Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stars Split in Cleveland, Earn 3-2 Win on the Road

After falling Friday night 3-2, the Stars earned a win by the same score over the same opponent in afternoon action today. Maxime Lagace got the start and has now won his last six decisions. Radek Faksa scored a pair of goals including the game winner.

The early start was no problem for Radek Faksa, who opened the scoring on an individual effort in the first. His feisty forecheck handed Texas the first goal of the game on a turnover. Trent Vogelhuber beat the Stars in the second on the power play to tie things.

Curtis McKenzie continued going to those tough areas of the ice, as he did Wednesday against the Barracuda. The result was his tenth goal of the year, a jabbing play that slid the puck five-hole on Anton Forsberg for the 2-1 lead. Lake Erie would again counter to tie it in the next period.

As the third wound down, Texas earned a power play and scored in the most peculiar fashion. A Brett Ritchie shot went high and bounced off the glass. In the spirit of play to the whistle, Radek Faksa banged home the puck, which landed squarely in front of Forsberg.

Greg Rallo missed the game with a lower body injury. The team overall will have several days to rest with the All-Star Break starting tomorrow.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Ritchie-Dickinson-Ully
Stransky-Faksa-Hulak
Kane-Smith-Elie

Lindell-Honka
Johns-Oleksiak
Backman-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Rallo, Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)
Evans, Mangene, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 9,657.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Lake Erie - January 30 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

Stars Streak Stopped at Three With 3-2 Loss in Cleveland

Greg Rallo continued his hot hand at scoring with his 19th of the year, but Texas broke their win streak at 3 with a loss to the Monsters in Cleveland tonight. Stephen Johns, who had a massive cheering section at the game, scored the other Stars goal on the night.

Philippe Desrosiers took the loss, stopping 23 of 26.

Here's the release:
Greg Rallo scored late in the third period to pull the Texas Stars within one, but a final push came up short in a 3-2 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday evening at Quicken Loans Arena.

The loss ends a three-game win streak for the Stars. Rallo’s goal was his team-leading 19th of the season, and leaves him tied for third in the AHL overall, after forcing home a loose puck in front with 3:55 to play in regulation. Philippe Desrosiers suffered the loss with 23 saves.

The Stars (24-17-3-3) and Monsters (22-15-4-3) close out their two-game set Saturday at 12 p.m. CST

After a scoreless first period, Lake Erie opened up things offensively at 16:57 of the second as Manny Malhotra tipped in a power play goal off John Ramage’s point shot to make it 1-0, Monsters.

In front of more than 80 family and friends who made the trip from his native Pennsylvania, Stephen Johns knotted things up for the Stars less than two minutes later. Radek Faksa’s forecheck effort created a centering feed and the Stars’ defenseman snapped in his third of the year from the right circle. The Monsters came back 42 seconds later to regain the 2-1 lead off a centering feed that deflected in off a crowd of players in front of the Texas net at 19:11. Lukas Sedlak received credit.

Trent Vogelhuber’s third period goal at 7:52 held up as the game-winner with a wrist shot from the right circle to make it a 3-1 score.

The Stars finished 0-for-2 on the power play. Lake Erie went 1-for-4.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Ritchie-Dickinson-Elie
Rallo-Faksa-Hulak
Stransky-Smith-Ully

Lindell-Honka
Johns-Oleksiak
Backman-Bystrom

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)
Evans, Mangene, Kane, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 9,533.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Lake Erie - January 29 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
24-16-3-3, 54 pts, 0.587%
#2 Pacific Division
atLake Erie Monsters
21-15-4-3, 49 pts, 0.570%
#5 Central Division
January 29th at 6:00 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

Texas rolls into Cleveland tonight to play an opponent they've yet to face this season. The Lake Erie Monsters play Texas just four times this season, and the games in Ohio are both this weekend.

Former Star Toby Petersen is now a coach for the Lake Erie Monsters.
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Lake Erie changed affiliates this past summer as the Colorado Avalanche moved their crew to San Antonio and the local Columbus Blue Jackets made the easy decision to head to Cleveland. The drive is just over two hours and it really makes sense given the success teams like Dallas, Detroit, Chicago and others have had with NHL-AHL proximity.

You'd really have to strain your memory banks to remember the last time Texas played a CBJ-affiliated team. That would be February 17, 2010, when the Stars topped the Syracuse Crunch 3-1. Goal scorers in that game were Mathieu Beaudoin, Aaron Gagnon and Greg Rallo. Among the highlights in my game summary at the time was a bout between Luke Gazdic and Jon Mirasty. So yeah, it was a while ago.

Lake Erie is part of that knot of teams in the Central Division all competing for the cross-over spot to the Pacific. At .570, they would be 3rd in the Pacific but rank 5th in the Central thanks to the fact that all four teams ahead of them are playing unreal hockey, posting .600 or better percentages.

The Monsters are three games into a five-game homestand to close out the week before the All-Star game. They're 1-1-1 so far.

Texas comes in on a three-game winning streak and looking to tie their season-high of four (twice achieved) with a win.

Players to watch for in home jerseys include T.J. Tynan (3-23-26), Daniel Zaar (10-9-19) and Dillon Heatherington (2-6-8, but a second round pick). Lake Erie doesn't score as much as Texas. Their success is based on keeping pucks out of the net, ranking top in the league for goals against. They also have a top 4 PK.

One last note: If you're watching the broadcast, keep an eye out for former Star Toby Petersen, who is an assistant coach for the Monsters.

Stars injury/call up report:
Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Maxime Lagace, Texas Stars Earn First Shutout of Season

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Maxime Lagace's 35 saves stood up against the San Jose Barracuda to notch the Stars first shutout of the season by a 3-0 margin. From a clean sheet, two power play goals and obviously a perfect PK, Coach Laxdal said the game "checked off every box."

While Lagace may get the stats for the shutout, he deflected praise to his forwards and defensemen, who kept the lanes clear throughout the night.

"My D and the forwards did a tremendous job," said Lagace. "Glad we could pull it out. It's good for the team and a good confidence boost for the road trip. I wanted it for the team."

Since moving to the tandem of Philippe Desrosiers and Maxime Lagace, Texas is 7-2. Laxdal added postgame that he needed both goalies to be up and running in the second half. McKenzie noted, "They're both playing so well, giving us chances to win every night. "

San Jose kept up the pressure through all three periods, ending the game with a full two minutes of 6-on-4 hockey.

"They came hard the last few minutes. When we got the PK, I thought, 'I'm going to have to go to war now.'"

If Lagace was going to war, Curtis McKenzie could be considered the infantry tonight. He went to the hard areas of the ice and was rewarded with two goals.

"If you go to those hard areas, you're going to score," said Coach Laxdal. "He paid the price for the goal. He's gotta muck that out, grind that out."

McKenzie noted that it was something he's been working to inject more into his game. "I think there's times I saw I wasn't getting to the net hard enough and not generating offense. A lot of times it stems back to that, not being around the net. That's where I have to be to score goals."

His first of the night was just a pretty passing play from Brendan Ranford, who tapped a pass to the trailing McKenzie down low. McKenzie beat Aaron Dell far side for the 1-0 lead.

