Saturday, November 18, 2017

Jason Dickinson Scores but Texas Stars Lose 5-2 to San Antonio Rampage

(Credit: San Antonio Rampage)
The Texas Stars took the ice once again against the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday evening in the second game of a home-and-home set and the first game of the next seven on the road for the Stars. The Stars faced the Rampage on Wednesday night, a game in which Texas held on to win 4-3. For this game the Rampage had the luxury of icing elite prospect Tyson Jost who was recently assigned to the AHL by the Colorado Avalanche.

The end result was less than ideal. The Stars were competitive in the early going but let the game get away from them in the second half. At one point they allowed three unanswered goals, which was hard to overcome.

The rookie Max French gave the Stars early momentum with his second goal of the year less than three minutes into the game. Denis Gurianov kept his foot on the gas and drew a penalty shot, but only found the stick of Spencer Martin who drew the start for the injured Ville Husso. The French line made a lot of positive noise early. Not only did they account for the lone goal, they also generated a few good looks. One of their shots from the point was deflected in front of the net and hit the post.

Though Texas spent enough time in the offensive zone, puck possession was fairly even among the two teams early on. The Stars turned the puck over in their own zone to set up a point blank chance but caught a break as the puck went wide of the net. The Rampage drew a hooking minor and got their extra attacker out onto the ice during the delayed penalty. They hung onto the puck for about a minute of play and executed a couple of one-timers that Landon Bow shut down.

Bow continued his recent string of strong play in the first period, including on San Antonio's first power play of the game. He had to be on his game as the Stars were outshot 12-7 in the first period. Coming off his two goal game on Wednesday, Stars captain Curtis McKenzie had a quality scoring chance from the right circle that was denied by Martin.

Andrew Bodnarchuk started the second period with a quality chance off of a quick neutral zone transition. It appeared to give the Stars a charge but it didn't last long. After an icing committed by Texas, they were forced to take a draw in their zone and it led to a goal by A.J. Greer to keep up his point per game pace. Alex Belzile kept the pressure turned up for San Antonio and redirected a shot in front of the net to put the Rampage up by one and continue his five game point streak. Both of Belzile's goals this year have come against Texas.

The teams traded power plays on penalties committed by Roope Hintz and Jordan Schmaltz respectively. Schmaltz cross-checked McKenzie after taking issue with a play from the captain that he didn't like. Both penalties were killed off, but San Antonio quickly scored their third unanswered goal as Tage Thompson batted a puck out of the air into the net. It was Thompson's sixth goal of the season.

The Stars couldn't quite tilt the ice back in their direction late in the second period, and Bodnarchuk committed a tripping penalty to send the Rampage on their third power play. McKenzie made a good play on the forecheck to help kill the penalty off, and the Stars went into the locker room down by two.

Coach Derek Laxdal blended the lines in the third period to try and generate some scoring. It was successful in that the Stars had a few early attempts that were initially turned away by Martin, but the strategy eventually paid off. Jason Dickinson followed up on a rebound and scored for his eighth goal of the season. The Stars then had a chance for the equalizer on the power play. Newly acquired Reece Scarlett was driven head first into the boards to draw the penalty. Dickinson had a tip-in opportunity, but the Stars were blanked on the power play going 0 for 3.

The puck didn't bounce the Stars' way later in the third, and a centering pass from San Antonio bounced off of a skate and into the back of the Texas net. The play went under a lengthy review, but the call on the ice stood. Andrew Aggozzino was awarded the goal. As if things weren't already getting away from the Stars, Rocco Grimaldi redirected a puck in front of the net to score and close the door on a potential comeback.

The Texas Stars continue their road trip on Tuesday, November 21st at 7 PM against the Chicago Wolves.

Tonight's lines:
Dickinson-Hintz-Flynn
McKenzie-Dowling-Morin
Mangene-Dries-Gurianov
Laberge-French-Markison

Bodnarchuk-Honka
Heatherington-Regner
Scarlett-Hansson

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Bayreuther, Rallo, Laberge, McNeill, Ully (scratch)
Fyten (injury)
Elie (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 6,704.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - November 18 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Antonio Rampage

          Texas Stars               San Antonio Rampage
8-7-1, 17 pts, .531      at      9-5-1, 19 pts, .633
#4 Pacific Division               #3 Pacific Division

November 18th at 7:00 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Playing the second game of this home-and-home set against the San Antonio Rampage, the Texas Stars took the first step in improving their poor record against their in-state rival this season on Wednesday night. They managed to eke out a 4-3 victory for their first win of the year against San Antonio after three tries. This game is the first of seven consecutive games on the road for the Stars.

