Saturday, October 29, 2016

Texas Stars, Philippe Desrosiers Hang Tight for OT Win Over Reign

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Something clicked this weekend for the Texas Stars. After a four-game slump, the Stars now have back-to-back wins against last season's division champs. All the pieces they needed to slide into place did.

Goalie Philippe Desrosiers made his home debut and was sparkling. He halted 34 of 35 shots from a dangerous Ontario offense to carry Texas to a 2-1 OT win.

"He's been working hard with the goalie coaches in practice," said Derek Laxal. "For us, if we can get two goaltenders playing well, that's part of the development process."

Desrosiers himself added, "I just wanted to do my job. I've been working so hard in practice to be ready for this game. Right now, I'm proud of myself and proud of the guys."

The game wasn't without flaws for the home side, however. Texas was stymied often on the power play but broke through when they needed it the most: in overtime.

"It felt good because I had so many chances that I could have scored," said Matej Stransky of the game-winning goal.

Remi Elie opened the scoring in the first in tight. Coach Laxdal called him out as one of the best players on the ice tonight. In the second, the Stars seemed to be in neutral after getting scored on and seeing their power play come up empty on a short 5-on-3 followed by a double minor. When the Stars took their own double minor at the end of the frame, it seemed that the momentum would swing to Ontario with a goal early in the third period.

Stransky relayed Laxdal's message in the locker room in the second intermission, "Coach said, 'Let's kill this and let's go,' and every guy was bought in. We went hard and them and it worked."

With the wind in their sails after a solid kill, Texas earned four calls in the third period to give their power play a chance to clinch the game.

"We only had 16 shots up to the end of the second," said Laxdal. "We just kept preaching that we need one shot to win this. Our guys hung in there from start to finish. We got that one shot."

As the teams moved to overtime, Texas held a 5-on-3 manpower advantage thanks to some Reign indiscretions. "They're going to take their chances of getting a call or not getting a call. Those were blatant penalties and we took advantage of it."

Stransky buried his chance just 38 seconds into OT off the assist from Julius Honka. Laxdal concluded, "We weren't sharp, but we ended up getting the win. We'll take it and move on."

Texas will move on, with four points from this weekend, to Tucson on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
Elie-Morin-Ully
DeFazio-Fyten-Stransky
Troock-McMurtry-Herbert
Werek-Mangene-Gurianov

Backman-Honka
Stevenson-Bystrom
Ebert-Bodnarchuk

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Smith, Dowling (call up)
Karjalainen, Van Brabant (scratch)
Ranford (out, unspecified)
Dickinson (recovering from injury)

Reign starting goalie Jonah Imoo was injured in the first but stayed in the game until the third. He was relived by Jack Flinn, who took the loss.

Tonight's attendance was 4,512.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Ontario - October 29 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Ontario Reign

Texas Stars
3-3-1-0, 7 pts, 0.500
#5 Pacific Division
v.Ontario Reign
2-1-1-0, 5 pts, 0.625
#4 Pacific Division
October 29th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Texas regains center depth as Justin Dowling is assigned this afternoon from Dallas. The Stars also signed Ethan Werek to a PTO.

The Stars handed the Reign their first regulation loss of the season and earned their first win over the Ontario team in history last night. It's time to re-rack and do it again this evening. Head coach Derek Laxdal has always said that there is a response from the losing team the next night in a back-to-back. With how tight last night was, Texas is going to have to manage the early game to ensure they don't get behind by more than a goal and see the game get away from them. On their road trip, that was what plagued them.

Key to the game will be ending the first period with a lead, or at worst, no worse than a one-goal deficit. The game is manageable from there. If they cannot get that, they'll be chasing, which has been a weak point for them so far in the wins and losses sense. While they've come back frequently, they haven't had the ability to close the gap entirely in every instance.

I would expect Imoo and Desrosiers in the nets. We'll know more after morning skate.

Stars injury/call up report:
Dowling, Smith (call up)
Dickinson (injury recovery)
Ranford (unspecified)

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

Texas Stars Notch Character Win, Beat Reign for the First Time

Tight 5-4 win breaks seven-game winless streak against Ontario
(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Was tonight's game a character win? Absolutely.

After a rough game on Tuesday night, Texas faced the Reign, a club that they had not defeated this year or last, a streak of seven games. That is, until this evening's 5-4 home victory.

"Over the last two years, we've had funny games against them," said Derek Laxdal. "They've been hard fought. We played with a lot of energy and made the changes in the game. It was a seesaw battle."

Julius Honka, who scored the opening and closing goals, added, "I think we always play well against these guys but we've never gotten the win. We battled well today."

In sharp contrast to some recent games, Texas kept Ontario tight on the scoresheet, with neither club ahead by more than a goal at any point. "It's pretty cliche but we really simplified," said Andrew Bodnarchuk. "Getting too cute at the blue lines really bit us. Getting the puck behind their defense really helped us."