On the power play, McKenzie got a rare chance to take a faceoff, "It was pretty clean! I was surprised how that was pulled back."

The puck went from McKenzie to Honka to Ritchie to the net within five seconds. Ritchie, just coming off a two-game injury, added more physicality to his game tonight, according to Laxdal, and was getting good looks as a result.

Texas poured it on in the second period, but Aaron Dell stood tall. The former Allen American turned away 13 shots in the frame and earned himself third star of the night based on that period alone.

The Stars were efficient again on the power play in the third period with McKenzie scoring his second of the night from the edge of the crease, jamming home a rebound five-hole on Dell for the 3-0 tally.

Coach Laxdal praised the Stars' finish on the night. With McKenzie in the box and nervous for Lagace's shutout chances, Texas killed two minutes of 6-on-4.

"I liked the way we finished," said Laxdal. "They battled hard. It's great to see them get rewarded with the shutout. That's a team shutout."

Texas heads to Cleveland to face Lake Erie twice before hitting the All-Star Break on Sunday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Ritchie-Dickinson-Elie
Rallo-Faksa-Hulak
Stransky-Smith-Ully

Lindell-Honka
Johns-Oleksiak
Backman-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)
Evans, Mangene, Kane, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,175.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Jose - January 27 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Jose Barracuda

Texas Stars
23-16-3-3, 52 pts
#3 Pacific Division
v.San Jose Barracuda
18-12-5-3, 44 pts
#2 Pacific Division
January 27th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Sharks coach Roy Sommer
(Credit: AHL)
Tonight's game is already historic in one way. It will be the first time the Sharks' AHL affiliate has played at the Cedar Park Center. However, there is the potential that the game could take on historic significance for the American Hockey League in general.

Roy Sommer, the longtime coach of the AHL Sharks in Kentucky, Cleveland, Worcester and now San Jose, is just one win short of tying the record for the most AHL wins by a head coach. The record, currently held by Fred "Bun" Cook and set back in 1956, is 636 wins. Sommer has been stuck at 635 since January 15th. The Barracuda have come close twice with overtime losses to Iowa and Ontario since then. With three games in the state of Texas over the coming few days, chances are Sommer will tie the record and could even set a new one before the AHL All-Star break.

Sommer is a unique character. Almost no one stays in the minors for 18 years; the minors are all about going to the bigs. He's had chances to leave for the NHL but hasn't after all these years. Really, he's a fascinating person in the AHL and if you want to learn more, you should read this story from the New York Times.

To the game at hand tonight, Texas is obviously facing a hungry opponent. They are hungry for a win they haven't gotten in the past two weeks both for themselves and their coach. The Stars won their last two thanks to the emergence of their 'third line' as a force for domination in the division. San Diego and San Antonio were both felled by Radek Faksa, Greg Rallo and Derek Hulak. The line combined for 18 points over the past two games. It's a great turn of events for Texas, which is missing both Brett Ritchie and Justin Dowling. Those two form a powerful duo on the second line, which is now disbanded for the time being. Depth scoring is too valuable to overstate.

With the NHL All-Star Break starting yesterday, Dallas assigned Esa Lindell to Texas. Jamie Oleksiak is also in the AHL until the end of the All-Star Break. That puts Texas in some pretty stacked territory on the backend. Lindell, Oleksiak, Johns, Honka, Bystrom and Backman could be your lineup for tonight. That would leave very capable players like Brennan Evans and Matt Mangene out of the lineup. Very stacked, clearly. Of course, given their success with it over the past two games, it's likely the Stars bring Mangene in at forward and roll him out on the point for the second power play unit.

And, if Texas wins tonight, they will jump into second place in the division at least for the night.

Stars injury/call up report:
Shore, Dowling, Blacker, Ritchie (injury)

Barracuda Web Resources:
Website: sjbarracuda.com
Twitter: @SJbarracuda
Twitter: @3eyeraven (local coverage)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dallas Stars Assign Esa Lindell to Texas; Morin to Miss All-Star Game

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Zack Kamrass sent to Idaho in a corresponding move

Dallas hit the NHL All-Star break last night with a win and this morning sent down Esa Lindell to the Texas Stars. Lindell can continue playing through the break with Texas and also go to the AHL All-Star game. Lindell is one of two representatives to the game along with Brendan Ranford.

Travis Morin was previously selected but is now "unavailable" for the event. Morin has no apparent injuries and is expected to play in all three games before the break. Morin has now missed more All-Star games than he has played in.

In a corresponding move, Texas sent Zack Kamrass to Idaho.

Here's the release
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has reassigned defenseman Esa Lindell to the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). The Texas Stars have also assigned defenseman Zack Kamrass to the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads.

Lindell, 21, appeared in four games for Dallas, including his NHL debut on Jan. 19 at Los Angeles, and did not record a point. He returns to Texas where he is second amongst team defensemen with 25 points (7-18=25) and is tied for first with seven goals in 42 games.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Vantaa, Finland was selected by Dallas in the third round (74th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Kamrass, 25, made his AHL debut on Jan. 15 in Texas’ 4-2 win at Bakersfield. He has appeared in 37 ECHL games this season for Idaho with 16 points (3-13=16). The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Atlanta, Ga. is currently in his first full professional season after finishing a four-year career at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (NCAA) from 2011-2015.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Texas Stars Railroad Rampage 6-1 Thanks to Faksa Line Again

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
When it's working, why change it? Texas found chemistry last night on a newly-constructed line featuring Derek Hulak and Greg Rallo centered by Radek Faksa. This afternoon in San Antonio, those three continued to build on that chemistry in a 6-1 victory.

In six periods of play, that line has tallied 17 points.

Greg Rallo, former San Antonio captain, tallied two against his former club and added an assist. Derek Hulak opened the scoring early in the contest, adding an assist himself. Radek Faksa found the scoreboard with a late tic-tac-toe goal and two assists.

In all the scoring by that line, the game-winner was Curtis McKenzie's first period goal.

Derek Hulak scored his tenth of the year on a tip play in front. Curtis McKenzie was the recipient of a great passing play with Travis Morin and Brendan Ranford. The period saw a lot of rubber on both goalies. The clubs combined for 31 shots.

Maxime Lagace had a strong first period and perhaps an even stronger second period. He only faced six shots in the second but had to endure a fifteen minute segment without any shots. He nearly collected the Stars' first shutout of the season until Sam Henley scored in the third.

Former Rampage Greg Rallo potted two in the second period to really put the game out of reach. Passing was key to the scoring as Texas used its speed against the Rampage to generate chances.

Radek Faksa would collect one of his own in the third. And just to polish things off, Travis Morin completed a beautiful goal into a yawning net to setup the final at 6-1.

The Stars return home to play San Jose on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Stransky-Dickinson-Elie
Rallo-Faksa-Hulak
Kane-Smith-Ully

Backman-Honka
Johns-Oleksiak
Evans-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Lindell (callup)
Shore, Dowling, Blacker, Ritchie (injury)
Mangene, Kamrass, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,211.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - January 24 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
22-16-3-3, 50 pts
#3 Pacific Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
18-18-7-0, 43 pts
#5 Pacific Division
January 24th at 4:00 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

After nearly a month between games for these two, the rivalry reignites. They've switched things up a bit in the standings. The last time they played, Texas was in 5th and San Antonio in 3rd. Now they've swapped.

