Thursday, July 20, 2017

Texas Stars Announce Preseason Set Against San Antonio

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have announced their typical preseason schedule, a home-and-home against the San Antonio Rampage. The game will be an early one, starting at 5 PM on a Saturday night.

The Stars and Rampage will play a total of 16 times this season, barring playoff meetings.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday the team will play a preseason home-and-home series against their in-state rival, the San Antonio Rampage, prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

Texas will visit the Rampage at AT&T Center on Friday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 p.m. CST. The following night, the Stars will host the Rampage at 5 p.m. CST for their final preseason tune-up before the start of the regular season.

Tickets for the Sept. 30 preseason game at H-E-B Center will go on sale at a later date.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Texas Stars Add Forwards Samuel Laberge and Max French to the Mix on AHL Deals

The Texas Stars have added two more forwards to the lineup for 2017-18 in rookies Samuel Laberge and Max French. Laberge attended Dallas Stars Development Camp, which wrapped up this week, after closing out a four-year stint with Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL. French just finished up four years at Bentley University in Canada. The two will compete for jobs in this fall's training camp. If they are not selected, they will likely head to Idaho to serve as call ups and assist the Steelheads in making yet another playoff push.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Wednesday the team has signed rookie forwards Max French and Samuel Laberge for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

French, 24, begins his professional career after finishing a four-year stretch at Bentley University. The West Kelowna, British Columbia native tallied 143 points (67-76=143) in 138 career games for Bentley. Prior to his time in college, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound forward played from 2008-2013 in the British Columbia Hockey League for the West Kelowna Warriors with 149 points (67-82=149) in 193 games.

Laberge, 20, spent the last four seasons with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and recorded 120 points (55-65=120) in 166 career games. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward was teammates with Stars goaltender Phil Desrosiers for two seasons with Rimouski from 2013-2015. The Chateauguay, Quebec native was a member of Rimouski’s QMJHL championship team in 2014-15 and also played in four Memorial Cup games that season.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Gemel Smith Returns to Dallas on One-Year Deal

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars have signed Gemel Smith on a one-year, two-way deal, leaving Jamie Oleksiak as the only unsigned Dallas RFA. While roster moves at the NHL level are likely to place Smith as a first callup option in Texas, depending on the summer he has he may be able to surprise in camp and earn a spot in Dallas.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has re-signed forward Gemel Smith to a one-year, two-way contract.

Smith, 23, posted six points (3-3=6) in 17 games with Dallas last season in his first NHL campaign. The forward made his NHL debut on Oct. 22 against Columbus and registered his first career NHL point with an assist (0-1=1) on Nov. 5 vs. Chicago. He also appeared in 53 games in 2016-17 with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League (AHL), registering 33 points (12-21=33). Smith was tied for fourth on the club in assists (21) and his three shorthanded goals last season shared eighth in the AHL.

In his career, Smith has played 186 regular-season AHL games over the span of three seasons with Texas. In total, he has posted 86 points (35-51=86) with a +10 plus/minus rating and 106 penalty minutes. Smith has skated in three career Calder Cup Playoff contests, recording four shots on goal.

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.

Texas Stars Release Full 2017-18 Schedule

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Earlier than ever before, the AHL has released the league schedule this afternoon. The Texas Stars will play 76 games evenly split between home and away contests. The opponent slate is exclusively Western Conference and heavily Pacific Division, kicking off on October 6th against Chicago.

The Stars' most frequent opponent will be San Antonio, as usual, with 14 contests total between the I-35 rivals. Their longest road trip will span 7 games from Saturday, November 18th to Saturday, December 2nd. During that stretch, they will play in San Antonio, Chicago, Cleveland, Grand Rapids and Rockford. The road trip will be followed by the longest home stand, 5 games from December 5th to 20th.

In addition, Texas has several four-game home stands and makes a six-game trip to California and Manitoba in mid-January.

Given the Western conference slant, the Stars will not see new additions to the league Belleville or Laval.

The schedule, as always, is heavy on Fridays and Saturday both home and away. There are no Monday home games at all and only two on Tuesday. As in prior years, all weekend home games start at 7:30 PM, and Saturday games start at 7:00 PM.

Texas will play its only three-in-three weekend much earlier this season. In 2016-17, the team's only 3-in-3 came in the last month of play. This year, the third weekend will see a home-home-away setup with San Antonio.

Finally, the Stars will of course be competing in a division with the California teams and Tucson, who only play 68 games.

Find the full schedule on TheAHL.comhttp://www.TheAHL.com.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Matt Mangene Signs On For Fourth Season in Cedar Park

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars added to their experience on the backend this afternoon as they announced the signing of Matt Mangene to an AHL contract. Mangene has played for Texas over the past three season, often being called upon to play as a forward during more sparse roster stretches. He is on the official roster as a defenseman and quarterbacks the power play quite often regardless of where he plays at even strength that night.

Defensemen under contract and expected with Texas now include Gavin Bayreuther, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Ludwig Bystrom, Niklas Hansson, Dillon Heatherington, Chris Martenet, Brent Regner and Matt Mangene. Shane Hanna will likely head to Idaho unless he can push past those players.