Texas opened the scoring with Julius Honka sneaking down from the point to score through traffic in front. Before the announcement of the goal was completed, the Reign had tied things up on an odd-man rush. Justin Auger scored on the power play to claim the lead for the Reign after twenty minutes.

The Stars erased that lead quickly in the second with Matej Stransky scoring a goal in tight to make it 2-2 just 42 seconds into the period. Andrew Bodnarchuk gave the Stars their first lead of the night on the power play with a great laser beam of a shot, assisted by traffic in front from Remi Elie. Ontario goalie Jack Flinn didn't have a chance on the play.

Auger picked up his second of the night two minutes later and the Stars' momentum was halted again. Travis Morin regained the Texas lead with a blind backhander that dinged in off the post.

Once again though, that momentum was cut off at the knees by an Ontario goal. An ill-advised clear around the boards by Maxime Lagace came back to bite him from the point. Vincent LoVerde's slow dribbler beat Lagace through traffic to tie things at four with just 24 seconds left in the frame.

The lone goal of the final frame belonged to the aforementioned Honka. From nearly the same spot, he beat Flinn far-side high. "That's a spot where I usually get a lot of chances," he noted.

Texas locked down the game, another big character builder, especially with a 6-on-4 against in the final 79 seconds. "We defended well in the 6-on-4," said Laxdal. "We played with heart and passion."

The Texas Stars hope that heart and passion will be back on display tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Elie-Morin-Ully
DeFazio-Fyten-Stransky
Herbert-McMurtry-Gurianov
Troock-Mangene-Van Brabant

Backman-Honka
Stevenson-Bystrom
Ebert-Bodnarchuk

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Smith, Dowling (call up)
Karjalainen (scratch)
Ranford (out, unspecified)
Dickinson (recovering from injury)

Tonight's attendance was 3,999.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Ontario - October 28 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Ontario Reign

Texas Stars
2-3-1-0, 5 pts, 0.417
#6 Pacific Division
v.Ontario Reign
2-0-1-0, 5 pts, 0.833
#2 Pacific Division
October 28th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

It's a rematch of the Stars' first road trip with Ontario coming to town tonight. The depleted Stars are certainly not super elated to see the Reign as they opponent twice this weekend. The division champs from last season are still formidable, having retained much of their talent year-over-year.

But let's be honest. The biggest story is the return of Jack Campbell to Cedar Park. (The biggest story is that the Reign don't know how to work LeagueStat and left Jack Campbell on the roster even though he's been in Los Angeles for a week. Oh well.)

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

On the Texas side, it's a rough road. The Stars are below .500 for the first time in nearly 4 years. Penalties were the downfall against San Antonio, but that game was winnable based on the talent match against the Rampage. Even on their best behavior, Texas has a challenge in the Reign. Their top six in scoring right now are all huge threats: Jonny Brodzinski, Vincent LoVerde, Patrick Bjorkstrand, TJ Hensick, Sean Backman and Michael Mersch. Throw in the heaviness of their entire lineup (average 6'1" and 199 lbs) against an injury and callup ravaged lineup and you've got a matchup that could be unfavorable.

Stars injury/call up report:
Dowling, Smith (call up)

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Penalties Doom Texas Stars in Tilt Against San Antonio

San Antonio comes out on top 4-2 in charged game
(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars kept loading up the San Antonio power play, and the Rampage made them pay. Two power play tallies from the visitors and long stretches on the kill combined to hand Texas a loss and put them below .500 for the first time since November 23rd, 2012.

"When you take 10 plus penalties in a game, you don't deserve to win," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "It put us behind the eight ball and expended a lot of energy."

Newcomer Travis Ewanyk was responsible for 19 of the 33 penalty minutes that Texas had. Early in the first he took a double minor for high-sticking that handed the Rampage their first goal. Minutes later, he bowled over Jeremy Smith and picked up a charging major and a game misconduct.

"You can't fault the kid for going to the net hard. He tried to stop on it. The explanation I got is that because the trainer came out [the referee] had to call the major."

Laxdal added, "That's the first time I've ever heard that."

Spencer Martin would come out in the second period for the Rampage.

The Stars would tie things up with a goal by Mattias Backman, but ultimately they spent too much time killing penalties and saw their effectiveness at 5-on-5 dwindle thanks to tired legs.

"We're taxing guys on the penalty kill. You put more pressure on six or eight forwards [who kill penalties] and then expect them to push it. You don't have enough gas in the tank."

Garry Nunn's first of the year and Sam Jardine's first of his career put the Rampage up 3-1 to end the second period. Matej Stransky found the net late with Lagace pulled but the damage was done. An empty netter put the final at 4-2 San Antonio.

As to what to do next, Matej Stransky pointed to some systems work. "You just have to stick to the system. Some of the penalties are stupid, but some of them we're out of position and that leads to a penalty. We have to work on our defensive zone."

The Stars will take a day off tomorrow to attempt to get some more energy back into their game through rest. They face a heavy Ontario club on Friday.