For Texas, it's been a lot of hockey but they've managed a 6-3-1-1 record since last facing the Rampage. The Alamo City crew is 4-7 in the same time span, fueling their downward momentum in the standings. However, the Rampage are coming in hot. They've beaten the Condors by an 11-3 margin in their last two on Friday and Saturday.

Last night's game was a great one for the Rampage as Mikko Rantanen scored a natural hat trick to push them past Bakersfield 5-2. He doesn't seem like he'll be in San Antonio much longer at this rate.

Stars injury/call up report:
Lindell (callup)
Shore, Dowling, Blacker, Ritchie (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)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Texas Stars Keep It Simple in 5-2 Win Over San Diego Gulls

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
After last night's loss, Texas needed a big response game against San Diego tonight. The Stars got just that with a 5-2 win over the Gulls, curing many of the ills from the night before.

"We know we let one slip last night," siad Derek Hulak, who had a goal and two assists. "We addressed that. We're getting to that time of year where every point matters."

Hulak's line with Radek Faksa and Greg Rallo combined for nine points on the night, despite just being thrown together today by head coach Derek Laxdal.

"Honestly with our team, it doesn't matter who you play with," said Hulak. "We have 12 good forwards. Faksa has a lot of confidence right now, and whenever you're on a line with Greg Rallo, good things are bound to happen."

Laxdal praised the performance of the line, which was an engine for positive results in the game. Radek Faksa alone was plus-4. Hulak and Rallo were plus-3 and plus-2, respectively.

"[The Gulls] were matching hard, a little bit of a chess game out there. Their line did a good job, scoring three goals against [San Diego's] top line."

The Stars didn't have a lot more shot than last night, just 25 overall, but the quality was higher. Texas generated a lot of confusion in front of Anton Khudobin with their quick rush game, ending up in the goaltender's lap seemingly just after crossing the blue line.

Texas altered their lineup a bit as Stephen Johns re-entered on the backend and Brett Ritchie was out with a lower body injury. Laxdal called Johns' game, "structure and calm, but physical," noting that he didn't miss a beat despite his time away.

Mattias Backman opened the scoring for Texas with a five-hole blast from the point. The goal was generated by the Faksa line as they cycled hard in the zone to keep the play alive. Hulak earned a goal off a sequence of rebounds to make it 2-0 quickly thereafter. San Diego picked up a power play tally on a bar-down shot from Simon Despres to end the period.

The second period saw Texas take "too many penalties," according to Laxdal. However, they came out on the right side of it on the scoreboard. The only scoring in the period was Radek Faksa's twelfth of the year in the final minute of the period.

The Texas power play came up big on an early third period chance. Greg Rallo notched his now team-leading 16th from the left wing circle. Despite the fact he had to double clutch the puck, he found twine as Khudobin couldn't make it over in time.

The power play was unkind in the coming minutes though as a bad zone entry by Honka sent Kenny Ryan the other way for the 4-2 score. Overall, Texas got the message to simplify its game. Julius Honka was an exception, as he continued to go for fancy plays instead of the easy ones.

Throughout the game, Texas did a good job of not getting goaded into bad penalties. Laxdal called the rivalry that has spawned between the teams "intense," and Hulak noted that Texas is aware of the Gulls' proclivities and wants to beat them on the power play instead of with their fists.

Texas polished off the scoring with an empty net goal from Brendan Ranford. Dallas Eakins pulled Khudobin with over five minutes left in the third.

The Stars finish their 3-in-3 weekend with San Antonio tomorrow.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Stransky-Dickinson-Elie
Rallo-Faksa-Hulak
Mangene-Smith-Ully

Backman-Honka
Johns-Oleksiak
Evans-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Lindell (callup)
Shore, Dowling, Blacker, Ritchie (injury)
Kane, Kamrass, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,460.

Brett Ritchie missed tonight's game with a lower body injury, which Laxdal calls "day-to-day." He could play tomorrow against San Antonio.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Diego - January 23 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
21-16-3-3, 48 pts
#3 Pacific Division
v.San Diego Gulls
19-16-1-1, 40 pts
#4 Pacific Division
January 23rd at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas looks to retool after their game last night lacked the desired pep. Same opponent, but a different lineup.

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Coach Laxdal expects to shift up his backend, possibly bringing in Zack Kamrass for his second AHL game. He's also looked to reunite the line of Cole Ully, Gemel Smith and Remi Elie, which played well last weekend for the team.

Overall, Laxdal is looking to increase the mobility in his backend. With San Diego clogging the neutral zone, you need fleet footed defenders to break through. Coach noted, "Our group was a little disconnected tonight. 3 played well, 3 struggled. We have to play better as a group."

Stars injury/call up report:
Lindell (callup)
Johns, Blacker (questionable)
Dowling (injury, lower body)
Shore (out, surgery)

Gulls Web Resources:
Website: sandiegogulls.com
Twitter: @SDGullsAHL
Twitter: @619sports (PBP)
Twitter: @danarelAHL

Friday, January 22, 2016

Gulls Clog Lanes, Capitalize on Sloppy Effort from Texas Stars

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
In Coach Laxdal's assessment, the Stars "weren't horrible, but weren't great" either. The 3-2 final score certainly didn't tell the complete story of Texas' game this evening. The effort seemed uneven overall.

"The first period we had energy but we were sloppy," noted Laxdal. "In the second and third, we lost that energy."

Texas got clogged up in the neutral zone attempting to execute their breakouts, an effective countermeasure deployed by San Diego to combat the speed game that Texas had used to vault to a 3-0 series lead coming into the game.

Curtis McKenzie, who scored a power play goal, added, "We've had success against this team playing north-south hockey and using speed. We tried to get too pretty."


The Gulls limited Texas to just 21 shots on net, far below their season average of nearly 35. Laxdal said, "They didn't give up a lot of scoring chances and when they did, we passed off pucks. I didn't think we played well start to finish."

It seemed like plays were broken up before they started as the Stars looked to force the puck into passing lanes instead of putting it on net.

The aforementioned McKenzie power play goal opened the scoring. The forward snuck out in front from behind the net and deposited his sixth of the year between the legs of Gulls goalie Matt Hackett.

San Diego answered back with a nice deflection play at the net on Philippe Desrosiers. A few minutes later, Harry Zolnierczyk scored on the power play and put the Gulls up 2-1.

Texas traded power plays with the visitors but there was no movement in the score as the neutral zone clogging intensified. Laxdal put the lines "in the blender" in the third to generate chances. It worked.

Matt Mangene broke through the defensive firewall of San Diego with an individual effort that found him behind the net with speed. He dished to Matej Stransky for the tie score.

Less than a minute later, Stefan Noesen, a Texas native, beat Desroisers over the shoulder and restored the Stars' lead. Laxdal noted that the Texas goalie was too deep on the first and third goals of the night. Texas attempted the tying goal with the extra attacker but could not establish the zone to set up.

