Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mueller Nets Hat Trick as Texas Scores Five Unanswered to Beat OKC 6-5 in OT

Texas celebrates Chris Mueller's hat trick goal, which tied the game at five.
 (Credit: Steven Christy)
Usually after five goals against and a goalie change, it's time to pack it in and hope for a better outing next time. Tonight, the Stars flipped the script. Trailing 5-1 just past the halfway point of the game and having allowed two shorthanded goals, Texas scored five unanswered goals and allowed just seven shots against them to turn around and win 6-5 in overtime tonight in Oklahoma City.

Chris Mueller was the shiny penny in this one, scoring a hat trick that included the game-tying goal with just over a minute left in regulation. Mueller has been doing his scoring quietly this season, ranking third on the team in scoring despite fifteen goals and seventeen assists. He would rank first on all but three other teams in the league.

Two quick goals late in the first put Texas in an early hole. A redirect by Curtis Hamilton and a rebound goal by Will Acton were the tallies. Acton added another with Texas on the power play early in the second period, stealing the puck from Brett Ritchie in the Texas zone and rifling it past Nilstorp.

Texas got on the board with a power play goal on that same advantage. It was Mueller's first of the night, going five-hole on Mueller off the initial shot from Morin.

The seeming nails in the coffin came in rapid succession from OKC as a shorthanded two-on-one yielded a Barons' goal following by another Texas turnover to make it 5-1 off the stick of Derek Nesbitt. The Stars would answer back with their second goal of the night but would still trail 5-2 after forty despite the Mike Hedden tally.

The comeback started early in the third with a solid fourth-line goal, a cram play from Taylor Peters. The rookie's third goal of the year opened the door for the veterans to take over. Chris Mueller scored off the rush, going low glove on Bachman after a passing play that saw Wrenn, Oleksiak and Ritchie trade the disc in rapid succession.

With time winding down, the Stars pulled Josh Robinson for the extra attacker. They put out the top power play unit and added Jamie Oleksiak. Chris Mueller was the trigger man though, finding the puck off of a scramble in the crease started by a Maxime Fortunus slapshot. The goal completed the hat trick and set the score at even.

Heading into overtime, the Barons did just what they didn't want to do: loaded up the top power play in the league. Late in the carryover penalty from regulation, roughing to Taylor Fedun, Colton Sceviour charged up the boards toward the net. His backhander trickled over the goal line for the 6-5 win just 46 seconds into the extra session. It was his 21st goal of the year as he continues to lead all players league-wide.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Sceviour
Ranford-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Stransky
Vause-Peters-Wathier

Jokipakka-Fortunus
Wrenn-Oleksiak
Sinkewich-Labrie

Nilstorp
Robinson

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gaunce (callup)
Montgomery, Button (scratch)
Nemeth, Glennie, Campbell, Petersen (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 3,804.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - December 31 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Texas Blasts Rampage 5-2, Wins Franchise-Record 7th Straight Home Game

Colton Sceviour (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Colton Sceviour wasted no time getting himself re-established in the American Hockey League. After getting sent down to Texas this afternoon in a rather cloak-and-dagger type assignment, Sceviour scored two goals, had an assist and a fight. With the second goal, he became the first player in the AHL with twenty goals on the season.

"I don't think I've ever been the leading goal scorer in a league before," said Sceviour.

News of his assignment to Texas was closely guarded until near gametime, releasing at 5:20 PM, in hopes of catching the Rampage off-guard.

"I did a full practice this morning [in Dallas]," said Sceviour, who has been in Dallas for the past three weeks. "I packed my stuff up and drove directly from Frisco to the rink. I haven't been home yet, so it's been a long day."

Coach Desjardins thinks the NHL time has done Sceviour well. He added honestly, "I do think his shot was a little better, but you don't get a better shot over a week."

Sceviour and his linemates did a lot of damage in the game, combining for three goals and six assists. Most of that work was done in the second period, as Texas put up four goals in the middle frame. The power play had three overall.

Travis Morin put more distance between himself and Sceviour in the league point scoring lead with a goal and two assists to stay in #1 overall in the league at 39. Sceviour has 33. Cristopher Nilstorp had 22 saves on 24 shots against him, starting back-to-back games after injury to Jack Campbell.

The win set a franchise record for home winning streak at seven. The crowd of 6,082 got into it, putting on a good show for the TV audience with cheers and jeers alike for the home team and referee crew, respectively.

Morin got it started early with a power play goal off the right point shot. It made it through everyone's legs right off the faceoff and found the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. Sceviour and Curtis McKenzie assisted.

San Antonio got it right back after the same Morin failed to clear a rolling puck. Jed Ortmeyer found Joey Crabb down low, and Crabb sent the puck into the net off the body of Steve Pinizzotto in the crease.

As the first period ended, it was another defensive breakdown leading to the go-ahead goal for the Rampage. Bobby Butler found himself all alone behind the Texas defense. Ryan Button had to hack him down and gave San Antonio a penalty shot. Butler scored on Nilstorp high stick-side for the 2-1 lead.

The second period saw a goal explosion from the Stars after an initial bit of sputtering. An early 5-on-3 that was nearly a full two minutes was lackluster.

"We struggled there and that can really zap the momentum," said Sceviour.

Desjardins added, "That was a big power play for us. We needed it, and we haven't been as good on our last couple 5-on-3s. We have to be careful about relying too much on our power play. We are right now. It's great they're going in."

The final five minutes of the period saw Texas score four goals on just six shots against Jacob Markstrom.

Brett Ritchie went first, putting home a rebound off a patient play by Chris Mueller. Markstrom committed to Ranford on the left post and left Ritchie unmarked. Three minutes later on the power play, Ranford got one of his own. Initially ruled no goal due to a kicking motion, the replay showed that Ranford successfully kicked the puck from skate to stick and in for a power play goal, Texas's second of the night.

Colton Sceviour stepped up for the Stars' fourth and fifth goals in rapid succession. At even strength, Sceviour put a shot on net that Markstrom initially had. It popped up over the goaltender's glove side and rolled into the net limply for the 4-2 Texas lead.

"It wasn't a great shot, but it managed to get in, which was huge. The key was traffic and guys at the net."

Sceviour went again on the power play with Michael Houser now in net for San Antonio just a minute later. In the slot, Sceviour collected a McKenzie pass for his twentieth of the year.

The Stars and Rampage got a bit chippy in the final period, putting up forty total minutes of penalties. That included three fights.

"When we have the lead, we have to be smart with it, and we can't be in the box. It happens both ways. Sometimes you get frustrated. If we're losing, I expect us to play hard. [The Rampage are] going to play hard, and you expect that from them."

Jacob Markstrom was back in net for the third period for San Antonio. Neither team scored in the period.

Texas now packs up and heads to Oklahoma City for New Year's Eve.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Sceviour
Ranford-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Stransky
Vause-Peters-Wathier

Jokipakka-Fortunus
Wrenn-Oleksiak
Button-Labrie

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gaunce (callup)
Montgomery, Sinkewich (scratch)
Nemeth, Glennie, Campbell, Petersen (injury)

Campbell is still sore from his knee injury and continues to be out. Toby Petersen is 'a little banged up' and is also out now.

Tonight's attendance was 6,082.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - December 28 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
18-9-2-3, 41 pts
#4 Western Conference
v.San Antonio Rampage
12-17-0-3, 27 pts
#14 Western Conference
December 28th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas needed a comeback to get a point out of San Antonio last night. Now they head back to the Cedar Park Center for the return game.

The Stars have considerably better luck at the Cedar Park Center against the Rampage. They're 20-3-0-3 all-time. The Rampage haven't won in regulation at CPC since March 10, 2012.

In fact, the Stars have better luck at home overall this season. At home, they are 12-2-0-1. That 83.3% points percentage is the best at home in the league.

Tonight's game is on FOX Sports Southwest, but it will be broadcast by Dan Weiss and the San Antonio team. DVR it and see if you can spot yourself in the crowd.

Josh Robinson could get the start tonight. Keep an eye on that in warmups.

