Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Wheels Come Off in 5-0 Texas Loss to Bakersfield, Stars' Sixth Straight Defeat

The Texas Stars dropped their sixth straight game, matching a franchise record, in a 5-0 loss to the Bakersfield Condors. The Condors scored on three of four power play opportunities. Bako's goalie, Nick Ellis, notched a shutout, and Josh Currie had a hat trick.

At this point, the playoffs are essentially lost. Five games below .500 and ranked 7th in the division, Texas would need to win twice as many games as they lose for the rest of the season to have a shot at the postseason (15-8). The road trip ends tomorrow in San Jose.

Here's the release:
Nick Ellis earned the shutout and Josh Currie added a hat trick, but it was the power play of the Bakersfield Condors that led the way in a 5-0 shutout win over the Texas Stars on Tuesday night at Rabobank Arena.

The Condors struck three times on four man-advantage chances to open up a 3-0 lead, and that was plenty for Ellis who stopped 28 shots in the shutout performance. The Stars suffered just their second shutout loss of the season.

Texas will close out their season-long, six-game road trip on Wednesday at 9 p.m. CST against San Jose.

After being denied twice by Justin Peters from point-blank range on the Condors' first power play of the night, Joey LaLeggia opened up the scoring on a third try with 4:09 remaining in the first.

The Condors' power play extended the lead to 2-0 when Griffin Reinhart set up Currie in the slot at 8:18 of the second, and Ellis continued to frustrate the Stars with a breakaway stop on Jason Dickinson late in the middle frame.

Patrick Russell added Bakersfield's third man-advantage tally at 8:05 of the third. Currie struck again at 10:43 and 18:06 to complete the hat trick performance for the Condors.

Texas finished 0-for-2 on the power play in the game. Peters stopped 27 of 32 shots in the loss for Texas.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie (call up)
Gurianov (lower body injury)
Mangene (suspension)
Herbert, McNeill (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 3,034.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Bakersfield - February 28 2017

Texas Stars Add Mark McNeill in Oduya Trade

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars third trade of the week has finally affected the Texas Stars directly. Texas adds Mark McNeill, a forward who has played his entire pro career in the Blackhawks system, to their ranks in return for Johnny Oduya. He will obviously not be in tonight for Texas and I would put him at doubtful for tomorrow. It seems more likely he joins the team in Cedar Park for the weekend set.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has acquired forward Mark McNeill and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Johnny Oduya. If Chicago should advance to third round of the playoffs this season, and Oduya plays in 50% or more in first two rounds, then the selection turns into Chicago's third-round pick in 2018. Additionally, Dallas retains 50% on Oduya's contract.

McNeill, 24, has posted 28 points (6-22=28) in 58 games played for Rockford of the American Hockey League (AHL). In 273 career regular season AHL contests, all with Rockford, he has amassed 157 points (72-85=157). He appeared in one career NHL contest with Chicago in 2015-16 collecting three hits. He will report to Texas, Dallas' top development affiliate in the AHL.

The 6-foot-2, 214-pound native of Langley, British Columbia was originally selected by Chicago in the first round (18th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Oduya, 35, has posted seven points (1-6=7) in 37 regular season games this season. Since joining Dallas in 2015-16, he has appeared in 119 regular season games for the team and recorded 28 points (5-23=28).

The 6-foot, 195-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden was signed as a free agent by Dallas on July 15, 2015.

100 Degree Hockey Is Looking for New Writers

Since 2009, 100 Degree Hockey has been the premier source for Texas Stars news and hockey coverage in Austin, Texas. We are looking for a new writer to provide occasional coverage of Texas Stars home games.

Applicants would be expected to provide coverage of Texas Stars home games in the form of 400-700 word game recaps, which should include blended player/coach quotes and light analysis. Applicants are expected to attend the games in person. Professionalism is expected from applicants. While it is surely more fun to cover a winning team, fandom should not color the analysis and coverage of the game at hand. Applicants must be able to separate any affinity for the team from their writing.

If the applicant is successful on a consistent basis, future assignments may include opportunities for player and coach interviews in postgame scrum and covering the game from the press box when the opportunity arises.

This is not a paid position. Believe me, I don’t make money on this venture. This is an opportunity to grow your journalistic skill and deepen your understanding of a sport by working directly with a professional franchise with the backing of an entity that has covered the team since its inception.

Who are you?
  • Knowledgeable of the game of hockey
  • Able to attend games at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park on your own dime (To start at least. Credentials may be forthcoming if the tryout is successful. I also have more flexibility with obtaining tryout credentials for university students studying journalism.)
  • Capable of writing high quality 400-700 word game summary including blended player/coach quotes
  • Capable of delivering game summary to editor within 60 minutes of game completion
Who are we?
For more information on 100 Degree Hockey, check out the About Us page.

What’s next?
This is going to be a live fire exercise. Applicants will write a sample postgame story for the March 4th home game. If unable to attend, other work may be substituted. If you are interested in pursuing this opportunity, please email stephen [at] 100degreehockey.com. Include any work samples, if relevant.

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Bakersfield Condors

Texas Stars
24-25-1-2, 51 pts, 0.490
#6 Pacific Division
atBakersfield Condors
22-20-5-1, 50 pts, 0.521
#4 Pacific Division
February 28th at 9:00 PM
Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield, CA

As Texas has slumped, Bakersfield has surged. On a three-game winning streak, the Condors find themselves in playoff position as they approach tonight's game at home against the Stars. Meanwhile, Texas is looking to avoid tying its worst ever losing streak tonight at six games.

Without Remi Elie in the lineup, Texas is slightly more sparse on forwards. More concerning is that Denis Gurianov's day-to-day injury that he was slated to return from last Wednesday has now kept him out for the entirety of the road trip. Coach Laxdal noted it wasn't an issue that he picked up in a game, he just felt uncomfortable when he woke up the morning of the last home game. He hasn't played since.

At this point, there isn't much more to write. Win the game. Stockton was a good chance to break the streak, but if they can't win tonight, they'll get red-hot San Jose tomorrow. Their 14-game winning streak will likely mow over the Stars.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie (call up)
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)

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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Texas Stars Drop Fifth Straight in 4-1 Defeat in Stockton

The Texas Stars dropped their fifth straight game this afternoon in California, putting them below .500 once again this season. With 24 games remaining, the Stars still need 80 total points to meet the current playoff line, now shared by Bakersfield and Tucson. That gives them a record goal of 14-9-1 from here on out.

Here's the release:
Goaltender David Rittich and the Stockton Heat put the clamps on the Texas Stars power play to hand the Stars a 4-1 loss on Sunday night in front of 4,579 in attendance at Stockton Arena.

Rittich stopped 27 of 28 shots in net for the Heat (21-22-4-1) and helped hold the Stars (24-25-1-2) scoreless on seven power play opportunities in the game. Ethan Werek was the lone goal-scorer for Stars with his sixth of the season. Justin Peters suffered the loss stopping 25 of 28 shots for Texas.

Texas continues their season-long road trip on Tuesday at Bakersfield at 9 p.m. CST.

The Stars opened up the game on a first-period flurry, and drew two power plays, but Rittich weathered the storm for Stockton's Daniel Pribyl to begin the game's scoring with his fifth of the season off a Texas turnover at 7:45 of the first.

Werek knotted the score at 4:37 of the second from Jason Dickinson's centering pass, but Mark Jankowski responded just over a minute later for the Heat to regain the 2-1 lead on a rebound chance.

In the third, Hunter Smith tipped home Linden Vey's whiffed shot attempt from the slot at 6:55. Garnet Hathaway added an empty-net power play goal for the Heat with a minute to play.

Stockton finished 1-for-6 on the power play in the game.