Tonight's lines:
Ully-Morin-Stransky
Elie-McMurtry-DeFazio
Mangene-Fyten-Gurianov
Herbert-Ewanyk-Van Brabant

Backman-Honka
Stevenson-Bystrom
Ebert-Bodnarchuk

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Smith, Dowling (call up)
Troock, Karjalainen, Ranford (scratch)
Dickinson (recovering from injury)

Tonight's attendance was 3,139.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - October 25 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
2-2-1, 5 pts, 0.500
#6 Pacific Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
0-4-0-0, 0 pts, 0.000
#8 Pacific Division
October 25th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Well, there's no salve more curative than winning, and Texas has a cherry of a chance tonight against San Antonio. The Stars are winless in their last three, but the Rampage haven't won a game yet this season.

San Antonio's goalies have given them a chance to win in most of those games. I would argue Spencer Martin and Jeremy Smith each had quality starts (to mix sports a bit). However, they haven't been getting the run support. In four games, they've scored five goals. There isn't a goalie tandem in the league that could get a ton of wins with that sort of offensive effort in front of them.

And it's not like the team doesn't have offensive weapons. Rocco Grimaldi is back. Mikko Rantanen is on brief assignment to rehab an injury. Two players who haven't contributed yet that need to include Mike Sislo and Joe Whitney. Last year, the two scored a combined 86 points and should have some chemistry from their days together in Albany. So far they have no points in the four games despite being first and second on the team in shots.

Now, if this preview were coming from the other side of things, the San Antonio Rampage must be champing at the bit to see Texas. As mentioned above, the team is in desperate need of some offensive spark and they must see in Texas a club that could help them with that. After two wins, Texas allowed more than five goals in each of their last three games, all losses.

As in so many of these previews, something has got to give. Either Texas stops some pucks and halts San Antonio's chance at offensive mojo or San Antonio lights up their offense against the Stars.

Maxime Lagace will start. Texas is without Gemel Smith and Justin Dowling. Caleb Herbert and Travis Ewanyk have been added from Idaho to compensate. Jason Dickinson is also back in the lineup after missing the start of the season recovering from surgery he had over the summer.

Stars injury/call up report:
Dowling, Smith (call up)

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dallas Stars Recall Justin Dowling; Texas Calls Two from Idaho

Justin Dowling (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Justin Dowling is headed to the NHL on his first NHL recall. It's a great story for the forward, who was undrafted and came to the organization during the lockout.

Separately, Texas has recalled Caleb Herbert and signed Travis Ewanyk to a PTO to bolster their ailing forward corps.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the team has recalled forward Justin Dowling from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Dowling, 26, currently shares second in the AHL and leads the Texas Stars with eight points (2-6=8) in five games this season. The forward also ranks second in the League and paces Texas with six assists, while his four power play points (0-4=4) are tied for third in the AHL. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound native of Cochrane, Alta. was undrafted and signed with Dallas as a free agent on March 26, 2014

The team also announced today that it has placed forward Ales Hemsky on injured reserve, retroactive to the game on Oct. 22 against Columbus. Hemsky has appeared in one game this season, posting one shot on goal in 15:32 of ice time.

Jason Dickinson Returns to Add Defensive Savvy to Lineup

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Jason Dickinson has been assigned to the Texas Stars from Dallas. The sophomore forward had shoulder surgery in the offseason and will make his season debut this week after missing all of training camp.

Dickinson's return couldn't come at a better time. After going 2-0 in opening weekend, Texas collected just one point on their three game trip to California. On the road, they averaged more than five goals allowed per game. Dickinson, who has commented in the past he wants to be known as much if not more for his defensive game than his offense, could help in that regard. His return also helps to balance out the loss of Gemel Smith, who is in Dallas. Center depth has been challenged throughout the organization.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the team has loaned forward Jason Dickinson to the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Dickinson, 21, had a breakout rookie season in the AHL last year when he finished second among rookie skaters in goals (22) and seventh in points (53). He also led the Texas Stars with three shorthanded goals and finished tied for the team lead with four game-winning tallies.

The first-round pick of Dallas (29th overall) in 2013 also made his NHL debut last season, and scored his first career goal, on April 7, 2016, in a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Texas Stars Fall to San Diego to Close California Trip

(Credit: Vince Rappleyea/San Diego Gulls)
San Diego and Texas notched five third-period goals between them and the Stars came out on the short end of the affair, dropping to 2-2-1 on the season.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars scored three goals in the opening 10 minutes of the third to take the lead, but the San Diego Gulls answered back with two goals 24 seconds a part in a 5-4 finish on Saturday night at Valley View Casino Center.

Cole Ully, Remi Elie and Brandon DeFazio each scored for the Stars (2-2-1-0) in the third to take one-goal edge, but Antoine Laganiere and Stu Bickel struck the quick goals for the Gulls to pull out the win. Phil Desrosiers stopped 33 shots in his first start of the season. Dustin Tokarski was 25 of 29 in net for San Diego (2-1-0-0).

