead just 50 seconds later.

Despite only eight shots in the third period, Texas managed to score four goals and salt away the game despite two Checkers tallies. Matt Marquadt was left alone down low and tapped one in past a sprawling Campbell to make it 3-2 early in the third. Texas responded with Wathier's third of the year, a Johnny-on-the-spot tally off a turnover by the Checkers defense. Travis Morin tipped home a Fraser shot just 30 seconds later and it was 5-2.

Beau Schmitz would add his second on the game and the season late in the period but Texas would answer with an empty net goal from Morin and Toby Petersen goal with less than a minute in the game.

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

Labrie-Wrenn
Sneep-Baldwin
Fortunus-Sloan

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Nilstorp (injured)
Fyten, Tousignant (scratch)

Tyler Sloan and Maxime Fortunus, both out with injuries until recently, were each plus-3 in the contest. That's a good sign.

Tonight's attendance was 8,421.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - March 15 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
34-16-4-6, 78 pts
#1 Western Conference
atCharlotte Checkers
35-21-2-3, 75 pts
#4 Western Conference
March 15th at 6:00 PM
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

It's been a while since these two clubs matched up head to head but tonight's game has been much anticipated and will have scoreboard watchers from around the Western Conference if not the league.

To put it in persepective, the last time these two teams played Cody Eakin and Reilly Smith led the Stars in scoring. Gord Baldwin had just been signed to a PTO and there was still no end in sight on the NHL lockout.

Since that point, Texas is 19-6-1-4; Charlotte is 17-12-1-0. These two clubs have been circling each other without playing each other for two months now and this is a a big weekend. Just three points behind the Stars, the Checkers can become the first place team in the West with two regulation wins. That is obviously the worst possible situation for the Stars.

Owen Newkirk pointed out on Twitter that the Checkers have run out of "new guy" name plates thanks to injuries. John Muse is currently the man in net for the Checkers, who have lost three of their last five games. Texas of course just broke up a five game losing streak with a 4-3 win on Wednesday but lost Nilstorp to injury. Jack Campbell will be the man in nets for Texas.

The Stars have had good success against Charlotte this season, so far 3-0. They will look to continue this good luck as this weekend could really shape their seeding for the playoffs and determine how deep they go into the postseason.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Nilstorp (injured)

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

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Idaho Steelheads Report: Steelies Split The Week as Stars Call for Beskorowany


Tyler Beskorowany (Credit : Idaho Steelheads)
John Mulhern drops knowledge about the Steelheads... Also note that today the Stars called up goalie Tyler Beskorowany and assigned defenseman Jace Coyle...

The Idaho Steelheads completed their 9 game home-stand with 4 games in 5 nights with some mixed results.

Tuesday March 5th vs. Colorado Eagles 4-2 W
The Idaho Steelheads would have two goals waved offed in the first period, but still managed to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room after the first period of play. Defenseman William Lacasse would officially get the Steelheads on the board at the 8:04 mark of the period. The Colorado Eagles (St Johns Ice Caps) would tie the game up on a power play goal from Kyle Ostrow a little over 3 minutes later, but Steelhead Austin Smith would respond right back with a power play goal. 

Michael Forney would tie the game at 2 for Colorado when he scored just 24 seconds into the second period, however once again the Steelheads would answer on the power play as Justin Taylor would deflect a Patrick Cullity shot to give the Steelheads a 3-2 lead after two. The third was a tightly contested period, and again the Steelheads sat on a one goal lead and let the Eagles come at them. Goaltender Josh Robinson stood tall and turned aside all 17 shots sent his way in the 3rd period and Tyler Gron iced the game with an empty net goal with just under 2 minutes remaining in the game.

Wednesday March 6 vs. Colorado Eagles 2-1 L
It what could best be analogous to a pitchers dual, Steelheads goaltender Tyler Beskorowany and Eagles goaltender Adam Brown, did their best to impersonate baseball’s Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander. On this night however, it was the Eagles that was able to do just that little bit more to get the win. The teams would split goals in the first period as Steve Haddon would score on the power play just 3:56 into the first. 