Texas' Dustin Stevenson also tallied an assist on Werek's goal.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie (call up)
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
Herbert, Backman (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,579.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - February 26 2017

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dallas Stars Recall Remi Elie

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Remi Elie has earned his first NHL callup. Texas had some forwards to spare in their last game and will not need to make a recall from Idaho.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has recalled left wing Remi Elie from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Elie, 21, is tied for fourth on Texas with 25 points (8-17=25) in 49 games played this season. He has produced five points (2-3=5) in his last seven contests. In two professional seasons with Texas, he has registered 42 points (14-28=42) in 113 regular season games.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Cornwall, Ontario was originally selected by Dallas in the second round (40th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Texas Stars Overcome by San Diego Late, 6-2

The Texas Stars dropped to .500 on the season with their third straight loss, a 6-2 defeat against San Diego. Maxime Lagace got his first start since the trade for Justin Peters. He stopped 30 of 35 shots against.

The Stars had it tight, coming back to make it 2-2 in the second period. The Gulls would close it out with four unanswered goals.

The loss dropped the Stars to 6th place, but thanks to mounting losses for the Roadrunners, they haven't fallen too far behind the playoff pace. In the remaining 25 games, they need 29 points, a record of 14-10-1 or better.

Here's the release:
Three power play goals by the San Diego Gulls were too much for the Texas Stars to overcome on Friday night in a 6-2 loss at Valley View Casino Center in the final matchup of the season between the two teams in front of 10,216 fans in attendance.

San Diego (29-14-2-2) went 3-for-5 on the man-advantage and held Texas (24-24-1-2) scoreless on five opportunities. Jason Dickinson and Travis Morin each scored for Texas in the loss while San Diego's Chris Wagner scored a pair of goals.

Texas continues their road trip on Sunday at Stockton at 6 p.m. CST.

After Morin has knotted the game at 2-2 on a wrist shot from the left circle at 7:27 of the second, Kevin Roy tallied the Gulls' second power-play goal of the night less than two minutes later to turn the tide in the game.

San Diego rattled off three more goals in the game to pull away, including Wagner's empty-net marker for his second of the night. Antoine Laganiere stuffed home a power-play goal with 45 seconds remaining in the second to make it a 4-2 Gulls lead and Nick Sorensen struck at 5:56 of the third on a deflection goal before Wagner sealed it.

Dickinson opened up the scoring from the slot at 7:22 of the first off Julius Honka's centering feed for his eighth of the season. Corey Tropp ripped San Diego's first power-play tally from the left circle on a one-time shot midway through the first, and Wagner tipped a low shot in the slot with 2:33 remaining in the frame for his first of the night and a 2-1 San Diego lead.

Max Lagace suffered the loss stopping 30 of 35 shots. Dustin Tokarski earned the win with 25 saves for the Gulls.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
Herbert, Smith, Harstad (scratch)

Texas played 7 D with Honka coming back.

Tonight's attendance was 10,216.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - February 24 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
24-23-1-2, 51 pts, 0.510
#5 Pacific Division
atSan Diego Gulls
28-14-2-2, 60 pts, 0.652
#2 Pacific Division
February 24th at 9:00 PM
Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA

One of the teams that passed Texas as they dropped in the standings was the San Diego Gulls. These two clubs last played on New Year's Eve. At that time, San Diego was two games above .500 and on the playoff bubble. Since that game, the Gulls are 15-3-0-1. They just broke up a four game winning streak with a loss to Tucson on February 18th. In the middle of the stretch, they also had a six game winning streak and a 12 game point streak.

Suffice it to say that the Stars won't be catching the Gulls in the standings.

But, Texas can catch the teams it needs to catch if they play well from here on out. Even after the embarrassing loss to Stockton, Texas must only go 15-10-1 in their final 26 games to best Tucson's current record. There are nine games against Stockton and San Antonio in that stretch.

Texas gave San Jose a scare a few nights ago and would hope to do the same to the Gulls this evening. They'll have a better chance of it if Julius Honka and Denis Gurianov can return to the lineup. Both were listed as day-to-day after Saturday's game but neither has played on the road trip.

Stars injury/call up report:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Stockton Beats Texas 5-1, Breaks Ten Game Losing Streak

The Texas Stars suffered what was arguably one of their worst losses of the season this evening in Stockton. This one was definitely one of those "should win" games. Facing a team with just three wins in 2017 and on a ten-game losing streak, Texas gave up three goals in the first period en route to a 5-1 loss. Justin Peters stopped 30 of 35 and dropped his record to an even 4-4 after a sparkling 4-1 start.

Cole Ully had the Stars' only goal. It was a late tally with the score already at 5-0. The Stars were perfect on the penalty kill, if you're looking for silver linings. However, they also gave up a shorthanded goal and were scoreless on the power play.

The road trip continues in San Diego tomorrow with Texas just one game above .500 and hovering barely at 5th place.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
O'Donnell (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 2,539.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - February 22 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
24-22-1-2, 51 pts, 0.520
#5 Pacific Division
atStockton Heat
19-21-4-1, 43 pts, 0.478
#7 Pacific Division
February 22nd at 9:00 PM
Stockton Arena, Stockton, CA

If the San Jose Barracuda are the hottest team in the league, it's not hard to pick the coldest. The Stockton Heat haven't won a game since January 20th, over a month. In calendar year 2017, they have just 3 wins, going 3-12-1 since the new year began. Their win against Milwaukee set them at 18-9-3-1 on January 7th, and they've been in a spiral since.

Things that aren't clicking for the Heat are numerous. The power play has just a single goal on their last 53 opportunities (3.8%). They've been shutout four times since January 7th, so overall scoring is an issue as well. Their only win since then was a six goal outburst. Jon Gillies is getting a hard ride as he's done what he can (2 GA in four games in the streak). Backup David Rittich has a 2 GA game as well. Usually that's enough to win, so the scoring needs to step up for Stockton to win.

Texas will hope to get some of their injured players back. Julius Honka and Denis Gurianov are both impactful first round picks. Luckily, Andrew Bodnarchuk will return to the lineup tonight, rejoining the team after taking Monday's game off to be with his wife and newborn daughter.

Another question for Texas is whether Maxime Lagace gets a start. This might be the right game for it. Justin Peters might be showing some weariness with two straight losses and having started every game since the trade.

Stars injury/call up report:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)

Website: stocktonheat.com
Twitter: @ahlheat

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Texas Stars Should Expect Light ATO Class This Spring

Niklas Hansson (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
In previous seasons, Texas has added a number of amateur tryout players to the roster as the playoff race has heated up. Many of these were draft picks who finished their seasons like Brenden Dillon and Jack Campbell. Others include undrafted players like Derek Hulak. While I can't account for the undrafted players that Texas may have its eye on, the drafted or signed player pool is rather limited right now for the Stars. Many of the players drafted in the past few years went without a contract. Alex Peters and Brent Moran are two examples.

Last season, I did a story on the Stars' ATO tradition that may help you understand the process better.

Chris Martenet, D
Ottawa 67s, OHL
8th seed


Chris Martenet went deep in last year's OHL playoffs with the London Knights. He won the Memorial Cup with a team that featured Christian Dvorak, Mitch Marner and Matthew Tkachuk. Martenet was a gaudy +44 on that team, but then again, almost everyone was a plus player for that squad. Martenet was traded midseason this year to the Ottawa 67s. The 67s are on the edge of the playoffs, technically tied in points with the 9th place team. If they don't make it, their last game is on March 19th. Even if they do, they would be an eight seed and may not make it out of the first round. Martenet is a big kid at 6'7, 212 lbs. Dallas needs him to grow into that frame and be more physical than the easy comparison of Jamie Oleksiak.

Roope Hintz, LW/C
HIFK, Liiga
9th seed


As the season began, Hintz was either going to be a Dallas Star or go back to Finland for another season. As this season draws to an end, Texas may be his landing place. It depends on the bracket though. While Hintz's HIFK is in 9th place, that's good enough for the side-bracket for the last two playoffs spots. Teams 7-10 play-in for the last two spots in the Liiga playoffs. Their last regular season game is March 13th. Even if they are immediately eliminated, things like travel and immigration can hamper efforts to get Hintz over to North America quickly.

