Monday, January 15, 2018

Stars Can't Complete Comeback, Lose 3-2 in Shootout to Reign

(credit: Ontario Reign)

The Texas Stars were down twice in the third period but clawed back both times to force a shootout. In the end, they lost to the Ontario Reign 3-2. Former Star Jack Campbell started in goal for the Reign and finished with 29 saves on 31 shots.

As usual, the Ontario Reign played a physical brand of hockey that often crossed the line beyond competitive play. The Stars were able to benefit with three first period power plays, but to no avail. Phillipe Maillet put the Reign up 1-0 with a quick goal off of a won face-off draw that beat Landon Bow cleanly. Bow had a solid outing and finished with 36 saves on 39 shots. The Reign outshot the Stars 13-6 in the first period.

Tempers flared in the second period, and Ontario's Austin Wagner was looking for anyone to pick a fight with. He found a willing partner in Colin Markison to draw offsetting fighting majors. Bokondji Imama also scraped with Samuel Laberge later in the period as the game threatened to get really ugly. Things did not pick up offensively for the Stars, and they were outshot by the end of the middle frame 26-15.

The Stars finally got on the board and ended the scoring drought for the Stars going back to last game with a Travis Morin goal. The Stars won a puck battle behind the net and centered to Morin who was waiting in front of the net. The Reign had a quick answer. They pinned the Stars in their own zone and got a back door goal to go from Mike Amadio.

With 1:02 left in the game, Justin Dowling scored his sixth goal of the season to tie the game when the Stars went 6-on-5. He finished the play after the puck rebounded off Campbell twice. The Stars drew a penalty 19 seconds into overtime play to give them a huge chance to put the game away on 4-on-3. They were caught too many times looking for the perfect pass and didn't generate many good looks.

Campbell was perfect for the Reign during the shootout, stopping Morin, Brian Flynn, and Curtis McKenzie. Amadio had the lone goal to give the Reign the victory.

The Stars will pick their current road trip back up on Friday as they travel to Canada to take on the Manitoba Moose. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Fyten, Dries, Rallo, McNeill (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,570.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Ontario - January 15 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Ontario Reign

   Texas Stars                            Ontario Reign
20-15-4-1, 45 pts, .563      at     18-15-1-1, 38 pts, .543
#5 Pacific Division                    #6 Pacific Division

December 20th at 3:00 PM
Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, CA

(credit: Ontario Reign)

Game three of the current road trip for the Texas Stars will see them take on the Ontario Reign in southern California. Things have been less than ideal for the Stars lately, with a 3-4-3-0 record in their last 10 games to prove it. The Ontario Reign have been slightly better, going 5-4-1-0, but sit just below the Stars in the Pacific division standings. You'd have to think that the Reign can sense a major opportunity to get their season back on track and gain some ground in the standings. In their three games against the Reign this season the Stars have posted a 1-1-1-0 record.

The offense for the Stars lately has been rather bi-polar. They couldn't seem to miss the back of the net on Friday night in Stockton, winning 7-2. They followed that up with a shutout loss the next night to the same team. They'll need more consistency against a big, physical team that would love to leap-frog them in the division. The Stars will once again be without Dillon Heatherington as he is in Dallas providing depth for the parent club. Look for new acquisition Michael Paliotta to continue to be a fixture in the lineup. Jason Dickinson, who had a three point game in their victory over the Stockton Heat, will help ensure his team isn't shutout a second game in a row. Stars captain Curtis McKenzie has been a point per game player for Texas and will be relied upon heavily to finish plays.

The Reign are led in scoring by Mike Amadio (33 points), and is followed by Michael Mersch and Matt Moulson. All three have registered points against the Stars in their three matches this year. Former Texas Star Jack Campbell started both games against Texas in Cedar Park, but rookie Cal Petersen was in net for the game in Ontario. It is unclear who draws the start, but my money would be on Petersen as it appears that they are doing an even split in sharing the net. 

