Friday, May 19, 2017

Texas Stars Sign Captain Travis Morin to AHL Deal

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
One of the big question marks for Texas is back in the fold for the coming season as Texas has signed Travis Morin to an AHL deal.

It's a change from the past seven seasons, which have seen him on an NHL contract with Dallas. However, it's the right call. Morin is no longer a lineup option for the Dallas Stars but has the veteran experience and scoring touch at the AHL level to be an extremely valuable piece of the development puzzle. Putting him on an AHL deal frees up some contract space for other players. In the end, it's all coming out of the same account since Dallas owns the Texas Stars.

Morin is the only player to skate in every season for Texas and leads the team in almost every offensive statistical category. He won both the regular season and playoff MVP awards when Texas won the Cup in 2014.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Friday the team has re-signed forward Travis Morin to an AHL contract for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

The Texas captain returns for his ninth season with the team and is the only player to skate each season for the Stars since their inception in 2009.

Morin, 33, led the team in scoring last year with 55 points (21-34=55) in 72 games. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound veteran is the franchise career leader in games played (543), goals (157), assists (310), points (467), power-play goals (42) and power-play assists (140). During his time with the Stars, the Brooklyn Park, Minn. native has been selected to four AHL All-Star Classics (2011, 2014, 2015, 2016), appeared in two Calder Cup Finals (2010, 2014) and won the Jack A. Butterfield award as the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs in the Stars’ 2014 run to winning the Calder Cup.

Morin was named the fourth captain in team history on Sept. 18, 2015. He and his wife also sit on the board of the Texas Stars Foundation, which issues financial grants to charitable causes throughout Central Texas.

Morin is also a former winner of the Les Cunningham Award and John B. Sollenberger Award as the AHL’s regular season Most Valuable Player and scoring champion back in 2014. He has also appeared in 13 games for the NHL’s Dallas Stars during his playing career.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Texas Stars Re-Sign Austin Fyten for 2017-18

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Forward Austin Fyten is back with the Texas Stars for the next season.

The Alberta native was signed on an AHL deal this past season and was key in stemming the tide of injuries that the Dallas organization suffered. After playing just six games with Hershey in 2015-16, Fyten played 59 with Texas in 2016-17. It is Fyten's third season with the Texas Stars, though non-continguous. He also played for the Stars in 2012-13.

Fyten signed the contract on his birthday, May 3rd.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Tuesday the team has signed forward Austin Fyten to an AHL contract for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

Fyten, 26, returns to the Stars organization for the second straight season and his third overall. Last year, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward appeared in 59 games with 12 points (6-6=12) for Texas. Fyten (FIGH-tehn) has appeared in 70 career games for the Stars and 187 games overall in his AHL career with Texas, the Hershey Bears, Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Oklahoma City Barons. The Sundre, Alberta native also has 76 points (32-44=76) in 102 ECHL games in his career.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Texas Stars Add Pair of College Players on AHL Deals

The Texas Stars added two players on AHL deals this afternoon, forward Sheldon Dries and defenseman Shane Hanna. Both come from schools with strong connections to Texas GM Scott White, who went to Michigan Tech and recruits heavily from Michigan schools historically.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Wednesday the team has signed forward Sheldon Dries and defenseman Shane Hanna to AHL contracts for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

Dries, 23, joins the Stars after wrapping up a four-year career at Western Michigan University. During his senior season, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound forward tallied a career-high 16 goals and 30 points in 36 games to help lead the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament. The Macomb, Mich. native recorded 84 points (44-40=84) in 148 career games overall at Western Michigan. Prior to his college career, Dries (DRIGHS) scored 87 points (41-46=87) in 116 games with the junior-level Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League from 2010-2013.

Hanna (HA-nuh), 23, comes to Texas after appearing in 163 games over a four-year stretch at Michigan Tech with 90 career points (21-69=90). The 5-foot-11, 200-pound blueliner set career highs this past season with 45 games and 27 points (8-19=27) for the Huskies, who earned an NCAA Tournament berth before falling to the eventual champion Denver Pioneers. Before attending Michigan Tech, the Salmon Arm, British Columbia native spent three years in the junior-level British Columbia Hockey League with 74 points (15-59=74) in 108 games from 2010-2013.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Justin Dowling Gets Two Year, Two-Way Deal with Dallas Stars

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
One of the Texas Stars big question marks was veteran forward Justin Dowling, who was an unrestricted free agent as the team headed into the summer. The Dallas Stars announced this morning that they have re-signed the Alberta native to a two year deal.

Dowling had a break through year, playing in the NHL for the first time in his career. He totaled nine games, earning a pair of assists. Dowling was injured in Dallas in a late season call up and despite being reassigned to Texas, didn't play any of their final games. It gave him a chance to get an early step up on summer's recovery period.

The two year nature of the deal is a vote of confidence in what Dowling has been able to do and his importance to the NHL and AHL club alike.

Some remaining question marks include captain Travis Morin (Dallas UFA), Matej Stransky (Dallas RFA) and Brandon DeFazio (Texas UFA).

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dallas Stars Sign Forward Roope Hintz, Expected to Play in Cedar Park Next Year

The Dallas Stars have signed forward Roope Hintz to an entry-level contract. Hintz, a second round pick in 2015, is expected to start the season in Cedar Park next year.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed forward Roope Hintz to a three-year, entry level contract.

Hintz, 20, registered a career-high 30 points (19-11=30) in 44 regular-season games with HIFK of SM-Liiga, the highest level of hockey in Finland. Hintz (ROO-pay HIHNZ) shared ninth in the league and first on HIFK with a career-high 19 goals on the season, while he ranked second on the club with 30 points. The forward also appeared in 14 postseason games with HIFK as the club fell in the bronze medal game. Hintz led the league with 11 assists and 14 points (3-11=14) in the postseason.

Hintz has amassed 67 points (32-35=67) in 126 career regular-season SM-Liiga games with HIFK and Ilves. The forward has also recorded 20 points (5-15=20) in 34 career postseason games with HIFK and Ilves.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound native of Tampere, Finland was selected by Dallas in the second round (49th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

Big Plans for Local Rink Chaparral Ice Under New Ownership

(Credit: Chaparral Ice)
Chaparral Ice has been part of the hockey community in Austin for over twenty years. Originally started by the Collins family, who wanted to see a place for their children and others in the community to figure skate, new ownership with a hockey background has reinvigorated the local rink and set out a plan to further grow hockey in Austin.

The man behind that plan is Ryan Raya. In January, he completed the purchase of the rink from the Collins family and put into motion numerous plans to grow the game and all of the programs at "Chap".

"I never expected to be here for hockey. When I came for a job interview [for another local company], I also interviewed to be a coach. Over the three years, I learned the story of Chaparral."

That story was a tough one and familiar to anyone in the local community. As recently as 2010, Chaparral Ice was a multi-rink facility, operating three sheets across two locations in Austin. Poor management, fines from the city and the economic climate forced the closure and sale of the facility on I-35, closing two of the three public rinks in Austin.

"The hockey community shrunk, having three programs on one sheet of ice, operating from 5am to midinight. After the other rink closed, [ownership] walked away and left Angie with the instructions, 'Just don’t close the doors. Don’t loose too much money.'

"So they operated at a baseline level, but the hockey community wanted to grow. I’ve had years outside knowing how organizations run, so I approached the family with an unsolicited offer to buy the rink."

Raya grew up in the Northeast and has been coaching since high school. He grew up "being on the ice seven days a week." After a move to Virginia, Raya got involved in running multiple programs at rinks in the area. When he moved to Texas, he didn't expect to be involved in hockey but quickly got wrapped up in coaching at Chaparral.