Niklas Hansson, D
HV-71, SHL
3rd seed


Hansson has actually been on an ATO in Texas before. Last year he got into six games with Texas in the regular season and added four playoff contests. He signed an entry level contract with Dallas before that ATO and is likely to come over soon enough. Right now, his HV-71 squad is in 3rd place in the league. He will probably have at least two playoff rounds as a result. His last regular season game is March 9th, but the playoffs will take much longer.

Joseph Cecconi, D
University of Michigan, NCAA
Unranked


This one is a bit of a long shot. It only happens if Dallas plans to have Cecconi come out of college. Michigan is not having a great year, 9-16-3 overall and unlikely to make much noise in the conference tournament. The team plays its last regular season game on March 11th against Penn State. The conference tournament is March 16-18.

Monday, February 20, 2017

San Jose Earns 12th Straight Win, Beating Texas 5-3

Texas started their homestand off on a rough note with a 5-3 loss in San Jose. The win was San Jose's 12th straight. The Stars kept it, overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to tie things at three. Ludwig Bystrom had two goals. Remi Elie had the Stars' other goal.

Justin Peters was pulled for the first time in his stint with the Stars. He stopped just 10 of 14, giving way to Maxime Lagace who stopped 14 of 15. Peters, who allowed the fourth goal, took the loss, bring him to 4-3 with Texas.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
Bodnarchuk, Smith (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,422.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Jose - February 20 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Jose Barracuda

Texas Stars
24-21-1-2, 51 pts, 0.531
#5 Pacific Division
atSan Jose Barracuda
30-11-1-3, 64 pts, 0.711
#1 Pacific Division
February 20th at 5:00 PM
SAP Center, San Jose, CA

If there were any game to test Texas's mettle, this is the one. San Jose is on an eleven-game winning streak. During the streak, they have outscored opponents 43-18. Troy Grosenick has been in net for most of those win. Mantas Armalis only has two of them and both were by a single goal, 4-3 OT and 5-4. So it would seem that Grosenick gets the start.

San Jose is in a spot right now where you have to ask: What isn't going right for them? They are the #4 ranked power play (24.1%) and the second-best penalty kill in the league (86.4%). Their combined PP+PK numbers are the best in the league at 110.5%. Usually teams strive to get this number to 110. Only San Jose and Grand Rapids are currently at or above the mark. Texas is at 94.2%.

Texas has a lot going on as this game comes up on the schedule. Julius Honka and Denis Gurianov are both questionable. Andrew Bodnarchuk will miss the game and rejoin the team on Tuesday as he tends to his wife and new daughter. Finally, Matt Mangene will be serving the second game of his six game suspension. To relieve some pressure on the backend, Texas signed Aaron Harstad to a PTO yesterday.

Stars injury/call up report:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
Bodnarchuk (out, family)

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Texas Stars Add D Aaron Harstad on PTO

Texas has signed Aaron Harstad to a professional tryout this afternoon. The defenseman, who was acquired by Idaho in a trade with Norfolk, is likely for insurance. Andrew Bodnarchuk is not going to play in tomorrow's game against San Jose, so Texas would only have six defensemen, including Julius Honka. Honka was held out of Saturday's game after an impact with the boards that saw his head snap back pretty severely. Either way, having a seventh D on a road trip is never a bad idea.

The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Sunday the team has signed defenseman Aaron Harstad to a professional tryout agreement.

Harstad (HAR-stad), 22, joins the Stars after appearing in 37 ECHL games this season, 33 with the Norfolk Admirals and four with the Idaho Steelheads. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound blueliner competed in 26 games last season for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, recording four assists.

The Stevens Point, Wisc. native is a former seventh-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Last Night's Postgame Interviews Showed Me Why the Texas Stars Will Make the Playoffs


Let's be honest here. Last night's game was rough.

Thinking about the game this morning, I realized that something was different about the postgame interviews that caught me a bit off guard. I began last night's scrum with Coach Laxdal with a rather innocuous question. I noted that everything that went well in the homestand up until last night (goaltending, special teams) didn't come through. It wasn't designed to call out anything in particular and gave Laxdal an opportunity to insert his own opinion on the game, which he usually does.

Immediately, he launched into an answer that impugned the team's effort on the night.

My second question noted that the lineup was depleted. With Julius Honka, Matt Mangene and Denis Gurianov out against a stacked Wolves squad, that could have been an easy out. Laxdal didn't take.

There were more player requests last night because there were more media members present than the usual crew of one (me). To a man, the team called out its own effort. What was striking about this is that the postgame comments for a similar game four weeks ago would have been filled with words like "puck luck" and "bad bounces."

The Texas Stars will make the playoffs because they are finally owning their own destiny. Something clicked over the homestand that made this team realize they have talent and skills to get into the playoffs.

This upcoming road trip, which Texas departed for at 6 AM this morning, will be a huge test. They can either solidify their standing or be completely out of the race by the next time they play at home on March 4th. However, either way, Texas will be doing so on their own merits, as opposed to outside forces. And that is a massive developmental step that you can't read on the boxscore.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Not Enough Effort" from Texas Stars Leads to 4-1 Home Loss

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
With a chance to sweep their home stand, the Texas Stars laid an egg against the Wolves, dropping a 4-1 contest. Coach Laxdal impugned his team's effort from the drop of the puck.

"I didn't like our effort tonight. I thought we were stale right from the get go. I thought they had a great effort and they wanted it more than we did. There were guys that worked hard but there weren't enough good efforts tonight."

While Texas only gave up 24 shots, they were high quality. Laxdal noted that Texas "basically gave [Chicago] all four goals" due to turnovers or other defensive lapses. "We had a lot of passengers tonight," he added.

Chicago got up early by two, putting Texas in a familiar but uncomfortable spot of playing from behind. Andrew Agozzino, who had missed last night's game with a suspension, had the 2-0 goal on the power play.

It was an incredibly uneven game as the first and third period were all Wolves, but the second period saw Texas with many opportunities and their only goal on the night. Ethan Werek scored his fifth of the year on a tip of a shot from Nick Ebert at 18:36. The Stars outshot Chicago in the second 11-4.

Texas could have easily blamed a depleted lineup. Julius Honka and Denis Gurianov both missed the game with injury while Matt Mangene served the first game of his six game suspension. Coach Laxdal was having none of it.

"You put twenty guys on the ice, and it's opportunity for other guys to step up in the lineup. We had a lot of passengers tonight. There were spotty moments but there wasn't enough effort. You have to give Bodnarchuk credit, he's been in the hospital for two days with his wife and he comes out an plays hard tonight. There's no excuse of the other guys. We didn't skate this morning, and we had all week off. It's just not good enough for this time of year."

Chicago's lead expanded in the final frame, aided by some Texas penalties that slowed any potential comeback progress. Turnovers by Texas led directly to goals by Brett Sterling and Conner Bleackley.

Andrew Bodnarchuk, who missed last night's game as his wife gave birth to their first child, agreed with the effort assessment.

"I think effort was the key to the game. Mistakes are going to happen, mental errors will happen, but effort level is something you can control. I don't think we had the effort we needed to win this game. When we bring that effort, we should have a chance to win every night. We can't let any slip away due to poor effort."

Texas now hits the road with an early morning flight Sunday to San Jose. The Barracuda are a buzzsaw right now, having just notched their 11th straight win. Texas will face them in a matinee game on Monday.

Tonight's lines:
DeFazio-Morin-Stransky
Elie-Dowling-Dickinson
Ully-Werek-Smith
O'Donnell-McMurtry-Herbert

Backman-Hache
Bystrom-Stevenson
Ebert-Bodnarchuk

Peters

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gurianov (lower body injury, day-to-day)
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)
Fyten (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,422.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - February 18 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
24-20-1-2, 51 pts, 0.543
#4 Pacific Division
v.Chicago Wolves
29-17-4-3, 65 pts, 0.613
#3 Central Division
February 18th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

The Stars win last night coupled with a Tucson loss finds them in playoff position this morning. Tenuous as it may be, it's a strong showing for a team that was this close to being in last just two weeks ago. Texas goes for their season-high fifth straight win tonight against Chicago.