Again, not to be out done the Steelheads responded with their own power play goal. It was Tyler Gron getting his 16th of the season to tie the game at 1 after one period of play. In the second Colorado would again take advantage of having the extra attacker as Collin Bowman would get the game winner at the 10:26 mark of the second. The Steelheads would have chances, but they were unable to find the back of the net. For the game Brown made 25 saves on 26 shots and Beskorowany made 39 saves on 40 shots. With those goaltending numbers either team should have expected to win. On this night however, it was the Eagles who stopped the Steelheads 8 game point streak

Friday March 8 vs. Gwinnett Gladiators 5-3 W
This past Friday the Gwinnett Gladiators (Portland Pirates) made their way into Boise for the first time since the 2004 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals. They were greeted by over 4,300 Steelheads fans who hopped to see the Steelheads get back to their winning ways. Josh Robinson was back in net for the Steelheads as head coach Brad Ralph continued with his goalie rotation. In the first period, the Gladiators would get the only goal as ECHL scoring leader Casey Pierro-Zabotel, got the first and only marker in the period for the 1-0 lead after the first period. 

In the second, Scott Todd and Austin Smith would get goals for the Steelheads only to see the Gladiators tie at before the end of the frame to send the game into the third knotted at 2. After two close checking periods, there was a feeling that one more goal was going to be enough, you just weren’t sure if it was going to happen. Rylan Galiardi would start an avalanche of scoring when he put the Steelheads up 3-2 just 3:21 into the 3rd. Pierro-Zabotel, would get his second of the night to equalize the game again at 10:09. 

Now Brad Ralph had just brought in rookie forward Chase Schaber out of Univeristy of Lethbridge in Canada and in his first professional game, Schaber would tally his first professional goal at the 14:51 mark of the 3rd, and it would turn into the game winner as Justin Tayler would add an empty net goal with 45 seconds left in the game. Robinson stopped 28 of 31 to get the win for the Steelheads.

Saturday March 9 vs. Gwinnett Gladiators 2-0 L
The Steelheads were shut-out for the first time all season at home as Louis Domingue would stop all 40 shots the Steelheads sent in his direction. Tyler Beskorowany would once again take a hard luck loss as he turned aside 18 of 20 shots in the game. 

If ever there was a case of no puck luck, this was that night as the Steelheads were just a bounce or a deflection away from getting on the board on numerous occasions. The game remained scoreless through 2 periods of play before Rylan Galiardi would take a hooking call at the 3:13 mark of the 3rd. Just 5 seconds later, the Gladiators Sachs Guimond had the puck in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. After a Jeremie Blain high-sticking call put the Gladiators back on the power play, Evan Bloodoff made it 2-0 and that was good enough for the win.

What’s Next:
The Steelheads head up to Sullivan Arena to take on the Alaska Aces (Independent) in a three game series this Wednesday, Friday & Saturday. This series is essentially a make or break series regarding the Steelheads chances at winning the Mountain Division and also the Western Conference. Alaska only needs 5 points relative to Idaho to clinch the Division and 8 points relative to the Ontario Reign (Manchester Monarchs) to clinch the Western Conference.

To give themselves any semblance of a chance the Steelheads must win all 3 games or they are going to be locked into the 3rd seed for the Kelly Cup Playoffs. In fairness even a sweep still puts the Steelheads odds at winning the division/conference at a long shot. The Steelheads are 3-1 against the Aces this year, but all 4 games have taken place in Boise.