The puck drops at 3:00 PM CST. 

Stars injury/call-up report:
Heatherington (call-up)

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

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Jon Gillies, Stockton Heat Shut Down Texas Stars 2-0

(Credit: Stockton Heat)
Jon Gillies was the man of the night as Texas dropped a close game to the Stockton Heat in California by a 2-0 score. The only goal that really mattered was Austin Carroll's 2nd goal of the year, scoring just six minutes into the game, which stood up as the winner. The Heat added an empty net goal late, which was of no consequence. Gillies stopped all 28 Texas Stars shots and shut down a recently resurgent Stars power play on four opportunities.

Mike McKenna got the start for Texas and did what it would take to win on any other night, allowing a single goal on 23 shots. Brent Regner, who scored twice last night, had four shots for Texas, but no one broke through to the scoresheet otherwise.

The Stars play a day game on MLK Jr Day against Ontario.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Heatherington (call up)
Fyten, Scarlett, Rallo, Hanna, McNeill (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,359.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - January 13 2018

Dillon Heatherington Recalled to the Dallas Stars

(credit: Texas Stars)

Texas Stars defenseman Dillon Heatherington was recalled by the parent club Dallas Stars on Saturday. Dallas has been trying to get one of their top blue-liners Marc Methot healthy, and it appears it will take another couple weeks. Heatherington will slot in as the seventh defenseman in Dallas. The recent Texas Stars acquisition of Michael Paliotta from the Toronto Marlies came in a timely fashion to help them maintain their depth on the blue line.

Here is the official release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has recalled defenseman Dillon Heatherington from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), and placed defenseman Marc Methot on Injured Reserve (knee) retroactive to Jan. 4. 
Heatherington, 22, has registered 13 points (3-10=13) in 39 games played for Texas this season. His three goals match a career-high in the AHL, which he accomplished in each of the previous two seasons. This is his third full professional season, and he has appeared in 165 career regular-season AHL games in parts of four seasons with Springfield, Lake Erie/Cleveland and Texas. He was part of the Calder Cup winning Lake Erie Monsters in 2016. 
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound native of Calgary, Alta. was acquired by Dallas from Columbus in exchange for Lauri Korpikoski on March 1, 2017. He was originally selected by Columbus in the second round (50th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Jason Dickinson's Three Points Game Leads Stars in 7-2 Win Over Heat

(credit: Texas Stars)

On the second game of their current road trip, the Texas Stars unbottled their offense picked up a much needed 7-2 win over the Stockton Heat--a divisional foe that the Stars are chasing for playoff positioning. The victory moved the Stars past the San Antonio Rampage for fourth place in the Pacific division with the Rampage losing to the Milwaukee Admirals.

Michael Paliotta made his debut on the blue line for the Stars, but the story among the defensemen was Brent Regner finishing with two goals. Jason Dickinson also had a big game with one goal and two assists. Landon Bow finished with 24 saves on 26 shots.

Rookie net-minder Tyler Parsons made his AHL debut in the crease for the Heat and withstood some testing early in the game when the Stars were peppering him with pucks, though it didn't last. The Stars got the screen they needed on the first Regner goal from the point to find the gap in Parsons' net.  It was critical that the Stars get on the board first with the Heat being known for fast starts.

Texas had all of about three minutes to relish the goal. Luke Gazdic capitalized when Regner fell down and scored an unassisted goal to tie the game.

With nothing going on the power play after three attempts into the second period, Jason Dickinson scored at even strength just after the third Stars power play expired. Denis Gurianov, who's struggles this season have been well documented, was the benefactor of a great Dickinson pass that found him next to the net for an easy tip in goal.

In the third period, the Stars continued to blemish Parsons' debut with three consecutive goals before the Heat would score late on the power play. Samuel Laberge scored his third goal of the year. Roope Hintz got in on the scoring action with a power play goal that was set up by Niklas Hansson. Finally, Regner scored his second goal to put the Stars up 6-1 to completely nail the door shut on a Heat comeback.