For this particular matchup, they will have a fresher version of Jason Dickinson who didn't just step off of a plane onto the ice. The hyper-versatile winger was sent down by the Dallas Stars just in time for Wednesday night's game. Curtis McKenzie, the newly minted Texas captain, is coming off of a two goal game and a productive stretch of recent play. Look for Landon Bow, who has been pushing Mike McKenna for playing time as of late, to get the start in net tonight. Julius Honka has had a frustrating year and has yet to record a point in 13 professional games this year. He will be someone to keep an eye on as well.

As has been the case all season the Stars will be hamstrung by the AHL veteran rules and will have to strategically manage which veterans should see ice time. It's possible that Greg Rallo and/or Mark McNeill could draw into the lineup.

(Credit: San Antonio Rampage)
The Rampage are looking to improve upon their dominant play against the Stars this year, and keep them at bay while making a push in the Pacific division. Whenever they're in the lineup Samuel Blais and A.J. Greer are point per game players, along with the recently acquired Vladislav Kaminev. San Antonio heads out on the road for the rest of November, so they likely have this game pegged as a must win. The Stars are going to have their hands full but need to prove they can find some consistency against superior competition within their division.

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

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Runnin' With the Herd
Twitter: @SARampage
Twitter: @DanWeissPBP (play-by-play for SA)


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Texas Stars Play Composed Game, Getting Solid Win Over Rampage 4-3

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars battled back from three individual one-goal deficits and eventually broke free in the third to defeat San Antonio 4-3 in Cedar Park this evening. The power play took a starring role with Curtis McKenzie converting on two opportunities in the game.

"I liked our response from Saturday night," said Coach Laxdal. "I liked the way we responded. We had good composure in our game. Every time they went ahead, we battled back to tie it up. To win on a sleepy Wednesday is a big two points for us."

Even with San Antonio scoring on the first shift of the game, Texas goaltender Landon Bow, starting his third game in the team's last four, didn't let that shake him.

"You can't think about it too much. Goals are going to happen. That one was early enough. There's still plenty of hockey left."

Bow didn't have to be spectacular, but he came up big several times in the third period to keep things tied and give Texas a shot at the win. "He's pushed Mike [McKenna] a little bit," said Laxdal. "It's good to have that inner competition in the group. He had good composure and made some important saves for us as the game went along."

After the Rampage opened the scoring early, McKenzie stepped up on the power play. It was surgical passing from Travis Morin to find McKenzie on the backdoor from the right wing circle.

"It was tough at the start of the year when our [power play] percentage wasn't great," said McKenzie. "I thought we had tons of chances over the games. It wasn't like we weren't getting any opportunities. We knew things were eventually going to break and we've found a couple of units that are working well."

Coach Laxdal noted that his veteran power play group consisting of McKenzie, Morin, Justin Dowling, Brian Flynn and a defenseman has had a lot of success over the past week and a half, dating back to a 3-for-6 effort in San Diego.

The back-and-forth goal scoring continued in the second period. A.J. Greer went blocker side on Bow for the 2-1 lead at even strength. Just a few minutes later, it was McKenzie again, answering back with yet another power play goal. It was nearly the same setup with the scoring line switched up.

"They were just both great looks where they went cross ice and didn't quite have the one timer," said McKenzie. "I went to the net backdoor, and they hit with great passes on the backside. It started ahead of that though. The battles of guys winning pucks and retrieving pucks in the corners."

Alex Belzile whipped one in on the power play off a great primary assist from Tage Thompson to reset the lead for San Antonio. That lasted all of eight minutes until Roope Hintz broke in down the left wing side for his fourth of the year and the 3-3 tie after 40. Going into tonight, Texas has been outscored 22-8 in the third. "We got the win in the third," said McKenzie. "Our thirds haven't been great, and it's something we've been working on."

The final score of the game came on a weird bounce. Samuel Laberge tracked back on an offensive zone exit to start the play. Matt Mangene finished it with a backhand, roofing it over Spencer Martin for the ultimate game winner.

Texas hits the road for a lengthy trip starting in San Antonio on Saturday.

Tonight's lines:
Flynn-Hintz-Dickinson
Morin-Dowling-McKenzie
Mangene-Dries-Gurianov
French-Markison-Laberge

Bodnarchuk-Honka
Heatherington-Regner
Scarlett-Hansson

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie (call up)
Ully, Rallo, McNeill, Bayreuther, Thompson (scratch)
Fyten (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 4,734.

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

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
7-7-0-1, 15 pts, 0.500
#4 Pacific Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
9-4-1-0, 19 pts, 0.679
#2 Pacific Division
November 15th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Jason Dickinson has been reassigned to Texas. With Dallas on a road trip, there is no guarantee he will arrive in time for the game tonight.

Despite yesterday's loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins, the San Antonio Rampage are still flying high. Spencer Martin (6-2-1, .920, 2.39) is the reigning AHL player of the week and new addition Vladislav Kamenev (3-9=12 in 14 GP with MIL and SA) is already on a point-per-game pace with the Rampage.