The Stars get a chance for quick redemption with tomorrow's game against these same Gulls.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Dickinson-Faksa-Ritchie
Rallo-Smith-Hulak
Stransky-Kane-Elie

Backman-Honka
Bystrom-Oleksiak
Evans-Mangene

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Lindell (callup)
Shore, Johns, Dowling, Blacker (injury)
Ully, Kamrass, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,220.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Diego - January 22 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
21-15-3-3, 48 pts
#3 Pacific Division
v.San Diego Gulls
18-16-1-1, 38 pts
#5 Pacific Division
January 22nd at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Branden Troock was assigned to the Idaho Steelheads this morning.

Divisional rivals San Diego come back to the Cedar Park Center for two games this weekend. It will be just their second visit to the Lone Star State.

San Diego enters tonight's game on two days rest, having beaten San Antonio 2-1 on the 19th. The Gulls' scoresheet looks a little bizarre as they won 2-1 but Dustin Tokarski got the win with 32 saves on 32 shots. Injury is the culprit. Matt Hackett had to relieve Tokarski after he was injured early in the third.

Help comes from above not below for SD. The Ducks assigned Anton Khudobin, who was the goalie of record in the Stars' 6-1 throttling of the Gulls on New Year's Eve. Khudobin has split time between the NHL and AHL this year. His AHL stats are pretty average at 4-4-1 with .911 SV% and 2.60 GAA. With all the shuffling between trades and injuries and the Ducks' goalie situation with Andersen and Gibson, a total of six goalies have manned the pipes this year.

Texas is starting to build a cushion between themselves and the fourth place Condors. They are separated by 0.042 points, a significant margin. The Condors would need a four-game winning streak to surpass Texas immediately. They've yet to do that all year.

On the Stars side, it's possible that many could be returning from injury. According to Sean Shapiro, forward Branden Troock and defensemen Stephen Johns and Jesse Blacker all practiced this week and could play this weekend. Texas is currently swimming in defensemen as precautionary measures. Jamie Oleksiak is down from Dallas and Zack Kamrass is up from Idaho.

Stars injury/call up report:
Lindell (callup)
Johns, Troock, Blacker (questionable)
Dowling (injury, lower body)
Shore (out, surgery)

Gulls Web Resources:
Website: sandiegogulls.com
Twitter: @SDGullsAHL
Twitter: @619sports (PBP)
Twitter: @danarelAHL

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Texas Stars Recall Zack Kamrass

The Texas Stars told Zack Kamrass they were just kidding about assigning him to the Steelheads earlier this week and recalled the rookie defenseman for this weekend's games. While in Idaho, he did not play any games.

In an unrelated move in the ECHL, the Steelheads acquired G Branden Komm from the South Carolina Stingrays. In return, Texas reassigned forward Brandon Magee to South Carolina.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday they have recalled rookie defenseman Zack Kamrass from their ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Kamrass, 25, made his AHL debut on Jan. 15 in Texas’ 4-2 win at Bakersfield. He has appeared in 37 ECHL games this season for Idaho with 16 points (3-13=16). The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Atlanta, Ga. is currently in his first full professional season after finishing a four-year career at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (NCAA) from 2011-2015.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Esa Lindell Recalled; Zack Kamrass Assigned

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
With Dallas placing Jordie Benn on IR, Esa Lindell will be making his first trip to the NHL. The AHL All-Star Finnish defenseman has quietly contributed on the backend. TO be honest, I'm not sure I could describe any one of Lindell's goals or assists this season, but he has 25 total to lead all defensemen.

In a corresponding move, Zack Kamrass was assigned to Idaho. He played in a single game against San Diego this weekend.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Stars Drop Another One Goal Game Against Ontario

Texas fell to Ontario tonight in California with another late goal being their undoing. In the season series, the Stars have seen points evaporate in the final minutes of two of the three games thus far: a 7-6 loss in Texas and tonight's loss in Ontario. Their only other game was a 3-2 OTL that saw Texas come back from down 2-0 to earn the point.

Texas got on the board in the second with an excellent individual effort off the stick of Jason Dickinson, a shorthanded tally that opened things at 1-0 Stars. The play was a good Johnny-on-the-spot goal for Dickinson, who took advantage of the misplayed puck by goalie Michael Houser. The third period saw Ontario climb back in with an early goal by Nic Dowd.

As time wound down, Greg Rallo was nabbed for hooking, teeing up the Ontario PP unit. Andrew Crescenzi found twine off a rebound with 23 seconds left in the third. With so little time left, Texas couldn't get it to OT and broke up their winning streak at four games.

The Stars have a long layoff before playing San Diego at home in back-to-back games this weekend.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Troock, Shore, Johns, Dowling (injury)
Blacker, Evans, Kane, Muse, Kamrass (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 9,491.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Ontario - January 17 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016

All-Star Brendan Ranford Pots Three to Help Stars Roll Gulls

Quietly having an All-Star season, Brendan Ranford put away three tonight in San Diego to send Texas on a four game winning streak. The run ties them for their longest of the season, previously achieved in the first four games of the year.

While Texas never trailed in the game, the Gulls were never more than one behind until the final minutes saw an empty net goal from Texas. Ranford scored the game winner with under three minutes left in regulation to break up a tie at three.

The Stars had yet another low shots-against performance. They only allowed 20 shots for a second consecutive night.

Here's the release:
Brendan Ranford’s hat trick goal in the third held up as the game-winner as the Texas Stars won their fourth straight game in a 5-3 final over the San Diego Gulls on Saturday night in front of 10,491 in attendance at Valley View Casino Center.

Ranford’s game-winner came from the left circle with just under three minutes to play in regulation after Esa Lindell’s point shot bounced off the end boards to set up the Stars forward for his third goal and fourth point in the game. It was the Stars (21-14-3-3) third win in as many games over the Gulls (17-16-1-1) and allowed Texas to close the gap on second-place San Jose in the AHL’s Pacific Division with the Barracuda’s overtime loss on Saturday.

The Stars close out their three-game road trip on Sunday evening against the Ontario Reign at 5 p.m. CST.

Texas jumped out to the lead three separate times only to see San Diego battle back and tie the score before Ranford’s late heroics. The Stars forward scored two of his three goals in the third period as he also pushed Texas in front, 3-2, at 8:40 of the period on a breakaway chance. San Diego’s Chris Mueller came back to tie the game off a tap-in at the left side of the goal crease at 13:50. After Ranford’s game-winner, Brett Ritchie also added an empty-net goal with just under two minutes to play to seal the Texas win.

Maxime Lagace stopped 17 of 20 shots in his first appearance since a 5-4 overtime win over San Antonio on Dec. 29. Dustin Tokarski made his San Diego debut and stopped 14 of 18 in the loss.

Ranford snapped home a wrist shot from the right circle to open up the scoring at 5:27 of the first for his 11th of the season. With just under three minutes to play in the frame, the Gulls responded with a shorthanded goal by Kenny Ryan to knot the game at 1-1.

Texas jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the second from Jason Dickinson’s power play goal at 5:27 from the slot. Ranford tallied the assist on the rookie forward’s ninth of the year, but the Gulls responded again with a power play goal of their own when Nick Ritchie tapped in a loose puck at the right side of the goal crease at 10:04 for his 15th of the season.