The Wolves will get Andrew Agozzino back in the lineup while Texas will be without two of their players this evening after last night's game. Julius Honka will be held out for precautionary reasons after hitting his head pretty hard on the end boards last night in the second period. He did not play the rest of the game. Matt Mangene will be out for at least tonight's game, if not more, following a match penalty last night that resulted in a five minute major penalty.

Stars injury/call up report:
Honka (head, day-to-day)
Mangene (suspension)

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Texas Stars Overcome Adversity, Set Win Streak at Four

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars matched their season-best with a fourth straight win. Tonight, they matched up against one of the best in the Central Division, emerging with a 4-3 OT victory over the visiting Chicago Wolves. The win showed the new backbone Texas has developed since their goaltending change. Faced with a five-minute major penalty in the second period, the Stars stopped the Wolves cold. After allowing a late goal to tie things up, Texas buckled down, earned a power play and won it in overtime.

"I think everyone is a little more involved," said forward Justin Dowling, who returned to the lineup tonight after a month out due to injury. "Everyone is on the same page, wants to do the right things and sacrifice a bit more. The confidence is rising. Every game we've gotten better and better."

To anyone who has watched this team all season, the fact that Texas halted a top-ten power play unit for a five minute major penalty is a phenomenal feat. Despite their last place ranking in the league PK standings, Texas has clearly improved their work on that aspect of the game recently.

Coach Laxdal attributed it to a few factors, "Getting some guys back with Dowling and Dickinson who take a lot of pride [in PK]. We shortened the bench pretty quick on the penalty kill. We didn't give up a lot."

Texas never trailed against the #2 ranked team in the Central, going up 1-0. 2-1 and 3-2 before winning it 4-3 in overtime.

"For us tonight, I thought the game was pretty tight. There were a couple chances here and there. We got up in the game and they battled back."

Texas opened the scoring on a tip play from rookie Mike McMurtry. After failing to capitalize on an opportunity in the crease, a tired Stars' squad gave up the 1-1 tie a few minutes later. A pretty 2-on-1 play by Jason Dickinson and Brandon DeFazio was finished by DeFazio for the 2-1 lead after twenty.

The second period saw things get heated. Samuel Blais tied things at two, unassisted, early in the frame. Then, Matt Mangene earned a match penalty after checking Greger Hanson in the face. Mangene was escorted off the ice and will have an automatic one-game suspension. Mangene and Hanson had tangled up a few times on the shift, and Mangene just lost his cool, it appeared.

Texas stopped everything that came at them.

"Everyone is just buying into it," said Dowling. "It's something we knew had to get better. Things get heated on the ice, emotions get going and sometimes that happens. We had Stevenson, Morin and Ully making big blocks, and everyone on the ice was contributing in some way on the penalty kill."

DeFazio expanded, "It's obviously huge motivation that we can get that done. We've wanted to be better on the PK, so that was a huge step and a huge point in the game. It takes great goaltending. Peters held us in their with great saves."

They were rewarded early in the third period. Travis Morin tipped a shot from Jason Dickinson past Chicago's Jordan Binnington for the 3-2 lead.

Late in the game, Texas got challenged again as Chicago scored a 6-on-5 goal to tie things at three. In overtime, Remi Elie "sacrificed his face for the guys," according to Justin Dowling, and earned the Stars a four minute minor penalty. It looked like the Stars would not prevail as time wound down. With 25 seconds left, Nick Ebert found a clean lane for a rifle of a shot to win it 4-3.

Texas plays Chicago again tomorrow to end their home stand.

Tonight's lines:
Elie-Morin-Stransky
DeFazio-Dowling-Dickinson
Gurianov-Werek-Smith
Ully-McMurtry-Mangene

Backman-Ebert
Bystrom-Honka
Stevenson-Hache

Peters

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Bodnarchuk (wife gave birth)
O'Donnell, Fyten, Herbert (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,606.

Julius Honka hit the end boards hard in the second period and did not return for the third. Coach Laxdal says he is day-to-day and will not play tomorrow. He adds, "I don't think it's too major, but obviously, it's a day to day thing with him."

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - February 17 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
23-20-1-2, 49 pts, 0.533
#5 Pacific Division
v.Chicago Wolves
29-17-3-3, 64 pts, 0.615
#2 Central Division
February 17th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars can match their longest win streak of the season with a W against the Chicago Wolves tonight. It will be a tough test though. The Wolves have won four of their last five, losing a close one in Milwaukee to a very good Admirals squad.

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
These two teams have only played once this season. Chicago won 4-3 on November 30th in Illinois. The series will conclude in the next month with these two games in Texas and one more on March 15th in Rosemont.

Texas, of course, should expect to see Justin Peters in net. Another Justin is also likely to be in the mix. At practice on Tuesday, Justin Dowling was a full participant. He has been out of the lineup since January 11th with a hand injury. His skill as a two-way forward should give the Stars more strength down the middle.

For most of the season, Chicago has been splitting time between Pheonix Copley and Jordan Binnington. The team is coming off a 4 day break and could play one of the two goalies twice. However, it's unlikely.

Two of the top threats for Chicago are currently unavailable on recall to St. Louis. Kenny Agostino (18-42=60) and Wade Megan (23-22=45) rank first and fourth in the league scoring table. Chicago's third and fifth ranked scorers, Ivan Barbashev (19-18=37) and Brad Hunt (9-20=29), are also out of the lineup on recall. Finally, the last of the top five scorers for Chicago, Andrew Agozzino (11-21=32), is suspended for tonight's game.

So, tonight's game is a chance to catch the Texas Stars, who have improved their defense and goaltending over the past few weeks, to catch a team that is without a lot of fire power.

Stars injury/call up report:
Dowling (hand injury, probable)

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Henri Kiviaho Recalled to Texas Stars, Likely to Pursue European Opportunities

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have recalled goaltender Henri Kiviaho to the AHL. The move has less to do with any of the goalies in Texas or Idaho, but I believe more to do with the Stars giving Kiviaho a chance to pursue opportunities in Europe.

Kiviaho played a single game this season in the ECHL, getting injured and missing the rest of the season until now. His return to health comes at a time when the Stars are set in net across the system, to the point that they've assigned goaltenders outside of the organization (Desrosiers in Norfolk).

Kiviaho was a long shot to make it to the show, and I was always a bit puzzled that he came back to North America after spending last year in Finland. He will not play for Texas, given the status of their goaltenders currently. I believe he will instead head to Europe to pursue a chance at playing there now that he is healthy. Given his Finnish nationality and previous experience in that league, my guess would be the Finnish SM-liiga or one of its minor leagues.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Texas Stars Continue Hot Streak with Rambunctious 6-2 Win

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
To say the evening's proceedings were boisterous might be an understatement. Tucson and the Texas Stars combined for five fights and 130 minutes of penalties, along with eight goals. Texas emerged on top, taking their winning streak to three, with a 6-2 victory at home.

Travis Morin, who had three points on the night, was surprised to learn the game set the record for most PIMs by Texas, an opponent and combined. "I can't remember many like that. It was an emotional game. They're right ahead of us in the standings."

The power play stood out on the evening, going 4/7 thanks to the penalties from Tucson. The penalty kill was perfect on the weekend, stopping four tonight and even earning a shorthanded goal to finish the scoring.

Nick Ebert said, "[The power play] was a weak point of ours [previously]. We changed it up a bit, moving around a bit. Not just staying stationary, creating some confusion. We try not to be as basic, confuse them."

Morin added, "We've been getting good looks. It was just a matter of time. Tonight the floodgates just opened."

Texas jumped out to a three goal lead by the early second period as Tucson seemed completely out of sorts. Matej Stransky generated the first goal with a nice move ot get around a defender in the neutral zone. On the ensuing zone time, Travis Morin scored his 16th of the year in tight off the pass from Nick Ebert.