It's tough to read any trendlines in this recent stretch for the Rampage. Both losses against the Griffins were high-scoring for the opponents. However, San Antonio beat Rockford 6-0, so scoring isn't a problem for them.

One trendline that is tough for this series is the current record. Texas hasn't won a game yet in three tries. It's an anomaly in the overall series, which the Stars lead by nearly a 2-to-1 margin (58-27-5-11). If anything, Texas should be happy to be at home against the Rampage, where they hold a 33-11-2-6 all-time advantage.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Something to watch for on the Texas side of things will be who is in net. Landon Bow had an excellent showing last week in two games, earning wins against San Diego and Grand Rapids. Now at 2-2 and with a save percentage above .900, he has the best stats in the clubhouse right now. Coach Laxdal noted that Bow's play had created a competition in the net, and we may begin to see that play out starting tonight.

Also, watch to see if Denis Gurianov is back in the lineup. The team was tight-lipped on his absence, noting that it was neither an injury nor related to his play on the ice.

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

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Grand Rapids Weathers Early Storm, Drops Texas Stars 5-1

(Credit: Derek Sparta/Texas Stars)
Texas had quite the reversal in score from last night's win over Grand Rapids as the Griffins topped the Stars 5-1 tonight in Cedar Park. Travis Morin opened the scoring, but then it was all Griffins.

"[Grand Rapids was] kind of like us last night," noted Coach Derek Laxdal. "They battled through the first ten minutes and got going. We battled through the first ten last night and then we got going."

Morin's goal came at the 11 minute mark of the first, assisted by Curtis McKenzie and a nice below the goal line pass by Niklas Hansson. It seemed that Texas was ready to keep rolling but the goal woke up the Griffins, who struck back two minutes later on a goal that was initially reviewed but counted.

"I feel like it was a closer game than 5-1," said Morin. "We had a lot of chances to score and a lot of the stuff we gave up was stuff we can fix and clean up."

Indeed all night it seemed like Texas was just missing by that much. Passing, defensive coverage and more were off by just enough. Grand Rapids is a good team and they took advantage.

"We basically shot ourselves in the foot," said Laxdal. "We have to be a little more poised with our play with and without the puck. We're paying the full price for our mistakes. Last night we got away with it and tonight we didn't."

Grand Rapids would score another before the period was over, a 2-on-1 marker, and that would stand as the game-winning goal. They would add another off a Texas turnover midway through the second to make it 3-1.

Texas had a handful of power play opportunities but was unable to replicate the success they had earlier in the week in San Diego. "Our big guys have to score on the power play. When you don't score on the power play, the other team gains momentum, and they rode that to the finish line tonight."

The Stars had a few solid chances, but Jared Coreau was up to the task. The ultimate kick in the teeth came as Texas struggled to break out of their own zone and ended up with a defensive zone faceoff on the power play. Matt Ford collected a faceoff win and threw it on net for the 4-1 goal.

Landon Bow would relieve Mike McKenna to start the third, which was mostly a quiet period. Eric Tangradi pierced Bow for his only goal against on a shot that Bow had initially but couldn't get to the rebound on.

Despite being a bit thin right now with injury and call ups, Texas believes they have the ability to compete and win in games like this. Morin added, "We just need to clean up some things in the D zone a bit. Coming back into the zone. We had a couple 2-on-1s we need to clean up a bit, how we're covering it. I'm sure we'll touch on everything [in practice this week] and clean it up a bit."

Texas faces San Antonio at home on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
Flynn-Dowling-French
Morin-Hintz-McKenzie
Mangene-Dries-Ully
Thompson-Markison-Laberge

Bodnarchuk-Honka
Heatherington-Regner
Bayreuther-Hansson

McKenna
Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie, Dickinson (call up)
Gurianov, Rallo, McNeill, Scarlett (scratch)
Fyten (injury)

Denis Gurianov was a healthy scratch tonight, but it was "not related to his play." No elaboration was offered.

Tonight's attendance was 6,468.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - November 11 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
7-6-0-1, 15 pts, 0.536
#4 Pacific Division
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
6-7-0-1, 13 pts, 0.464
#5 Central Division
November 10th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

This morning, Texas finds itself in playoff position. Last night's win over Grand Rapids puts the club a game over .500 and in 4th place in the Pacific Division. The win also started to buoy the confidence of the club.

Texas had a perfect PK last night but only had one chance on the power play thanks to a disciplined Griffins squad. If there is any way to improve on last night's excellent performance, it would be the addition of a power play goal. However, everyone on the roster would take the two points any way they get them.
(Credit: Texas Stars
Texas gets Curtis McKenzie back this evening after he was recalled to Dallas last night. He did not play in the game, so he should be a fresh addition to the lineup. Texas will also likely see Reece Scarlett at least in the building, if not in the lineup. Scarlett will wear #24 for Texas.