Texas finished 1-for-6 on the power play while the Gulls went 1-for-4. With the win, the Stars are also riding a five-game point streak (5-0-1-0).

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Dickinson-Faksa-Rallo
Hulak-Elie-Ritchie
Ully-Smith-Stransky

Lindell-Honka
Oleksiak-Mangene
Backman-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Troock, Shore, Johns, Dowling (injury)
Blacker, Evans, Kane, Muse, Kamrass (scratch)

Jamie Oleksiak was assigned to the Stars on a conditioning stint this afternoon.

Tonight's attendance was 10,491.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - January 16 2016


Friday, January 15, 2016

Texas Tops Bakersfield 4-2 To Start West Coast Weekend

Radek Faksa just recently returned from the NHL and is already making an impact on the lineup. His late goal in Bakersfield put Texas up 3-2 and stood up as the game-winner in a 4-2 contest. The Stars also got a pair of goals from Greg Rallo and one from Mattias Nackman.

Philippe Desrosiers picked up his third victory of the year with an 18 save effort.

Here's the release:
Radek Faksa’s slap shot with just over a minute remaining in regulation snapped a tie game and lifted the Texas Stars to a 4-2 win on Friday night over the Bakersfield Condors in front of 4,363 at Rabobank Arena.

Faksa’s game-winner came from the left circle with 1:09 to play, and gave the Stars (20-14-3-3) their fourth win this season over the Condors (14-14-2-2) in as many games. Greg Rallo added an empty-net goal to finish with two in the win, and Philippe Desrosiers turned aside 18 of 20 shots to earn his third straight victory.

The Stars continue their road trip tomorrow against the San Diego Gulls at 9:05 p.m. CST.

Faksa’s goal snapped a 2-2 tie after the Condors erased a two-goal deficit with a pair of power play goals in the third. Griffin Reinhart beat a screened Desrosiers from the center of the blue line at 2:51 and then Joshua Winquist knotted things up from the top of the right circle with a one-timer for his four goal of the season. It was his third against the Stars.

Curtis McKenzie tallied the assist on Faksa’s winner when he fed the Stars’ forward from his belly in the corner.

Rallo opened up the game’s scoring with his ninth power play goal of the season, and 14th overall, at 12:53 of the first as Travis Morin threaded a crossing pass to the left circle for a one-time blast.

Texas extended their lead to 2-0 at 2:31 in the second when Mattias Backman’s centering pass from the corner slipped through Bakersfield goaltender Laurent Brossoit at the post.

The Condors goaltender more than made up for the second period error after finishing with 41 saves in the game, including 34 of them through the first forty minutes of play. The Stars held the Condors to just two shots on goal in the opening frame, tied for their lowest effort of the season.

Texas finished 1-for-7 on the power play, while the Condors went 2-for-6.

Jason Dickinson’s point streak came to an end at six games for the Stars. Rallo’s empty-net goal in the dying seconds of regulation was his 15th of the season.

Tonight's lines:
Elie-Faksa-Stransky
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Dickinson-Smith-Rallo
Hulak-Dowling-Ritchie

Lindell-Honka
Kamrass-Mangene
Backman-Bystrom

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Troock, Shore, Johns (injury)
Blacker, Evans, Kane, Muse, Dowling (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,363.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Bakersfield - January 15 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Bakersfield Condors

Texas Stars
19-14-3-3, 44 pts
#3 Pacific Division
atBakersfield Condors
14-13-2-2, 32 pts
#5 Pacific Division
January 15th at 9:00 PM
Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield, CA

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Perhaps a familiar and friendly tilt to start the road trip for Texas. The Condors and Stars have tangled three times this season with Texas winning in regulation each time. Both teams are coming in off a long layoff, having last played on Saturday. Texas defeated Chicago while the Condors blanked the division-leading Reign.

With Ben Scrivens in Montreal, the Condors are back to Laurent Brossoit and Eetu Laurikainen, who was recalled from Europe to supplement the Oilers' depth.

The Stars called up Zack Kamrass yesterday, his first AHL recall. The defenseman has been strong for Idaho and gives the Stars a bit of insurance on the three-game roadie. Stephen Johns is still out, but other defensemen were full participants in practice this week. It might be a bit of a reward for Kamrass as well.

The big question for Texas is which goaltenders play this weekend. There are three on the roster, all healthy. One each? Or, does John Muse get the cold shoulder with Lagace or Desrosiers getting two of three? Something to watch.

Stars injury/call up report:
Troock, Shore, Johns (injury)

Condors Web Resources:
Website: bakersfieldcondors.com
Blog (Official): Inside the Condors
Twitter: @Condors
Twitter: @CondorsHolty (PBP)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Texas Stars Recall D Zack Kamrass

The Texas Stars have recalled defenseman Zack Kamrass from the ECHL. This is his first recall.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday they have recalled rookie defenseman Zack Kamrass from their ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Kamrass, 25, is on his first career AHL call-up after appearing in 37 games this season for Idaho with 16 points (3-13=16). The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Atlanta, Ga. is currently in his first full professional season after finishing a four-year career at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (NCAA) from 2011-2015. Kamrass (KAM-rihs) appeared in 147 career collegiate games and scored 64 points (13-51=64) over the four-year stretch.

The Stars begin a three-game road trip on Friday in Bakersfield at 9 p.m. CST.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Idaho Steelheads Report: Streaking Steelies Post Strong December

Emil Molin (Credit: Michael Connell/Texas Stars)
John Mulhern is back for the new year with the monthly Steelheads Report...

A new year, another Idaho Steelheads report. When the last report was posted back in December, the Steelheads were ready to hit a very busy part of their schedule as they were staring at 13 games during the month. It was going to be pivotal as the Steelheads had played the most games in the ECHL heading into the month and are currently tied for most games played in the ECHL.

It wasn’t the ideal start as Idaho started out 1-4 in their first five games, but after a bit of player movement, the Steelheads quickly turned things around. Idaho earned points in eight straight games (7-0-0-1) and have earned points in 10 of their last 12 games to end December and start the 2016 part of their schedule. In putting this run together Idaho managed to pull themselves out of the bottom part of the Western Division and Western Conference, and even had a shot of getting all the way up to first place in the division before losing this past Saturday to the Utah Grizzlies (San Diego).

Over this stretch the power play has jumped up to 17th in the league and the penalty kill continued their timely contributions to help turn momentum and keep it going depending on the situation. Along with the point streak the team had, the power play had a consecutive games streak with scoring goals. The man advantage has truly changed from something where you hope Idaho scores into a true weapon, where you almost expect them to score, or at the least gain some offensive momentum.