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

Mangene, 28, returns for his fourth season in Cedar Park. Last season, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound blueliner tallied 27 points (8-19=27) in 66 games for the Stars. In his three previous seasons in Texas, Mangene (MAN-jeen) has appeared in 143 games with 54 points (13-41=54).

The Manorville, N.Y. native has competed in 245 AHL games in his career with Texas, the Adirondack Phantoms and Bridgeport Sound Tigers with 71 points (21-50=71).

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Greg Rallo Returns to Texas Stars for Third Stint

Greg Rallo in 2015 (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars announced this morning that they have signed forward Greg Rallo to an AHL contract. It will be the third stint with the Texas Stars for the American-born forward, who was part of the inaugural squad in 2009. Over four seasons with Texas, Rallo accumulated a number of franchise records, placing him behind only Travis Morin in power play goals, third in total goals, fourth in points and seventh in games played.

Rallo went overseas last season, playing with the Iserlohn Roosters in the German league, DEL. He had 25 points in 45 games, missing some time due to injury.

Rallo's return gives Texas another solid veteran in the forward ranks, already bolstered by the constant presence of Travis Morin. Interestingly, the Stars could have a veteran rule issue with the addition of Rallo. The AHL is primarily a development league and limits the number of veteran players who can be dressed in each game. The rules allow for 5 players with more than 320 games of professional experience and one 'tweener' who has between 260 and 320 games. Goalies are exempt. Texas has currently Travis Morin, Greg Rallo, Andrew Bodnarchuk, and Brent Regner north of 320 games. Mark McNeill, Justin Dowling, and Ludwig Bystrom are all between 260 and 320 (counting Bystrom's time in the SHL, which qualifies). This means someone from that group will need to be scratched regularly. The last time Texas had this issue was late in the 2013-14 season. Francis Wathier, a veteran, was sent to Milwaukee for Kevin Henderson, who was not a veteran, to alleviate the issue.

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

Rallo, 35, returns for his third stint with the Stars. The 6-foot, 195-pound forward is third all-time in franchise history with 94 goals, fourth with 191 points and seventh with 276 games played. His 39 power play goals are also second-most in team history. The Gurnee, Ill. native spent last season in Germany and recorded 25 points in 45 games for the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey-Liga.

The 2017-18 season will be Rallo’s 11th in the AHL and fifth with the Stars. The veteran has appeared in 586 AHL games in his career overall and tallied 330 points (160-170=330) with Texas, the San Antonio Rampage, Manitoba Moose, Albany River Rats, Rockford IceHogs and Iowa Stars. Previously in his career, Rallo (RAH-loh) skated for Texas from 2009-2011 and 2014-2016. He has also competed in 11 games for the NHL’s Florida Panthers with a goal.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Texas Stars Get Big Upgrade In Net Among Several UFA Signings

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Despite all my predictions and preconception, the first few days of free agency were exceptionally relevant to the Texas Stars. Usually you won't see deals rolling in for players with AHL impact until after Independence Day. This yea, Jim Nill and Scott White attacked players with big time potential to improve their AHL team by a wide margin.

The first one to mention, while it wasn't the first one announced, is in the net. Goaltending was a bit of a mess for the Texas Stars last season. Justin Peters was supposed to calm the waters and provide a veteran presence, but he was unable to right the ship and the Stars missed the playoffs.

To remedy that, Texas swung big. Scott White has added Mike McKenna, a quality AHL veteran who is coming off a trip to the Calder Cup Finals with Syracuse. Through an AHL career that spans back to 2005, McKenna has been solid and reliable for almost a dozen different teams. Over more than 400 games, he's 206-163-21 with .913 SV% and 2.70 GAA inluding 26 shutouts. He brings 45 games of AHL playoff experience, including his most recent stint in Syracuse where he was 13-9 with .911 SV% and a 2.68 GAA.

Regardless of what happens in the backup slot for the Texas Stars, the veteran #1 position is solidly filled by McKenna. For what it's worth, he's also a great quote, so it should be fun to hear from him more this season.

Brent Regner, a defenseman, is the next pick-up. He comes from Springfield most recently but will be more familiar to Stars fans as a Chicago Wolf. He put up 13 points in just 28 games last season and fits solidly into the AHL lineup for Texas.

Finally, Brian Flynn is a player who could spend time with Texas. While he did play 51 games with Montreal last season on a one-way deal, Dallas has signed him to a two-way deal with a guaranteed total contract value of $350,000, according to CapFriendly. The forward hasn't seen time in the AHL since 2013, however.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dallas Stars Announce Signings and Qualifying Offers

Gemel Smith (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Yesterday brought a flurry of signings and other activity for the Dallas Stars. Let's break them down.

First, the Stars signed Esa Lindell, formerly of the Texas Stars, to a two-year deal. This puts Lindell firmly in the plans for the Dallas Stars going forward here. 

Next, Mark McNeill was re-signed on a one-year, two-way deal. McNeill is expected to be with the Texas Stars, where he finished the season after being traded from the Blackhawks in return for Johnny Oduya.