Prospect Update:
  • Austin Smith: Just had a 5 game point streak snapped during which, he had 5 goals and 6 assists. Has been the driving offensive force since his re-assignment from Texas. Has a tendency at times to be a bit creative outside of the teams systems, but has earned a bit of freedom with his play.
  • John Ryder: Has been on the IR for the past two and a half months. Will be making his first appearance since Dec 30. As a defenseman this year he has 3 assists on the season in 19 games played.
  • Josh Robinson: Has gone 3-0 during March including 2 wins this past week. He has only allowed 5 goals on 108 shots faced and has brought his GAA down to 2.58 and increased his SV% to .924
  • Tyler Beskorowany: Has a 1-2 record during March, however a lack of offense cost him in his two losses more than his play. He has allowed just 4 goals in his two losses this month and has also dropped his GAA from 2.86 to 2.80 and marginally increased his SV% from .910 to .911

 Until next time…

Texas Closes Homestand with 4-3 Win Over Heat

Texas forward Mike Hedden goals top-shelf on Brust scoring his second goal of the game, the  ultimate game-winner. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
Texas closed up their long March homestand with a win, their first in the sequence, in the last game, a 4-3 victory over the Abbotsford Heat. The Stars welcomed Justin Dowling back from injury and the center had two assists in the game, both on Mike Hedden goals as the two were re-united with Alex Chiasson to reform the line that had so much success last month.

"We're been struggling to win and letting them get away from us," said Hedden. "The boys came to play tonight and it's nice to get a win."

The Stars may have suffered a significant player loss though as Cristopher Nilstorp was injured early in the second period and had to be helped off the ice. Jack Campbell finished the game.

"Whether we have Nilstorp or Campbell in net, we feel confident."

It was the Heat getting the best of the Stars first in the contest. Krys Kolanos, always a threat to score, did just that off a bad angle shot on Nilstorp that slid in five hole on the tender for the 1-0 score. The Stars evened it up within five minutes with another bad angle shot low on the left win side, beating Danny Taylor for his team-leading 28th of the year.

Abbotsford got the quick answer on a rebound goal again through the legs of Nilstorp. Blair Jones's second of the year made it 2-1 at the break.

The second period was all Texas and ended up being the difference in the game.

"It's nice to jump out early in any period. Once we get a goal, the life on the bench gets up."

Hedden was the firecracker in the period for the club. Ninety-three seconds in Hedden tied the score with a high shot over Taylor as he was falling to the ice. The goal was assisted by linemates Dowling and Chiasson and set the table for a productive second.

William Wrenn went next with his second AHL goal. The tic-tac-toe move from Wathier cross ice to Vause and back to Wrenn beat Taylor clean from the high slot and set the score at 3-2.

Hedden got the insurance goal with the same score line as his first goal. All of this before the five minute mark of the period and all Texas had to do was batten down the hatches to win, something they had much success with in the mid-season.

Just after Hedden's goal, Texas lost Nilstorp to injury. A Heat forward barreled into the Texas tender and he was helped off the ice by trainer DJ Amadio. Bretton Cameron fought with James Martin after the hit and Abbotsford picked up an extra minor for slashing. Gord Baldwin fought Testwuide later in the period in possible retribution for the hit.

Jack Campbell came in and only allowed one goal as the Stars managed to eke out their 34th win of the season. The third period tally came off a Mike Matczak point shot but it would be all the Heat got. In all, Campbell stopped 17 of 18 as he played 34:55 of the game including a third period where Texas was outshot 11-2. The Stars had 12 shots in each of the first two periods before the third.

Despite being a competitor in the West, Charlotte meanwhile has a very tough time with their closest rival, Eastern Conference bottom-dwellers the Norfolk Admirals. Texas managed to jump to 78 points with the win and the Checkers stayed at 75.

"This is an absolutely huge weekend against Charlotte," stated Hedden. Texas has an opportunity to, at best, move a full seven points ahead of Charlotte with two regulation wins. The victory over the Heat is a good start to that weekend drive.

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

Labrie-Wrenn
Sneep-Baldwin
Fortunus-Sloan

Nilstorp
Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic (injured)
Fyten, Coyle, Tousignant (scratch)

Texas got Justin Dowling back and healthy tonight. Cristopher Nilstorp was injured in the second and did not return to the bench in the third.