After Morgan Klimchuk posted power play goal for the Heat, Justin Dowling answered on a set up by Brian Flynn.

The Stars will play against the Heat again on Saturday evening. The puck drops at 8:00 PM CST.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Mangene, Scarlett, Rallo, Hanna, McNeill (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 2,835.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - January 12 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Stockton Heat

  Texas Stars                            Stockton Heat
  19-14-4-1, 43 pts, .566      at     17-11-2-3, 39 pts, .591
#5 Pacific Division                    #2 Pacific Division

January 12th at 9:00 PM CST
Stockton Arena, Stockton, CA

(credit: Texas Stars)

Beginning with the first of a weekend pair against the Stockton Heat, the Texas Stars are looking to rebound after their 2-1 overtime loss to the Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday night--a tough start to their six-game road trip. As a matter of fact, everything has been tough for these Stars lately, evidenced by their putrid 2-4-4 record in their last 10 games.

Their are a couple of bright spots to look to for solace. First, the Stars are completely healthy for the first time in a while. Outside of Thursday's acquisition of depth defenseman Michael Paliotta, they will have their full compliment of players available, including the increasingly important third leading scorer Brian Flynn (21 pts).

The other reason for optimism is the timing in which they are playing the Stockton Heat. Though the Heat sit in second place in the Pacific division, they haven't exactly been lighting it up either with a an equally piteous record in their last 10 (3-4-2-1). These games take on another layer of importance with the Stars having a chance to put a dent in the win percentage of a division foe while they try to play catch-up.

To help their cause, the Heat's two high scoring horses, Andrew Mangiapane (33 pts) and Marek Hrivik (29 pts), are currently bolstering the depth of the parent club Calgary Flames. It'll be interesting to see who carries the offensive load for the Heat. Landon Bow likely draws the start after being spelled by Mike McKenna on Wednesday night. In the opposite crease will be John Gillies (.918 SV%).

The puck drops at 9:00 PM CST.

Stars injury/call up report:

Heat Web Resources
Twitter: @AHLHeat

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Stars Trade for Defenseman Michael Paliotta from Marlies

(credit: Hartford Wolf Pack)

The Texas Stars made a trade on Thursday to acquire defenseman Michael Paliotta from the Toronto Marlies to shore up their defenseman depth and perhaps help with their 28th ranked penalty kill. In exchange, the Stars will grant the Marlies future considerations.

Paliotta will be listed on the team roster for Friday night's game against the Stockton Heat, but no release has been given on when he'll be available to play.

Here is the official release via the Texas Stars:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday the team has acquired defenseman Michael Paliotta from the Toronto Marlies in exchange for future considerations. 
Paliotta, 24, has appeared in eight games this season for the Marlies. The 6-foot-3, 206-pound defenseman has appeared in 128 AHL games in his career with Toronto, the Lake Erie Monsters and Hartford Wolfpack with 37 points (9-28=37). The Westport, Conn. Native has also appeared in two NHL games in his career, one with the Chicago Blackhawks and one with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  
Paliotta (PAL-ee-oh-tuh) played four years at the University of Vermont from 2011-2015. He is a former third-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks (70th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Condors Break Through in Overtime, Top Texas 2-1

(Credit: Bakersfield Condors)
Texas struck early to go ahead but the Condors stormed back in the third period and overtime to win 2-1 tonight in Bakersfield. The game started a six-game road trip for the Stars, who continue on to Stockton for a weekend pair.

Denis Gurianov was the lone goal scorer for the Stars, a backhand tally just five minutes into the contest. Mike McKenna halted all he saw until the third when Josh Currie beat him with a shot that went off the goalie's skate and in. Iiro Pakarinen scored in overtime on a wrister to collect the first overtime win of the season for the Condors.