I could sit here and run off a list of all of the individual accomplishments that Idaho has had over the past month, but that would be a short novel. But as Neil Graham has reiterated on multiple occasions, the Steelheads have been winning as a team during this stretch and I assure you, it would be impossible to find someone who has not contributed to the effort in some capacity. Of course you have players scoring goals, but even small plays that don’t end up on the scoresheet have had huge impacts: blocked shots, strong zone clears, and keeping a puck in the offensive zone for an extra 30 seconds of attack time. It has been quite the experience to watch this turn around and to see that swagger start to ooze out of the locker room.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dallas Stars Assign Radek Faksa to Texas Stars

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Radek Faksa has been reassigned to the Texas Stars this morning.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has reassigned center Radek Faksa to the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Faksa, 22, has appeared in 18 games for Dallas this season registering three points (1-2=3) and a +1 plus/minus rating. He scored his first career goal on Nov. 6 at Carolina against Eddie Lack. At the AHL level with Texas, he has posted 13 points (9-4=13) in 19 games played.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Vitkov, Czech Republic was selected by Dallas in the first round (13th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Despite Major Shot Deficit, Texas Stars Beat Chicago Wolves 5-2

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
It wasn't the prettiest game of the year, but the final result was one that the Stars certainly liked. Despite a 50-27 shots deficit, Texas came out on the right side of a 4-2 margin. Indeed, the Stars allowed the most shots against all year and vaulted the fewest shots on net as well.

"There were a lot of perimeter shots and shots from the points," said Coach Laxdal. "If you count scoring chances, it's probably pretty even. We did a good job boxing out second chance opportunities."

Goalie Philippe Desrosiers earned back-to-back wins, his first and second AHL wins, in his first back-to-back starts.

Brett Ritchie continued his offensive march with two goals on the evening. Cole Ully, who had a goal in the game, played one of his best as a Texas Star. He was all over the play with his linemates Gemel Smith and Matej Stransky. He drew a penalty in the second period with some hustle and scored in the first.

"I thought Cole gave us good minutes tonight. Cole scored a beautiful goal tonight, gave us more energy. He beat a pretty good defenseman inside outside and had a great shot. He's a young prospect, high end skill. We know he can score, but he has to learn to develop his defensive position."

Philippe Desrosiers was challenged much more in the game than he was last night, as the Wolves volleyed a season-high 50 shots on the rookie goalie. Desrosiers earned back-to-back starts, and Maxime Lagace returned from injury to back up.

"Phil responded to the challenge tonight. [Chicago] played a better game and had a good push and sense of urgency. Us getting the first power play goal settled us down. They pushed pretty hard for 60 minutes."

Brett Ritchie opened on the power play, keeping Texas hot on the man advantage. Ritchie broke in with another skater, faked the pass and beat Copley far side. Cole Ully had an excellent individual effort goal to break in on his lonesome and make it 2-0. In between, Zach Torquato finished off a nice 2-on-1 with a tap-in far side on Desrosiers. The period ended at 2-1 Texas, but the scoring chances were tilted 10-3 for Chicago.

The second period saw the same goal distribution: two for Texas and one for Chicago. Brett Ritchie went first once again. The Stars used their transition game to power their way from a penalty kill into the tally to make it 3-1. Derek Hulak made it 4-1 quickly thereafter on a skillful backhander that beat Copley despite Hulak having his back to the net on the shot.

Riley Brace earned a power play goal for the Wolves to set things at 4-2.

The third period was relatively quiet. There was a scary moment for Texas with the game already salted away thanks to an empty net goal by Dowling. Philippe Desrosiers was shaken up on a play at the net with 38 seconds left but stayed in the contest. Coach Laxdal noted that often the crowd getting into it pushes a goalie to stay in, and that's just what happened with Desrosiers.

Texas has a long layoff now, taking two days off entirely and returning to practice Tuesday. Their next game in Friday in Bakersfield.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Elie-Dowling-Ritchie
Hulak-Dickinson-Rallo
Ully-Smith-Stransky

Lindell-Honka
Bystrom-Mangene
Backman-Blacker

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Johns (injury)
Evans, Kane, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,261.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - January 9 2016

Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill: Texas Stars "Big Part" of Dallas's Success This Season

Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff watch training camp
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Dallas GM Jim Nill made the quick trip down I-35 last night to take in the Stars win over Chicago. Three years into his leadership of the Dallas Stars organization, he'll certainly be making the trip even more in years to come. The Stars signed Nill to a five year extension yesterday morning, taking his contract through 2022-23.

Nill and many of his scouts took in the game as they prepare for an organizational meeting in Arizona next week. The entire hockey ops staff will be present to take a holistic look at the entire Stars organization as well as analyze other organizations in the NHL.

Nill, who has become well-known as a savvy trader, noted, "We live in a capped world so there's always opportunities [for trades]."

Here are a few other salient points from our chat...

On the contract:
"I'm excited. It shows a commitment from the Gaglardi family. They believe in what we're doing in both organizations. We've got a good thing going here."

On the success his team is having this season (classic hockey player praise deflection here):
"We have a great management team and coaches in place. We supply the players but they have to mold it together. It's been a big part of our success in Dallas. You look at the roster in Dallas now, probably half of them have developed here in Austin. To be successful in the NHL, you have to have a good feeder system."

On Esa Lindell, recently named to the AHL All-Star roster:
"Esa is a big part of our future. I was able to watch him in the World Championships [last year] and he was one of Finland's best players. He's one of the best young defensemen in the AHL and one of the top upcoming defensemen in his age group."

On Jack Campbell:
"We're going to monitor Jack's play. In the end, he has to play a lot of hockey. It's important for him to get playing again. Get him playing some games and get his confidence back and see where it fits into the situation up here in Texas."

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
18-14-3-3, 42 pts
#4 Pacific Division
v.Chicago Wolves
16-14-1-2, 35 pts
#6 Central Division
January 9th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The final matchup of the year between these two teams comes tonight in Cedar Park. Following last night's Texas win and overall defensive dominance, the challenge now is to see if the Stars can keep that up for two games in a row.

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
It may seem obvious, but it's a huge boon to the Stars' fortunes when they win after really doubling down on a strategy. If they'd played a solid defensive game last night and lost through puck luck, it'd be that much harder to buy in. With the W, the buy-in is easier.

Last night's third period had a bit of flared tempers, which could boil over into tonight, so keep an eye on that.

As far as goalie matchups, it would seem that you'd get Copley for Chicago and Muse for Texas. Per morning skate though, the Stars will put Philippe Desrosiers out again.

Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Johns (injury)

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

Friday, January 8, 2016

Texas Stars Tame Wolves With Philippe Desrosiers' First AHL Win

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The most impressive defensive effort of the season for Texas yielded a 3-1 win and the first AHL victory for Philippe Desrosiers tonight in Cedar Park. The Stars defeated the visiting Wolves thanks to their team defense.

"We have to band together," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "One of the messages we've talked about is team defense. Guys had great shot blocks [tonight]. It's a team mentality to start engaging a bit better defensively."

From the drop of the puck, Texas controlled the play. Travis Morin and Greg Rallo had both netted goals before Chicago had picked up a shot on net. That one found the chest of rookie Desrosiers, who was playing his first AHL home game and just second AHL game overall.

"It was a solid game [for Desrosiers]. He didn't get a shot for 10 minutes. He got a chance to settle in. Our young D played well. Our forwards responded and played with a lot of passion."

Coach Laxdal really touched on the combination of young defenseman stepping up while the forwards, veteran and younger alike, brough their defense game to win the contest.