Stars injury/call up report:
Sceviour, Gaunce (callup)
Nemeth, Campbell, Glennie (injury)

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

Friday, December 27, 2013

Stars' Comeback Effort Squandered in 3-2 Shootout Loss

Brett Ritchie (Credit: Josh Huskin)
The Stars had to come from behind in this one in San Antonio, trailing 2-1 in the third period, to earn a single point with a shootout loss to the Rampage. Ryan Button scored the game-tying goal with 100 seconds left in regulation. Texas fell to 0-3 in shootouts this season with Cristopher Nilstorp only stopping two of four. Jacob Markstrom stopped all four in the skills competition portion.

Texas opened the scoring on the power play (naturally). Brett Ritchie was the beneficiary of solid work by Chris Mueller and Brendan Ranford to get a shot on net. Mueller put the puck off the pads of Markstrom and Ritchie collected the rebound for his fifth of the year.

Former Star Greg Rallo, now the Rampage captain, put up the next tally. Early in the second period, he found the mark from one of his favorite spots, the left wing circle. The one-timer was his eighth of the year.

The Rampage pulled ahead in the third period with Wade Megan's first goal of the season. Cristopher Nilstorp was screened on the shot and didn't have a chance on the save.

A point shot from Button put Texas back in the game and restored the Stars' shot at two points. The goal, assisted by Oleksiak and Wathier, came off one of 47 shots in the game for Texas.

Despite a San Antonio power play in the overtime period, neither team scored. The Stars found themselves in the shootout for the third time this season. Once again, they did not emerge victorious. Denny Urban and Bobby Butler scored in the third and fourth rounds while Texas failed to find the net at all.

The Rampage head up the road to the Cedar Park Center to play again tomorrow night. The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southwest.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Wathier-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Vause
Stransky-Peters

Jokipakka-Fortunus
Button-Oleksiak
Sinkewich-Labrie
Wrenn

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gaunce, Sceviour (callup)
Petersen, Montgomery (scratch)
Nemeth, Glennie, Campbell (injury)

Texas dressed seven defensemen in this one.

Tonight's attendance was 8,904.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - December 27 2013

Brock Montgomery Recalled from Idaho

Just a quick note: The Texas Stars recalled forward Brock Montgomery from Idaho today. He should join the team in San Antonio for their game tonight against the Rampage.

Gameday Preview: Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
18-9-2-2, 40 pts
#4 Western Conference
atSan Antonio Rampage
11-17-0-3, 25 pts
#14 Western Conference
December 27th at 7:30 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

The Stars and Rampage are on opposite sides this December. Texas has just one loss in the month; San Antonio has just one win. In the month, the Rampage are 1-7-0-1. They've not won two in a row in over a month, last doing that by defeating the Barons and Stars on November 19th and 22nd.

Perhaps help is on the way from Florida though. As injury conditions have improved in Sunrise, the Panthers have sent Jacob Markstrom to the Alamo City. Markstrom is 4-5-1 and has a 2.46 GAA and .924 SV%. Recent acquisition Rob Madore was kept in the system, getting assigned to Cincinnati.

The Stars get their captain, Maxime Fortunus, back from Dallas. He will make six total healthy defensemen with William Wrenn, Jamie Oleksiak, Hubert Labrie, Ryan Button and Russ Sinkewich. In case you missed it, Patrik Nemeth is out for at least a month after foot surgery this past week. He had a stress fracture in his foot. Jyrki Jokipakka continues to be out with concussion-like symptoms after the hit from Kale Kessy in last week's game at OKC.

In net, it seems like the Stars are also in a bit of trouble. Jack Campbell missed a scheduled start in last week's set at OKC. Coach Desjardins started Cristopher Nilstorp both nights. On Thursday, Texas recalled Josh Robinson from the Idaho Steelheads. He will likely back up the vet Nilstorp.

It's really too bad for Jack Campbell, who is having an amazing season. He's yet to lose (5-0-0) and hasn't allowed more than two goals in any game all season (1.40 GAA, .947 SV%). If he were anywhere close to those numbers and playing more often, he'd be a shoe-in for the AHL All-Star game in St. John's.

Stars injury/call up report:
Oleksiak, Sceviour, Gaunce (callup)
Nemeth, Campbell, Glennie, Jokipakka (injury)

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Texas Stars Recall Goalie Josh Robinson

Josh Robinson (Credit: Allen Picard/Idaho Steelheads)
The Texas Stars announced this afternoon that they have recalled goalie Josh Robinson from Idaho. Based on the fact that Cristopher Nilstorp unexpectedly started both games last weekend, I would hazard a guess that this is related to the health of Jack Campbell.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey league affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that the club has recalled goaltender Josh Robinson from loan with the Idaho Steelheads, their ECHL affiliate.

Robinson, 23, has appeared in four games for Texas this season, including a 26-save shutout in his AHL debut on October 19th vs. San Antonio. The Frankenmuth, Michigan native has a 2-1-0 record for the Stars, with a 2.49 goals-against average (GAA) and a 0.893 save percentage (SV%). In 13 ECHL games this year with Idaho, Robinson is 9-3-1, with a 2.28 GAA and a 0.921 SV%.

Texas Stars Report: Still Winning Somehow

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The 'Texas Stars Report' on Defending Big D...
At this point, what can you even say about what the Texas Stars (18-9-2-2, 40 pts, #4 Western Conference) are doing in the AHL? They have been ravaged by callups to Dallas and injuries of their own. They lost their leading goal scorer to callup and a top offensive force, Scott Glennie, to injury.

Despite that, they tied a franchise record for wins in a row at six last week and are putting a bunch of room between them and the rest of the pack in the standings. Last Friday's game at OKC was the team's first loss in the month of December.

Is Coach Desjardins working on a second Louis A.R. Pieri Award for Coach of the Year? Just maybe.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Maxime Fortunus Assigned To Texas Stars, Bolstering Injured Blue Line

Maxime Fortunus (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
After getting into his first NHL game in four years last night in Los Angeles, Texas Stars captain Maxime Fortunus has been assigned to the AHL. Fortunus also tallied his first NHL point in the game, a 5-2 Dallas win. Fortunus was one of several on a patchwork blue line following injuries to Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley and Sergei Gonchar.

Texas now features the following healthy blue liners: Maxime Fortunus, Hubert Labrie, Ryan Button, William Wrenn, Russ Sinkewich and Jamie Oleksiak. Patrik Nemeth is out following foot surgery last week. The second-year D-man had a stress fracture in his foot. Jyrki Jokipakka is also out with concussion-like symptoms after an elbow to the head courtesy of OKC's Kale Kessy.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Texas Stars Rebound, Rout Barons 7-2 in OKC

Mike Hedden (Credit: Steven Christy)
Despite icing quite a motley group of skaters, the Texas Stars managed to finish off their pre-Christmas schedule with a 7-2 win in Oklahoma City tonight.

After losing much of their defense to injury either in the NHL or AHL, Texas got more bad news as Jyrki Jokipakka was not available for the game tonight after a high elbow from Kale Kessy last night. Forward Toby Petersen skated on defense with Russ Sinkewich and the Stars double-shifted a number of players onto the second line, which is missing its usual left winger, Scott Glennie.

None of that mattered on the evening as a three-goal second period beat the Barons and even chased Richard Bachman from the net. Travis Morin had two goals, and Curtis McKenzie had the primary assist on each. Mike Hedden had a goal and two assists. The Stars put on a two-goal third period just for good measure. Toby Petersen, playing defense, even picked up a goal and an assist.

Cristopher Nilstorp got the surprise start and had 34 saves on 36 shots against him.

Texas got things started very early with Travis Morin's fourteenth of the year. Just 23 seconds into the game, Curtis McKenzie and William Wrenn assisted on the opening goal. It wouldn't last long as Ryan Martindale got his second of the year less than a minute later. Everything was back to even as teddy bears rained down upon the ice for the Barons' teddy bear toss game.

With Jyrki Jokipakka out, Ryan Button is getting some time on the power play. It worked out very well for the young blue liner tonight as he collected his first AHL goal on the man advantage in the final 90 seconds of the opening frame.

In the second stanza, Steve MacIntyre took a bit of exception to Travis Morin after the whistle, butt ending the league's leading scorer and earning a five minute major and a match penalty. Texas went on the extended power play but, despite their spot as the league leader, traded goals with the shorthanded OKC squad.

Will Acton managed to put in a shorthanded goal for the Barons as Texas made a bad line change. He beat Nilstorp over the blocker to tie things at 2-2.

With many of their power play personnel out of the lineup, Texas started throwing out normal even-strength lines on the power play. Taylor Vause made the most of that opportunity, scoring his first of the year off a great pass from Taylor Peters.