Raya's improvements are both small and massive. Simple things like upgrading the rink's internet, point of sale and website will make big differences for regular visitors. Upgrades to add figure skating locker rooms, a warm room for spectators, real locker rooms with dedicated showers, public restroom improvements and stands with infrared heaters will begin this summer and cost $600,000. Much to the delight of adult league players, the rink will also add a bar and concession stand.

"It’s not about sustaining any more. It’s about growing."

Chaparral is partnering with the UT men's hockey team to create a dedicated locker room for their team, including individual locker stall similar to what you would see in an AHL or NHL locker room. Projectors and white boards will be added to coaching rooms to increase educational opportunities for players. Their continuing partnership with the Texas Stars has them in talks to create an off-site pro shop for the Stars at the rink.

Even with all this work for the traditional ice sports of figure skating and youth and adult hockey, Raya still views public skate as a key part of what Chaparral does.

"Your gateway to new participants is public skate. The gateway in a non-traditional market is that 'Hey, let’s do something different' thought."

Rumours flew, of course, after the purchase of the ever-present possibility of more ice coming in Austin.

"I’m going to leave the rumours as rumors for now. There’s a serious likelihood something gets started in the next calendar year."

Raya noted that success for hockey in non-traditional markets comes when facilities partner to create multi-sport complexes.

"We’re working on it. Part of the reason I made the offer was because I have an economics background and I spent a year making models. Running just an ice rink isn’t sustainable. What we need is to look at places that do multisport facilities and see that’s how hockey survives."

Austin's geography makes that tough. Raya cites a report that was conducted showing the vast majority of hockey players in the area live in Cedar Park and Leander, making a facility there a viable option. He counters his own argument with the fact that there is another strong concentration, about one-sixth of the players, in south Austin as well.

Regardless of when or how a new ice surface comes about, Raya's focus is community, quality and competition in everything that he does with the new rink. 

"We want to keep everyone playing together, do it well and be the center of it all."

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Around the League: Upsets Out East Shake Up Calder Cup Playoffs

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Throughout the summer, we'll take a look at some of the stories around the league. Today's article arrives on the opening day of the second round of the playoffs, which is full of surprises.
  • Prohibitive favorite for Calder Cup Finalist (and potentially league champ) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was bounced in a decisive Game 5 by the Providence Bruins. It was a completely unexpected outcome for nearly everyone. The Penguins led 2-1 after three games but had a disappointing Game 4 where they went down 3-0 in the first period. That set up a deciding Game 5, which the Bruins won 2-1. More from Chirps from Center Ice and Seth Lakso at Citizen's Voice.

  • Another Atlantic Division favorite, Lehigh Valley, was knocked out in Round 1 by Hershey. The road team won every game in the series. More from Tony Androckitis at Highland Park Hockey.

  • Everywhere else, things went according to plan. The higher seeded team won six of the eight first round matchups. Three of those series ended up in a decisive fifth game, including San Jose and Stockton, a surprise given the strength of the Barracuda all season. It even took overtime to settle the series in Game 5. San Jose advanced on Ryan Carpenter's OT goal. More from the Mercury News.

  • Jack Campbell was bounced from the playoffs as his Ontario Reign had goalie injury issues that pressed their third goalie into service. Campbell was expected to be out for the deciding Game 5 against San Diego until Jeff Zatkoff, the expected starter, was injured in warmups. Campbell dressed as the backup as Jack Flinn started. After Flinn allowed three goals int he first, Campbell played through injury, allowing only one goal the rest of the way. The Reign offense could not activate for him and the club fell 4-1. More from LA Kings Insider.

  • Elsewhere, Syracuse and Toronto advanced with 3-1 series wins over St. John's and Albany. Both series wins put an end to hockey in the losing club's cities. The Canadiens will be moving their franchise from St. John's to Laval, QC, next season. The Devils will head to Binghamton, replacing the departed Senators, who will head to Belleville, ON.

  • Grand Rapids and Chicago round out the Round 2 slate. Chicago had fits against a tough Checkers club while the Griffins swept Milwaukee.

  • The upcoming series will take two weeks at most with the last game in three of the four taking place on May 17th, if necessary.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Las Vegas Prospects Could Make Things Awkward in Chicago Next Season

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
While everyone in the NHL is excited about seeing another team added to the fold, the Las Vegas Golden Knights have a number of downstream effects on the rest of the hockey world. One of the most immediate is the development of their prospects in the AHL.

The American Hockey League is not expanding next season. That means there will be 31 NHL teams but only 30 AHL teams. As the AHL has matured even more over the last five years or so, NHL teams have sought to have more control over their AHL affiliates. Several NHL clubs have purchased an AHL team outright to completely control every aspect of their affiliate's operations.

On the other side, there are the independently owned clubs. They have different motivations (making money) than NHL teams (developing players).

First of all, Las Vegas will be sharing an AHL team with another club. Regardless of who it is, that's going to be awkward. It's reportedly the Chicago Wolves, one of the premier independently-owned clubs in the league. If true, Golden Knights prospects will be intermixed with St. Louis Blues prospects for at least the 2017-18 season.

Numerous coaches quotes across the league have indicated how much say the NHL club has in which players make it into the lineup. The answer is quite a bit. Texas Stars fans have seen this with players like Jack Campbell played inexplicably for long stretches in the 2015-16 season despite lackluster play.

So this is where it gets awkward, doubly so. Let's say St. Louis has a top goalie prospect they want to develop who needs 50 games to really get ready for a future NHL career. And let's say Las Vegas picks a third goalie in the expansion draft who is more of the 'one year away' variety than the 'insurance' variety. Who starts more games in Chicago?

The Dallas Stars were without an affiliate in 2008-09 between their time with Iowa and Texas. Prospects such as Aaron Gagnon were spread out across the league with no more than one on any team. The Golden Knights could still do something like that, as nothing has been officially announced yet.

There is something also to be said for the fact that Vegas's prospect pool may not be as deep next season as the rest of the league. The most likely conflict is in net, since there are only so many positions available there.

Of course, the true solution is adding a 31st team to the AHL. I'll editorialize about that later this summer.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Texas Stars Could See Highest Ever Dallas Draft Pick In Near Future Following Draft Lottery

Scott Glennie is the current highest (Dallas) draft pick to suit up for the Stars.
It may not be next year, or maybe not even the year after that, but the Texas Stars have a chance to see a third overall pick on the Cedar Park ice in the near future.

Last night's draft lottery saw the Dallas Stars on the receiving end of some friendly non-puck bounces. With the lottery, the Stars moved up from eighth to third. It will be their highest pick since the club moved to Dallas in 1993.

Third overall picks don't generally spend a ton of time in the AHL before heading to the NHL, if the past is any prologue. Leon Draisaitl, Alex Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin, three of the last four #3 picks, played a combined 25 games for their AHL squads.

For a bit of trivia, the Texas Stars have had a #3 pick suit up for them before, so it wouldn't be a first for that occurrence. It wasn't Dallas's pick, but defenseman Cam Barker was a third overall pick for Blackhawks in 2004 and played 23 games for Texas in 2012-13.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Your Calendar for the 2017 Texas Stars Offseason

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The 2017 offseason is set to be the most tumultuous and interesting in years. Here's the calendar of the top events you need to be ready for.

April 29 - Draft lottery. This decides who will draft first, a random selection weighted by how each team finished in the standings in 2016-17. Dallas has a 5.8% chance of winning the top draft pick.

June 17 - Protected lists for the expansion draft are due from member clubs to the NHL. They should be released by the league shortly thereafter.

June 20 - Las Vegas submits its final expansion draft selections.

June 21 - NHL announces new roster for the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

June 23-24 - NHL Entry Draft in Chicago.

June 25 - Deadline for NHL teams to extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

July 1 - NHL free agency begins.

Early July - Dallas Stars development camp in Frisco. Usually held almost immediately after free agency, it is often the first time to see that year's draft prospects.