Mike McKenna will get the start for Texas, but Coach Laxdal commented last night that Bow's performance in the last two games has kicked off a 'healthy competition' between the two for starts. That is a very different story than the start of the year when Bow was clearly the backup and not expected to get many more than 25 starts this season.

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

Website: griffinshockey.com
Twitter: @GriffinsHockey
Blog: Griffins Hockey on MLive.com

Friday, November 10, 2017

Landon Bow, Bottom Six Combine for Gritty 2-1 Win

Landon Bow (Credit: Texas Stars)
Coming off a rough road trip, the Stars got a fantastic effort from their rookie goaltender Landon Bow and offensive contributions from the bottom six to collect two points against the defending champions tonight in Cedar Park.

"It was a long road trip," said Sheldon Dries, who scored the game-winner. "Coming off that last game, we knew we had to build. Once we settled in, we played a strong game."

Texas did face an early challenge as they were being drastically outshot and outchanced. Midway through the first, the Griffins were outshooting Texas 12-2. Contributing to the imbalance was a 5-on-3 power play for the Griffins that spanned 71 seconds but came up empty for the visitors.

"We knew we had to work out our travel legs and fight tough," said goalie Bow. "We knew they'd come hard. That was a big turning moment in the game. If they get one or two there, we're in the hole, and we might not have that same energy we did at the end of the period."

After Bow bailed the club out in the first ten minutes of the period, the fourth line jumped in to take the mantle from there. Colin Markison scored his third of the year coming down the left side, just the sixth Texas shot of the game.

"Our bottom six guys gave us a spark in the last ten minutes of the first period," noted coach Derek Laxdal. "Our fourth line gave us good forechecks and just allowed us to sit back and create more energy in the game."

Despite a 16-8 shot deficit, the Stars ended the first up 1-0. Grand Rapids would fight back in the second. The Griffins themselves had just two shots in the first half of the second period. However, they would be the only goal scorers in the frame. Tyler Bertuzzi saw his shot trickle over the line behind Bow for the 1-1 tie.

The Stars only needed five shots in the final period to get things done. With Dillon Heatherington in the box, Sheldon Dries kept the bottom six energy going as he generated a turnover on a strong forecheck.

"The strong forecheck will help us keep the pressure up on the penalty kill," Dries said. "They threw it back. I saw the defenseman bobble it a little bit, thought I could dive in and scoop it up. Luckily I could."

Dries scored his third of the year, a shorthanded marker, to put Texas up 2-1. That would stand as the final score.

The game was solid in many regards for Texas. They had a perfect PK record and even scored a shorty. Landon Bow stopped 33 of 34 shots. Texas also hung tough in a low scoring game.

Coach Laxdal praised Bow's effort after his season started with a rough loss against San Antonio, "It's great having [goalie coach] Jim Bedard around because he can work with the goals daily. He's working on conditioning and skating. He's working to play a little more quiet.

"It's more of a healthy competition [in net]. We needed someone to step up and he's definitely stepped up for us."

Texas plays Grand Rapids again tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Flynn-Dowling-French
Morin-Hintz-Rallo
Mangene-Dries-Gurianov
Thompson-Markison-Laberge

Bodnarchuk-Honka
Heatherington-Regner
Bayreuther-Hansson

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McKenzie, Elie, Dickinson (call up)
McNeill, Ully, Fyten, Scarlett (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,245.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - November 10 2017

Dallas Stars Trade Defenseman Ludwig Bystrom, Acquire Reece Scarlett from Florida

Ludwig Bystrom (Credit: Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars have traded defenseman Ludwig Bystrom to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Reece Scarlett. Bystrom has been used sparingly this season for Texas, getting into six of the team's 13 contests. He had a single goal and seven shots on net.

Scarlett has played 12 games for AHL Springfield with a goal and an assist. He played his WHL hockey with Swift Current alongside current and former Texas Stars Justin Dowling, Cody Eakin and Taylor Vause. Most of his AHL career has been with Albany after being drafted by the Devils in 2011.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has acquired defenseman Reece Scarlett from the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Ludwig Bystrom.

Scarlett, 24, has skated in 13 games this season for the Springfield Thunderbirds, Florida's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. The blueliner has registered two points (1-1=2) and leads Springfield defensemen in penalty minutes (22) and shots on goal (24).

The six-year pro has appeared in 229 career AHL regular-season games with Albany and Springfield, registering 95 points (18-77=95) with a +6 plus/minus rating. He has skated in 10 career Calder Cup Playoff contests, all as a member of the Albany Devils.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound native of Edmonton, Alta. was originally selected by New Jersey in the sixth round (159th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.