McKenna stopped 36 of 38 shots against while Laurent Brossoit stopped 22 of 23 Texas shots. The loss keeps Texas in fifth place in the Pacific.

The Stars return to action in Stockton on Friday.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Rallo, McNeill, Hanna, Laberge (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 3,039.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Bakersfield - January 10 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Bakersfield Condors

Texas Stars
19-14-3-1, 42 pts, 0.568
#5 Pacific Division
atBakersfield Condors
14-13-6-0, 34 pts, 0.515
#8 Pacific Division
January 10th at 8:30 PM
Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield, CA

The Stars get a chance at the rubber match with the Condors tonight. After winning in OT on Friday and laying an egg on Saturday, this contest is a good one to kick off the road trip right and get Texas's mojo back. The Stars have lost seven of their last ten games, earning just under half as many points as were available thanks largely to OT losses.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
While it's not an excuse, you have to comment on the overall strength of the division. The last place team in an 8-team division has a record above 0.500. Texas, which is in 5th place in the Pacific, is currently clipping along at a rate that would have put them in the playoffs in all but one of the four divisions last season.

Things have to improve for Texas in a lot of places to break the pattern. The Stars need to take fewer penalties, especially poorly timed ones. When they do take penalties, they need to kill them off. They have the second worst PK in the league right now, saved by being just 0.2% ahead of the Belleville Senators. The power play must improve as well. The good news there is twofold. First, Brian Flynn is expected to return to the lineup tonight. He's only missed five games, but the Stars have won just one of those games without him. His power play "calming presence," as Laxdal calls it, will surely improve their success rate. Secondly, Texas is better on the road right now than at home with the man-advantage. Part of this might be the fact that Texas was buzzing on the power play last time they went on a road trip and had misses at home, but the Stars will take positives where they can get them.

Stars injury/call up report:
Flynn (injury, probable)

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

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Texas Stars Assign Max French to ECHL Idaho Steelheads

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have sent Max French to the ECHL this afternoon ahead of their road trip to California and points beyond. The rookie forward played a signle game in Idaho to start the season, taking two penalties and recording seven shots.

This is the best sign yet that Brian Flynn will return to the lineup after a long absence on Wednesday. Flynn last played on December 27th, missing five games.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Tuesday the team has reassigned forward Max French to their ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

French, 25, has appeared in 25 games this season for Texas and tallied six points (3-3=6). The 5-foot-10, 185-pound forward is currently in his rookie season after finishing a four-year career at Bentley University (NCAA). The West Kelowna, British Columbia native scored his first career goal on Nov. 8 in a 6-2 win at San Diego. He was signed to an AHL contract with the Stars over the summer.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Quick Look at How 3-2-1 Points System Would Affect the AHL Today

(Credit: Texas Stars)
I noticed a thread on Twitter this afternoon discussing the NHL's dwindling chances of moving to a 3-2-1 system for awarding points after 60 minutes.*

It gave me the inspiration to take a look at the AHL standings as of today if there were a 3-2-1 point system. It's also a good time for this as we're approximately halfway through the season.

The headline is that not all that much changes in the vast majority of cases. Here's the chart. Click to zoom.

You'll also notice that the Stars, with their ten OTW/SOWs, fair the worst of all teams in this reshuffle. Also interesting, this change doesn't drop anyone out of playoff contention.

* - In the current system, a win of any kind is worth 2 points and a loss in overtime or shootout is worth one. In a 3-2-1 system, a regulation win is worth 3 points, an overtime or shootout win is worth just two points, and a loss in overtime or the shootout is worth one. In all cases, regulation losses are worth zero points.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Condors Score Four Unanswered, Hand Texas Stars 'Most Disappointing Loss of the Season'

Bakersfield scores shorthanded (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
To end the first period, the H-E-B Center was electric. In the span of 16 seconds, the Texas Stars had scored twice and led 2-0 after twenty. It would be the last bit of joy on the evening for near-capacity crowd in Cedar Park.