Tonight's attendance was 5,218.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Abbotsford - March 13 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
33-16-4-6, 76 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Abbotsford Heat
28-25-3-6, 65 pts
#8 Western Conference
March 13th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

With both Charlotte and Texas in action tonight, the Stars have a chance to be surpassed be the Checkers for the top spot in the West ahead of going out to play them directly for two games this weekend.

Abbotsford stands between the two clubs for the moment, the last game of a disappointing home stand. The Stars have garnered only two points in four games but have held on barely to their first place ranking. Their lead evaporated with Charlotte only a single point behind them for the lead. If Charlotte wins tonight and Texas loses, the Stars will drop to fourth place, due to divisional ranking rules.

The Stars got healthy on Saturday with the return of Scott Glennie and Maxime Fortunus. That led to the release of Doug Jones and Jacob Johnston. Jones scored his first AHL goal while in Texas and will probably continue to play elsewhere in the AHL at some point in his career. Texas really needs Patrik Nemeth to return in order to solidify a defensive grouping that has been in constant flux since last month.

The Stars are glad to have Matt Fraser back. He has very quietly, it seems, been having a standout season. While his goal totals aren't as eye-popping due to the expectations from last season, his defensive play is stellar now. He is often the first back on the backcheck and is second on the team in forward plus-minus at plus-12. Anyone who still criticizes his defensive play has not been paying much attention this season.

As to the Heat, they come in having dropped precipitously in the standings. After Barry Brust and Danny Taylor had them flying high in the early season, Abbotsford has earned only six points in the last month (2-9-2). In those games, they have scored one or zero goals eight times. They just can't score right now. That's good news for Texas because the goaltending for the Stars has been uneven during the homestand. After Jack Campbell's amazing February campaign, Texas has allowed four goals in each of their last three games. That is not how you win hockey games and hold onto the top spot.

Texas will look to close the home stand with a big victory to send them out against the competitive Checkers on a high note.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Dowling (injured)

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

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stars Release Tryouts As Contract Players Get Healthy

Tomas Vincour (Credit: Rochester Americans)
Mutliple roster moves over the past 48 hours for the Stars have put the team in a different spot than when they played their last game against San Antonio. That's a good thing as the team is looking to break up a five game losing streak with their contest on Wednesday against the Heat.

First, the Dallas moves. Yesterday, Francis Wathier was returned to Texas after playing in no games during his recall. The NHL Stars' swapped Matt Fraser for Tomas Vincour today. Vincour has been lighting things up at the AHL level. It's uncertain how that shakes out for the Dallas lineup as Fraser has been a top six player and Vincour a bottom six. Fraser will no doubt slip into the Sceviour-Morin line as he has in the past.

Texas released two tryout players today which has to portent good things for the health of the players on standard or NHL contracts. Forward Doug Jones and defenseman Jacob Johnston were both released from their tryout contracts today. Without the return of a forward like Dowling, out since the Stars' last game with OKC after a high hit, it's a zero-sum gain.

On defense, the Stars would lose a player if someone weren't coming back from injury. However, they do have eight healthy defenseman and this gets them to seven. There was probably just some desire to ensure that Fortunus and Sloan were 100% before releasing anyone the Stars had brought into the fold. With their play this weekend, Texas felt confident enough to release Johnston.

If anyone is coming back from injury, now would be a great time for them to do so. Texas is at 76 points and Charlotte has caught up, now at 75. Both teams play Wednesday. Texas has a game in hand overall.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Five Losses in a Row as Texas Drops Shootout to Rampage

Tomas Vincour had two goals in the contest. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen)
Looking for a good game against the Rampage, Texas dropped a 5-4 contest in the shootout to set their losing streak at five games, the longest of the season. Though the Stars lost top scorer Matt Fraser to recall earlier in the day, any questions about offense were settled by the four goal outburst, including two from Tomas Vincour. A twelve round shootout settled the final score after Texas allowed a shorthanded goal in the final five minute to tie the game.

"It's up to us to find the way to get the two points," said captain Maxime Frotunus, who returned from injury and scored a goal on the power play. "Until the end of the season, every game is a playoff game. You have to find a way to win."