Mid-September - Traverse City prospects tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.

Late September - Dallas Stars training camp opens, likely in Cedar Park again.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017-18 Contract Status for Every Texas Star

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars season has come to a close and the next thing to worry about for many players is their professional contract status for next year. Here is the complete list of contract statuses for everyone who signed a standard player contract or ended the season with Texas.

Signed to NHL contract with Dallas
D Gavin Bayreuther
D Andrew Bodnarchuk
G Landon Bow
F Nicholas Caamano
G Philippe Desrosiers
F Jason Dickinson
F Remi Elie
F Denis Gurianov
D Dillon Heatherington
D Julius Honka
D Stephen Johns
D Chris Martenet
F Cole Ully
D Ondrej Vala

NHL Unrestricted Free Agents
F Justin Dowling
F Travis Morin
G Justin Peters
D Dustin Stevenson

NHL Restricted Free Agents (* - Arbitration Eligible)
D Ludwig Bystrom
D Darren Dietz (with Washington)
D Nick Ebert
D Justin Hache
G Maxime Lagace
D Esa Lindell
F Gemel Smith
D Mattias Backman*
F Mark McNeill*
D Patrik Nemeth*
F Matej Stransky*

AHL Free Agents
F Brandon DeFazio
F Austin Fyten
F Caleb Herbert
D Matt Mangene
F Mike McMurtry
F Reid Sturos
F Ethan Werek

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Texas Stars Finish Season with Pugnacious 6-3 Loss to Rampage

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In their home finale, Texas put up a chippy effort but ultiamtely fell to the visting Rampage, closing the season three games below .500 at 34-37-1-4. With neither team having anything left to play for except for pride and contracts, it was a spirited contest.

"It's not always easy but at the same time we're professional athletes and that's our job." said Brandon DeFazio. "We won two of three and showed we cared, and that's the biggest thing to take from it."

It being the 14th in the season series between the two teams, it was surprising this was the first one to get so chippy.

"I think we saw each other too much. I'm surprised it didn't happen more often. That was some old school hockey. Funny to see Petey flying down there."

DeFazio, of course, is referring to the almost goalie fight following Texas's first goal of the night. Down 2-0 early, the Stars scored to cut the lead in half. Gemel Smith and goalie Spencer Martin had words after the tally and Justin Peters came flying down the ice as Smith and Martin traded jabs. Ultimately, there was no fight though.

"I haven't seen a goalie fight here in three years and I was hoping to see one," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "I think the fans were too."

The sellout crowd really got into it as Remi Elie and Dillon Heatherington scored with just 26 seconds separating the tallies. Some broken coverage gave the Stars a 4-3 deficit and was Colin Smith's second of the night. No one stepped up on the forward and he had a clean shot on net. Felix Girard would add another and Texas would look to clear the net for a chance at the 6-on-5 tally. Colin Smith scored his third goal of the night into the vacated net, but it was not an empty net goal as Peters was still on the ice.

Coach Laxdal summarized, "It was a tough game. Full crowd and the guys wanted to play hard. It's hard to get up when the season's done. Tonight was a synopsis of our year. Power play hasn't been great and penalty kill has been really bad. It's been a tough year with injuries and call ups. It was a synopsis of our year and showed a lot of the places we have to improve next year."

The Stars will clean out their lockers on Monday as disperse across the country and world for the summer. Caleb Herbert is the only Texas Star remaining who will head to the Idaho Steelheads for their playoff run.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Karjalainen, Martenet, Vala, Dowling, Herbert, Stevenson, Lagace (scratch)
Bodnarchuk, Morin (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 6,863, a sellout.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - April 15 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
34-36-1-4, 71 pts, 0.487
#6 Pacific Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
26-42-5-2, 59 pts, 0.393
#8 Pacific Division
April 15th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

For just the second time in eight years, the Texas Stars will end their season without playoffs on the horizon. It's an extremely strong record and one that many teams, including the San Antonio Rampage, for one, should be quite jealous of.

Last night's game saw Texas continue to play a young lineup. Even with Justin Dowling available, the Stars opted for Caamano, Sturos and other young guns to finish the season.

The only question mark is who do you start in net. I could make an argument for any of the three netminders currently on the roster. Perhaps Lagace gets one last chance to send the season off right. I think it's extremely unlikely though. Perhaps Desrosiers gets the call since he had such a good showing last night. And finally, Justin Peters may get the start as Texas looks to win out but doesn't know if Phil has enough in the tank to play two nights in a row.

Stars injury/call up report:
Honka (World Championships)
Morin, Bodnarchuk (injury)

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Philippe Desrosiers Returns to AHL with 29-Save Shutout

It was a huge night for goalie Philippe Desrosiers. In his first game back in the AHL since November 16th, he pitched a perfect game, stopping all 29 shots against him. It was Desrosiers's first career shutout. The lone goal in the game came off the stick of Denis Gurianov, a swooping right-to-left move that left Spencer Martin down and out before Gurianov even took the shot.

Desrosiers's path back to the AHL may have begun tonight. He was sent to Idaho in November and was reassigned to Norfolk earlier this year. Usually, assignment to another minor league club means the end of the road. However, Desrosiers still has another year on his contract, so that seemed unlikely. With Texas eliminated from the playoffs early this year, the Stars gave Desrosiers a chance against the Rampage in the final three games and it paid off. With any luck, this is the game that will serve as a pivot in his career trajectory.

Texas ends the season tomorrow against San Antonio at home.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Karjalainen, Dowling, Herbert, Dietz, Stevenson, Lagace (scratch)
Bodnarchuk, Morin (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 10,643.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - April 14 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
33-36-1-4, 71 pts, 0.480
#6 Pacific Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
26-41-5-2, 59 pts, 0.399
#8 Pacific Division
April 14th at 7:30 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
One down, two to go. Texas hits the road for their final trip of the season. It's a simple one down I-35 for their 13th matchup of the year against the Rampage.

Texas is 8-3-0-1 in the season series and somehow 38-13-4-7 over the past five years. The Stars are on a bit of a streak, having garnered points from San Antonio going back six games to December.

Both teams will again focus on finishing the season out right. If I were to pick one game for the Rampage to win in the series, it would be this one tonight. It's the home finale for the club and they'll likely pack the stands.

The Stars will add Justin Dowling back to their lineup, which should allow them to assign Caleb Herbert to the Idaho Steelheads for their playoff run, starting tonight in Colorado.

Stars injury/call up report:
Honka (World Championships)
Morin, Bodnarchuk (injury)

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Justin Dowling Returns to Texas Stars for Final Two Games

Justin Dowling has been assigned to the Texas Stars this afternoon for the final two games of the AHL season. He was on the Dallas roster when the season ended, but he was injured and could not be sent down. Now healthy, he can play in those last two games for Texas.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday forward Justin Dowling has been assigned to the team from Dallas.

Dowling, 26, has recorded two assists (0-2=2) in nine games for Dallas this season. He has also registered 28 points (8-20=28) in 49 AHL contests with Texas.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound native of Cochrane, Alta. went undrafted and was originally signed by Dallas as a free agent.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Texas Stars Focus on Finishing Season Right with 4-3 Win

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
As the season draws to a close with three final games, the Texas Stars concentrated on finishing their schedule the right way against San Antonio. They accomplished that mission tonight with a close 4-3 victory over the visiting Rampage.

"Both teams want to finish the season the right way," said head coach Derek Laxdal. "We want to get close to finishing at .500. If we can finish with 2-3 wins, it makes it a little bit better."

The Stars and Rampage alike put a number of young players into the lineup for the contest, and they made impacts. Ondrej Vala, Nick Caamano and Reid Sturos all laced them up for Texas, putting another useful notch in their belt on the way to their pro career ahead.