Bystrom (LOOD-vihg BEE-struhm), 23, has appeared in six games during the 2017-18 campaign for the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the AHL. He has posted one goal (1-0=1) with seven shots on goal. In 138 career AHL regular-season games, all with Texas, the blueliner has recorded 36 points (5-31=36) with a +14 rating. He has skated in four career Calder Cup Playoff contests.

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

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
6-6-0-1, 13 pts, 0.500
#5 Pacific Division
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
6-6-0-1, 13 pts, 0.500
#5 Central Division
November 10th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Texas returns home to meet the Grand Rapids Griffins this weekend, a team with the exact same record as Texas but whose path to that record has been slightly different.

The Stars began the season hot and floated as high as three games above .500. The defending champ Griffins peaked at 2-1 after three games and only just made it back to .500 hockey with a 7-4 win against San Antonio on Thursday. Part of that rebound has been a big power play. Against San Antonio, Grand Rapids notched three on seven opportunities. They also came back from a 3-1 deficit after after the first period for the win.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Making the Stars path against the Griffins more difficult will be the loss of Curtis McKenzie to recall. With one fewer veteran to juggle, Coach Laxdal will have the luxury of adding Mark McNeill to the lineup if he chooses (McNeill being a player like McKenzie with 260-320 games of experience). However, Texas also has Cole Ully and Austin Fyten as options to bolster the lineup. Neither would be expected ot have the offensive impact of McKenzie though. After his last outing, where he collected a hat trick among his five points, he is nearly a point-per-game player (6-5=11 in 12 GP). Only Travis Morin has more points on the team.

This weekend's two games will be the only visit for Grand Rapids to Cedar Park. Texas has not faired well against the club historically, putting aside the 2014 playoffs. Texas has won just twice in the last five years at Cedar Park, going 2-5-1 overall against the Griffins. Between home and away, the Stars have just three victories in that same time span. Two of them came last year, though.

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

Website: griffinshockey.com
Twitter: @GriffinsHockey
Blog: Griffins Hockey on MLive.com

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Power Play Comes Alive for Texas Stars in 6-2 Road Win

(Credit: Vince Rappelyea/San Diego Gulls)
Texas came out of the gate hot tonight and never cooled off. The power play came back to life and Curtis McKenzie had a hat trick, his second pro trick, and added two assists to boot. The Gulls managed just 15 shots on Landon Bow, who earned his first win of the season in the 6-2 contest. Max French also scored his first professional goal.

Even with McKenzie's hat trick, the big story of the night was the power play. Ranked 30th in the league, the Stars were showing little to no life on the man advantage. Given six opportunities this evening, Texas converted on three. The same PP unit was on the ice for all three: Julius Honka, Justin Dowling, McKenzie, Travis Morin and Brian Flynn.

Colin Markison got the scoring started early with his second of the year before the power play kicked off. Brian Flynn notched his fourth to make it 2-0 after twenty minutes. McKenzie earned his first off the setup from Dowling to make it 3-0. McKenzie extended the lead to 4-0 just 101 seconds later with a tip-in off a shot from Roope Hintz. San Diego would get one back on the power play before the end of the frame, but the period ended 4-1 for Texas.

French added his goal early in the third, a redirection of a McKenzie shot, to make it 5-1. San Diego again struck on the power play but so would Texas. McKenzie would earn his hat trick on the power play in the 12th minute on a deflection from Morin's point shot for the 6-2 final.

Bow stopped 13 of 15 shots against, certainly no help to his save percentage, but earned the win.

Texas returns home now to play Grand Rapids in back-to-back games this weekend.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McNeill, Rallo, Fyten, Ully, Bystrom (scratch)
Elie, Dickinson (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 7,138.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - November 8 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
5-6-0-1, 11 pts, 0.458
#6 Pacific Division
atSan Diego Gulls
5-4-1-0, 11 pts, 0.550
#5 Pacific Division
November 8th at 9:00 PM
Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA

Seasons are made up of moments. Tonight might be one of the biggest yet for this team.

Facing a squad that left them beaten and bloody (even though they took the victory), Texas is at a turning point. They're on a three-game skid and rank last in the league in both power play and penalty kill. Both goalies have GAAs over 3 and save percentages significantly under .900. Travis Morin is scoring as always, but there are several question marks on offense. Justin Dowling has a single assist in ten games. Denis Gurianov has six assists but no goals and a minus-7 rating and has seemed invisible at times on the ice. Recently assigned Julius Honka is without a point in three games, which doesn't seem like much but his stats would suggest he'd at least have an assist to his credit at this point.
(Credit: Texas Stars)
The competition hasn't been exceptionally stiff. Stockton is a good team but Bakersfield and San Jose were both winnable games on paper. San Diego has the same 11 points as Texas.

The turning point comes here. If Texas can get a point here, score a power play goal or keep the sheet clean on the PK, it would show life. If not, the weekend series against Grand Rapids could prove very painful.