"I liked the way our group responded [to the last loss]. We did a great job defensively. I thought from our side, we played solid for sixty minutes. You're going to make mistakes but we did a great job tracking back."

As mentioned, Travis Morin opened the scoring off a beauty pass from Rallo on the power play. Rallo got one of his own, getting the puck away after losing it in his feet momentarily on the backdoor.

Texas extended their lead in the second with another power play goal on a cross-ice pass. Jason Dickinson, who also set up the Rallo goal, found Julius Honka for the 3-0 lead. Laxdal noted that the power play is scoring at over 25% now and is giving the team "breathing room and allows us not to chase the game."

From there on out, Texas played a pretty simple defensive game. The Wolves outshot the Stars in the third period but it looked like Desrosiers could earn his first AHL win and the shutout in the same game.

Jeremy Blain ended that bid with Chicago's only goal, scored with just 56 seconds left in the contest. Regardless, it was a good confidence booster for Desrosiers, who allowed five in his first AHL game earlier this week.

Tempers flared a bit in the third, which should make for an interesting rematch tomorrow evening when these two play again.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Elie-Dowling-Ritchie
Hulak-Dickinson-Rallo
Ully-Smith-Stransky

Lindell-Honka
Bystrom-Mangene
Backman-Blacker

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Lagace, Johns (injury)
Evans, Kane (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,363.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - January 8 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
17-14-3-3, 40 pts
#4 Pacific Division
v.Chicago Wolves
16-13-1-2, 35 pts
#6 Central Division
January 8th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After going on a three game winning streak, Texas has lost their last three. Two of those have yielded points, going past regulation with Ontario and Stockton. Now they return home with a shot at the Wolves before hitting the road again.

The Wolves come in streaking as well. They lost three, won three, lost three more and now are on a two game winning streak. Tonight's game will be a chance at three.

Don't let the Wolves 6th place standing deceive you. The Central Division is very deep this year. Aside from Manitoba and Iowa, every team has a shot at the playoffs. The way things are going the sixth place team might miss the playoffs but still have a better record than the third place team in the Pacific. At this point it seems nearly a foregone conclusion that the fifth place Central team will crossover.

So these are very important points, even though they are non-divisional. Chicago is essentially competing with Texas and the rest of the Pacific for a chance at the last playoff spot in the crossover division.

The Wolves have split their goaltending duties in back-to-backs in all but one occasion this season, so expect to see Jordan Binnington one night and Pheonix Copley the other (Yes, Pheonix, not Phoenix). They have nearly identical stats on the year, both within hundredths of the 2.55 GAA and .911 SV% range. The Stars might have the option to bring out Maxime Lagace in one of these games depending on how his recovery is coming along. Otherwise, expect Muse and perhaps Desrosiers depending on how the first game goes.

Greg Rallo is leading the scoring in the series so far for Texas with three goals. Ty Rattie and Pat Cannone are tied on the Chicago side with three points each.

These two games will close the season series between the two teams and are the Wolves only visit to Cedar Park this year. Texas has won one and lost in a shootout coming into the weekend.

Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Johns, Lagace (injury)

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

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Morin, Ranford and Lindell Named to AHL All-Star Roster

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Travis Morin, Brendan Ranford and Esa Lindell were named as the Texas Stars' representatives to the AHL All-Star Game later this month in Syracuse. It's the first All-Star game for Lindell and Ranford. Morin has been selected a total of four times, but only played once.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced today that forwards Travis Morin, Brendan Ranford and defenseman Esa Lindell have all been selected to represent the team at the AHL’s All-Star Classic.

Morin, 31, is receiving his third AHL All-Star Selection (2011, 2014) and currently leads the league with 35 points this season (10-25=35). The Stars’ captain has skated in a 445 games over the seven-year history of the franchise with 393 career points (131-262=393).

Ranford, 23, is currently in his third AHL season, all with Texas, and making his first career All-Star appearance. The Edmonton, Alberta native is second on the team and tied for 12th overall in the league with 28 points this season (10-18=28).

Lindell, 21, is in his rookie season and sits tied for third among AHL defensemen with 24 points this year (7-17=24). The Vantaa, Finland native is also eighth among all AHL rookies in points. Lindell was a third-round selection of the Dallas Stars (74th overall) in 2013.


The 2016 AHL All-Star Classic will be hosted in Syracuse, N.Y. from Jan. 31-Feb. 2. The Texas Stars are one of just five teams in the league to send three representatives to this year’s game. Each of the AHL’s four divisions will be represented by 13 players: seven forwards, four defensemen and two goaltenders. Rosters were determined by committees of AHL coaches, and all 30 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star.

The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 31 (8 p.m. ET) will keep its traditional format, with All-Stars from the Eastern Conference squaring off against All-Stars from the Western Conference in seven skills events.

The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Challenge will take place on the evening of Feb. 1 (7 p.m. ET); instead of a traditional 60-minute game, the AHL’s All-Stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s divisions (Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific). The teams will then play a round-robin tournament featuring six games of nine minutes each; the first half of each game will be played at 4-on-4, and the second half at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin tournament will face off for the championship, a six-minute game played at 3-on-3.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ontario Reign Best Texas Stars in Late-Night OT

In a much tighter matchup than the last time the two played, Texas fell this evening to the Ontario Reign in overtime to end their road trip. Justin Auger opened the scoring with a pair of goals but not until halfway through the contest. The Stars answered back with goals from two players they need to standout to make the playoffs: Brett Ritchie and Jason Dickinson.

Ontario tallied the final mark in the overtime frame as Auger assisted on the game-winner by Kevin Gravel, scored at 11:36 PM Central time. Auger had a three-point night for the Reign.

John Muse finished with 23 saves on 26 shots. Peter Budaj stopped 30 of 32. The win stopped the Reign's three-game losing streak.

Stephen Johns missed the game after sustaining a lower body injury last game. The Stars will will return to Cedar Park Center for two games this weekend before getting a five-day break.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Lagace, Johns (injury)
Evans, Ully (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,814.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Ontario - January 5 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Ontario Reign

Texas Stars
17-14-2-3, 39 pts
#4 Pacific Division
atOntario Reign
17-8-2-1, 37 pts
#1 Pacific Division
January 5th at 9:00 PM
Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, CA

If the playoffs started today (and you ignored that pesky crossover rule), this would be the opening round matchup for the Texas Stars. The last and only time these two teams squared off was an offensive showcase that ended in a 7-6 regulation loss by the Stars.

Texas might have caught the Reign at just the right time. Ontario has lost three in a row in regulation, which is something they've not done as an organization since March 29-April 6 2013. They've got just one win in the five games since Christmas, scoring just six goals in that stretch. Strong goaltending had been a hallmark from their top man Peter Budaj. He's stopped all but 12 in the span. Not stellar but winnable nonetheless.

Unfortunately, Texas might provide a good chance to break out of a scoring funk. The Stars have scored the most goals in the league but also have allowed the most by a wide margin (130).