"It's all about experience for these kids. This is a chance for the kids to develop and get them a step in that process. Vala is 18 years old, and he looked like a veteran defenseman out there. Caamano didn't look out of place on the PP and PK. When you get these chances, it really helps your development."

San Antonio did get the first goal of the contest, but the Stars battled back with two of their own. Gemel Smith rainbowed a goal over Joe Cannata to end the first period, and Matt Mangene scored on the power play to take the lead in the second.

Smith was one of the five players sent down from Dallas playing in tonight's game. He and Denis Gurianov both scored in the contest.

Jason Dickinson, who was one of those five, expanded, "[Playing in the NHL] brings a little bit more confidence. The little things they do. The game is so tight up there and there's very little space to make plays. That's the big thing to translate [to the AHL] is to make those little area plays they make up there."

The Rampage would even the score at two on a power play of their own. It was a 5-on-3 tally that Texas almost made it through. The tie didn't last long. A deft tip off the stick of Cole Ully found twine for the 3-2 Texas lead.

Denis Gurianov scored on a rebound in the third period to extend the lead to two. It was his 11th of the season. Laxdal noted particularly on their play, "It shows the next wave of kids getting ready for Dallas. They played well and did a great job generating the goal. It's good to have them back in the lineup."

Reid Petryk would score to make it a one-goal game late. The Stars held tight with players like Caamano on the penalty kill. A late game PK featured Caamano, Gavin Bayreuther, Denis Gurianov and Mangene. It was a youth infusion.

Justin Peters finished the contest with 24 saves on 27 shots. These two clubs face off twice more to end the season. Friday in San Antonio is the penultimate matchup.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Dowling (call up)
Karjalainen, Martenet, Herbert, Dietz, Stevenson, Desrosiers (scratch)
Bodnarchuk, Morin (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 5,545.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - April 12 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
32-36-1-4, 69 pts, 0.473
#6 Pacific Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
26-40-5-2, 59 pts, 0.404
#8 Pacific Division
April 12th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Texas will end the season with a three-game set against San Antonio, starting tonight in Cedar Park. If Texas had been a little better this season, this could have been a very significant series for the club to improve their playoff positioning. Instead, it will probably more resemble a preseason matchup.

With both teams out of the playoffs, Texas is going to lean heavily on some of the kids in the lineup, such as Bayreuther, Caamano and even Vala, similar to what you would see in the preseason. With the recall of Philippe Desrosiers from Norfolk, it is even possible the once-castoff goaltender could get a start in the final three games here.

While Texas can't slip to last place, they can move into 7th if they don't win a few here. So, for pride, they'll look to hold off Tucson in the 7 spot and retain 6th. Regardless of outcome, the team cannot get back to .500 hockey on the season at four back with only three left to play.

Stars injury/call up report:
Dowling (call up)
Honka (World Championships)

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Julius Honka Going to World Championships; Mike McMurtry Assigned to Idaho

Julius Honka (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
A few roster moves happened today as the Dallas Stars cleaned out their lockers and did exit interviews. First, Julius Honka will not be joining the Texas Stars this week despite his assignment to the AHL yesterday. Instead, he will head to Europe to join Finland's World Championship training camp. The tournament begins next month and will be played in Germany and France. Honka is not a lock to be on the team yet.

Additionally, Texas assigned Mike McMurtry to Idaho today. He will spend the next few days getting prepped for the Steelheads' playoff battle to begin on Friday against Colorado.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Short-Benched Stars Fall to Charlotte 3-1

With more PTOs than NHL-contracted players in the lineup, Texas fell to Charlotte this afternoon by a 3-1 final. Gavin Bayreuther had the only goal of the game for the Stars. Travis Morin missed the game due to injury, putting Cole Ully and Matej Stransky in the lineup as the only forwards with an NHL contract.

The Stars lone goal of the was assisted by some of their PTO players, Angelo Miceli and Allan McPherson. Justin Peters stopped 27 of 29 shots against.

The Stars return home to play San Antonio three times to end the season.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Dowling (call up)
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Gurianov, McNeill (scratch, in transit from NHL)
Fyten, Bystrom, Dietz, Stevenson (scratch)
Morin (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 7,549.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Charlotte - April 9 2017

Report: Derek Laxdal Already Renewed for Next Season

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In news first reported on Sean Shapiro's Wrong Side of the Red Line, Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal has already been renewed for next season. While the deal is not a new development, this is the first public disclosure of the deal.

While many have maligned the former Oil Kings and Steelheads coach during his time at Texas, last night's game in the NHL was a perfect example of why the Dallas Stars are renewing his contract. There were only four skaters in the lineup who had never played with the Texas Stars. Further, with players like Gemel Smith and Denis Gurianov in the lineup, Laxdal's stamp on the team was clear. Neither player was expected to play a single NHL game at the start of the season. Gurianov got into one and Gemel Smith finished with 17.

More to come on this story this week.

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
32-35-1-4, 69 pts, 0.479
#6 Pacific Division
v.Charlotte Checkers
38-29-5-0, 79 pts, 0.563
#4 Central Division
April 9th at 12:00 PM
Bojangles Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

UPDATE: Dallas has assigned six of the seven recalls back to Texas, but none of them will be available for today's game. Texas added three players from ECHL Greenville for the day: forwards Allan McPherson, Angelo Miceli and defenseman Joe Houk.

Charlotte just blasted Texas last night. But here's the problem, Texas isn't getting any more players and Charlotte is going to be even hungrier than last night. They won but so did the Cleveland Monsters. The two clubs are locked up in the race for the last playoff spot in the Central Division. The Checkers have a game in hand and certainly aren't interested in letting anything slip away at this point.

While Dallas is done with their season, no one left DFW last night en route for Charlotte, North Carolina, for a 1 PM ET game. Expect to see Alderson, Vala, Caamano and others in the lineup once again.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling, Gurianov, McNeill (call up)

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

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Dallas Finale Affords First NHL Chance to Denis Gurianov

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In the final game of the 2016-17 season for the NHL's Dallas Stars, the lineup was nearly unrecognizable compared to the first. Dotted across the roster were Texas Stars recalls necessitated by injury across a long, difficult season. In all, the final game featured six players who were playing in the AHL as recently as last month. Justin Dowling was also in the press box with an injury sustained in Thursday's game.

Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff said the development of the players from Texas and the younger players was the thing that was most impressive this season.

The player everyone had their eye on was Denis Gurianov. The 2016 first round pick was playing his first NHL game after a solid rookie season in Cedar Park. No one expected to see the Russian in Dallas this year, but the depth of the system was challenged greatly and, in the final game with nothing to play for but pride, why not?

Gurianov finished the game with 13:06 of ice time. It was the lowest total on the team, but it was noticeable when he was on the ice. He started the game, perhaps to calm the nerves a bit, and had a good chance in the first period.

"For the first game, I thought he got a really good feel for the speed of the game," said Ruff. "Some of those plays where he got wound up down the wing, he would have been in [those plays] in the American League maybe. But I think he realizes everyone is mobile and fast here, and he just has to get stronger and quicker with the hands. Early on he was a little nervous to make a play, but it was still a good showing."

Gurianov was happy to get the win and get a chance to play at this level. He said after the game he was nervous coming in but calmed down after getting to handle the puck right out of the gate. Gurianov will likely rejoin the Texas Stars for their final three game of the season back in the Lone Star State.

Charlotte Checkers Dominate Hobbled Texas Stars 9-3

The first period really told the entire story of the night for the Texas Stars. Charlotte outshot the Stars 16-2 in the frame walked to the locker room leading 4-0 after twenty.

It only got worse from there.

With only two NHL-contracted players in the lineup and a smattering of amateur and pro tryouts filling the gaps, the 9-3 final was a tough but predictable outcome against a team that is fighting to make the playoffs against Cleveland.