The Stars return home on Tuesday to host the rival San Antonio Rampage at 7:30 p.m. CST at H-E-B Center.

The goal-scoring frenzy wasn’t limited to just the third. San Diego scored a pair of goals in the final minutes of period two to snap open a tie game. Brandon Montour drilled a shot from the top of the right circle to give the Gulls their first lead of the night with 3:05 to play. Nick Tarnasky added his first of the season just over a minute later to make it a 3-1 score.

Both teams traded goals in period one to open up the scoring. Matt Mangene put Texas on the board with his first of the season at 7:21 from the right circle. Kevin Roy responded with his first career AHL goal four minutes later to tie things for the Gulls.

Overall, the game saw four lead changes between the two teams as they are slated for three more meetings during the regular season.

The Stars power play stayed hot going 2-for-4 in the game, giving Texas six power play goals over their first five games of the season. San Diego finished 1-for-5 on the man-advantage.

The Gull outshot the Stars 38-29 in the contest.

Tonight's lines:
Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dowling-DeFazio
Elie-McMurtry-Gurianov
Troock-Fyten-Van Brabant

Bodnarchuk-Mangene
Backman-Honka
Ebert-Stevenson

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Smith (call up)
Bystrom, Karjalainen (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 8,391.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - October 22 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
2-1-1-0, 5 pts, 0.625
#3 Pacific Division
atSan Diego Gulls
1-1-0-0, 2 pts, 0.500
#5 Pacific Division
October 22nd at 9:00 PM
Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA

UPDATE: Some changes for San Diego. Joseph Cramarossa, Michael Sgarbossa, and Shea Theodore recalled to Anaheim. Mason Raymond, Nick Sorensen and Jacob Larsson assigned to San Diego.

Tonight's game is a rematch between Texas and the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.

The team returns big time threat from the backend, Brandon Montour. Mike Sgarbossa and Stefan Noesen also return. One notable player not returning is Chris Mueller, who moved on to Tucson.

In net, Texas will face a veteran goalie crew. Matt Hackett returns and Dustin Tokarski has joined him. Between the two, they've played in two Calder Cup Finals with Tokarski winning for Norfolk and Hackett losing for Houston.

After a tight weekend against Charlotte, the Stars have been lit up in their past two contests. Texas let eleven past their goaltending duo in those two games. It goes without saying that they need to tighten up on defense. Further, it would be helpful to the cause for those early season penalty jitters to get worked out. Texas slipped to 72.7% on the PK with last night's effort in Ontario.

Stars injury/call up report:
Smith (call up)

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

Late Texas Surge Salvages a Point in Ontario OT Loss

There was no shortage of goal scoring in tonight's game in Ontario. Former teammates Maxime Lagace and Jack Campbell were each pierced five times through sixty minutes. It only took 56 seconds before Ontario ended it in the 3-on-3 overtime period.

The Stars started out on the back foot with two quick goals from the Reign. Matej Stransky answered back with his second of the year but the period ended at a 4-1 deficit for the visitors.

The Texas defense chipped in two goals to get it to a one-goal deficit for the Stars thanks to goals from Julius Honka and Andrew Bodnarchuk. Former Rookie of the Year Michael Mersch made it a two-goal lead for the Reign on the power play.

The third period was all Texas as Cole Ully and Travis Morin put in goals for the five-all tie. Morin's goal was his first of the season. Both were assisted by Andrew Bodnarchuk.

Maxime Lagace stopped 25 of 31 in the loss, dropping his save percentage to 0.892.

Tonight's lines:
Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dowling-DeFazio
Elie-McMurtry-Gurianov
Mangene-Fyten-Van Brabant

Bdnarchuk-Honka
Backman-Bystrom
Ebert-Stevenson

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Smith (call up)
Troock, Karjalainen (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 7,861.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Ontario - October 21 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Ontario Reign

Texas Stars
2-1-0-0, 4 pts, 0.667
#3 Pacific Division
atOntario Reign
1-0-0-0, 2 pts, 1.000
#2 Pacific Division
October 21st at 9:00 PM
Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, CA

UPDATE: Forward Gemel Smith has been recalled to Dallas.

Somehow we're a week into the season and tonight's game will only be Ontario's second game of the year. The 68-game schedule rears its ugly head already. It's opening night for the Reign, so Texas will have to endure a lengthy introduction ceremony.

Regardless of the scheduling, the biggest news affecting tonight's game happened in the NHL last week. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick injured his groin, requiring surgery and putting him on the IR for three months. Peter Budaj, the best goalie in the AHL last year, was recalled to the NHL and the backup in the AHL slid into the starting role. You might know the name.

Jack Campbell.

After his trade this summer, the once and future goalie of the Dallas Stars found himself in the AHL backing up Budaj. The injury has thrust him into the role he definitely wanted to start the year and given him a chance to put himself in the long-term plans for the Kings. Campbell has had this opportunity before with Dallas but was unable to convert it into an NHL gig. Last year he found himself in the ECHL after starting the season 3-6.