The Stars went off in the back half of the period. Travis Morin scored his fifteenth of the year and second of the game on a three-on-one chance. Curtis McKenzie assisted, as did Russ Sinkewich, his first as a Star.

Mike Hedden extended the lead to 5-2 off the pass shot from Justin Dowling. Hedden tipped the puck up and popped it over Bachman.

Richard Bachman would not return for the third period, giving way to Chet Pickard in net for the Barons. Pickard was nearly as leaky, allowing a point shot goal from Toby Petersen and an unassisted tally to Chris Mueller.

The Stars now take a long break over Christmas, taking the ice again in San Antonio on December 27th.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Vause
Wathier-Peters-Stransky
Nigro

Wrenn-Oleksiak
Button-Labrie
Sinkewich-Petersen

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gaunce, Sceviour, Fortunus (callup)
Nemeth, Glennie, Jokipakka (injury)

The lines look a little strange tonight. Texas had Jokipakka out but no time to get another defenseman. Petersen played defense with Russ Sinkewich. A number of players cycled in with Mueller and Ritchie on the second line. Anthony Nigro did not receive a shift until the second period.

Tonight's attendance was 5,400.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - December 21 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
17-9-2-2, 38 pts
#4 Western Conference
atOklahoma City Barons
11-14-0-5, 27 pts
#11 Western Conference
December 21st at 7:00 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Just a bit shorter today. Same team as yesterday on both counts.

One interesting point to look at is in net. No doubt that Texas will bring out Jack Campbell in net for tonight's game after playing Cristopher Nilstorp last night. There's a question though if OKC will play Bachman again or play Chet Pickard. Pickard, who some might remember from his time with Milwaukee, has yet to play in the AHL this season. He's gotten into ten games with Bakersfield in the ECHL.

Stars injury/call up report:
Sceviour, Fortunus, Gaunce (callup)
Nemeth, Glennie (injury)

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

Friday, December 20, 2013

Former Star Bachman Blanks Texas 2-0 To Halt Win Streak

Richard Bachman (Credit: Steven Christy)
It took until December 20th for the Stars to lose a game in the final month of 2013. Riding a six-game winning streak into Oklahoma City, Texas was blanked by a former teammate, Richard Bachman, and had their streak snapped before they could set a new franchise record at seven.

Several streaks also ended with the loss. Texas had gone 11 straight games with a power play goal until tonight. Also, Cristopher Nilstorp, who took the loss, broke up a three game personal winning streak.

Oklahoma City got it all done in the second period. Andrew Miller opened the scoring on what was the eventual game winner. A puck sent in by Martin Gernat tipped off the body of Roman Horak in front and laid down in front of the net. Miller threw the loose puck into the cage for the 1-0 lead.

Ten minutes later, CJ Stretch scored for the Barons to extend it. The Stars' fifth ranked penalty kill suffered a goal against just as time was winding down on a penalty to Taylor Peters for interference. With just three seconds left in the minor, Stretch found another rebound off the initial shot from Will Acton.

Richard Bachman had 39 saves in the effort, his first shutout of the season for OKC. Nilstorp stopped had 24 saves on 26 shots against him.

The two teams will lace them up again tomorrow night at the Cox Convention Center.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Wathier
Ranford-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Nigro
Petersen-Peters-Stransky

Wrenn-Oleksiak
Jokipakka-Labrie
Sinkewich-Button

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gaunce, Sceviour, Fortunus (callup)
Vause (scratch)
Nemeth, Glennie (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 2,808.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - December 20 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
17-8-2-2, 38 pts
#4 Western Conference
atOklahoma City Barons
10-13-0-5, 25 pts
#11 Western Conference
December 20th at 7:00 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Texas returns to the scene of the crime tonight in Oklahoma City. Riding a six game win streak, the Stars will try to set a franchise record with a seventh win in the same arena where that current streak started. After posting two losses to Grand Rapids, allowing a total of ten goals, Texas beat the Barons 5-4 on December 3rd with the winner coming off the stick of Colton Sceviour.

Two each against Iowa and San Antonio with one in the middle against Chicago and they're back in OKC looking for #7. The optimist of course would look at any streak this long at say that it's a solid positive for the team overall. They are outscoring opponents 22-12 during the streak. Jack Campbell has yet to lose this season (5-0) and yet to allow more than two goals all season.

A pessimist would perhaps note that the Stars are feasting on strength of schedule. Among the teams they've played during this stretch, only Chicago is in playoffs position. San Antonio, OKC and Iowa all rank outside the playoff picture. In fact, the Stars will not play another team currently in playoff position until January 10th at home against Abbotsford.

The realist in all this though would say that while the Stars are certainly playing lower quality opponents, a win is a win. Two points against Utica is worth the same as two points against Grand Rapids on April 20th when the season is over. The realist might also say that Texas hasn't exactly been dominating these games. They've been doing what it takes to win. Only one game, December 15th at San Antonio, was not decided by a single goal or a single goal and an empty netter. The point is that the Stars are certainly enjoying the streak, not taking it for granted and taking each game as it comes. Coach Desjardins notes that the team has an especially tough time in the Cox Convention Center, so this game will be no cakewalk.

On the injury front, Russ Sinkewich should get at least another few games with the Stars as Maxime Fortunus is staying in Dallas for the time being. Patrik Nemeth will be out "for a while". Scott Glennie is out at least until Christmas and probably further so either Anthony Nigro or Taylor Vause will move into the lineup for Texas. Chris Mueller and Brett Ritchie will need a new linemate on the second line in Glennie's absence.

Speaking of absences, late news on Thursday came through that Linus Omark was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. Omark is a point-per-game player in the American league. He played 51 games with Edmonton in 2010-11 but has played progressively fewer each season to now. He has only played one NHL game this season and reportedly asked to be traded. Omark is far and away the leading scorer for the Barons, leading the next clsoest followers (Anton Lander and Matthew Ford) by 14 points. It's a big loss to put it mildly.

Stars injury/call up report:
Sceviour, Fortunus, Gaunce (callup)
Nemeth, Glennie (injury)

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

With Glennie Out, Texas Adds Anthony Nigro on PTO

Texas announced this morning that they have added center Anthony Nigro on a PTO. The signing is a logical step following the injury to Scott Glennie last night and the information after the game that he would out until at least Christmas. The third year Glennie left the game in the third period holding his right shoulder.

Nigro was in camp with the Texas Stars this season and has had a standout season with the Steelheads so far. He leads the team in points and is second in the ECHL overall. He has played in the AHL before, of course, as many will remember with the Peoria Rivermen.

Nigro is a solid choice for Texas. If he were healthy, I would think that William Rapuzzi could have also gotten a look.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that the club has signed center Anthony Nigro to a professional tryout contract, calling him up from the Idaho Steelheads, their ECHL affiliate.

Nigro, 23, currently leads the Steelheads and ranks second in the ECHL with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 25 games so far this season. The Woodbridge, Ontario native attended the Stars’ 2013 AHL training camp on a tryout and skated in both pre-season games for Texas. Nigro was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the sixth round (155th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and has played in 175 career AHL games, all with the Peoria Rivermen, recording 52 points (27 goals, 25 assists) and 69 penalty minutes. He is currently tied for second in the ECHL in goals and was named the Sher-Wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for Oct. 21-27 when he scored six points (4 goals, 2 assists) in three games for Idaho.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Texas Stars Win Streak Hits Six With 4-2 Home Win

Petersen's third of the year (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars tied a franchise record with their sixth straight win as they beat the San Antonio Rampage 4-2 at home tonight.

"It's still early in the season, but these points are huge, absolutely huge," said Toby Petersen, who scored an unassisted tally in the game. "We're happy with the way things are going, but there's a lot to do before New Years."

Coach Desjardins agreed with the assessment: "Six is pretty good. All these games are tough. You probably get tired of me saying it, but they are tight and could go either way."

Once again, after staking themselves to a three goal lead, Texas gave up two in the third period to San Antonio and had a very tight third period to contend with.

"They got early goals in the period to get going," said Desjardins. "It's hard when you give a team momentum. You can't do that; we're going to get burnt."

The Stars came out unscathed tonight though with Francis Wathier's fourth of the year standing up as the game winner.