Matej Stransky was the lone bright spot for the Stars, scoring two goals despite initial indications that he would be out of the lineup after taking a puck to the face in Wednesday's game. Ethan Werek had the Stars' only other goal.

Travis Morin left the game early and did not return.

Texas is next in action tomorrow at noon Central time, a quick turnaround for both teams. It will be Charlotte's home finale.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling, Gurianov, McNeill (call up)
Bystrom, Dietz, Stevenson (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 8,035.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Charlotte - April 8 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
32-34-1-4, 69 pts, 0.486
#6 Pacific Division
v.Charlotte Checkers
37-29-5-0, 79 pts, 0.556
#4 Central Division
April 8th at 5:00 PM
Bojangles Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

UPDATE: Texas has added Brandon Alderson on a PTO to supplement their forward corps.

In a bizarre scheduling oddity, the Stars and Checkers opened the season against each other and now don't play again until today, the second to last weekend of the season. In between, the two teams have gone in very different directions. Charlotte is in a heck of a playoff fight with defending champs Cleveland while Texas is looking to play spoiler for the Checkers.

The Stars have exactly 19 skaters available for tonight's game and the balance of forwards versus defenseman is not great. 10 of those 19 are defensemen, including the recently assigned Ondrej Vala. The rookie 18-year old was assigned last night from Dallas and could play in a few games. He'll head back to juniors next season though.

Excepting Matt Mangene, Texas has to choose two more defensemen to play forward in tonight's game, barring a late PTO from one of the surrounding ECHL clubs that isn't making the playoffs (Norfolk) or doesn't have to worry about the standings this weekend (Greenville). All of this will be moot after tomorrow as Dallas is likely to send down enough forwards to make the team whole again for the final three games against San Antonio.

So who do you pick? If I were to guess, I'd say you put together a line with two defensemen on the wing and a center like Austin Fyten in the middle. Probably Dustin Stevenson and Ludwig Bystrom, if I had to bet.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling, Gurianov, McNeill (call up)
Stransky (face injury)

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

Mark McNeill, Denis Gurianov Get a Chance in Dallas Stars' Season Finale

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Needing two forwards for their final game, Dallas has recalled Denis Gurianov and Mark McNeill for Saturday's finale. McNeill has played one NHL game in his career with Chicago. This is his first call up with Dallas after being acquired via trade at the deadline.

Gurianov is an interesting call up. Being a first-round pick, he was certainly going to get ample chances to play in the NHL sooner rather than later, but I'm not sure anyone anticipated it being this season. However, he has done well in North America, and this is a decent reward for that work. As long as he continues working at the steady pace he set in the AHL this season when next season comes around, he'll be back in Dallas soon enough.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has recalled forwards Mark McNeill and Denis Gurianov from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

McNeill, 24, has registered 37 points (9-28=37) in 76 total AHL games in 2016-17. The forward began the season with Rockford where he posted 28 points (6-22=28) in 58 contests. He has also recorded nine points (3-6=9) in 18 games with Texas.

The 6-foot-2, 212-pound native of Edmonton, Alta. was originally selected by Chicago in the first round (18th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft and was acquired by Dallas via trade on Feb. 28, 2017 in exchange for defenseman Johnny Oduya.

Gurianov, 20, has earned 25 points (10-15=25) in 54 games with Texas in his first season of North American hockey. His 25 points lead all Stars rookies this season, while he also paces team rookies and ranks seventh among all Stars skaters with 10 goals in 2016-17.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound native of Togliatti, Russia was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (12th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Texas Stars in a Bind After Dallas Injuries in Penultimate Game

Well, the Texas Stars have more than one numbers issue at the moment. The obvious one is the fact that they will likely be eliminated from the playoffs officially tonight. The second is that they have just 19 skaters available as they hit the weekend road trip, and Dallas just had two injuries in their game last night. The call up list was already long with Remi Elie, Jason Dickinson, Julius Honka, Gemel Smith and Justin Dowling all in Dallas. Dowling and Brett Ritchie were injured last night and Dallas needs two more forwards for one game.

Here's the complication: There are only four available Dallas-contracted forwards in Texas right now. With Matej Stransky injured, Travis Morin, Mark McNeill, Cole Ully and rookie Denis Gurianov are the only players available. Morin is probably the most likely and perhaps McNeill gets the call as well. It makes Texas pretty thin up the middle, if so.

Texas has even more to worry about with balancing their ECHL affiliate. There isn't anyone on AHL contract left in Idaho, and the playoffs are likely to start for the Steelheads as early as Tuesday. If they sign someone like Will Merchant, they may not return him to Idaho until after the playoffs start. My inkling is that it would be better to sign a PTO with some players who are not going to be making the playoffs from the ECHL to fill the gaps.

Texas is travelling to Charlotte today.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bottom Six Pitches In For 4-3 Texas Win Over Bakersfield

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas has had so much success when scoring first this season that it's no wonder it's been a focus of the club as the season has drawn to a close. Tonight, looking to play a spoiler against the Bakersfield Condors, Texas opened up a 3-0 lead in the first en route to a 4-3 victory over the visitors.

"It's always nice to get the first goal and to get the lead like that," said Cole Ully, whose goal in the second period was the ultimate game-winner. "It felt good to hold onto the lead."

Bakersfield turned up the hear in the second and third periods, drawing within one goal with half a period remaining. "We just knew we had to stay calm. We switched to a more defensive forecheck and held them off. It felt good after a couple games giving up leads."

Coach Laxdal agreed, "We had really good energy to start the game off and through the whole game."

Starting the game, at least on the official scoresheet, was Nicholas Caamano. The 18-year old amateur tryout out of junior played in his first pro game and collected his first pro point on Austin Fyten's first period tally. "It was a great experience. One of the funnest nights I've ever had playing the game," said Caamano postgame. "It was great to get the first one under my belt. Fyten made a great shot there, so I was lucky to get the point."

Laxdal added, "That's why I started him, to getthe butterflies out of him. He, Fyten and Reid [Sturos] did a great job getting pucks in deep and playing a grinding game. We haven't had that this year and he probably had 12-13 minutes by the end of the game."

Before Caamano's point, Ethan Werek and Caleb Herbert scored within 14 second of each other to put the Condors on their heels. The Fyten goal ended the night for Nick Ellis, who finished with 4 saves on 7 shots. Jonas Gustavsson relieved him and ended up taking the loss, allowing the Ully goal in the second.

Bakersfield charged back in the second half of the game, closing a three goal gap to just one. Texas started taking penalties late but locked it down to prevent the tie.

Texas will be without Matej Stransky as they hit the road this weekend. The Stars' leading goal scorer got hit in the mouth with either a stick or puck right in front of the Bako net, sending him off for repairs. He seemed a little dazed as he headed to the bench as well.

The Stars hit the road with just 19 skaters available to face Charlotte on Saturday and Sunday.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling (call up)
Bystrom, Dietz, Martenet (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,927.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Bakersfield - April 5 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Bakersfield Condors

Texas Stars
31-34-1-4, 67 pts, 0.479
#5 Pacific Division
v.Bakersfield Condors
31-25-5-1, 68 pts, 0.548
#4 Pacific Division
April 5th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Be sure to grab a program as you walk in tonight, because you may not recognize these Texas Stars without one. Several subtractions and additions since the last home game have filled the team with a lot of raw, young talent.

The first will be Reid Sturos, who has already played a few games with Texas, has yet to make his home debut. The forward out of Michigan Tech collected an assist on Saturday and wears #37. Nicholas Caamano will also be making his pro debut. He's an 18 year old who will go back to the Flint for next season but has a chance to get a very 'from the firehose' taste of professional hockey tonight against Bakersfield. Finally, Chris Martenet, the 6'7" defenseman out of Ottawa (most recently), could be a lineup option as well.