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

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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Stars Burned by Barracuda in Special Teams Battle, Lose 6-1

(Credit: San Jose Barracuda)

The Texas Stars took to the ice against the San Jose Barracuda on Sunday evening looking to clear out the irritations that undoubtedly accumulate after two straight losses. Texas last faced San Jose eight days ago in Cedar Park, a bout in which Texas points leader Travis Morin sealed the game for the Stars in a shootout.

In a game that seldom seemed to be played at even strength, the Stars had every opportunity to juice their woeful power play, but they only scored one goal on six opportunities, and went three for five on the penalty kill.

Playing their third game in four nights, Texas didn't come out of the gate like they wanted, and amassed three penalties in the first period. The first, committed by Gavin Bayreuther, was within the first two minutes. Mike McKenna made a couple of saves on shots from the slot, and the Stars didn't allow anything else. Later in the first period, after several minutes of neutral zone give and take, the Stars drew a penalty as Cole Ully took a stick up high. Just before the play, Julius Honka made a critical defensive play on the back check near the slot to ensure McKenna could make a manageable save.

Nothing doing on their first power play, Texas allowed San Jose to pile up the shot totals in the first frame after committing another penalty. This time Marcus Sorenson, who finished the night with a hat trick, made them pay from the slot for his second goal of the year. Ludwig Bystrom answered by helping to get the Texas power play off the snide, beating San Jose goaltender Troy Grosenick on a feed from Matt Mangene.

Sorenson quickly squashed the Stars' momentum and scored his second goal of the night off of a puck that bounced off of Sheldon Dries' skate. San Jose continued to take advantage of the heavy-legged Stars by drawing a third penalty. Swedish winger Filip Sandberg scored on a tip-in, and Texas couldn't seem to get anything going their way. The Stars were outshot 12-6 heading into the first intermission.

Morin had Mark McNeill flanking him at the beginning of the second period for a 2-on-1, but couldn't find twine as Grosenick sniffed it out. The Barracuda gifted the Stars an opportunity with a high sticking minor, but the Stars failed to manufacture one shot with the man advantage. His team down by two, Morin committed a slashing minor giving San Jose their fourth power play of the game. After killing the penalty, Morin attempted to atone by batting a puck out of the air towards the net, but Grosenick made an impressive save.

Later, Roope Hintz hit a post, and the Stars weren't able to take advantage of the couple of good looks they had in the second period. They were awarded their fifth power play for a cross-checking call on Julius Bergman, which would carry into the third period.

Honka ran some point for the duration of the man advantage, and it led to a one-timer from Hintz, but no goal. The Barracuda buried the Stars in the third period with three unanswered goals, the first from Sorenson, who completed his hat trick. The latter two were on the power play and a late period awkward angle shot to send Texas out with a 6-1 loss.

The Stars will stay in California and look to get back on track in the Central division as they take on the San Diego Gulls on Wednesday at 9pm CST.

Tonight's lines:
Dowling-Morin-McNeill
McKenzie-Hintz-Gurianov
Thompson-Dries-Ully
Flynn-Markison-Mangene

Bystrom-Honka
Heatherington-Regner
Bayreuther-Hansson

McKenna

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Rallo, Fyten, Laberge, Bodnarchuk (scratch)
French (lower-body)
Elie (call-up)
Dickinson (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 3,152.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Jose - November 5 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Jose Barracuda

Texas Stars
5-5-0-1, 11 pts, 0.500
#6 Pacific Division
atSan Jose Barracuda
3-5-0-1, 7 pts, 0.389
#7 Pacific Division
November 5th at 7:00 PM
SAP Center, San Jose, CA

Texas finishes their weekend (but not their road trip) this evening with a jaunt over to San Jose. The Barracuda are not looking like the world beaters they were last season. Indeed, they are 3-5-0-1 and haven't won in the week since Texas last played them at home. Their lone game was a 4-2 loss at the hands of the similarly pitiful Ontario Reign.

The Barracuda will be playing their first home game in over two weeks, coming back from a five-game road trip that sent them from Ohio to Texas and finally to south California. Texas opens this six-game stand for them as they seek to get back to the type of hockey that won them the division last year.

To that same point, Texas is looking to shake off the past two games, rough losses for different reasons. One big way to break out of that funk would be a solid night for the power play. Even one power play goal would be a fantastic way to shake that off. Two might be too much to ask, but a good percentage (1/4, 1/5) would go a long way.

With the team on the road, it's tough to know right now, but both Gavin Bayreuther and Denis Gurianov missed the game last night. Those aren't players who would miss as healthy scratches, generally, so one important thing to watch for will be their inclusion or exclusion from the lineup.