Jack Campbell had a fantastic night, finishing with 30 saves on 32 shots. On the negative side, Texas lost Scott Glennie in the third period of the game. He got hit hard and went to the bench and later the locker room with his right arm hanging limply at his side. Coach Desjardins said he will be out until at least Christmas.

The Texas power play got it done once again. The first unit featured Travis Morin, Chris Mueller, Scott Glennie, Curtis McKenzie and Jamie Oleksiak. Alex Petrovic found himself in the box for four minutes with a cross-check and an unsportsmanlike for letting the ref know what he thought about the first call. On the second minor, it was Morin scoring his thirteenth goal of the season from the right circle, off a solid pass from Jamie Oleksiak in his first game back with Texas. Chris Mueller had the second assist.

With time winding down in the first, the Rampage failed to clear the puck and Toby Petersen collected and drove the net. San Antonio goalie Rob Madore's own defenseman provided the screen for Petersen's third of the year, which went in far side from the right wing side.

"I was fortunate to be Johnny-on the spot. I saw Hedden in front of the net and wanted to give it to him. He wasn't looking at me. I had to take another step and fortunately a hole opened up for me."

The second period saw Texas extend its lead on a goal that Rob Madore would probably like back. The initial Stars shot by Peters was swallowed up but ended up trickling through the five hole and stopped on the goal line. Matej Stransky attempted to fight through defensemen to poke it in. He scooped the puck off the goal line instead and Wathier finished the play for his fourth of the year.

Jack Campbell continued his stellar play with several pad-extension toe saves and cross the crease pushes in the middle frame. It wouldn't continue into the third period.

San Antonio picked their first goal just a minute into the third period. Campbell had the bottom of the net sealed off, but Garrett Wilson jammed it home off Campbell's skate blade. It was a rather unceremonious tally; the Rampage weren't even sure they scored until the ref signaled.

John McFarland cut the Stars' lead to one with his first of the season five minutes later. Vincent Trocheck drew all the coverage and passed off to McFarland on the left side. He rifled it home to the high glove side for the 3-2 tally.

"We gave them a little life and they capitalized on the miscues," said Petersen.

With time ticking away, the Rampage threw everything they could at the net. After taking a timeout, they pulled Madore for the extra skater. It would be Texas getting the best of that decision with an empty net tally by Curtis McKenzie setting the final at 4-2. It was McKenzie's eleventh goal of the season.

Texas now looks ahead to two games in Oklahoma City, where they could set a new franchise record for wins at seven.

"You want to ride the high but you don't want to get too high off these streaks," concluded Petersen. "You want to carry that momentum forward. We accentuate the positive, but we also looking at negatives and scoring chances against to correct them."

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Glennie-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Petersen
Wathier-Peters-Stransky

Wrenn-Oleksiak
Jokipakka-Labrie
Sinkewich-Button

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gaunce, Sceviour, Fortunus (callup)
Vause (scratch)
Nemeth (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 6,273.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - December 18 2013

Dallas Stars Sign Maxime Fortunus, Assign Oleksiak

Maxime Fortunus (Credit: Steven Christy)
Mark Stepneski reports this morning that the Dallas Stars have signed defenseman Maxime Fortunus to a one-year, two-way contract.  Jamie Oleksiak was also assigned to the Texas Stars at the same time.

Fortunus was on Dallas contract for the first four years of his stay with the Texas Stars. This season, he signed a two-year AHL deal with the Texas Stars to stay on as their captain and a solid part of their blue line. Today he was rewarded with an NHL contract, which will likely up his paycheck and put him in a position to be called up in case of further injury issues.

Fortunus is currently riding a five game point streak that coincides with the Stars' five game win streak. He is on the best points pace of his career with 3-13-16 in 24 games played. His current AHL season high point mark is 34 in 2010-11.

Due to the business side of the deal, Fortunus cannot play tonight for the Texas Stars as he waits to clear waivers. This means that Oleksiak will definitely play tonight for Texas along with new Texas signee Russ Sinkewich.  Dallas is still assessing its options as to whether to assign or keep Fortunus after he clears waivers.

Here's the release, which also makes the Sinkewich signing official:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that Dallas has signed defenseman Maxime Fortunus to a one-year contract. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Dallas has also returned defenseman Jamie Oleksiak on loan to Texas. Additionally, Texas has signed defenseman Russ Sinkewich to a professional tryout contract, calling him up from the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.

Fortunus, 27, has skated in 24 games this season for Texas and leads all team defensemen with 16 points (3-13=16). The native of La Prairie, Que., is Texas' all-time franchise leader among defensemen in games played (296), goals (32), assists (89) and points (121). The 5-foot-11, 205-pound defenseman has skated in eight NHL contests, all as a member of the Dallas Stars during the 2009-10 campaign. Fortunus was undrafted and signed his first NHL contract with the Dallas Stars on July 3, 2008.

Oleksiak, 20, has played seven games for Dallas this season, collecting five shots and two penalty minutes. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound defenseman was originally recalled from Texas on Nov. 30, where he earned five points (3-2=5) and a plus-4 rating in 22 games for the club. The native of Toronto, Ont., was Dallas' first-round selection (14th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Sinkewich, 28, joins Texas after beginning the year in the ECHL with Toledo, where he has eight assists and 25 penalty minutes in 20 games. The Westlake, Ohio native also played one AHL game this year on a PTO with the Lake Erie Monsters, where he had an assist on November 30th at Hamilton. Undrafted after playing four years at Bowling Green State University, Sinkewich is currently in his fifth pro season and has played in 268 career pro games, including 63 in the AHL for Lake Erie, Milwaukee, Abbotsford, Bridgeport and Portland, recording seven assists and 47 penalty minutes. The six-foot-three, 215-pound blue liner made his Calder Cup playoff debut last season with the Portland Pirates in their first round series against the Syracuse Crunch. Sinkewich won the 2011 Kelly Cup Championship as a member of the Alaska Aces.

Texas Stars Report: Stars Streaking Despite Defensive Dominoes

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The 'Texas Stars Report' on Defending Big D...
The Texas Stars (16-8-2-2, 36 pts, #4 Western Conference) are streaking. Having won their last five straight, they will try tonight to tie a franchise record with a sixth straight win against the 12th place San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers).

Texas is getting that done despite some challenges on defense due to injury issues in Dallas and Cedar Park. With Jamie Oleksiak and Cameron Gaunce in Dallas, the minor league club is expected tonight to ice only three blue liners that started the season in the AHL: Maxime Fortunus, Jyrki Jokipakka, and William Wrenn. Dallas contracted defensemen Ryan Button and Hubert Labrie are on extended visits to the AHL and will continue to be part of the plan in Cedar Park.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
16-8-2-2, 36 pts
#4 Western Conference
v.San Antonio Rampage
11-15-0-2, 24 pts
#12 Western Conference
December 18th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Defensive injuries continue to mount for the Dallas system as Aaron Rome was injured on Monday in Colorado. Cameron Gaunce is with the Dallas club now and Texas was out a top defenseman. Texas is now featuring three defensemen that started the season in the ECHL in their everyday lineup: Labrie, Button and Sinkewich.

It's a good thing that the Stars got both of their top tenders back in time for this defensive injury bout. Cristopher Nilstorp struggled in Jack Campbell's stead but has improved over the last few weeks. Nilstorp has a three game winning streak going. He's dropped his GAA from 3.16 to 2.99 with the past three games. Campbell for his part has yet to lose on the season. He has allowed more than one goal just once on the season, going a perfect 4-0. He's got a 1.25 GAA and .949 save percentage.

Goalies are part of the story in San Antonio recently as a familiar face has been traded to Hartford. Dov Grumet-Morris was shipped to the Wolf Pack for future considerations, leaving the Rampage with Michael Houser and Rob Madore. In fact, in the last week the Rampage have completely flipped their goalies from Jacob Markstrom and DGM to Houser and Madore. Madore, who gave Texas fits as a Charlotte Checker, was signed to an SPC just as DGM was sent to Hartford.

Texas overall is looking to tie its franchise record sixth straight win with a W tonight against San Antonio.

Stars injury/call up report:
Oleksiak, Sceviour (callup)
Nemeth (injury)

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Texas Stars Sign Russ Sinkewich to Supplement D Corps

According to the ECHL transaction sheet, the Texas Stars have picked up defenseman Russ Sinkewich this afternoon from the Toledo Walleye.