Now he can at least work to make the case that he deserves to split time with Budaj when he returns. If the Kings sputter in net with Quick gone, he could even get a chance to swap with Budaj in the NHL and give it a second shot there.

On the Texas side, watch for the Stars to hit the ice strong tonight. Ontario is a tough team and didn't lose much steam from last season, when they were best in the West (but didn't win the Cup). Chip on their shoulder for that and a week of rest.

Stars injury/call up report:
Smith (call up)

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stockton Hands Texas First Loss of Season 5-1

(Credit: Asvitt Photography/Stockton Heat)
Philippe Desrosiers saw his first game action of the season, but it was for the wrong reasons as Stockton lit up starter Maxime Lagace and ultimately defeated Texas 5-1.

Lagace stopped just 5 of 8 shots against him in the first eight minutes of the game, dropping his save percentage to .921. Texas struggled to get shot on the board in the first, starting at an 11-2 deficit through the halfway point. Those that were on net were mostly deflected by rookie Jon Gillies. The Heat goalie stopped 29 of 30.

The only Texas Stars to pierce that armor was Austin Fyten, who was playing in his first game of the season. Fyten was scratched for both games this past weekend but this game was not his first as a Texas Stars. Fyten started in the AHL with the Texas Stars back in 2013. The tally was, however, his first goal with Texas. His previous stint saw him only scored two assists across eleven games.

Texas was shutdown on the power play three times while Stockton scored on two of five. The Stars are 13 of 16 on the season after three games.

The California trip continues with a jaunt to Ontario on Friday.

Tonight's lines:
Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dowling-DeFazio
Elie-Smith-Gurianov
Mangene-Fyten-Van Brabant

Bdnarchuk-Honka
Backman-Bystrom
Ebert-Stevenson

Lagace
Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McMurtry, Troock, Karjalainen (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 2,620.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - October 19 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
2-0-0-0, 4 pts, 1.000
#1 Pacific Division
atStockton Heat
1-0-0-0, 2 pts, 1.000
#3 Pacific Division
October 19th at 9:00 PM
Stockton Arena, Stockton, CA

The Stars hit the road for their first California swing of the season tonight. Over the next two months, the Stars will be on the road quite a bit. Setting the right tone with a solid game tonight is essential.

The Stars allowed 81 shots on Maxime Lagace this past weekend. The starter held up, stopping all but four. However, they can't count on that to save them every night. Luckily they provided enough run support that it wasn't an issue. Stockton, however, could be a team that has a challenging goaltender to pierce.

Jon Gillies is in net for Stockton. He started with the Heat last year but then missed the entire year with injury after a solid start. He is still a rookie, according to the league, and stopped all but two in his first game this past weekend.

Some other names to watch for Stockton include Hunter Shinkaruk, who was traded from Vancouver last year and was a first round pick in 2013. He had 12 points in 17 games to close the season with the Heat last year. Oliver Kylington, a second round pick, was in Stockton for most of the year last year. His continued development will be something to watch.

Mike Angeledis will be out from Stockton this game. He was suspended yesterday for a check to the head.

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

Website: stocktonheat.com
Twitter: @ahlheat

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Maxime Lagace's 43 Saves Power Texas to 4-2 Win

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas needed every last bit of effort from its goaltender, but Maxime Lagace led the Stars to a 4-2 victory. The second-year goalie halted 43 of 45 shots against him for the win.

"We were definitely giving him pats on the pads when we got the chance," said defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk. "He absolutely stood on his head."

Lagace started last year in the ECHL behind John Muse and Jack Campbell at the AHL level. He elevated his game and earned the AHL starting role after Christmas. He has proven this weekend that he is indisputably the starter for the AHL squad.

"Last year I got a little taste of [the starter role]," said Lagace. "But now that I know I have all of the organization's confidence behind me, it's a boost to my confidence, I feel great in that spot."

This weekend, he stopped 76 of 80 shots for a .950 save percentage.

Charlotte responded to last night's 6-2 loss with a strong effort out of the gate. They collected the first goal after putting Texas on its heels with several power plays.

Derek Laxdal was expecting the response, "When you play a team in a two game set, you'll always get a response the second night. We talked about that, but I don't think we believed it until we experienced it."

Texas answered the early Poturalski goal with a power play tally from Brandon DeFazio, his second of the year. Justin Dowling assisted on the marker, showing that those two have the potential for some serious chemistry moving forward.

Andrew Bodnarchuk helped Texas break away late in the first with a floater of a goal, lofted to the top right corner for the 2-1 lead.

The teams traded goals in the middle frame with Patrick Brown scoring shorthanded for the Checkers and Gemel Smith regaining the lead just two minutes later off the assist from Denis Gurianov. It was Gurianov's first AHL point.