Just two minutes later, Texas was on the power play and saw Julius Honka find a lane through traffic for a clean shot to the net. The Stars finished the first up 2-0 and kept going in the second. This time, Ebert finished a power play himself sneaking to the top of the hashes for shot that made it look too easy and the 3-0 lead.

"[Getting an early lead] is something we haven't done a lot of lately," said captain Travis Morin. "To get a lead allows you to play a little freer. It's huge to play a little freer and looser."

Last night's rambunctiousness and some frustration from the score boiled over in the second period. The Roadrunners took to fisticuffs in order to get themselves back into things. Dustin Stevenson squared off with Stefan Fournier in a battle that Stevenson won handily. Denis Gurianov was roped into a fight next as Anthony DeAngelo just started pummeling him. Gurianov did not win that fight.

At 8:21, that was when the wheels came off. A collision in the corner to the right of Justin Peters led to fights between Matt Mangene, Justin Hache, Gemel Smith and Michael Bunting, Eric Selleck and Brandon Burton, respectively. To keep the peace, Mangene and Bunting were ejected.

With plenty of room to stretch your legs out on the benches, Tucson started their offensive evening. Christian Fischer broke up the shutout at 11:35 and Eric Selleck made it a one-goal game with 3 seconds left in the second.

The Stars would dominate the third period with two more power play goals and a shorty to put the game away. Tucson got belligerent with a cross-check and a board in rapid succession, putting Texas on a 5-on-3. Matej Stransky scored five-hole for the 4-2 score. Just over a minute later, Gemel Smith scored in tight on the 5-on-4 power play to make it 5-2. The Roadrunners continued to tack on the PIMs with two misconducts for abuse of officials in the final frame. Remi Elie would score a shorty to finish the scoring late.

Coach Laxdal praised the team in this character builder game, "Tonight had a great atmosphere, a pretty intense game. You knew exactly what the game meant. It was right until the final buzzer. It gels our team together. It was a battle."

With the a .533 win percentage, Texas maintains fifth place and has a slight cushion on sixth place Bakersfield. The Stars are off until Friday against the Wolves.

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

Stevenson-Hache
Backman-Honka
Bodnarchuk-Ebert

Peters

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Dowling (injury)
O'Donnell, Bystrom, Herbert (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,483.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - February 11 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Texas Stars Build Momentum with 3-2 Win over Tucson Roadrunners

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars vaulted themselves in the fifth place with a solid two points against the visiting Tucson Roadrunners this evening in Cedar Park. The Stars made their mark in the third period, earning two quick goals to put Tucson on its heels and ultimately salt away the game.

"Points are just points for us right now," said Brandon DeFazio, who scored the final Texas goal. "We need them all; it doesn't matter who we're playing."

Despite DeFazio's statement, these were two points against the exact right team. Tucson is currently in fourth place and this win both raised Texas and lowered the Roadrunners in the same stroke. Coach Laxdal noted, "It's a big win for us. They're a team we're chasing."

While it wasn't a perfect game by any means, the Stars got just the game they needed. Laxdal noted that it wasn't the best defensive game the team has played, but it didn't have to be as Justin Peters "bailed us out."

The first period was relatively sleepy overall. DeFazio commented, "A lot of practice can do that to you. If you're trying to implement things, it can paralyze your feet a bit."

In the second period, Texas found the scoreboard on the power play. Andrew Bodnarchuk snuck down from the left point on the power play to deposit his fifth of the year into the practically empty net. Nearly as quickly, former Star Chris Mueller evened it up at the other end.

Throughout the game, referee Mike Langin had to repeatedly go to the bench for a cut under his nose, which he suffered early in the first period. "He was leaking the whole game," said Laxdal. By the time the third period began, he was unable to return to the game and Texas and Tucson skated the rest of the game with just two officials, one of them donning the orange jersey to be designated as ref.

"We get those [linesmen] all year," added Laxdal. "They're local linesman and never probably been in that situation. You have to give them credit, the job they do. They work 5 days a week, 40 hours a week and then they have to come in and line a game and then referee. It says a lot about the passion they have for the game and the AHL."

The Stars generated some passion among the crowd of 3,748 with their two quick goals in the third. Matt Mangene scored on a tip-in from Bodnarchuk at 5:25 and then DeFazio scored off a turnover just 26 seconds later. Postgame, Laxdal noted that having the defense activate (1 goal, 2 assists total) was a big key to their strategy tonight. It was also huge to see the goals come in 5-on-5, an area where the team has struggled this season.

The period has the potential to be a catalyst for the remainder of the season. DeFazio summarized, "When you lose 5 in a row, everyone doubts themselves. Sometimes offense can dip a little bit. You get a win, you feel a little better, and you start seeing guys play to their potential and with confidence."

Despite a late goal from Tucson, Texas held on for the win at 3-2. They will need to bring the confidence from this game into the immediate rematch tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Gurianov-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Dickinson-DeFazio
Elie-Smith-Mangene
O'Donnell-Fyten-Werek

Bodnarchuk-Ebert
Hache-Stevenson
Honka-Bystrom

Peters

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Dowling (injury)
Backman, McMurtry, Herbert (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 3,748.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - February 10 2017

Julius Honka Assigned to Texas Stars

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars have reassigned defenseman Julius Honka to the Texas Stars ahead of their weekend set against Tucson. Honka played in 10 games with Dallas this season with four assists. Despite his long absence, he still leads the Texas Stars in points and assists.

He should be available tonight.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has reassigned defenseman Julius Honka to the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Honka, 21, has registered four assists (0-4=4) in 10 games with Dallas this season. The defenseman has also recorded 21 points (5-16=21) in 30 games with Texas in 2016-17. Honka ranks fourth on the club in assists (16) and shares fourth in points (21), while he leads team defenseman in both categories and shares second in goals (5).

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound native of Jyvaskyla, Finland was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (14th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Tucson Roadrunners

Texas Stars
21-20-1-2, 45 pts, 0.511
#7 Pacific Division
v.Tucson Roadrunners
21-14-5-0, 47 pts, 0.588
#4 Pacific Division
February 10th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Julius Honka has been reassigned to Texas.

Sometimes it takes a while to see players who've been traded away back at their old home. Not so this week. Brendan Ranford and Brenden Troock return to Cedar Park tonight with their new club, Tucson. Joining them will be Chris Mueller, one-time Star who helped the club get to their Calder Cup win in 2014.

Ranford and Troock, wearing numbers 9 and 17 respectively, do not have any points yet with Tucson as the Roadrunners split last weekend's set with the Charlotte Checkers.

The Roadrunners are the team to beat if Texas wants to make it to the playoffs. Their current perch at .588 is where the Stars should be to make the playoffs. Of course, knocking down that mark would be another excellent outcome for this weekend's games. If Texas can win both, they would raise their percentage to .532 while lowering Tucson's to .560.

Expect Justin Peters in net tonight and basically every night from here on out.

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

Website: tucsonroadrunners.com
Twitter: @RoadrunnersAHL
Coverage: @CallahanOnAir (Tucson PBP)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Texas Stars Add Scoring Punch with Signing of Brendan O'Donnell

Looking to add more punch to their offense, the Texas Stars have signed Brendan O'Donnell out of the Florida Everblades. O'Donnell ranks fifth in ECHL scoring, racking up 29-26=55 in 42 games played. He has not been on an AHL deal anywhere in his career, so Texas may have an opportunity here to lock him in for future seasons if he does well.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday the team has signed rookie forward Brendan O’Donnell to a professional tryout agreement.

O’Donnell, 24, joins the Stars from the ECHL’s Florida Everblades, where he was playing his second professional season. The 6-foot, 190-pound forward was fourth in the ECHL with 55 points (29-26=55) in 42 games this season with Florida. O’Donnell’s 29 goals this year were second overall in the league.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba native tallied 37 points (17-20=37) in his rookie campaign with Florida last season, and ended the 2015-16 season with goals in nine consecutive contests.

O’Donnell graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2015 after appearing in 121 games and recording 55 points (27-28=55) over a four-year career. He was a sixth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Will It Take to Put the Texas Stars in the Playoffs?