"Of all our losses this year, that's probably the most disappointing one," said Stars' captain Curtis McKenzie. "That's a game that we have a chance to close out, in the third period up by a goal at home. We just have to find a way to clamp down."

Things fell apart rapidly for Texas late in the second period and into the third as Bakersfield pushed back with a three-goal scoring binge in just over eight elapsed minutes of game time to go ahead and ultimately win the contest 4-2.

"I thought we got really tired in the second and third," added Coach Laxdal. "I didn't like the energy of our group today. It's tough to have a big crowd in the building and lay an egg like that."

The disappointment was palpable in the tone and sombre mood of the normally chipper captain, who echoed that the team was "pretty frustrated with themselves right now in the room."

The game, as previously mentioned, started out positively as Texas bombed shots on Nick Ellis throughout the first but didn't score until their final two of the frame. Curtis McKenzie knocked one in from his knees as the Condors had just crosschecked him there and were about to be shorthanded for it. On the ensuing faceoff, Austin Fyten came down with speed to beat Ellis again to make it 2-0.

"Our fourth line has been our best line the last three games," commented Laxdal, while also positing that that fact might not be the best for the overall health of the club. "We're going to have to look in the mirror here and pick ourselves up."

Bakersfield counterpunched in the second, outshooting the Stars 15-9 and scoring a power play goal. All-Star Ty Rattie found twine with 21 seconds left in the period to make it a 2-1 game.

"We didn't give ourselves a chance to build any momentum off our power plays," noted Laxdal. "And then we gave up a power play goal there and that started the ball rolling." He hesitated to call it mental tiredness though, as Bakersfield has played the same three-in-four schedule as Texas has.

Texas's power play gave up a shorthanded goal to start the third and that broke the dike. Two minutes later, the Condors netted the ultimate game winner. Texas had a chance on the 6-on-5, which had scored the previous night but couldn't make it past Ellis despite solid zone time and high quality shots over a full 2:30 of empty net time. An errant pass ended up on the stick of Josh Currie, who fed Iiro Pakarinen for an empty net goal to ice it.

"We did a good job getting pucks to the net," said McKenzie, whose club put a season-high 40 shots on Ellis. "But in the third period, it's the sort of game you have to be desperate to win. It's one where we shouldn't be sitting back. We have to keep going after them."

The Stars will have another crack at the Condors in Bakersfield on Wednesday to start a ten-day, six-game road trip.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Flynn (injury)
McNeill, Hanna, French, Laberge (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,156.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Bakersfield - January 6 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Bakersfield Condors

           Texas Stars                     Bakersfield Condors
  19-13-3-1, 40 pts, 0.571      v.     13-13-6-0, 31 pts, 0.500
#4 Pacific Division                    #8 Pacific Division

January 6th at 7:00 PM CST
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Late game heroics gave Texas the win last night against the Condors. With the two points, Texas held on to fourth place in the division. A loss would have dropped them out of the race.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas will get Jason Dickinson back into the lineup tonight and could see Brian Flynn return as well. Coach Derek Laxdal noted that Flynn will play in either tonight game or Wednesday at Bakersfield.

One thing to watch out for tonight is Ty Rattie. The All-Star forward was kept off the scoresheet last night, but the Condors were repeatedly looking to set him up on the power play at the left wing circle. You have to guess that he breaks through tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
Flynn (injury)

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

Friday, January 5, 2018

Curtis McKenzie Breaks Stars Slump With Two Goals in 3-2 OT Win Over Condors

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Curtis McKenzie, the Stars captain and recently named AHL All-Star, put the Texas Stars on his back in the third period and overtime helping his team defeat the Bakersfield Condors 3-2.

McKenzie weighed in after the game: "Great win by the team there. Before the game we talked about playing a 60 minute game. I thought we had a really good second period, and it took all 60 plus minutes. The guys stuck with it and played hard all night."