The third period was where the team earned its stripes. Texas took four penalties and was outshot in the period 18-4, certainly a different story than last night's contest.

"In a game like today, it was a playoff atmosphere," said Bodnarchuk. "There are going to be games like that we're you're outshot and outchanced and you have to find a way to win."

The Stars used a litany of players on the PK but as the game wound down, Laxdal had to shorten the bench to ensure the best chance to win. The penalty kill finished perfect 7/7 on the night. Despite the shot deficit, Lagace felt the team was able to "limit chances from the slot and those dangerous chances" in front of him.

Overall, Texas will look to tighten up its defensive work as it hits the road this week. Bodnarchuk summarized, "They were quick on the forecheck and did a good job putting pucks to net. After you get zone time, it's a little harder to break out. We gave them some opportunities, turning over the puck too much in the neutral zone and at the blue lines."

Laxdal continued, "At the end of the day, if you can get two points, you'll take it anyway you can. After the second period we talked about steering this ship in and get the two points, but that was one big ship and it felt more like a tugboat at times."

Justin Dowling polished off the game with an empty net goal. The Stars hit the road to face Stockton on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dowling-DeFazio
Elie-Smith-Gurianov
Troock-Mangene-Van Brabant

Bdnarchuk-Honka
Backman-Bystrom
Ebert-Stevenson

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McMurtry, Fyten, Karjalainen (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,155.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - October 15 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
1-0-0-0, 0 pts, 1.000
#1 Pacific Division
v.Charlotte Checkers
0-0-0-0, 0 pts, 0.000
#7 Central Division
October 15th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Texas surely wouldn't mind a copy-paste effort from last night's victory. However, there were little tweaks that they wanted to make to ensure a tighter game in their own end.

"Things in the D zone were a little scrambly," assessed Justin Dowling after last night's win. "But it's the first game of the season. It was a bit of a feeling out process. Once we got it into their end of the ice, everyone was clicking."

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Coach Laxdal agreed with the assessment on D as well.

Laxdal also noted that he will try to keep up the pace tonight by cycling in some fresh legs. This means some of last night's scratches could cycle into the lineup. Matt Mangene and Austin Fyten were in that group last night.

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

Website: gocheckers.com
Checkers Social Media: Social Media
Coverage: Chasing Checkers
Twitter: @checkershockey
Twitter: @nickski15 (former Texas Stars intern, now Checkers Communications)

Friday, October 14, 2016

First Period Outburst Pushes Texas Stars Past Charlotte Checkers 6-2

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars used a first period outburst of four goals to extend their streak of perfection in home openers with a 6-2 win over Charlotte tonight in Cedar Park. The speedy squad scored three goals in just 70 seconds to end the first period, putting the game out of reach for the Checkers.

"These are two teams that can skate and you can see the pace of the game was pretty high," said Texas head coach Derek Laxdal. "Our guys played a pretty balanced 60 minutes, even when we went up 4-0."

The line of Brandon DeFazio, Justin Dowling and Cole Ully combined for three goals on the night and six points overall. Coach Laxdal wasn't surprised to see DeFazio contributing to the offense.

"When he signed with us, we expected him to take up the offensive production of Greg Rallo but maybe be a heavier player and I think we saw that tonight."

DeFazio assessed himself, "I like to think of myself as a utility guy in a sense. I can do a lot of different things and I just try to do whatever is asked of me. I pride myself on playing a full game."

His full game tonight started with a great pass on a two-on-one to Justin Dowling, who beat Nedeljkovic high for the 1-0 score. Nick Ebert scored on a rebound with 1:11 left to make it 2-0. Cole Ully got in tight with 20 seconds left for the 3-0 lead and Mattias Backman blistered one in from the high slot with 0.5 seconds left for the 4-0 lead.

Charlotte starting goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was done for the night after that. He had trouble controlling rebounds, which the speedy Texas forwards jumped on and made him pay for. On the other end of the ice, Maxime Lagace played a controlled game and kept things clean. Laxdal commented it could have "easily been 4-3" as Charlotte had 17 shots in the first. Lagace stopped 34 in the game on 36 shots.

Charlotte would break through in the second on the power play thanks to a tip play from their captain, Derek Ryan. It was a disappointing outcome for a penalty kill unit that played extremely well most of the night. Laxdal is asking his players to be more aggressive on the PK, and that was on display.

In the back half of the second, Matej Stransky beat Michael Leighton and potted his first of the season on the power play off assists from Brendan Ranford and Travis Morin. Brandon DeFazio collected his goal two minutes later to set the Stars' mark at six.

Andrew Poturalski would get one for the visitors in the third but it was a mostly quiet period with the two squads combining for just 15 shots.

Texas will face off against Charlotte again tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dowling-DeFazio
Elie-Smith-Gurianov
Troock-McMurtry-Van Brabant

Bdnarchuk-Honka
Backman-Bystrom
Ebert-Stevenson

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Mangene, Fyten, Karjalainen (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,412.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - October 14 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
0-0-0-0, 0 pts, 0.000
#- Pacific Division
v.Charlotte Checkers
0-0-0-0, 0 pts, 0.000
#- Central Division
October 14th at 7:30 PM
HEB Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Welcome back to hockey. Thank goodness.