The Stars will be without Dowling, Elie, Dickinson, Honka and Smith. Austin Fyten is still questionable with a head injury from that puck to the face two weekends ago.

If you want to get down to the numbers of the game tonight, this could be the one that officially eliminates the Stars. If Bakersfield, who is in the four spot, beats Texas, it's over. With 6 games remaining for everyone still in the playoff hunt, the magic number line is 24. Texas is at 23 tonight and a loss would drop the line to 22 while the Stars' magic number would stay at 23.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling (call up)
Fyten (injury)

Condors Web Resources:
Blog (Official): Inside the Condors
Twitter: @Condors
Twitter: @CondorsHolty (PBP)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Texas Stars Sign Chris Martenet, Sheldon Dries to ATOs

Two more ATOs joined the Texas Stars today, one confirmed and one just reported by the player's college team. Earlier today, Western Michigan reported that captain Sheldon Dries, a 5'9, 186 pound forward, had been signed by the Texas Stars on an ATO. Dries was the captain of the Broncos for three years; it's quite an accomplishment for a sophomore to be named captain. The signing reinforces the Stars' commitment to leadership type players. The team has not yet confirmed this signing.

Secondly, Texas signed Dallas Stars draft pick Chris Martenet, a defenseman out of the OHL. He won a championship in the OHL with London last season and was traded to Ottawa. He signed an ELC with Dallas at the end of last season. He will likely play in Texas or Idaho next season. For what it's worth, Martenet is now the third 6'7 defenseman in the Stars system (Miro Karjalainen and Jamie Oleksiak being the others).

Finally, Dallas recalled Justin Dowling earlier today.

Here's the Martenet release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Tuesday defenseman Chris Martenet has been assigned to the club after finishing his junior season in the Ontario Hockey League.

Martenet (mar-teh-NEHT), 20, comes to Cedar Park after a three-year stint in the OHL with the London Knights and Ottawa 67’s. The 6-foot-7, 215-pound blueliner also spent the 2013-14 season with the USHL’s Indiana Ice. The St. Louis, Mo. native won the Memorial Cup with London in 2016 as champions of Canada’s major-junior hockey league system.

He tallied 16 points (5-11=16) in 55 games this season split between London and Ottawa. On May 18, 2016, he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Dallas.

Martenet was a fourth-round pick of Dallas (103rd overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Texas Stars Sign F Nicholas Caamano to ATO, Release Will Merchant

The Dallas Stars' 2016 fifth-round pick, Nicholas Caamano, has been added on an ATO this afternoon. Caamano just finished his season with the OHL's Flint Firebirds. There, the forward was nearly a point per game player with 64 points in 67 games.

With two additional players in the lineup since Sunday (with the Dowling assignment earlier), Texas also announced the release of Will Merchant.

Dallas Stars Reassign Justin Dowling to Texas Stars

Just a quick note this afternoon that Justin Dowling has been reassigned to the Texas Stars. He played in both Dallas games this weekend, notching two shots among just over 25 minutes of ice time.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Milwaukee Flips the Script, Scores Seven Unanswered over Texas for 7-2 Win

Less than 24 hours after a 5-2 win, the Stars fell to the same Milwaukee Admirals by a 7-2 score to end their season series against the club. Yesterday, Milwaukee opened the scoring with a pair and then Texas rattled off five unanswered for the win. The script was flipped entirely today as Texas notched a pair early off the sticks of Mark McNeill and Matej Stransky then gave up seven.

Vladislav Kamenev, Pontus Aberg and Justin Florek all had a pair of goals for the Ads. Aberg and Kamenev had three point nights, each adding an assist on Kirkland's goal. Alexandre Carrier had three assists as well.

Maxime Lagace got the start for the Stars, his first since February 24th. Texas finished their only 3-in-3 of the year with two losses, bringing their record for the season to 31-34-1-4.

Texas is on the brink of playoff elimination this week and could see their hopes dashed on Wednesday against Bakersfield.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling (call up)
Fyten (injury)
Bystrom (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 7,505.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - April 2 2017

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Texas Stars Score Five Unanswered, Shock Ads with 5-2 Win

After the first period in tonight's game, it was all Milwaukee. Up 2-0, it looked like the Admirals were going to roll to an easy victory at home against the Texas Stars. The visitors did not agree and popped off five unanswered goals to win 5-2.

Denis Gurianov got things started with a franchise-record setting 14th team shorthanded goal of the season. Gurianov, who has been getting a chance on the penalty kill recently, showed what he can do in open ice. Receiving a pass from Darren Dietz, Gurianov started the comeback at 13:49 of the second. Ninety second later, Brand DeFazio notched his 21st of the year to tie things.

Nick Ebert came in at just the right time, sliding down the right-wing side to beat Marek Mazanec for the 3-2 lead.

The Stars would earn two more into the empty net in the final minutes of the game. Mark McNeill, Brandon DeFazio and Andrew Bodnarchuk were all plus-4 in the game.

Justin Peters stopped 27 of 29 shots against him. These two teams play again tomorrow afternoon to end the Stars' only 3-in-3 of the year.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling (call up)
Fyten (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 5,969.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - April 1 2017

Steelheads Forward Will Merchant Added on PTO

(Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
The Texas Stars announced today that they have signed forward Will Merchant to a PTO. The rookie forward was one of the last cuts from training camp and has been in the front of the line for a PTO for a while out of Idaho. He's made his bones in the ECHL on the power play. He may not make it to Milwaukee in time for tonight's game, however. Texas may have to roll 8 D again to get 18 skaters.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Friday the team has signed forward Will Merchant to a professional tryout agreement.

Merchant, 23, began the season in training camp with Texas before being returned to the Idaho Steelheads, the ECHL affiliate of the Stars. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward has tallied 48 points (21-27=48) in 66 games this season with Idaho. The Eagan, Minn. native is currently in his first professional season after finishing up a four-year career at the University of Maine.

The Stars visit the Milwaukee Admirals at 6 p.m. CST tonight.

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
30-33-1-4, 65 pts, 0.478
#7 Pacific Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
40-22-3-3, 86 pts, 0.632
#3 Central Division
April 1st at 6:00 PM
UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Milwaukee, WI

Once again, I'm welcoming in Daniel Lavender from Admirals Roundtable to assist with today's preview. You should really follow him on Twitter.

HDH: So congrats on the playoffs, first of all. We're hoping to have a similar recovery here... next year. Anyways, what's this team's DNA right now?

DL: Well, we haven't been confirmed of any playoff berth just yet -but- with results tipping the right way it can get locked up this weekend with some wins and outside help. I'd say that when we first met back in December it was around the time the Admirals were slowly starting to succumb to the injury woes that the Nashville Predators were dealing with topside. That trickled into January and the resurgence of late has been building ever since February. The talk of the team has been having a "defense-first" mentality and to make life hard for opponents on home ice. It has been a grind getting everything together but the veteran leadership, youngsters, and new inclusions along the way have finally started to solidify into something really positive at a great time in the season when things need to start clicking.

HDH: I mean, Mike Ribeiro... how's that going? He's a former Dallas Star, so it's of particular interest over here.

DL: Boy, I had my concerns. His reputation kind of precedes him at this point - which is sad. Especially because my fears of him potentially joining the Milwaukee Admirals being a negative were instantly gone once I saw his face light up taking to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for his first official practice with the team. He has been nothing but the pro, leader, and mentor that you would hope for him to be since joining. His work alongside the likes of Frédérick Gaudreau and Anthony Richard hasn't just been great now but those two are likely benefiting massively as they play and learn alongside someone of his talent level.

HDH: How has Derek Army been this season? He's a former Texas Star by a few games.