Finally, qualifying offers were announced (and therefore, players who weren't qualified were also revealed). 

The following players were qualified:
    • Radek Faksa - C
      • Patrik Nemeth - D
        • Jamie Oleksiak - D
          • Brett Ritchie - RW
            • Gemel Smith - C
              • Has a chance to fight for a spot with the Dallas Stars after first taste this season.
            • Matej Stransky - RW
              • Already signed in the KHL but this move retains his NHL rights for Dallas.
            The following players were not qualified and will become free agents on July 1:
                • Mattias Backman - D
                  • Was re-assigned to Hershey at the deadline and is likely to head to the Swedish League if he can't find an NHL deal that puts him in the NHL.
                • Nick Ebert - D
                  • Could come back on an AHL deal somewhere.
                • Justin Hache - D
                  • Acquired in the trade for Justin Peters and spent much of his time with the organization in Idaho. Signed in Denmark for 17-18.
                • Henri Kiviaho - G
                  • Injured and played one single game this year, already signed in Finland for 17-18.
                • Maxime Lagace – G
                  • Unclear what the next step is but it could be an AHL two-way type deal or an AHL training camp deal.
                Elsewhere, the following former Stars were not qualified by their clubs.
                • Alex Chiasson (Calgary)
                • Joe Morrow (Boston)
                • Jyrki Jokipakka (Ottawa)
                • Branden Troock (Arizona)

                Saturday, June 17, 2017

                Ludwig Bystrom Rejoins the Squad with One-Year, Two-Way Deal

                (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
                Defenseman Ludwig Bystrom has signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Dallas Stars to rejoin the team for 2017-18. It is likely he will spend the season with the Texas Stars.

                Bystrom played in 55 games this season with a plus-9 rating. The rating, however, may have been assisted by some sheltered minutes. Bystrom was preferred for offensive zone starts over defensive. Of course, that's just on the eye test. The AHL does not release zone start data.

                In addition to prepping for the coming season, Bystrom and his girlfriend are also spending the summer preparing for a new addition to their family. At exit interviews, Bystrom said he had spent a lot of time talking to the team's then-newest father, Andrew Bodnarchuk, about how much having a child changes everything. Of course, best wishes to his family as they get closer to the date.

                Here's the release:
                Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed defenseman Ludwig Bystrom to a one-year, two-way contract.

                Bystrom, 22, registered 16 points (2-14=16) in 55 games played for the Texas Stars during the 2016-17 regular season. He finished tied for second on Texas with a +9 plus/minus rating. In 132 career games for Texas, Bystrom has accumulated 35 points (4-31=35). He has also appeared in four career AHL Calder Cup Playoff contests without recording a point.

                The 6-foot-1, 175-pound native of Ornksoldskiv, Sweden was originally selected by Dallas in the second round (43rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

                Friday, June 9, 2017

                Texas Stars Announce Six Guaranteed Home Dates

                (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
                The AHL schedule is still forthcoming, but the league has released six home dates for each team to lock in some hype and promotional nights. Texas's six dates are as follows:

                Friday, Oct. 6 – Opening Night
                Friday, Nov. 10 – Military Appreciation Weekend
                Saturday, Nov. 11 – Military Appreciation Weekend
                Friday, Dec. 8 – Sing for Santa Night
                Saturday, Jan. 6 – Girl Scouts’ Night
                Saturday, Jan. 27 – WatchDOGS Night

                The league does expect to release its schedule earlier than usual this summer. With several teams competing with NBA basketball for arena dates, the AHL had to wait until August to make a full schedule. Now that Milwaukee no longer shares an arena with the Bucks, the Rampage are the only team in the league competing for home dates. Given that the Spurs own the Rampage, it seems like an easier than usual problem to figure out. All that said, no actual definitive date has been set for the full schedule release. The ECHL has already released its schedule and the NHL usually follows suit in late June.

                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:
                Gurianov-Dickinson-Elie
                Stransky-Smith-Caamano
                Ully-McNeill-DeFazio
                Werek-Fyten-Sturos

                Bayreuther-Mangene
                Ebert-Heatherington
                Bystrom-Dietz

                Peters

                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)

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

                Friday, 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)

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

                Thursday, 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:
                Elie-Dickinson-Gurianov
                Caamano-Smith-Stransky
                Ully-McNeill-DeFazio
                Werek-Fyten-Sturos

                Heatherington-Ebert
                Bayreuther-Mangene
                Vala-Bystrom

                Peters

                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)

                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, 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)

                Website: gocheckers.com
                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)

                Website: gocheckers.com
                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:
                Stransky-Morin-Gurianov
                Werek-McNeill-DeFazio
                Herbert-McMurtry-Ully
                Caamano-Fyten-Sturos

                Heatherington-Stevenson
                Bayreuther-Mangene
                Ebert-Bodnarchuk

                Peters

                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:
                Website: bakersfieldcondors.com
                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:
                Website: milwaukeeadmirals.com
                Team blog: In The Crease
                Online media: Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable)
                Twitter: @mkeadmirals