As far as previewing the Texas Stars, I would refer you to yesterday's article that outlined things from head coach Derek Laxdal's perspective with a bit of my analysis mixed in.

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Here are the lines as run yesterday in practice:

Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dowling-DeFazio
Elie-Smith-Gurianov
Troock-McMurtry-Van Brabant
Fyten

Backman-Bystrom
Honka-Bodnarchuk
Ebert-Mangene-Stevenson
Karjalainen

Lagace
Desrosiers
The Charlotte Checkers have been in a major state of flux over their training camp, only really getting a true picture of their team in the past few days. Here are the lines that the Checkers settled on yesterday in their practice:

“We feel like we have good balance,” Checkers head coach Ulf Samuelsson told gocheckers.com. “We should be able to play pretty much any line against any line our opponents put out. We have good balance and good defensive capabilities on all four lines.”

The one thing to watch for is how Charlotte handles the net in this back to back. They've got a rookie and one of the most tenured goalie in the league as their tandem. The veteran, Michael Leighton, comes over to Charlotte after a season in Rockford that saw him set the AHL career record for shutouts.

On the other hand, Alex Nedeljkovic beat out Daniel Altshuller for the backup role in Charlotte. Nedeljkovic was in Traverse City with the Hurricanes, so many of the Texas Stars and their coach have seen him already this season. He had a 28 save effort in the preseason against Lehigh Valley and collected a win there.

Charlotte 'has a plan' for the goalies this weekend but they aren't saying what that is.

In other notes, Texas is 7-0 in home openers and has lost the opening game of the season (home or away) just once.

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

Website: gocheckers.com
Checkers Social Media: Social Media
Coverage: Chasing Checkers
Twitter: @checkershockey
Twitter: @nickski15 (former Texas Stars intern, now Checkers Communications)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Texas Stars, Derek Laxdal Ready for Season Eight

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal is just happy have hockey back.

"At the start of any year, you ask any coach and it's just exciting to get going. We had a month of training camp if you count back to Traverse City. Our guys are excited and you can see it in practice."

His Texas Stars face the Charlotte Checkers this weekend in back-to-back games with a roster chock full of NHL prospects. The draft and over-ripen strategy of Jim Nill has started to show through in Cedar Park as players on Dallas' radar are causing logjams in the top 6.

"I don't know the last time I've seen an NHL camp where that many prospects get 3 or 4 exhibition games."

With trusted veterans like Travis Morin and Justin Dowling competing for ice against prospects, there are only so many bodies you can put in a lineup each night. Laxdal plans to roll four lines hard this season.

"We're going to have to take some ice away from Travis Morin. We're going to have to make some decisions [when Dickinson and Cracknell return]. For us, we'll call it a top 9."

Laxdal was impressed with the camps that many of his forwards had including Cole Ully, Gemel Smith and Matej Stransky. Ully will be on the power play this weekend after ending last season with a season-ending injury before th eplayoffs.

"When Cole got hurt last year, he was a key guy in our lineup. We lost Faksa and Johns, and Cole Ully took a step with his game. He's dynamic, a skilled forward and he had a great training camp with Dallas. We feel he can be a top 3 offensive contributor for our club."

Gemel Smith was another who won plaudits but could have trouble sliding into that top six role. For now, he will play power play and penalty kill along with skating on a line with Remi Elie and Denis Gurianov. The line will have speed, skill and size and could give the opposition fits if they gel.

And speaking of Gurianov, Laxdal views his position as being very similar to Julius Honka's two years ago. He's only 19 years old but with the expectations of a first round pick on his shoulders.

"He's got a great set of wheels, physical, got a bit of an edge to his game."

Laxdal called out Gurianov's offensive finish and his positioning as two areas to work on for the young forward. He also remarked that he has a great attitude and is really taking to the coaching sessions they've had already.

In net, Texas will start Maxime Lagace tomorrow. He "clearly earned the #1 job" for the Texas Stars. Philippe Desrosiers will get ice, but it's going to be a 3 to 1 ratio when he does, sharing with Lagace.

"We've got to get Phil some games. He's a young prospect we have to make sure he get some game time in the AHL."

Lines from today
Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dowling-DeFazio
Elie-Smith-Gurianov
Troock-McMurtry-Van Brabant
Fyten

Backman-Bystrom
Honka-Bodnarchuk
Ebert-Mangene-Stevenson
Karjalainen*

Lagace
Desrosiers

* - I'm expecting Karjalainen will head to the ECHL soon.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Texas Stars Set Goalie Tandem with Assignment to Idaho

Landon Bow (Credit: Texas Stars)
Texas made a few transactions today that help set their roster a bit more for opening night. The biggest news is that Landon Bow is heading to Boise, which means Maxime Lagace and Philippe Desrosiers are the goalie tandem here in Cedar Park. Lagace is your likely starter most nights though. It remains to be seen how coach Laxdal splits the workload. Desrosiers is a top prospect for Dallas and needs ice. However, the value of the ice is also important. Odds are Dallas thinks 25 AHL games is more valuable than 50 ECHL games. I would agree.