DL: Derek Army might be one of the best personalities that I've come across in my five-seasons around the Admirals. I don't think that guy ever has a bad day and could offer up at minimum four of the best places to get cookies where he is playing even if he did have a bad day. The guy works really hard on the ice and also gets into the dirty areas right at the net. It's helped him produce offensively from a fourth line PTO role. You never entirely know what you get when guys get that chance on loan out of the ECHL. You'd hope most treat it like an audition for bigger and better things. I feel as if Army has. I'd hope he sticks around this team past the 2016-17 season.

HDH: Is this team ready for the playoffs or are there still some gaps to fill in before that point?

DL: There are still a few sore spots. Certainly the last month or so has seen this team really start clamping down the "defense-first" mentality but they still take an awful lot of penalties. Once the playoffs start up, which teams at this stage of the season should be treating all games like they already have, penalties can't simply be handed out and to lean so firmly on penalty killing and goaltending. When the Admirals are at their best is typically keeping the game at five-on-five while rolling out all of their lines. If they can avoid the penalty box they have all the makings of a ream that could make a serious run. The then named Lake Erie Monsters weren't the greatest of teams on record when they entered the 2016 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. They were the hottest team. The Admirals are starting to get hot at the right time.

HDH: Do YOU think there's going to be bad blood? (based on the fact that Coach Laxdal said there would be bad blood in this game after Milwaukee beat Texas 9-1 in their last matchup)

DL: God, I hope not. Whether it be in baseball or hockey I've never understood unwritten rules. In any professional sport I also don't quite get idea of not running the score up. Just because one side gives up doesn't mean the game is over, does it? That 9-1 win for the Admirals last time in Texas was a perfect storm for a scoreline such as that to happen. The Admirals couldn't miss and the Stars couldn't seem to care less. I would be more mad at my own team than I would the opposition ripping off that many goals. If the Stars spent over three months annoyed at that game and did something stupid this weekend? It would be sad. These guys just need to focus on the games at hand. Nothing more.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling (call up)
Fyten (injury)

Admirals Web Resources:
Team blog: In The Crease
Online media: Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Friday, March 31, 2017

Stars' Lone Goal Comes on Penalty Shot as Rockford Wins 3-1

Caleb Herbert's penalty shot was the only Stars goal in tonight's 3-1 Texas loss to Rockford. The goal, coming at 8:17 of the first period, was Texas's first successful penalty shot of the season. The other two attempts came from Herbert and Remi Elie. Tonight's attempt was courtesy of Rule 61.6, slashing.

The lead was shortlived as the Stars gave up a power play goal to tie things early in the second. Brandon Mashinter's 14th of the year broke up an 0-for-18 streak for the IceHogs on the man advantage. Matheson Iacopelli scored halfway through the third to send the score to 2-1 and Jake Dowell's empty netter sealed the deal.

Dowell's empty net goal was also a shorthanded goal, meaning that each type of goal that is possible in hockey (even strength, power play, shorthanded, penalty shot, empty net) was scored in the game.

Justin Peters stopped 33 of 35. Texas hits the road for two in Milwaukee starting tomorrow.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling (call up)
Fyten (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 5,216.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Rockford - March 31 2017

Dallas Stars Recall Gemel Smith, Justin Dowling, Leaving Texas with 11 Forwards Tonight

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars have recalled two forward from the Texas Stars ahead of tonight's game against the Rockford IceHogs. With injuries to both Curtis McKenzie and Ales Hemsky, Dallas called for Gemel Smith and Justin Dowling ot bolster their crew.

Texas is in a precarious spot now. They rolled the following crew in their last game at forward.


They lose two centers and have no one on the bench to replace them with as Austin Fyten is out for at least another week. Reid Sturos was signed yesterday and will clearly figure into the lineup. Texas could also opt to convert another defenseman to a forward, since Bystrom and Stevenson were both scratched last game. I'd guess that's what happens unless anyone knows a good way to get from Boise to Rockford in any sort of decent amount of time.

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

Smith, 22, shares fourth on Texas with 11 goals and is tied for fifth on the team with 30 points (11-19=30) in 50 AHL games this season. He also paces the club with three shorthanded goals and is tied for fourth with three power play goals. Smith also made his NHL debut this season as the forward registered three points (2-1=3) in 12 contests with Dallas.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound native of Toronto, Ont. was originally selected by Dallas in the fourth round (104th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Dowling, 26, has registered 28 points (8-20=28) in 49 AHL contests with Texas this season. The forward currently ranks second on Texas with two shorthanded goals in 2016-17. Dowling also made his NHL debut earlier this season, recording two assists (0-2=2) in five NHL games with Dallas.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound native of Cochrane, Alta. went undrafted and was originally signed by Dallas as a free agent.

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
30-32-1-4, 65 pts, 0.485
#6 Pacific Division
atRockford IceHogs
22-34-9-3, 56 pts, 0.412
#8 Central Division
March 31st at 7:00 PM
BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, IL

UPDATE: Texas loses Smith and Dowling to recall and now has just 11 forwards, including ATO signing Reid Sturos. Could be interesting.

The Texas Stars play their only 3-in-3 of the year this weekend in the midwest. Up first are the last place team in the conference, the Rockford IceHogs. The Hogs were also in last place when Texas played them in Cedar Park on December 10th. Things have improved a bit for them with a slight uptick in their winning percentage from that time, but it's still .412 (as opposed to .375 on Dec 10).

Mark McNeill will be making a homecoming to the only other pro team he's known. McNeill laced them up for 273 regular season games as an IceHog and 11 in the playoffs.

The IceHogs have nothing to play for but pride and have won just one game since February 22nd, a stretch of 1-10-1 hockey. Three of their four top scorers, including McNeill, were dealt at the deadline for assets.

Long story short, this may not be the prettiest game, but it's imminently winnable.

Stars injury/call up report:
Honka, Elie, Dickinson, Smith, Dowling (call up)
Fyten (head injury)

Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog
Twitter: @goicehogs

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Texas Stars Add ATO Reid Sturos Out of Michigan Tech

(Credit: Michigan Tech Hockey)
The Texas Stars have added forward Reid Sturos on an amateur tryout today. Sturos played most recently at Michigan Tech and previously laced them up for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL.

Texas has good history with some of the smaller Michigan schools, including Ferris State and Michigan Tech. Stars GM Scott White played at Michigan Tech and goalie Josh Robinson did as well. Ferris State produced many Stars, most notably Greg Rallo, but also Cory Kane and Cody Chupp.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday the team has signed rookie forward Reid Sturos to an amateur tryout agreement.

Sturos (STIHR-ohs), 24, joins the Stars after finishing his collegiate career at Michigan Tech, where he tallied 76 points (29-47=76) in 149 games over the last four years. Prior to that, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound native of Novi, Mich. played three seasons of junior hockey between the British Columbia Hockey League’s Nanaimo Clippers, the North American Hockey League’s Alexandria Blizzard and the United States Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers from 2010-2013.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Julius Honka Recalled to Dallas, Perhaps for Good

The Dallas Stars announced this afternoon that they are recalling Julius Honka from the Texas Stars. It's pretty clear that Honka is done marinating in the AHL and is ready for full-time NHL duty. With Dallas eliminated mathematically from the playoffs and Texas eliminated realistically as well, now is the time to get things figured out for next year.

Julius Honka might never come back to the Texas Stars, and that's probably the right call right now.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Stars End Home Stand With 4-1 Loss to Stockton

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Tonight's game was not the one Texas needed. Needing to be perfect to make the postseason, the 4-1 loss to Stockton put the Stars two games below .500 and further sealed their fate as a non-playoff team this coming spring.

There wasn't any scoring in the first period as the smaller weekday crowd and the sluggish on-ice effort from both teams seemed to contribute to a sleepy atmosphere at the H-E-B Center.