Sinkewich has less than a season's worth of games in the AHL across five different teams. In 63 AHL games, he has seven assists and no goals. In the ECHL, he has 202 games played with nine goals and 37 assists.

This signing indicates that Patrik Nemeth is not ready for game action tomorrow against San Antonio. Sinkewich will likely play in that game.

Cameron Gaunce Recalled to Dallas; Texas Needs Defense

Gaunce (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
With Aaron Rome suffering a lower body injury last night in Colorado, Cameron Gaunce has been recalled by the Dallas Stars this morning. Gaunce has played 11 NHL games to date, all with tonight's Dallas opponent, Colorado.

Unless Patrik Nemeth is healthy, Texas is now left with five healthy defensemen ahead of tomorrow's game against San Antonio. Weekend PTO signing Jeff May was released yesterday. Texas's five healthy D are Fortunus, Labrie, Wrenn, Jokipakka and Button.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that Dallas has recalled defenseman Cameron Gaunce from Texas. Dallas also placed forward Vernon Fiddler on injured reserve, retroactive to the upper-body injury he suffered on Dec. 7 vs. Philadelphia.

Gaunce, 23, has skated in 28 games for Texas this season, earning seven points (1-6=7) and 25 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound defenseman from Markham, Ont., has played 11 career NHL games, all with the Colorado Avalanche, collecting one goal and 16 penalty minutes. Originally selected by Colorado in the second-round (50th overall) in the 2008 NHL Draft, Gaunce was acquired by Dallas via trade from Colorado in exchange for forward Tomas Vincour on April 2, 2013.

Fiddler, 33, has eight points in 28 games for Dallas this season (2-6=8). Now in his third campaign with the Stars, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound forward has skated in 156 games for the club, collecting 46 points (14-32=46) and 120 penalty minutes. The Edmonton, Alta., native was signed by Dallas as a free agent on July 1, 2011.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Texas Stars Release PTO Defenseman Jeff May

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
With William Wrenn healthy again, the Texas Stars have released Jeff May. May got into two games and had a single assist after being signed before Friday's game against Chicago.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that the club has released defenseman Jeff May from his professional tryout contract.

May, 26, signed a PTO with Texas on Friday, December 13th and appeared in two games for the Stars, recording one assist and a plus-one rating. The Richmond, British Columbia native also has 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) and 19 penalty minutes in 21 ECHL games played this season for the Las Vegas Wranglers. May was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the fifth round (151st overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and he has appeared in 267 career pro games, including in 143 career AHL games with Norfolk, Providence, San Antonio and Texas, recording 21 points (4 goals, 17 assists) and 122 penalty minutes.

Grand Rapids' "Between the Benches" Is AHL's Answer to HBO 24/7

(Credit: Texas Stars)
HBO 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic began this weekend. It's some of the absolute best hockey video work that you will ever see. In between Texas games here, and hopefully as your work schedule gets a little lighter, perhaps you'd like to take a look at the closest thing to an AHL equivalent of 24/7.

The Grand Rapids Griffins, who have always done an excellent job with social media, put together a series called "Between the Benches". It chronicles their trip to the Calder Cup with behind the scenes footage and interviews that give an amazing look at the AHL game. It includes a look at the OKC game that was delayed by flooding from the storms last spring, which is an interesting look.

Take your time to enjoy the five-part series that spans over an hour:
  1. PEDAL DOWN
  2. FIRST TO THREE
  3. SACRIFICE AND FOCUS
  4. THE PROCESS
  5. 100 GAMES

(For the record, Jeff Blashill sounds a lot like Texas Stars GM Scott White.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Five Texas Goals Give Stars Fifth Straight Win

Someday, the Stars' luck will change against San Antonio, but it was not this day. The Stars picked up their fifth straight win, moving to 3-0-0-1 on the season against the Rampage. Texas put itself up 3-0 halfway through the game but let San Antonio back in it, finding themselves only leading by a goal to start the third period.

With the Rampage pushing hard to get the equalizer, taking chances they might not have otherwise, the Stars put up the 4th and 5th of the night to set the final score. Curtis McKenzie found the net twice and Chris Mueller and Travis Morin each had two points. Maxime Fortunus continued his point streak, now at five games, with a power play assist in the first.

Texas got started early, staking themselves to the 1-0 score with a nice breakout pass by Chris Mueller. Mueller's pass found Scott Glennie all alone as he went forehand to backhand to slip one five-hole on Michael Houser. Chris Mueller got one of his own thanks to a nice pass from Fortunus on the power play a few minutes later. After twenty, the Stars were up 2-0.

The 3-0 lead came off the stick of rookie Curtis McKenzie, assisted by two other rookies: Brendan Ranford and Jeff May. McKenzie picked up the rebound goal after the initial shot by Ranford was rebuffed. Jeff May was responsible for the keep at the line to keep the play going.

Former Texas Star Greg Rallo got the Rampage on the scoresheet with a goal coming just after a penalty to Texas had expired.

To open the third period, Garrett Wilson epitomized the statement that no shot is a bad shot with his blast from the left point just five second into the period. It found the net, catching everyone off guard and sending the game to a 3-2 score.

The Rampage piled on 21 shots in all in the final frame as they attempted to even the score. It was Texas getting the next goal though. Travis Morin continued his wizardry this season with an incredible pass to Mike Hedden on the backdoor with less than three minutes left in the period. Curtis McKenzie would add the empty-netter to set the final at 5-2.

San Antonio will visit the Cedar Park Center on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Glennie-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Vause
Wathier-Peters-Petersen

Jokipakka-Gaunce
Labrie-Fortunus
May-Wrenn

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Oleksiak, Sceviour (callup)
Stransky, Button (scratch)
Nemeth (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 5,210.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - December 15 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Texas Stars' Power Play Pushes Past Chicago 2-1

Travis Morin (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars will surely continue saying that they cannot rely on the power play to win them games. However, they are also not going to complain when it does. That was the case tonight as two power play goals and a 27 save performance from Jack Campbell were enough to push the Stars past the Wolves. Campbell moved to a perfect 4-0 on the season with the win. It was the Stars' fifth home win in a row and extended their record to 11-2-0-1 on Cedar Park Center ice.

After no score in the first period, Mike Hedden continued his solid play of late with a power play goal off the tip of a Jyrki Jokipakka shot. Matej Stranksy, who rejoined the lineup after some time in the press box, picked up the second assist as he continued his power play duties for the Stars. Four minutes later, a too many men penalty for Chicago found them down by a man again. Travis Morin pulled into a tie with Colton Sceviour on the Stars' points leaderboard with his 12th of the year. His right-circle shot was assisted by Chris Mueller and Maxime Fortunus. The captain extended his point streak to four games with the apple.

Jack Campbell clamped down most of the rest of the way with just one shot passing him by. With 7:23 left in the game, Texas allowed a goal by Jani Hakanpaa after a scramble in front of the net. Hakanpaa was also the solitary goal scorer the last time Chicago visited Texas.

Texas travels to San Antonio Sunday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Glennie-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Stransky
Petersen-Peters-Wathier

Jokipakka-Gaunce
Labrie-Button
Fortunus-May

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Oleksiak, Sceviour (callup)
Vause (scratch)
Nemeth, Wrenn (injury)

Jeff May was signed before the game and made his Texas Stars debut alongside Maxime Fortunus. He was minus-1 with no shots. His placement in the lineup was necessitated by an injury to Patrik Nemeth. Coach Desjardins said Nemeth is "day-to-day" but they really don't know yet.

Tonight's attendance was 5,291.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - December 13 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
14-8-2-2, 32 pts
#4 Western Conference
v.Chicago Wolves
12-10-0-2, 26 pts
#7 Western Conference
December 13th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

If it feels like it's been a while since the Texas Stars faced off against the Chicago Wolves, your gut feeling is correct. Chicago has played the Stars just once this season so far, the opening game of the season at the Cedar Park Center. That night it was the Travis Morin show as the veteran center collected four points in a 4-1 Stars win. It was a veteran night overall as each player to score on the evening played with the Wolves' starting goalie, Matt Climie, in the Stars' opening season.

The two clubs have wound mostly successful paths back to the spot where it all started for the season. Texas is in fourth place, blocking from advancing further by the divisional leader rules in the playoff seeding and the dominance of the Abbotsford Heat. Chicago is clipping along at better than .500 in seventh place with 26 points but with several clubs on their tail for the playoffs.