Note the very late start. Thank goodness the Pacific teams don't do 7:30 PM local starts or we'd be wrapping up the postgame article after midnight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa (callup)
Shore, Lagace, Troock, Johns (injury)

Website: ontarioreign.com
Twitter: @ontarioreign
Coverage: Reign coverage via Jewels from the Crown

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Desrosiers' Debut Not So Rosy As Texas Falls 5-1

It wasn't a sparkling debut for Philippe Desrosiers as he stopped just 19 of 24 shots in San Jose. Texas halted their point streak at four with the loss. The only Stars goal scorer was Jason Dickinson.

Here's the release:
Nikolay Goldobin netted the hat trick to lead the San Jose Barracuda to a 5-1 win over the Texas Stars on Sunday evening at SAP Center.

The Stars’ (17-14-2-3) four-game point streak came to an end in the loss. San Jose (14-10-2-3) leaped past Texas to take over third place in the AHL’s Pacific Division in the win. It was also the American Hockey League debut for rookie goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, who made 19 saves for Texas.

The Stars close out their three-game road trip on Tuesday against the Ontario Reign at 9 p.m. CST.

Jason Dickinson scored the Stars only goal as part of a three-goal first period where San Jose would take the lead and never look back. Goldobin scored his first of the game at 7:37 to open up the scoring off Chris Tierney’s centering pass from behind the net. Dickinson buried a loose puck at the right side of the goal crease 10 minutes later for his seventh of the season off a Greg Rallo assist, which extended the veteran forward’s point streak to nine games for Texas and knotted the score at 1-1. The Barracuda took the lead for good at 18:37 with a goal from Jeremy Langlois as the Stars entered the break down 2-1.

In the second, Goldobin snapped home another at 10:35 to extend the San Jose lead, and two more were tacked on in the third at 1:53 by Ryan Carpenter and 7:39 to seal the hat trick performance for Goldobin.

Alex Stalock stopped 21 of 22 shots for the win in his first AHL action since April 2, 2013. Goldobin now has five goals against Texas in three matchups this season.

The Stars power play streak ended at five games after finishing 0-for-2. San Jose went 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.


Injuries, scratches, and notes:

Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Lagace (injury)
Blacker, Kane, Ully (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 3,425.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Jose - January 3 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Jose Barracuda

Texas Stars
17-13-2-3, 39 pts
#3 Pacific Division
atSan Jose Barracuda
13-10-2-3, 31 pts
#4 Pacific Division
January 3rd at 7:00 PM
SAP Center, San Jose, CA

Reading back to the last time Texas played San Jose, the preview was all about playing a full sixty to earn the win. After last night, the same could be written all over again. Stockton is not a good hockey team, but they mounted a comeback from three goals down to beat Texas last night. It's especially disappointing for the Stars after playing one of their best 60 minutes efforts of the season on Thursday night against the Gulls.

San Jose, which had been hovering just above Stockton in the standings for a while, has now surged up to fourth place. A win today would put them past Texas for third.

Look out for the potential first AHL start for Philippe Desrosiers after Muse went last night and Thursday.

Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Lagace (injury)

Barracuda Web Resources:
Website: sjbarracuda.com
Twitter: @SJbarracuda
Twitter: @3eyeraven (local coverage)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Texas Stars Collapse Late, Fall 7-6 in Shootout

After leading 6-3 in the second, Texas dropped tonight's contest in Stockton by a 7-6 shootout final. Goal scorers for Texas included Remi Elie, Gemel Smith, Ludwig Bystrom, Brendan Ranford (2), and Matej Stransky.

Here's the release:
The Stockton Heat capped off a three-goal comeback effort with a 7-6 shootout win over the Texas Stars on Saturday night at Stockton Arena to begin a three-game road trip for the Stars.

Brendan Ranford tallied two goals for the Stars (17-13-2-3) and Greg Rallo extended his point streak to eight games with a first period assist. Turner Elson scored the shootout-winner for the Heat (10-14-0-3). Texas is on a four-game point streak (3-0-0-1) and also tallied a power play goal for the fifth straight game.

Texas visits the San Jose Barracuda on Sunday at 7 p.m. CST.

The offense was off and rolling between both teams with four goals in the game’s first 10 minutes. Remi Elie snapped home his fourth of the year from the right side of the goal at 1:35. Stockton’s Bill Arnold tied things up when a shot from the blue line deflected off his skate in front of the net, and past John Muse, just 33 seconds later. Ranford pushed Texas in front, 2-1, with a wrist shot from the right circle at 3:14 for his ninth of the season, and Ludwig Bystrom scored his first of the season at 9:59 on the power play.

Stockton made it a 3-2 score late in the first from Derek Grant on a rebound goal. Heat goaltender Joni Ortio started the game, but was replaced by Kent Simpson after Ranford’s first period goal.

Period two was more of the same offensively between both clubs. Ranford buried his second of the night at 2:50 and Gemel Smith scored 10 seconds later to give Texas a 5-2 lead. Arnold added another at 5:17 to close the game to 5-3, but Matej Stransky responded for the Stars at 17:13 from the right circle to give Texas the three-goal cushion again. From there, Stockton made their comeback push starting with Freddie Hamilton’s power play goal in the period’s final seconds.

In the third, Turner Elson struck quickly from the slot on the power play to pull the Heat within one just 22 seconds in. Bryce Van Brabant then knotted things at 6-6 at 3:20 on a deflection goal and the offense went quiet for both teams the rest of the way before Stockton’s shootout heroics.

Ortio returned to start the third period for the Heat and finished 15 of 17 overall to earn the win. Muse suffered the loss going 38 of 44 for Texas. Kent Simpson made 14 saves in his relief appearance for the Heat.

Travis Morin was the Stars only goal-scorer in the shootout. Grant also scored for Stockton before Elson’s winner in round five.

The Stars finished 1-for-5 on the power play. Stockton when 2-for-7.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hulak-Dickinson-Rallo
Elie-Dowling-Ritchie
Ully-Smith-Stransky

Lindell-Honka
Bystrom-Johns
Backman-Blacker

Muse

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa (callup)
Troock, Shore, Lagace (injury)
Evans, Kane, Mangene (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,758.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - January 2 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
17-13-2-2, 38 pts
#3 Pacific Division
atStockton Heat
10-14-0-2, 22 pts
#7 Pacific Division
January 2nd at 6:00 PM
Stockton Arena, Stockton, CA

Among all the team's in the division, Texas drew the best chance at extending their winning streak to four games with a game today against the Stockton Heat. The Heat are the worst team in the division and lost 4 of their last 5 games. Their last contest was a good one though, as they knocked off the Ontario Reign 4-1 on the road. That win could give them confidence as they return home to play the streaking Stars. Stockton also has a 2-1 edge on the Stars so far in the season series.

The item to watch for Texas here is the net. With the density of games on this road trip, it is entirely possible that Philippe Desrosiers will play his first AHL game in the coming days. Unless Lagace returns to health, John Muse would be faced with playing games today, tomorrow and Tuesday. It's not impossible, but it's highly improbable. It's about halfway through the season, so it's a decent time to figure out what the Stars might have in Desrosiers for the rest of the year.

Stars injury/call up report:
Shore, Troock, Lagace (injury)

Website: stocktonheat.com
Twitter: @ahlheat