"The second period we kind of picked it up, but those penalties killed us," said Matej Stransky, referring to the six power play opporunties that the Stars handed the Heat. "Obviously, we’ve [been] struggling on the PK all year, and it's in the back of our heads. We were going in the right direction the last couple games and got back to it. That’s on us and we have to be better."

Ultimately, the game hinged on some small mistakes in close to the Texas net. The Stars got a great performance from Justin Peters with many highlight reel saves on the night. However, Hunter Shinkaruk took advantage of a turnover by Gavin Bayreuther for the Heat's first goal and a late period push saw Texas come up 0.2 seconds short at the end of the second to make it 2-1.

Matej Stransky did score his team-leading and career-high tying 23rd goal in the game.

Caleb Herbert is likely to be suspended following his cross check to Oliver Kylington in the third period. Texas killed the major but couldn't gain any momentum from it to bring the score to a tie. The final goal would be sent into an empty net for the 4-1 final.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie, Dickinson (call up)
Fyten, Stevenson, Bystrom (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 3,890.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Stockton - March 28 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
30-31-1-4, 65 pts, 0.492
#6 Pacific Division
v.Stockton Heat
28-25-4-2, 62 pts, 0.525
#5 Pacific Division
March 28th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

It's basically do or die for the Texas Stars now. Needing a perfect 10-0 record in their final ten games in order to match the pace set by fourth place Bakersfield, they'll have to give it all they've got in the final game of the season against the Heat. This game also serves as the rubber match of a three-game set between the two teams all played in Cedar Park over the past four days.

Calling all cliches in this one. Texas will need a good start, something they've not often gotten but have done well with when they've had it. They are also going to need to stay disciplined. They're the worst in the league on the PK (75.2%) and can't afford to give up goals to a team that can score in bunches (3.05/gm for 10th in league).

One interesting and random wrinkle is the addition of Cam Braes to the Heat roster. Braes was very briefly a Texas Star. He decided to leave professional hockey after the 2015 preseason in order to pursue a master's degree. Having finished that, he has now decided pro hockey might be for him again and has joined the Heat on an ATO.

Stars injury/call up report:
Dickinson, Elie (call up)
Fyten (questionable)

Twitter: @ahlheat

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stars Still Alive with Shootout Win over Stockton

Texas found a way to stay alive in the playoff hunt this evening with a 5-4 shootout win over the visiting Stockton Heat. Staying alive is all relative though, as Bakersfield increased its point total this evening. Texas will need to make it to 85 points, or 20 points in 10 games, to beat them. That is a perfect record.

The Stars never trailed in the game but also were never ahead by more than just one goal. The Heat and Stars alternated goals all night with Gemel Smith's sixth round shootout goal being the ultimate winner. Smith also tallied three assists.

Mike McMurtry returned from a very brief stint in the ECHL to score a goal and an assist in the contest. His recall was necessary after Dallas called for Jason Dickinson earlier today. Texas changed up the lineup a bit otherwise after last night's loss. Ludwig Bystrom, Matt Mangene and Dustin Stevenson all checked in after being scratched for several games running. Austin Fyten, Darren Dietz and Caleb Herbert were healthy scratches in their places.

Justin Peters stopped 22 of 26 shots in the win and 4 of 6 in the shootout.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie, Dickinson (call up)
Fyten, Dietz, Herbert (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,453.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Stockton - March 25 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Stockton's Comeback Makes Texas Playoff Chances Slimmer

Up 4-1 with five minutes left in the second, Texas was in great shape tonight. The Heat had other plans and came back with a four goal effort to finish with a regulation victory in Cedar Park tonight. Texas has had major challenges holding onto leads recently, including seeing a 3-0 lead in Cleveland become a 6-3 loss. Tonight's loss came even as Texas was relatively disciplined on the penalty sheet, not allowing a single power play opportunity in the third period, which they entered leading 4-3.

Justin Peters took the loss for the Stars, allowing 5 goals on 29 shots. Ethan Werek scored a pair of goals.

Following tonight, Texas needs to go 10-0-1 from here on out to make the playoffs.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie (call up)
Bystrom, Stevenson, Mangene (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,612.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Stockton - March 24 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
29-30-1-4, 63 pts, 0.492
#6 Pacific Division
v.Stockton Heat
27-25-4-1, 59 pts, 0.518
#5 Pacific Division
March 24th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Stockton was on a cool streak last time the Stars played them but their fortunes have turned around since. Their two wins against Texas in late February kicked off a 6-3 run that has put them in tight with Bakersfield for the final playoff spot in the Pacific. If you include the Texas games and the intervening Bako game, it's 8-4.

Key to the turnaround has been the return of their offense. Each of their wins since they played Texas has come when they've scored at least three goals. In fact, they've scored 4 goals of more seven times during the run, including the two games against Texas.

So the key is clearly to limit the goals. I mean, isn't that the case every night? If the Stars can do what they did against Cleveland last Friday or in the first two periods of Saturday's game, they'll have a chance here.

I'll also add that the start is important. With Wednesday's win, Texas climbed to 23-7-0-2 when scoring first.

Texas needs every point now. The number of wins they need drops if San Diego can beat up on Bakersfield this weekend, but they still need to win their own games. If everything holds, they'll need a 10-2 mark in their last 12 games.

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

Twitter: @ahlheat

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Texas Stars Pull Off 4-3 OT Win to Stay on Track

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Stars came close to giving up another game late. Tucson earned a point with a third-period comeback, but Texas scored in the overtime period to make it a 4-3 final for the home team.

"We've got to battle every night to keep this thing going," said Coach Laxdal. "We need all the points we can get to keep this thing alive."

'This thing' is the Texas Stars' playoff chances, which gained a bit of momentum with tonight's win. Brandon DeFazio noted, "You win tonight and you're happy about that, but it's just one game at a time. It's a daunting task and we're not oblivious to that. Focus on what you can control, a good effort and a good start."

Before the game, Texas talked about the importance of their first periods. They have a 22-7-0-2 record when scoring first and a 15-1-0-1 record when leading after the first period. The first goal tonight didn't come in the first period, but Texas did notch that goal.

A quiet first period gave way to a noisy second and third. Within 44 seconds, Texas went from scoreless to up 2-0. Ethan Werek scored from the slot then Texas earned a power play to set up Julius Honka's seventh of the year. Tucson got back in it with a goal from Tyler Gaudet to close the second at 2-1 Texas.

Denis Gurianov extended the lead to 3-1 with a masterful tip that really demonstated one of the main skills that will make him a successful NHLer someday: his speed. The tip play at the net off the pass from Morin and DeFazio came because Gurianov got in behind the defender lightning quick.

"He's learned to use his speed at all times and get to the areas where he'll score goals," said DeFazio. "As he matures, he'll learn to use that speed and the more often he gets to the house, the more often he scores."

Texas 'made it exciting' for the fans though, according to Laxdal, with two goals allowed in the third period to set up the tie game at the end of regulation. Joe Whitney's goal came as a defensive breakdown left him all alone on the backside for his 13th of the year. Just after the Roadrunners pulled Adin Hill for the extra attacker, Laurent Dauphin scored on a tight play at the net for the tie.

The Stars had seen this before in Cleveland last Saturday and didn't want to take the loss. "We figured it out quicker than last time in Cleveland. You want to find a way to shut that down, but it's better coming out with a win."

Matej Stransky ensured that win with 2:36 left in OT. A tight play at the net put the puck on his stick for the game-winner. Adin Hill was hot under the collar claiming interference, but it was deemed a good goal.

The Stars play again on Friday at home against Stockton.

Tonight's lines:


Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie (call up)
Bystrom, Stevenson, Mangene (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,877.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - March 22 2017