Climie's start against Texas was one of his few on the season as St. Louis sees the future in Jake Allen and wants to give him a solid number of minutes against AHL competition. The stats probably don't help Climie's case much as he's 2-4 with a 3.33 GAA and .882 SV%. Allen is a full goal lower at 2.33 GAA and .920 SV%. He's 10-6-2 on the season as well.

The Wolves are coming to town for the second game of the three game road trip. Their first was a contest they certainly should feel confident about. Chicago visited Grand Rapids and, after going down 2-1 in the second, rebounded to win 4-2. They held grand Rapids to just six shots in the third period despite two late Griffins' power plays.

As expected early in the season, vet Corey Locke and rookie Ty Rattie rank one and two in scoring for the Wolves. Fellow rookie Dmitrij Jaskin, a second round pick in 2011, is third with 7-6-13 in 16 GP. In his single season of major junior, Jaskin put up 99 points for Moncton in just 51 games.

Stars injury/call up report:
Sceviour, Oleksiak (call up)

Website: chicagowolves.com
Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves
Twitter: @theshaves (Wolves PxP)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Idaho Steelheads Report: Slow and Steady, Steelheads Continue to Earn Points

Pat Nagle and Tyler Elbrecht (Credit: Loren Orr/Idaho Steelheads)
 John Mulhern revives himself from a turkey coma to recap the Idaho Steelheads...

I’m back baby!! After taking a bit of a break for Thanksgiving and finally breaking out of that turkey coma, let’s get back into some Idaho Steelheads recapping. There are 5 games to cover and a lot of movement, some good and some bad since we last talked.

Recaps

Way back on November 26, the Steelheads defeated the Las Vegas Wranglers 4-1 in a game that was 1-1 until William Rapuzzi, Taylor Vause and Patrick Cullity scored goals to put the game out of reach. Cullity had his first multiple goal night as a professional. Josh Robinson picked up the win with 23 saves on 24 shots.

The two teams met the day after Thanksgiving, and once again it was a spirited game. This one went into a shootout as former Steelhead Bryce Reddick tied the game up at thee and when neither team scored in the bonus session, the Wranglers came out on top 4-3 in the shootout which needed seven rounds to complete. Brett Robinson, Brock Montgomery, and Mitch Wahl all had goals for the Steelheads as Josh Robinson took the shootout loss make 21 saves on 24 shots in regulation.

The Stockton Thunder came to town last week with a lead over the Steelheads in the conference but were riding a losing streak as well upon arrival. The Steelheads assisted in extending that losing streak on both Wednesday and Friday as they served up wins of 6-3 and 4-2.

Wednesday’s game saw the ejection of Brett Robinson for an elbow in the first period and an injury to William Rapuzzi meant the Steelheads only had 8 forwards to go along with 6 defensemen. Head Coach Brad Ralph figuring he could make due with 5 defensemen, called upon Tyler Elbrecht to play both ways, literally. Elbrecht was tasked as a third line winger during 5 on 5 play, and was moved back to defense for any penalty kill situation that arose during the game. He brought a lot of effort to the forwards and really energized the bench with his physical style of play. It really seemed to allow him to turn loose a bit as opposed to being the steady solid defenseman that he normally is. He always has that physical presence; it was just more noticeable on the fore-check then in a race for a puck behind the net scenario.

Cullity had a three point night, Mitch Wahl extended his point streak, and Pat Nagle got the win with 24 saves on 27 shots.

Friday night December 6th was another entertaining game and one that I think in the long run will help this team. First in the short run the Steelheads won the game 4-2 as Austin Fyten decided it was going to be a breakout game as he got his first 3 goals since being assigned from Oklahoma City a couple weeks back. Mitch Wahl also chipped in, and Josh Robinson got another win after stopping 31 of 32 shots on net.

The way the team had to play through adversity in this game should take this team far. Once again they were able to jump out to a lead, but as Stockton came roaring back to make it 3-2 about half-way through the third period, the Steelheads dug in their heels and grinded out a win against a team that was winning all the battles and had all the momentum going late in that game. It wasn’t pretty, but Idaho came out on top and perhaps are starting to reverse the trends of giving up leads to teams.

Speaking of ugly games, Saturday saw the last of game of the series degrade into a series of shoving matches and misconducts as over 170 penalty minutes were handed out. There was only one pair of fighting majors handed out the entire night. Of the all the penalties (33) there were 24 minor penalties handed out. From a Steelheads perspective the best part of the night was when Brock Montgomery gave the Steelheads a 1-0 lead in the first period which led to the yearly Teddy Bear Toss for the Toys for Tots program. After that, Stockton would score 3 unanswered and would do well enough to keep the Steelheads at arms-length for the rest of the game. Pat Nagle got tagged with the loss with 37 saves on 41 shots.

Upcoming

Wednesday, Friday, Saturday of this week the Alaska Aces come to town. [Ed. Note: Wednesday's recap coming next week.] The Aces are a team that got off to an outstanding start but as of late have been sliding a bit. However they have won their last two and are 5-5 in the last ten games. A traditional rival always brings out the best in both of these teams, and it should be an entertaining series. The Steelheads are currently tied with Alaska in the standings and will once again be looking to win two out of three this week.

News and Notes

  • As reported on Tuesday, Austin Smith has been recalled by the Dallas Stars and then loaned out overseas to Finland. Smith had one goal with the Steelheads this season.
  • To fill the roster spot, the Steelheads have called up Mitchell Good from the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL. Good has 9 goals and 10 assists with a plus 11 rating in first full professional hockey season.
  • As mentioned earlier William Rapuzzi is out with an injury so the Steelheads also went out late last week and re-acquired Rob Linsmayer from the San Francisco Bulls in exchange for future considerations.
  • Finally Taylor Vause was called up almost two weeks ago to Texas and Hubert Labrie was once again on a plane to Texas to meet up with the Stars, his third recall of the year.
  • Mitch Wahl is currently on a 15 game point streak and only needs 1 point in Wednesday night’s game to tie the Steelheads record for point streaks.
  • Ryan Button (currently in Texas) is now second amongst Steelheads defensemen in scoring after Patrick Cullity had an outstanding week. Cullity just move up to 13 points, 2 clear of Button who has 11.
  • Finally the Steelheads have scored the first goal in 8 of their last 10 games and have gotten points out of 8 of those games as well including 6 wins.

Until next week (I promise)…

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Texas Stars Report: Jack Campbell, Cristopher Nilstorp Healthy and Ready to Go

Jack Campbell (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The 'Texas Stars Report' on Defending Big D...
When the season started, the Texas Stars (14-8-2-2, 32 pts, #4 Western Conference) were said to be building on a solid foundation of goaltending and defense. Jack Campbell and Cristopher Nilstorp had nearly identical numbers last season. Both were good, and both were back for another round.

Early on, Campbell was looking good. With two wins under his belt and just two goals against in those games, Texas looked like a world-beater. Slowly the wheels came off though. After Campbell's October 23 start, he went on the injured list. Shortly there after, Texas lost Nilstorp as well. Josh Robinson and Allen York were called upon to weather the storm, performing admirably in relief. That tandem had a combined 5-2-1 record.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Austin Smith Leaves Steelheads, Heads for Finland

Austin Smith (Credit: Steve Conner/Idaho Steelheads)
After being sent down to the Idaho Steelheads last week, Austin Smith has broken the news himself that he will be heading to Pori, Finland to join SM-liiga this morning.
100 Degree Hockey was able to reach Texas Stars GM Scott White, but he had no comment on the situation at this time.

The news might seem a bit jarring out of context, but when you look at the whole of Smith's situation, is it?

Austin Smith was drafted in 2007 in the fifth round, just one pick before Jamie Benn, now captain of the Dallas Stars. Smith, a native Texan, had a standout college career where he was runner-up for the Hobey Baker and scored goals in bunches for Colgate.

He joined the pro ranks on an ATO at the end of the ill-fated 2011-12 season. The touted goal scorer only potted two in sixteen games with Texas in the next season and spent most of the year with Idaho. He did score prolifically there, but it appears he thought he had earned more.

He made the opening roster for 2013-14 in the AHL but was demoted last week after getting into ten games and registering no points at all.