Texas went 0-for-5 on the power play against a vulnerable 23rd ranked Bakersfield penalty kill unit, including a 4-on-3. Their woeful penalty kill play also made an appearance at the worst of times--when the game was tied at one with seven minutes left in the game. Though they had killed of four consecutive penalties in the game, helped largely by McKenzie, their first unit failed to clear the zone for over a minute.

Iiro Pakarinen cashed in short side to pull the Condors ahead by one, almost edging the Stars and sending them down a couple of spots in the division standings. The captain wouldn't allow them to go quietly, scoring the game tying goal when the Stars emptied their net, and later the game winner in the overtime frame.

Landon Bow drew the start and was forced to make two impressive, sprawling saves in the early going. The first and most noticeable came against the Condors' All-Star Ty Rattie as he had a breakaway opportunity. Bow had to lay out and catch a puck that seemed to dangle and spin for seconds in mid-air. He finished the game with 30 saves on 32 shots.

The Stars lost control of a first period they once had pretty buckled down defensively, only allowing 5 shots through the first fifteen minutes, until the Condors turned it on with five quick shots on net in the last five. The last came with 13 seconds left and Bow lost a clean sheet as Brad Malone got one past him with the backhand.

Sheldon Dries was swapped with Justin Dowling to put him at center with Denis Gurianov and Greg Rallo on the wing, and the decision almost worked when Dries nearly pushed a slow rolling puck in past Eddie Pasquale. The small tweak in the lines did eventually pay off, but for Dowling's line.

Coach Laxdal explained his lineup tweak after the game. "Tommy [Thompson] played really well last game for us and I wanted to give him a reward and he ended up generating a goal. I like his skill set and patience with the puck. I put a little bit more speed and skill."

Pasquale (32 saves on 35 shots) was stalwart, allowing the first goal after 23 shots when Thompson went weak side and tipped in a good cross crease pass from Dowling to tie the game at one. It was Thompson's second AHL goal, the first coming a week ago. The goal seemed to change the tenor of the matchup from a slog to one that could potentially be a boon to getting back on track.

Thompson was complimentary of Dowling's game. "[Dowling's] a great player, so whoever he plays with gets a little better. He just made a great play tonight and I was lucky enough to get my stick on it."

Dowling later had a breakaway chance to pull the Stars ahead but couldn't find the five hole he was looking for, and Thompson's follow-up on the rebound was snuffed out. The Stars later took an ill-timed interference penalty which led to Pakarinen's goal.

The Stars went 6-on-5 with Bow headed to the bench with two minutes to go, and McKenzie brought the fans out of their seats with the game-tying goal.

McKenzie described the play, "We had a 6-on-5 last game and we didn't get quite as much to the net as we wanted to so I was down there trying to put it in. It went off a guy and I was lucky to get a piece of it there. We just wanted to get pucks to the net and crash the net and get in the goalie's eyes because he made some incredible saves all night."

Coach Laxdal was initially apprehensive, saying, "I was a little afraid at 6-on-5 there because we didn't want to shoot the puck tonight on the power play. We just wanted to pass it around the perimeter. We got the shot on the 6-on-5 and got a redirect to get the goal."

McKenzie capped off his night by scoring in overtime and helping his team break their recent slump. "They missed the net on the shot and [Travis Morin] had quick boots to get up ice. But I didn't really realize how close the guy was behind me so Mo made a nice drop pass to me and that's when I realized the guys was right there. So I got it off quick and the rebound came back to me, so I tried to chip it up top corner. I had to get the 60 degree wedge out to get that one."

The Texas Stars will see the Bakersfield Condors again on Saturday, 7 PM CST in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Dickinson, Hanna, French, McNeill (scratch)
Flynn (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 4,241.