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

Barracuda Web Resources:
Website: sjbarracuda.com
Twitter: @SJbarracuda

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bad Bounce Hands Texas 1-0 Loss in Stockton

(Credit: Asvitt Photography/Stockton Heat)
The only goal in tonight's game against Stockton was a tough one to swallow. Garnet Hathaway had the winner off the skate of a Texas Stars' defenseman at 8:07 of the second period. Landon Bow, still in pursuit of his first win of the year, stopped 24 of 25 shots against him in the losing effort.

It was Texas's first time being shutout this season. The Stars were shut out 3 times last season with the last being a shootout loss against Chicago on March 15th.

The Stars had five chances on the power play, coming up short in the special teams department yet again. Their power play woes have stretched to historic lows as they finished the evening with a 6.8% on the season, just three goals on 44 chances. Making matters worse, the goal against came on the power play for Stockton, putting Texas at 26th in the league on the kill.

The loss drops Texas back to .500 on the season. Tomorrow's contest against the San Jose Barracuda is a matinee affair on the Pacific coast.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McNeill, Rallo, Fyten, Gurianov, Bayreuther (scratch)
Elie, Dickinson (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 7,008.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - November 4 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
5-4-0-1, 11 pts, 0.550
#5 Pacific Division
atStockton Heat
6-3-0-1, 13 pts, 0.650
#3 Pacific Division
November 4th at 9:00 PM
Stockton Arena, Stockton, CA

Texas plays another first in a season series this evening in Stockton. The Heat are off to a solid start, owning 3rd place in the Pacific Division and a win rate 3 games above .500. To this point, they have only played two games with teams outside California. They beat defending champs Grand Rapids on October 14th and fell to Manitoba last night.

Jon Gillies is the main man in net for the Heat. Last season, everything seemed to be going his way until an injury put him out of the game for most of the year. He played in 39 games with a .910 save percentage. This year, he's off another solid start at 4-2-1 with a .920 save percentage. David Rittich is his backup. He has similar numbers with 2-1-0 and .916 save percentage.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Andrew Mangiapane is a player to watch out for this evening as the reigning player of the month has 16 points in 10 games. He leads the league as of this morning, tied with perennial top performer Chris Bourque. Garnet Hathaway is not far behind with 6-6=12 in the same 10 games played. Mangiapane and Hathaway also lead the league in plus/minus at plus-10 and plus-12 respectively. The highest point producer on Texas is, of course, Travis Morin with 2-9=11.

Stockton has been getting it done against Texas for two years now. In fact, in 12 total matchups, the Stars have emerged with the victory only three times. At Stockton, the record is worse with just one win to four regulation losses and a shootout defeat.

No doubt this is a team that can score. They're averaging 3.6 per game. Texas is also averaging above three, but they're allowing 3.90 per game as well. Goaltending and defense need to tighten up to have a chance against a very talented squad in Stockton.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie, Dickinson (call up)
French (lower body)

Website: stocktonheat.com
Twitter: @ahlheat

Friday, November 3, 2017

Texas Stars Eager to Start 50/50 Raffles If Proposition 5 Passes

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Next Tuesday is Election Day in Texas, and one of the ballot measures could have a big impact on the Texas Stars. Proposition 5, if passed, would amend the state constitution to allow minor league teams like the Texas Stars to hold 50/50 raffles at their home games.

A 50/50 raffle, if you're not familiar, is a combination charitable event and lottery that is extremely popular in Canada. Fans buy raffle tickets at the game and their proceeds go into the pot. At the end of the night, one ticket is chosen as the winner and that person gets half the collected funds. The other half goes to a charity. In the case of the Texas Stars, this would be their foundation.

These types of raffles are extremely popular in Canada with the pot for some NHL games hitting six figures. Some fans may remember the $10,000+ pots for 50/50 raffles that were advertised in St. John's during the Calder Cup run.

Raffles like this are restricted under the constitution as the state has been the only entity allowed to run a lottery in the past. Two years ago, a similar proposition passed that allowed major league teams to run these raffles. Prop 5 would expand this to all minor league teams, including Texas, the Round Rock Express and the Austin Spurs.

"We've had good success [in Dallas]," said Brad Alberts, President of the Texas Stars, concerning the raffles in Dallas. "You can't compare it to Canada. Hockey and 50/50 raffles are synonymous there. We're fairly happy, and we think there's upside there."

Part of the upside comes after getting fans more familiar with the concept, he notes.

"A Canadian hockey fan gets their 50/50 ticket and a beer and they go to their seat. That's part of going to a hockey game in Canada. It's due to Texas culture. People have to get used to it. As it comes to every sporting event, people will start to participate at a higher level."

The Stars plan to use their funds to promote youth hockey in Central Texas. The Dallas Stars Foundation does the same for North Texas with their funds. Alberts also notes that fundraisers like this give the team more discretionary funds to donate when disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, strike.