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas is in a tough spot. In seven years in Cedar Park, the Stars have only missed the playoffs once. As the eighth playoff push ramps up, Texas is an extremely precarious position: seventh place in a division that only sees the top four make the dance.

The current playoff line is set at .588. Rounding up, that works out to 90 points for the Stars. Currently, the club is at 45 points in 44 games. This means the team needs to match its output so far in the remaining 32 games. That's the same amount of points with 12 fewer games to get there.

That's 23 wins in 32 games.

Now you might be able to argue that getting wins against the 'right' teams, such as Stockton (5 remaining) or Tucson (2) might make that number a bit lower. However, Texas essentially still needs to win twice as many games as they lose for the rest of the season.

That's the math, but how do you get there?

Better goaltending
The Stars made an acquisition last week to get themselves right in this area. Landon Bow and Maxime Lagace both had .894 SV% last week before the trade for Justin Peters. The new acquisition has a win and a loss, stopping 49 of 53 shots against him on the weekend (.924 SV%). You expect that any night your goalie allows 2 or fewer goals, you should be able to win the game. For Texas, this is especially true as they average more than 3 goals per game.

Special teams
On the power play, Texas has scored just 3 power play goals in their last ten games, a stretch of 43 opportunities (7.0%). The Stars even had several games with 6 or more opportunities that saw they go scoreless with the man advantage. Coach Laxdal said he's seen the team doing better this weekend with Saturday's power play effort earning a ton of chances just never cashing in.

On the penalty kill, Texas has been at the bottom of the standings for most of the year. Currently at 76.4%, they are last in the league. One issue has been the number of penalties the team has taken. Whether it is more aggressive play or just not getting the calls like they used to, the Stars are uncharacteristically high on the penalty minutes count, 9th in the league. They average 15.18 minutes per game, including five minor penalties. The math works out to just under five power plays for the opponent per game. With the AHL's middle of the road power play averaging 17.6%, that works out to around one goal per game most nights.

Luck at the deadline
This is one you can't do much about. Depending on whether Dallas is a buyer or seller, the Texas Stars could see their fortunes turn. If Dallas is a seller, a hot prospect could be part of the deal coming back to the organization, earning Texas a boost. If Dallas is a buyer, they could send a player or two from Texas away. Additionally, roster movement in Dallas could necessitate callups or assignments to fill out the lineup or hit roster limits.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Texas Stars Release Bryce Van Brabant; Forward Will Head to Idaho

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have released Bryce Van Brabant from his tryout agreement with the team. Van Brabant was signed out of training camp to help plug significant lineup holes brought on by the Dallas Stars' injury woes. Texas now has Caleb Herbert as 13th forward and Justin Dowling on the mend from a hand injury. Van Brabant was originally signed on an ECHL deal with Idaho and got a training camp invite that he made the most of. He will head to Boise now, joining a Steelheads squad mired in an 0-4-2 losing skid.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Tuesday the team has released forward Bryce Van Brabant from his professional tryout agreement.

Van Brabant (van BRAY-bant), 25, began the season with Texas after signing a tryout agreement in training camp. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound forward appeared in 21 games this season for the Stars with a goal and an assist.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Texas Stars Break Losing Streak in Justin Peters' Home Debut

Justin Peters (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
With a five game losing streak hanging around their neck like the mariner's albatross, Texas played exactly the game they needed to get back into the win column tonight against San Antonio. The extremely tight contest saw the Stars squeak by the Rampage 2-1 with scoring coming from their fourth line and their defense.

"It was a full team effort, a full 60 minutes," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "It had a playoff atmosphere and that's what every game is going to be like down the stretch. It was a hard fought win."

Aiding the efforts was the home debut of newly-acquired goalie Justin Peters, who collected his first win for Texas. He stopped 22 of 23 shots and earned the cowboy hat from the locker room for the effort.

Peters agreed with Laxdal's assessment of the game, "For the whole 60 minutes, we were tight and sound with good structure. To have a tight game like that is a confidence builder."

Texas will need that confidence as they move forward. Tonight's win puts them a game above .500 and allows them to avoid slipping to last place in the division.

Nick Ebert, who scored the game winner, outlined the sentiment in the locker room, "We slipped to .500 and now we're just north of that. We have these last 32 games are playoff games because we put ourselves in that position. We have to prepare for every game like it's make or break."

The intensity in this game ramped up from the start. Ebert called it "a war" but noted, "That's the way it should be and the way it has to be." Justin Hache, newcomer to the lineup, threw down with Mason Geertsen after a hit in the first. Laxdal added that Hache "earned a lot of trust and respect from his teammates" with his play tonight.

Ethan Werek scored the game's opening goal in the first period. Mike McMurtry, playing in his first game back from Idaho, found Werek in the high slot for an easy blocker-side bid.

Diplomatically, the officiating was uneven in the game. Jeremy Smith, for example, was called for playing the puck outside the trapezoid when he clearly did not and Travis Morin was victim to a clear kneeing that was not called. Perhaps as a way of making up for it, neither team scored on the power play in the game, making it a moot point. The two clubs combined for 14 opportunities.

Wrapped up in the special teams, Peters made timely saves that the Stars were not getting on the penalty kill (and even 5-on-5) with their previous tandem. "He's real calm," said Laxdal. "He has that veteran presence back there. We want to play a little different in front of him, play on our toes with a little more calmness knowing we'll get that big save when we need it."

The power play was frustrated but had many good opportunities, missing on a few good one-timers and empty nets. The win should help increase the confidence of the entire group, lifting the power play as well.

San Antonio scored late in the second period as Girard picked a corner for the tie game. As time ticked down in the third, it appeared that Texas would be heading to overtime. Nick Ebert wasn't interested in that. On an extended shift that began as Texas came off a power play, San Antonio's tired legs gave way to Nick Ebert's 6th of the year.

Texas has a long break, as has become custom this season, before playing Tucson on Friday.

Tonight's lines:
DeFazio-Dickinson-Ully
Gurianov-Morin-Stransky
McMurtry-Fyten-Werek
Smith-Elie

Bodnarchuk-Ebert
Stevenson-Mangene
Backman-Hache
Bystrom

Peters

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Honka (call up)
Dowling (injury)
Herbert, Van Brabant (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,142.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - February 4 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
20-20-1-2, 43 pts, 0.500
#7 Pacific Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
21-21-4-0, 46 pts, 0.500
#8 Pacific Division
February 4th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Texas will look to get their first win under the Peters regime at home this evening. Last night's effort in San Antonio was close but ultimately fell short. The team allowed 30 shots for the first time in 4 games, something that was helping to keep them in games despite poor goaltending. However, with a five game losing streak now on their hands, Texas is desperate.

Desperation is no better shown than in the standings. Texas is tied with once-lowly San Antonio and whoever gets more points tonight gets 7th place. If Texas can't earn at least a point, they'll fall below .500 for the first time since October 25th and only the second time in the last three years. Following the October 25th game that put them at 2-3, the Stars rattled off four straight wins to climb to 6-3.

Stars injury/call up report:
Honka (call up)
Dowling (hand)
Ully (questionable)

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, February 3, 2017

Texas Stars Return from All-Star Break with 3-2 Loss in San Antonio

Debuting their shiny new lineup in San Antonio, Texas fell 3-2 to the home team. It was just the second time this season that the Stars have fallen after leading at the end of forty minutes. Two quick goals by the Rampage to open the period gave them the opening they needed to complete the comeback.

Justin Peters stopped 27 of 30 shots against him. The loss was Texas's fifth straight, setting them at a .500 record and turn tomorrow's rematch into a battle for 7th place in the division.

Noted Star killer Rocco Grimaldi opened the scoring in the first, earning the Rampage a 1-0 lead after 20. First rounders Denis Gurianov and Jason Dickinson scored a pair between them in the second to give Texas the lead after 40.

Cole Ully took a puck to the face and had to be taken off the ice in the final minutes of the third period. Neither team scored on the power play in the game, combining for five chances between them.