Unable to work his game here in Cedar Park and certain that he could play more of a role with an AHL club, Smith was stuck. It wouldn't be surprising to me if he asked to be re-assigned or traded elsewhere in the AHL and was unsuccessful in that request. Dallas has done that before with players such as Ray Sawada (IceCaps), Mathieu Tousignant (IceCaps) and Carl Sneep (Rivermen). This seems to be a compromise between reassigning him inside the AHL and saying no outright.

This year is a contract year for Smith, so it's a fair bet that he does not get extended a qualifying offer by Dallas at the end of the year. While he is still under contract to Dallas, the Stars will own his North American rights.

I expect we will hear more from the Stars' organization once Smith makes it to Finland.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Leading Scorer Sceviour Recalled to Dallas

Colton Sceviour (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Colton Sceviour has been recalled to Dallas this morning and is already on the ice for morning skate this Monday. He is practicing on a line with Erik Cole and Shawn Horcoff, alternating 'reps' with Alex Chiasson.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that Dallas has recalled right wing Colton Sceviour from loan with Texas.

Sceviour, 24, leads the AHL with 18 goals this season, while leading Texas and ranking second overall in the league with 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 26 games. The 6-foot, 200-pound forward from Red Deer, Alta., has played in two career NHL contests, registering one assist. Sceviour was Dallas' fourth-round selection (112th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Texas' Nilstorp Bests Iowa's Kuemper 2-1 in OT Goalie Duel

Cristopher Nilstorp (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
It was a goalie showdown in Cedar Park tonight between Cristopher Nilstorp and Darcy Kuemper. Nilstorp got the better of his Iowa counterpart, skating away with a 2-1 overtime victory off the stick of Colton Sceviour. Between the two goalies, 82 saves were made on 85 shots.

"You don't expect to get a lot [against Kuemper]," said Sceviour. "You have to get greasy ones and try something outside your comfort zone. Any shot is not a bad shot."

Texas had 46 total shots through nearly 64 minutes of hockey. Nisltorp was tested as well with 39 total.

"[Nilstorp] made a huge save on the power play in the second period. I believe it was 0-0 at that point. Anytime you outplay a team and they get the first goal, it's deflating. He was huge [to get that stop]."

The fact that Texas felt confident rolling Nilstorp and Campbell in back-to-back nights means that one of the top strengths for the squad is back at 100%.

"It's been a long time since we've been able to do that," said Desjardins, who was very satisfied with the effort of both his keepers on the weekend.

The Stars opened the first period with a flurry of shots. At one point early, the Stars led 13-1 on shots. Iowa evened things up a bit with two late power plays to end the period at a 20-11 Texas shot advantage.

It took until the end of the second period for the first puck to find the net. Scott Glennie created the chance with a swooping effort that saw him completely encircle the net before sending the puck on net from the high slot.

"We wanted to get more traffic in front of [Kuemper], and I think that showed on the first goal," said Maxime Fortunus, who got the only assist on the goal. "We got a good screen in front of him from Brett Ritchie."

Ritchie's screen allowed Glennie's shot to slip by Kuemper with just 36 seconds left in the second period.

Coach Desjardins praised Glennie's play of late. Glennie is on a five game point streak.

"He jumped on a couple plays and showed a lot of speed. He's got that in his game and it's good to see that coming back."

The third period saw Iowa even things up on the power play. Glennie took a slashing penalty at the net, one of those penalties that you're OK killing off as it stopped a Wild skater from having an unimpeded shot at the net.

Just seconds after a close call at the blue line on getting the puck out, Iowa cycled the puck down low and found Tyler Graovac in the slot for the goal.

"Up or down, you stick with the system. No matter what happens your plan stays the same," said Fortunus. "Even though they got one late, so be it. If it takes overtime or a shootout, we'll be ready for it."

Indeed it did take overtime. The Stars outshot the Wild 5-1 in the overtime period. Maxime Fortunus and Colton Sceviour narrate the game-winner.

"[Iowa] got a chip out of the zone," said Fortunus. "When I went back, I heard Justin Dowling yelling. I think everyone in the rink heard him. I just turned around and fired it. One of our keys is working our transition."

Sceviour, the eventual goal scorer, continued, "The pass was a little behind me and the [defenseman] was stepping up. My only chance was to slide it around him or it was going to end up being a chip in. I figured I would try it. Four on four you can get a little riskier. I just tried to elevate it."

He elevated the puck and elated the crowd as he scored his league-leading 18th goal of the season.

Now Texas takes a rest until Friday when they welcome their next opponent, the Chicago Wolves.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Sceviour
Glennie-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Dowling-Ranford
Petersen-Peters-Wathier

Jokipakka-Gaunce
Nemeth-Button
Fortunus-Labrie

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Oleksiak (callup)
Stransky, Vause (scratch)
Wrenn (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 5,080.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Iowa - December 7 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Iowa Wild

Texas Stars
13-8-2-2, 30 pts
#4 Western Conference
v.Iowa Wild
8-12-0-0, 16 pts
#14 Western Conference
December 7th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

When the usual suspects don't find the scoresheet, you need what they call 'depth scoring' to get it done. Last night, the Stars got some of that as Mike Hedden, Brendan Ranford and Jyrki Jokipakka all scored to push Texas past Iowa.

Luckily for Texas, they will get Travis Morin back in the lineup for sure tonight to work on that primary scoring. Dallas assigned the league leader in points yesterday afternoon, but he didn't make it to Cedar Park in time for the game. According to coach Lidster, he arrived around 8 PM last night. He will definitely slide into his spot between McKenzie and Sceviour on the top line. Desjardins is unlikely to separate the Glennie-Mueller-Ritchie line, so Dowling will likely slot in between Petersen and Hedden. That puts Ranford as the odd man out.

As for now, Texas doesn't have any new defensive callups to Dallas. With the NHL club playing two home games and not going on the road until next Thursday, there's not much reason to call someone up before today's game against Philadelphia in Dallas. After tonight, Texas does not play again until Friday. If there is a callup to be made, it will be made after tonight's game. It will allow that player to play with Texas tonight and also to get some time on the ice with Dallas over the coming days without missing anything in Cedar Park.

Expect Cristopher Nilstorp in net for Texas tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Oleksiak (callup)

Wild Web Resources:
Website: iowawild.com
Blog (Official): I Wild Blog
Twitter: @IAWild
Twitter: @IowaWildFish (former Stars PBP Josh Fisher)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Texas Stars' Power Play Puts Down Wild, 4-2

Jyrki Jokipakka had the game-winning goal and an assist.
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Returning home from a three game road trip, Texas improved their excellent home record tonight with a 4-2 win over the visiting Iowa Wild. Jack Campbell got his first start since October 23rd. Jyrki Jokipakka and Mike Hedden each contributed a goal and an assist in the contest. The Stars were 2/5 on the power play on the night, including the game-winner.

"Last game in OKC, pucks weren't bouncing for us," said Cameron Gaunce. "[Tonight,] we were able to make a few plays and get the puck out of our zone. Jyrki was doing a great job jumping into plays."

Jokipakka wholly created the Stars' first goal of the night, a power play tally that saw him skate the puck on the breakout all the way from the goal line to the opposing blue.

"Jokipakka was good early [in the season] and then he tailed off a bit," said Coach Desjardins. "The last couple games he's started to play really well again."

Jack Campbell had a solid night, stopping 24 of 26 shots against him.

"The biggest thing was the goalie-defense exchanges between us and him in the first period," said Gaunce.

"It's tough to come back when you haven't played for a while," added Desjardins. "He made good saves and looked quick in the net."

Brett Bulmer opened the scoring for the Wild with a slapshot off the right wing less than three minutes into the game. It took most of the period for the Stars to answer back. Jokipakka collected the puck in his own zone with time winding down in both the period and a Texas power play.

The young Finn skated up the ice to the blue line and passed off, heading for the net. Mike Hedden was the eventual goal scorer off the cram play in front of Darcy Kuemper. The Stars put 38 shots on net in the game, 37 on Kuemper. He made several saves he had no business making throughout the contest.

"He's always been a very good goalie," said Gaunce. "He does a great job cutting off the angles. He's big, and he plays the puck well. It's tough to beat him."

The Stars would beat Kuemper a few more times on the night though. Brendan Ranford went next as he accepted a drop pass from Mike Hedden and put it on net. Kuemper got a piece of it, but not all of it, as it sailed into the net for a 2-1 lead.