Early voting ends today. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7th.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Condors Top Texas Stars with 5-Goal Third Period

(Credit: Bakersfield Condors)
Texas hit the road for a four game, nine day trip tonight, falling in their opener 5-2 to Bakersfield. Texas had a 2-0 lead heading into the final frame, but allowed five in the third. Two came on the power play and the final tally was an empty netter.

In positive news, Justin Dowling returned to the lineup after missing last Saturday's game with an upper body injury caused by San Diego's Stu Bickel. Texas next faces Stockton on Saturday night.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars carried a 2-0 lead into the third period thanks to Brian Flynn, but the offense for the Bakersfield Condors erupted for five goals to lock up a 5-2 final on Thursday night at Rabobank Arena in front of 5,319 in attendance.

Ty Rattie tallied a hat trick for the Condors (5-4-0-0) in the third period, including a pair of power play goals. Flynn scored his second and third goals of the season to give Texas (5-4-0-1) a two-goal lead entering the final frame. Travis Morin (five games) and Dillon Heatherington (four games) each tallied assists for Texas to extend their individual point streaks.

Texas visits the Stockton Heat Saturday at 8 p.m. CST to continue their four-game road trip.

The Condors' surge began at 2:16 of the third when Joey LaLeggia buried a rebound goal for his third of the year. Rattie's first power play strike came from the right circle at 8:49 on a crossing pass. Joe Gambardella slipped home a point-blank chance around Mike McKenna of the Stars after a Texas turnover in their own zone.

Rattie added another power play goal with 5:53 to play and capped off the hat trick on an empty-net goal with three mintutes remaining.

Eddie Pasquale earned the win in net stopping 31 of 33 shots. McKenna suffered the loss going 16 of 20.

The Stars wasted no time getting started as Flynn buried his second of the season just 93 seconds into the contest after Morin forced a turnover in the corner to earn the assist.

Flynn doubled the Stars lead to 2-0 with his second of the game at 7:34 of the second by deflecting Heatherington's point shot for his third of season.

Texas finished 0-for-2 on the power play while Bakersfield went 2-for-6.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McNeill, Rallo, Fyten, Bystrom (scratch)
French (lower-body)
Elie, Dickinson (call-up)

Tonight's attendance was 5,319.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Bakersfield - November 2 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Bakersfield Condors

Texas Stars
5-3-0-1, 11 pts, 0.611
#4 Pacific Division
atBakersfield Condors
3-4-0-0, 6 pts, 0.429
#7 Pacific Division
November 2nd at 8:30 PM
Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield, CA

Well, the Texas Stars do not look the same as they did on Saturday. First, there is hope that Justin Dowling could return to the lineup after missing just one game due to injury. Even without that, the lineup will be shifted. Jason Dickinson was recalled to Dallas yesterday and another forward will jump into the lineup to backfill. It will be Samuel Laberge or Austin Fyten as they are not veterans. Texas can't fill Dickinson's spot with Brian Flynn or Justin Dowling, since they would each put Texas over the veteran limit.

(Credit: Texas Stars)

The other change is the addition of Julius Honka. The Finnish defenseman is a huge difference maker at the AHL level and has the ability to dominate a game at times. If Denis Gurianov wants a model for what he needs to look like in order to be recalled for good to the NHL, Julius Honka is that model. Be noticeable on every play. Make the correct call. Dominate a shift. Dominate a game. Be a difference maker.

In the other locker room, Bakersfield is a team with middling results so far in the season. Rookie Ethan Bear is tied with Joey LaLeggia for the team scoring lead at 2-3=5 in 7 GP. Other notables include Ty Rattie (2-1=3) and Jesse Puljujarvi (0-3=3).

Texas ranks 23rd in PK in the league, but Bakersfield is 26th. On the other side, neither is a solid power play squad. The Condors rate 27th (8.7%) while Texas is mired at 29th (8.1%). Bakersfield has actually scored only two power play goals this season, they've just had only 23 opportunities, so the numbers look a smidge better. In terms of combined PP+PK, which teams aim to keep at 110 or better, these two clubs are 28th and 29th in the league. Only Lehigh Valley has a worse combined score.

Nick Ellis in net for the Condors is doing well enough. He's only played in 4 of their 7 games but has an even record and a .919 SV%. Eddie Pasquale, a name that echoes in the history of the Central Division, is the other goalie for Bako. His numbers have been less than great at 1-2-0, 3.31 and .875.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie, Dickinson (call up)
Dowling (doubtful, upper body)
French (lower body)

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Jason Dickinson Recalled from Texas Stars

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars have recalled forward Jason Dickinson from the Texas Stars this afternoon. The center has been a top player for the AHL side, notching six goals and an assist. The assignment of defenseman Julius Honka yesterday helps to compensate for the offensive loss to Texas.

The Stars have several forwards in reserve, so there should not be a corresponding move from Idaho at this time.

Texas plays in Bakersfield tomorrow night. Dickinson will meet the Dallas Stars in Winnipeg.