Otherwise, Texas added Miro Karjalainen, who is likely to end up in the ECHL for Texas. He is a former fifth round pick of Dallas.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Monday the team has reduced their training camp roster by two.

Landon Bow - Goaltender - Reassigned to Idaho (ECHL)
Kellen Lain - Forward - Released from tryout

The Stars also signed rookie defenseman Miro Karjalainen to an AHL standard player contract.

Karjalainen (KAIR-uh-ligh-nehn), 20, was drafted in the fifth-round (135th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound native of Vihti, Finland spent the past two seasons competing in Finland’s top junior league. He has tallied a goal and six assists in 27 games over the past two seasons.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Julius Honka, Gemel Smith Assigned to Texas Stars

Honka (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The parade down I-35 continues as defenseman Julius Honka and forward Gemel Smith were assigned today. The two both had notable camps but were never expected to crack the NHL lineup out of the gate this year. In Texas Stars news and notes, Texas has sent Zach Bell and Henri Kiviaho to Idaho this morning.

Justin Fontaine, signed on a PTO to Dallas last week, was also released.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Texas Closes Preseason with 3-1 Loss

The San Antonio Rampage topped the Texas Stars as both teams closed out their preseason action this afternoon in Cedar Park. The Rampage rode two power play goals to a 3-1 victory over the home squad. The lone goal for Texas came from Ludwig Bystrom.

Landon Bow took the loss for Texas, stopping 11 of 13 against him. Desrosiers took the net with 5:33 left in the second and stopped 5 of 6.

One of the brightest spots in the game and surely one that will be a bright spot all year was the play of Denis Gurianov. Early in the first, Texas was having trouble getting out of their own way but Gurianov's line generated the two best shifts of the period. He was on the ice for the Stars' only goal as well, collecting the primary assist.

Lines:
Brandon DeFazio-Justin Dowling-Matej Stransky
Remi Elie-Austin Fyten-Denis Gurianov
Cole Ully-Kellen Lain-Branden Troock
Bryce Van Brabant-Mike McMurtry-Caleb Herbert

Nick Ebert-Andrew Bodnarchuk
Ludwig Bystrom-Matt Mangene
Zach Bell-Brandon Anselmini

Landon Bow
Philippe Desrosiers

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Texas Stars Top Rampage in Preseason OT Action

No stats, no lines, but it's hockey. The Stars defeated the Rampage in overtime 3-2. Just a few spare thoughts.

  • Philippe Desrosiers got a lot of work but only allowed a single goal. Landon Bow did the same. Nothing really decided on that front from this game. From the play-by-play, Bow seems more raw than Desrosiers, which makes sense since he's a rookie.
  • Will Merchant's name was mentioned quite a bit. He's on an ECHL deal but could be a depth callup when needed.
  • Branden Troock scored the game-winner tonight, which is great for him. The forward had issues with concussions last season and got shut down late in the season after working through the first half of the season to come back from the same injury.
  • Other Texas goals in the game came from Zach Bell and Caleb Herbert.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Texas Stars Set Goalie Plans for the Preseason

Philippe Desrosiers (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Just one note from the start of training camp today. I've already made note of it on my Twitter. Follow over there to get these updates in real-time.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Texas Stars Announce Opening Training Camp Roster

The Texas Stars announced their starting camp roster for tomorrow's first on-ice sessions. The team is mostly made up of players assigned from Dallas. The remainder is mostly players signed in Idaho. The only exception is Colin Jacobs, who is signed with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL.

Forwards: Joe Basaraba, Brandon DeFazio, Austin Fyten, Caleb Herbert, Colin Jacobs, Kellen Lain, Rob Linsmayer, Anthony Luciani, Mike McMurtry, Will Merchant, Brendan Ranford, Branden Troock and Bryce Van Brabant

Defense:
Brandon Anselmini, Zach Bell, Andrew Bodnarchuk*, Ludwig Bystrom, Charlie Dodero, Nick Ebert and Dustin Stevenson*

Goalies:
Landon Bow and Philippe Desrosiers

* - Bodnarchuk and Stevenson must clear waivers.

The team did physicals and headshots and such today with on-ice sessions starting tomorrow. More players will be assigned over the coming two weeks as cuts are made in Dallas. The roster in Texas may run lean, however, as players return to health in Dallas before opening night. With players like Devin Shore and Tyler Seguin on the mend and Jamie Benn taking it easy to get into the season, there may be a legitimate battle in Cedar Park for forward roles in the AHL among those ECHL guys.

The chances are there. Time to grab them.