"Right now, our chances just aren't going," added Tomas Vincour.

Texas opened the scoring with Vincour's 12th of the year, a power play goal that saw William Wrenn collect his first AHL point. Vincour's one-timer was quickly answered by former Star Greg Rallo. His screened shot from the high slot tied things up at one after the first.

Opening the second was San Antonio, scoring off a frentic series where they twice hit the post before scoring to make it 2-1.

The Stars scored two of their own next as fourth year forward Colton Sceviour got into the action. The rebound goal collected off the initial shot from Tyler Sloan was his 15th of the year. A two-man advantage to open the third period yielded the night's third goal, a rebound tally and his 13th of the year in 47 games' work.

The Stars and Rampage traded goals, rather unfortunately for the home side, as the third period wore on. San Antonio tied it up on Jed Ortmeyer's 4th of the year off a drop pass from Lee. Scott Glennie was hooked down on the preceding play, but no call came to save the Stars from the goal against.

Maxime Fortunus scored his sixth of the year on the power play from the point with assists from Hedden and Chiasson. With just under five minutes left in the game, the goal from the captain should have sealed up the game.

"We had four minutes left and up 4-3. We can't get scored on there," said Vincour.

Rallo scored his second of the night pushing up on the penalty kill and scoring shorthanded to tie things at four. Despite outshooting San Antonio 30-12 in the final two periods, both clubs would score three goals.

In a season that has had several tremendously long shootouts, Texas broke their own record set this season for length. Going twelve rounds deep, the Stars struck a lot of posts and came out on the short side 3-2 when Jed Ortmeyer converted his chance and Doug Jones failed to do the same.

Syracuse slipped past the Stars with a win and two points to move to 77. Charlotte, at 73 points, has two games before the Stars play again, both at home and against the Aeros.

Tonight's lines:
Petersen-Morin-Sceviour
Hedden-Chiasson-Glennie
Vincour-Wandell-Jones
Fyten-Vause-Cameron

Labrie-Wrenn
Sneep-Baldwin
Fortunus-Sloan

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Fraser, Wathier (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Dowling (injured)
Coyle, Tousignant, Johnston (scratch)

Texas got Glennie and Fortunus back and healthy tonight.

Tonight's attendance was 5,225.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - March 8 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
33-16-4-5, 75 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.San Antonio Rampage
25-25-1-4, 55 pts
#13 Western Conference
March 8th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Rampage and Stars have to fit in twelve games across the season and havent' played each other in a month. Tonight's game will be one of five against the Rampage left before the end of the season.

San Antonio has just returned from their rodeo road trip, the annual sojourn away from the AT&T Center as, you guessed it, the building hosts the rodeo. The club went 5-4-1 on the trip. Earning over half the available point is usually good on an extended road trip, but San Antonio is in need of some majorly 'above-average' play to seal up a playoff berth.

Currently in 13th in the West, the Florida Panthers are not helping matters. Top goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom has been recalled, likely for the duration of the season. Conversations last night on Twitter between George Richards, beat writer for the Panthers, and the Rampage's Dan Weiss were rather dire in terms of callups. With San Antonio already icing nine ECHL players on their roster, Florida might be looking to pluck their last contract player from the roster to fill in after suspension.

Texas, of course, is not unfamiliar with such plights. The Stars got Tyler Sloan and Alex Chiasson back in Tuesday's losing effort but saw Taylor Vause take a puck to the face in the game. It's unclear if he will play tonight. Dallas has had injury issues as well, which reverberate down to the AHL, but those look to be trending up as Ray Whitney could return for the NHL side next week, leaving a forward to return to Austin. Philip Larsen is also healthy for Dallas and could lead to the return of a defenseman.

The Stars have not failed to collect points in any of their seven games with San Antonio so far (6-0-1). They really need both tonight though as Charlotte moved to 73 points this week, and Texas is stuck at 75.

Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Wathier (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Fortunus, Gazdic, Dowling (injured)
Vause (questionable)

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)