These two teams will play again tomorrow in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:
DeFazio-Dickinson-Elie
Gurianov-Morin-Stransky
Ully-Smith-Werek
Van Brabant-Fyten-Herbert

Bodnarchuk-Ebert
Stevenson-Bystrom
Backman-Mangene

Peters

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Honka (call up)
Dowling (injury)
Hache, McMurtry (scratch)

Cole Ully took a puck to the face, bleeding profusely, in the third period.

Tonight's attendance was 14,524.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - February3 2017

Dallas Stars Loan G Philippe Desrosiers to the ECHL's Norfolk Admirals

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have loaned goalie Philippe Desrosiers to the ECHL's Norfolk Admirals. Desrosiers was one of four goalies in Idaho following this morning's assignment of Landon Bow to the Steelheads.

Loaning a second round pick outside the organization is not a great sign for his development. Typically players are loaned outside the organization when they are in their final year of a contract and are not expected to be re-signed (e.g. Wathier, Sawada, Tousignant). Desrosiers has a year remaining on his entry level contract.

The Admirals are in last place in the ECHL's South Division at 15-23-4.

Here's the release:
Steelheads Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Neil Graham announced on Friday that goaltender Landon Bow has been assigned to Idaho by the AHL’s Texas Stars. Goaltender Philippe Desrosiers has been loaned to the Norfolk Admirals by the Dallas Stars.

Desrosiers, 21, was selected in the second round, 54th overall, by the Dallas Stars in the 2013 NHL Draft. The second-year pro was 5-3-2 with a 3.81 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage in 13 appearances with Idaho this season. Desrosiers is 2-2-0 in seven appearances this season with AHL Texas.

Texas Stars Assign Landon Bow to Idaho Steelheads

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have assigned goaltender Landon Bow to the Idaho Steelheads. The three-headed monster created by the trade for Justin Peters didn't last two days. Bow joins a crowded net in Boise, already occupied by Brandon Komm, Philippe Desrosiers and the injured Henri Kiviaho. Given that Bow has been the starter in seven of the last eight games, it seems that Justin Peters is your new starter.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Friday rookie goaltender Landon Bow has been reassigned to the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Bow, 21, appeared in 16 games on his first career AHL call-up to Texas with a 7-7-0 record, a 3.17 goals against average and a .894 save percentage. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound native of St. Albert, Alberta has competed in 12 ECHL games this season for Idaho with a 2.75 goals against average and .916 save percentage.

Bow was signed to an AHL contract over the summer after finishing up a four-year career in the Western Hockey League with the Swift Current Broncos and Seattle Thunderbirds.

Between Tickets, Travel and Technology, Business Side of ECHL a Balancing Act

Travel to destinations like Glens Falls, NY weigh on finances.
(Credit: Steve Conner)
Today's article on the economics of being an ECHL team finishes off ECHL Week on 100 Degree Hockey. Thank you to everyone for reading and to all the folks in Boise I spoke with for these stories. I enjoyed my time in Idaho immensely and plan to go back.

At the end of the day, hockey might be a ton of fun but it is still a business. Businesses have to make money to stick around. The man behind the numbers in Idaho is Steelheads president Eric Trapp. The man they call Trapper has been with the Steelheads for over a decade with previous stops in other minor league sports in Boise as well.

"We obviously want to make a profit at the end," says Trapp. "We take pride in the success on the ice and winning championships. A large part of what we take pride in is that we provide entertainment for downtown Boise. Our success is based on providing quality entertainment to the fans first of all. If we do that, the revenues follow."

Providing quality entertainment is important because the lion's share of revenues come from ticket sales. For some teams, this can be over 80% of annual revenues. After tickets, sponsorships are next up on the list. That's things like the 'Plucker's Power Play' here in Cedar Park or the 'Bud Light Steelheads Hockey Show' in Boise. After sponsorships, merchandise rakes in the next most. Parking is a big deal for many teams, but the Steelheads don't charge for parking as they don't have a lot in downtown. Concessions fall further down the list.

In terms of what drives the revenues, Trapp doesn't believe the product on the ice is as important as the overall game atmosphere. "Wins and losses aren’t as much a driver as they are in major college athletics and the major leagues. In the minors, the revenue is driven by the quality of entertainment."

Eric Trapp
He adds, "It helps to have a winning team but there are plenty of teams in minor league sports that haven’t been consistent but continue to have revenues because of the entertainment value they provide."

Some of the things we discussed on Monday around fan engagement are part of what makes Steelheads games such a 'good time' according to their fans. Idaho has shifted their internal resources to doing more content creation and fan engagement in-house, as have many businesses outside of the sports world as well.

"In the past, you have to rely on mass media to get the message out but now we have these direct consumers who come to engage and have actively said I want to follow your brand. Now we can directly give them our content and they can follow the brand directly through our message. We don’t have to rely on placing advertising or earned media, which you relied on so heavily in the past."

The same technology that has made social media possible has also made it easier to create that content for smaller teams.

"With the technology on the phone and the digital age, it makes it a lot easier to edit and put stuff together yourself. In the old days, you had to take forever to edit something. Now the technology allows small organizations like us to do things that the NHL teams used to do in the analog days with a whole staff of people. It gives us the opportunity to have someone on staff to create that content and push it out without it being as labor intensive as it used to be. We can deliver high quality content we create ourselves and it’s a better experience for the fans."

This means the Steelheads and other minor league teams can create quick GIFs of scoring plays and share them on social or build end of period summary graphics from templates in a few clicks. This helps to create a connected experience for those who follow on social media and let the fans participate in the game in new ways that weren't available even five years ago. This drives greater attendance and overall connection to the team.

A trip to Norfolk, VA, surely adds cost.
On the cost side of things, Trapp says he stays out of the way on decisions relating to players. There is a salary cap in the ECHL, so there is a known budget there. "I hired a coach, and I’ll get out of the way."

Another expense is travel. The Steelheads are in the western conference, which means they are a bit on an island. The team flies everywhere except for Salt Lake City, Utah, which is still done by bus. Trapp notes that Neil Graham gets to use this as a bit of a recruiting tool at times. The team buys all of its travel in the summer and has worked with the league to ensure that they can make efficient trips to far flung destinations, such as playing a three-game set in Alaska instead of returning every few weeks for just one game. Long time equipment manager Khris Bestel has even reconfigured the Steelheads' baggage so that they don't get hit with any oversized bag fees.

The travel expenses can get hairy but Trapp wouldn't trade the location for anything. "Boise itself is a great town and community. It’s a positive for us to be here in the market where we’re at. It’s a great downtown with a lot going on. When people come to a Steelheads game, it’s not just the game. They’re making a night of it, having dinner and drinks with family and friends before and after the game."

If you missed any of ECHL Week, take a look here for complete coverage.

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
20-19-1-2, 43 pts, 0.512
#7 Pacific Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
20-21-4-0, 44 pts, 0.489
#8 Pacific Division
February 3rd at 7:30 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

UPDATE: Landon Bow has been assigned to Idaho.

So... it's been a busy week. Let's review.

Since the last time Texas played, it has lost the following players: Brandon Ranford, Branden Troock, and Brandon Anselmini. It has gained Justin Hache, Justin Peters, and Mike McMurtry.

The newly retooled Stars will hit the road, literally, to drive down to San Antonio and debuted their new look. It couldn't come at a better time as the Stars are in a precarious spot. The weekend set against the Rampage could see them drop to last place in the division if they are unable to collect any points.

In fact, the Stars are in need of many Ws down the stretch to keep their playoff hopes alive. The current playoff line is a .592 points percentage, meaning Texas must reach 90 points in their remaining 34 games. It's a clip that means they'll have to go a blistering 23-10-1 over the final stretch to be in the conversation.