Bulmer answered back with his second of the night and eighth of the year. He fired this one from the left wing side, beating Campbell off the far side through traffic for the tie at two.

Jokipakka picked up his second goal of the season just a few minutes later. As time wound down in the middle frame, Texas found itself at a two-man advantage. Rather simply, Jokipakka ripped one from the left point for a clean shot past Kuemper. It was the eventual game winner.

As time ticked away in the third, the Stars put themselves in a precarious position. Up by one, they took two penalties late, slightly overlapping. Hubert Labrie was called for boarding, which the Stars weathered. Toward the end of it though, Colton Sceviour was caught without a stick and someone on the Stars' bench tossed him a new one as he approached instead of handing it to him. That's a rarely called penalty but a penalty nonetheless.

"You can't do that," said Desjardins succinctly. "It was just a bad play, and you can't do that."

It didn't matter as the Stars found the empty net on a clearing shot. It was Chris Mueller's 10th of the year, technically a shorthanded tally as well.

The Stars will play the Iowa Wild again tomorrow at the Cedar Park Center before taking a six-day break.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Dowling-Sceviour
Glennie-Mueller-Ritchie
Hedden-Petersen-Ranford
Stransky-Peters-Wathier

Jokipakka-Gaunce
Nemeth-Button
Fortunus-Labrie

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Oleksiak (callup)
Morin, Vause (scratch)
Wrenn (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 4,533.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Iowa - December 6 2013

Travis Morin Returns; Will It Be In Time for Tonight?

Travis Morin (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Dallas Stars have assigned Travis Morin to the Texas Stars this afternoon. With Ryan Garbutt returning to the lineup tomorrow against Philadelphia, Dallas is send Morin down after seeing no game action in his short recall.

Morin did participate in morning skate in Dallas, which they could have held outside given the temperature and precipitation. He likely left immediately afterwards, putting him in Cedar Park with enough time to play tonight even with the weather how it is in Dallas.

Still no word from Dallas on calling up a defenseman to supplement their current six-man crew. Dallas plays Philadelphia at home tomorrow, so there really isn't a pressing need.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Iowa Wild

Texas Stars
12-8-2-2, 28 pts
#4 Western Conference
v.Iowa Wild
8-11-0-0, 16 pts
#14 Western Conference
December 6th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The weather outside is frightful. Also, so is the health of the Dallas Stars defensive corps. While nothing has happened yet, the Texas Stars can probably expect to lose a defenseman after Trevor Daley was injured last night in Toronto. Cameron Gaunce seems like the most logical choice. Patrik Nemeth could also get the call. We'll see. They may not play at all.

Iowa has had a bit of a time since last playing the Stars. Since the Stars' first game against the Wild on Friday, November 1st, a win for Iowa, the Wild have lost nine of their twelve games. That includes a six game losing streak that completely coincided with a six game homestand. The run has seen them fall from the playoff bubble to the bottom of the barrel. Iowa is just two points ahead of Utica but does have a game in hand over Utica.

Thanks to that home losing streak, the Wild are actually 3-10 at home and 5-1 away from the Wells Fargo Center.

William Wrenn is skating in no-contact jersey this morning and looks to be the odd-man out on defense for now. Goalie Jack Campbell is expected to start. He has not played since October 23rd.

Stars injury/call up report:
Oleksiak, Morin (callup)

Wild Web Resources:
Website: iowawild.com
Blog (Official): I Wild Blog
Twitter: @IAWild
Twitter: @IowaWildFish (former Stars PBP Josh Fisher)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Good News, Bad News: G Allen York Released From PTO

Allen York (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Allen York has been released from his professional tryout agreement with the Texas Stars. It's good and bad news. The good news is that if he's being released, Texas has Nilstorp and Campbell healthy. The bad news, of course, is that York had done well for Texas and will probably not be available if needed in case of injury later.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that the team has released goaltender Allen York from his professional tryout contract.

York, 24, signed a PTO with Texas on November 2nd and he made his Stars debut that night with a dazzling 26-save shutout of the Iowa Wild in a 5-0 victory at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The Wetaskiwin, Alberta native appeared in six games for Texas, posting a 3-1-1 record with a 2.71 goals-against average, a 0.910 save percentage and one shutout. York began the season by attending the Nashville Predators NHL training camp and then played one game in late October for the AHL's Charlotte Checkers, while on a PTO. He returns to the Evansville IceMen, his ECHL club, where he skated in one game so far this year. York was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the sixth round (158th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and has played in 11 career NHL games, all with Columbus, posting a 3-2-0 record with a 2.30 goals-against average and a 0.920 save percentage.

Five Years In, Travis Morin a Texas Stars Institution

I'm proud to publish another article on TheAHL.com's On The Beat feature. This time, I've featured league-leading scorer Travis Morin, who has been with the Stars all five seasons.

Here's the start...
Five years ago, Texas Stars center Travis Morin had just five games and a single career assist to his name in the American Hockey League.

As this month begins, he leads the league in points and is the Stars’ franchise leader in points and assists, having just played his 300th career AHL game last weekend.
Read the full story on TheAHL.com.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Texas Stars Report: Sceviour Ties Morin for League Scoring Lead

Colton Sceviour (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The 'Texas Stars Report' on Defending Big D...
It turns out the Texas Stars (12-8-2-2, 28 pts, No. 4 Western Conference) don't need Travis Morin. They've got another forward in the league lead for points now. Well, tied at least. With a four-point game in Oklahoma City last night and seven points on the week, Colton Sceviour has tied the Stars' own Morin for the league lead in points at 29. Sceviour also leads the league in goals at 17.

Absolutely the departure of Morin hurts the team. However, there are players ready to step up all over the roster.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Colton Sceviour's Four-Point Night Highlights 5-4 Stars Win

Colton Sceviour celebrates his second goal at the bench (Credit: Steven Christy)
A back and forth contest in Oklahoma City saw Colton Sceviour put up four points to tie Morin for the league lead as the Texas Stars broke their road winless streak at four. Sceviour collected two goals and two assists, including the game-winning tally in a 5-4 win over the Barons tonight at the Cox Convention Center. Curtis McKenzie added two of his own as the line over showed no ill signs over the loss of their center, Travis Morin, to the NHL. Justin Dowling, their new pivot, had an assist and was plus-2.

Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 28 of 32 against the relentless Barons attack. Jack Campbell backed him up, suiting up for a game for the first time in over a month.

OKC struck first as Cameron Gaunce pinched on the play at an ill-advised time and Linus Omark and Mark Marincin went in transition. Omark found Marincin on the back door and it was 1-0 Barons. Texas answered back on the power play with a point shot from Maxime Fortunus that rebounded and found the stick of McKenzie, who put it home. After one, Texas had a one all tie and a 10-8 shot advantage.

The Barons and Stars traded goals in the second, two each including a PPG for each club. Derek Nesbitt went first with a one-timer on the power play. Colton Sceviour answered back with PPG of his own, assisted by Cris Nilstorp, after the Stars' goaltender had a solid shorthanded save and the ensuing play saw the vet winger head in unabated.

A bang-bang play put OKC ahead 3-2 as Travis Ewanyk polished off a CJ Stretch pass. In tight with two and a half minutes left, Curtis McKenzie got his second of the night, this time from the crease off a slick Sceviour centering pass.

The Stars got the best of the third period, scoring two and earning their first lead of the game. Maxime Fortunus had another bit of blue line wizardry; this time his point shot found the net without help from a Texas skater, giving him his third goal of the year. Justin Dowling and Colton Sceviour assisted.

A Texas turnover in the defensive zone tied the score right back up as Matt Ford fed CJ Stretch for the four all tie.

Just over a minute later, the Stars regained their lead for good with Sceviour's second goal and fourth point of the night. Scott Glennie sprang a streaking Colton Sceviour with a breakout pass and Sceviour beat the Barons netminder low glove for his 29th point of the year.

Texas returns home on Friday to face Iowa for the first time at home.

Tonight's lines:
Glennie-Mueller-Ritchie
McKenzie-Dowling-Sceviour
Hedden-Peters-Wathier
Petersen-Vause-Ranford

Jokipakka-Gaunce
Nemeth-Button
Fortunus-Labrie

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Oleksiak, Morin (callup)
Wrenn, Stransky, York (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 2,393.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Oklahoma City - December 3 2013