It all starts with two points tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Honka (call up)
Dickinson (likely)
Dowling (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, February 2, 2017

Texas Stars Send Brandon Anselmini to Idaho, Recall Mike McMurtry

Brandon Anselmini (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
With Justin Hache on the roster and down two forwards from the trade yesterday, Texas made some moves today ahead of their weekend set against San Antonio. First, they assigned Brandon Anselmini to the Steelheads. Second, Texas recalled Miek McMurtry, who has been playing well in Idaho at a point per game pace (1-4=5 in 5 GP).

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday the club has assigned defenseman Brandon Anselmini and recalled forward Mike McMurtry from their ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Anselmini, 23, has appeared in 10 games this season with Texas and tallied three assists.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound defenseman has 12 points (2-10=12) in 24 games this season with Idaho. Anslemini (an-suhl-MEE-nee) was an undrafted free agent signed by Texas over the offseason after a four-year career at Ferris State University.

McMurtry, 24, has tallied 10 points in 26 games this season with Texas (5-5=10) and five points in five games with the Steelheads (1-4=5). The 6-foot, 180-pound forward is currently in his rookie season after finishing up a four-year career at Northeastern University last year. The Greely, Ontario native recorded 80 points (20-60=80) in 141 collegiate games before beginning his professional career with the Stars.

Boise's Colorful Emergency Backup, Doug Melvin, Ready to Step In at a Moment's Notice

(Credit: Nate McIntyre Photography)
Continuing ECHL Week here on 100 Degree Hockey, this is a great profile I got together on the Steelheads' local emergency backup goalie, Doug Melvin.

If you met Doug Melvin in the street, you would never guess at his role with the Idaho Steelheads. With a head of silver hair and a physique a la Jack Lalanne, Melvin is the 50-something emergency backup goalie for the Steelheads.

"We only have a certain number of goalies under contract," said Melvin after an arduous morning skate. "It’s inevitable that goalies are called up. Even in the role I play, you have to come every day to play."

In every city with a team, the local club is required to have someone on record as the EBUG, available for the home or visiting team in case of a late callup or injury before game time. The role got a big showcase recently when the Carolina Hurricanes put their backup, also their equipment manager, into the last seven seconds of a game a few weeks ago. In the ECHL, there isn't anywhere to call from when those callups happen, so the role of an EBUG is much more visible. Melvin has signed dozens and dozens of contracts with the Steelheads over the seven years that he has been the EBUG for Boise.

The emergency backup goalie or EBUG role is an intriguing one for hockey fans and especially players everywhere. It's the chance for a regular guy, one of us beer leaguers, to get into a professional game. Fair warning though, Doug Melvin is not your average beer leaguer.

When asked about his history in hockey, Melvin starts out, "I’m only 25 so...," before a bit of a laugh and a pivot, "I played in the ECHL, the AHL and went to some NHL training camps. I got into a few NHL exhibition games."

Melvin's pro hockey history started in 1979 in camp with the Philadelphia Flyers. Over the next few years, he would get into camp with the Boston Bruins from 1981-83, but never rose higher than a few games in the ECHL. After those years, he headed to college, graduated, and became an Army officer. He has held a variety of security roles in the US military and government, including director of security at the White House, DHS country director for Iraq, and director of the TSA for the state of Idaho. He now owns his own private security consulting company with a focus on alternative energy solutions.

The flexibility Melvin gets from owning his own business comes in handy with the EBUG role. There is often an emphasis on that emergency part.

(Credit: Steve Conner)
"If something happens, I have to be ready to go. I come with the mindset that I’m playing. Sometimes I get the call at 9 in the morning. Sometimes at 3 in the afternoon. You have to be ready to go. I try to stay in shape and prepare, waiting for that kind of call."

The EBUG cannot enter the game unless there is an injury to the starting goalie preventing them from playing. A big part of what Doug provides for the team is his commitment in practice.

"I love it. I would do this all day. For practices, I would stay out there all day. Work your butt off and leave everything out there."

At Saturday's morning skate with starter Philippe Desrosiers already off the ice, Melvin was working on drills with assistant coach Everett Sheen and the defense. Melvin dropped down to his knees to block the lower net, the defenseman work to pick a corner on a one-timer, and then Melvin reset to his feet. Repeatedly for five or seven minutes.

"I take it seriously. The last thing I want to do is let these guys down, let the coaching staff down. These guys deserve somebody that takes it seriously, who tries to contribute on and off the ice. You find a way to contribute, and that’s part of being on the team."

Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal was the one to recruit Melvin to the Steelheads when he coached there. He remembers his passion for the game in practice even now, "He’s a guy who loves the game and has passion for the game. You bring him on the ice. You’re coming down the wall and he comes out to challenge you about 20 feet, pads stacked together and all you have to do is change the angle by an inch to score, but he had fun with it. I called him The Challenger."

That seriousness and commitment gets a bit of a challenge when the visiting team is the one that needs a backup, "That’s the hard thing. I have a loyalty here. When another team asks me to be the EBUG and then they sign me to stay on, it’s really hard. I have to be professional and help these guys, but it’s painful because I don’t want that to happen. I just have to go do my job."

He added, "Some teams I like helping less than others, I’ll put it that way."

If the call ever does come for Melvin to skate onto the ice in a real game, he is absolutely ready for that moment.

"When you get the call, the mindset is, 'I'm not going to be the reason we lose. I’m going to be the reason we win.' I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but if I have to play, I owe it to the other 18 guys on the team to go out there and play my heart out."

Tomorrow we'll finish off the week taking a bit about the dollars and cents of the ECHL with Steelheads president Eric Trapp.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Texas Stars Gain Goaltender Justin Peters, Trade Brendan Ranford, Branden Troock to Arizona

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars have made their first trade in what may be a busy month. This one is a purely AHL/ECHL deal designed to give several players a fresh start with new teams and potentially give Texas a missing piece, solid goaltending.

The Stars will acquire goalie Justin Peters from the Arizona Coyotes. Peters is currently playing in Tucson, where he does not have stellar numbers (4.17 GAA, .868SV%, 5-6-0 record). However, last season in Hershey, he took the Bears to the Calder Cup Final against Lake Erie. He was 11-9 in the postseason but with a .922 save percentage. As Adin Hill seems to have taken over the net in Tucson, Peters is available.

"Obviously it adds depth and NHL experience to the position," said Texas Stars GM Scott White, concerning the acquisition. "He started in Arizona hoping to take more of a role but got hurt. A couple of young guys came in and he's looking for an opportunity. We felt we needed depth and NHL experience at that position for our group."

To get Peters, Texas gives up two forwards, both of whom played on the Calder Cup team as new players. Brendan Ranford entered the league as a rookie that season and had big chemistry with Travis Morin and Curtis McKenzie after Colton Sceviour headed to Dallas. He played in every game last season, with a career best 59 points. This year he was scratched for the early season and has only tallied 17 points in 36 games. It's unlikely he would get another deal with Dallas, so he's going to get another shot with a new team. Branden Troock fits a similar mold. On a Dallas contract but having played most of his career in bottom six minutes in the AHL, he is unlikely to receive another deal from Dallas. A change of scenery for him, especially after a solid stint in Idaho, could help him break into a more power forward role in another organization.

White continued, "For all four players, it's a fresh start. Troock has been looking to get in the door, so a fresh start is wise. Ranford struggled this year, and this will give him an opportunity and a fresh start as well."

Finally, Texas will acquire defenseman Justin Hache and likely assign him to the ECHL. He has played most of the year in ECHL Rapid City. White noted that Hache got stuck in a logjam at defense in Tucson, similar to Troock and the offense in Texas. Hache will be recalled to Texas and available this weekend.

The main thing to think about here is how will Texas manage its now three-headed goalie situation: Maxime Lagace, Landon Bow and Justin Peters. White says he plans to carry all three goalies for now and that "these things tend to sort themselves out." I would imagine Peters becomes the de facto starter. If someone is assigned to Idaho, it adds to the difficuly for Neil Graham as he is already juggling Philippe Desrosiers, Branden Komm and the injured Henri Kiviaho in net. White added, "It won't be easy on Neil but that's part of the job."

White also agreed with the assessment that the system has a lot of bodies at the goalie position but not a lot of depth.