Brian Flynn is likely to return tomorrow for Texas. If not tomorrow, Laxdal notes he's definitely in on Wednesday.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Bakersfield - January 5 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Bakersfield Condors

           Texas Stars                     Bakersfield Condors
  18-13-3-1, 40 pts, .571      v.     13-13-5-0, 31 pts, .500
#4 Pacific Division                    #8 Pacific Division

January 5th at 7:30 PM CST
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

(Credit Texas Stars)
UPDATE: Jason Dickinson has been reassigned to the Texas Stars. He is not expected to play tonight.

A game against a last place divisional foe is a good opportunity for the Texas Stars to clean their wounds that inevitably occur as a result of losing four straight. On Friday evening, the Texas Stars will square off against the Bakersfield Condors--a team they defeated the last time they played in Cedar Park on grounds of an overtime goal from Sheldon Dries. The Stars would do well to avoid unnecessary penalties, which dismantled them on Wednesday evening against the San Diego Gulls as they gave up three power play goals. It was enough to drop them to dead last in ranking on the penalty kill.

AHL All-Star Ty Rattie leads the Condors with 22 points and five power play goals. Their power play sits at the middle of the pack at 17, but the Stars can perhaps make some hay against their 23rd ranked penalty kill unit. Goaltenders Eddie Pasquale and Nick Ellis have basically split time in the net evenly, and it's unclear who will draw the start. Bakersfield is coming off a 4-0 waxing of the Rampage in San Antonio on Wednesday.

The good news for the Stars is that they did get some measure of reinforcements in Wednesday's game. Brent Regner, Justin Dowling, and Nicklas Hansson were all healthy enough to play. They will have to continue to heal as it appears that Jason Dickinson will be up in Dallas indefinitely as a few of their forwards are on the mend. Texas's third leading scorer Brian Flynn (21 points) is out with an injury, but he could be back tonight, if Coach Laxdal's hopeful prediction from Wednesday comes true. Stars captain Curtis McKenzie was also named an All-Star himself, and he will have to carry the pail and live up to his billing if the Stars are going to get their once promising season back on track.

Stars injury/call up report:
Dickinson (call up)
Flynn (injury)

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

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Curtis McKenzie Named to AHL All-Star Team

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Curtis McKenzie has been selected as the Texas Stars representative for the AHL All-Star Classic in Utica this year. McKenzie leads the team in goals and is second in points. It is the first selection for McKenzie, who previously won the Rookie of the Year award in 2013-14. McKenzie would have been selected for the All-Star game in 2014 but the format was one team against the Swedish club Färjestad BK. Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour were selected for that game.

Morin would be the other likely candidate for this honor this year, and it's curious that he wasn't selected. He is still a dominant force in the league. However, he doesn't usually attend the All-Star game when selected, due to injury. Perhaps the league sought to have fewer replacement players this year.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, and the American Hockey League announced Thursday that forward Curtis McKenzie has been selected to participate in the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino, in Utica, N.Y. January 28th and 29th.

McKenzie, 26, currently leads the Stars and is tied for seventh in the league overall with 15 goals this season. His 28 points are second on the team. This season, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward has scored eight of his goals on the power play, which is tied for third-best in the AHL, and has also recorded two hat tricks for Texas this season – first on Nov. 8 at San Diego and again on Dec. 27 against San Antonio.

The Golden, British Columbia native was originally a sixth-round selection of the Dallas Stars in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He was a recipient of the AHL’s Dudley “Red” Garrett Award in 2013-14 as the Rookie of the Year after tallying 65 points in 75 games (27-38=65).

On Nov. 13 of this season, McKenzie was named the fifth captain in franchise history. This is his first career AHL All-Star selection.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Penalties Haunt Texas Stars in 4-3 Loss to San Diego Gulls

Colin Markison was a bright spot in the game.
(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Right or wrong, the penalties were the difference in tonight's game as Texas fell 4-3 to San Diego, marking their fourth loss in a row. The Gulls have the best power play in the league, and the game was called tight, perhaps questionably so as judged by the Stars' faithful. However, after two quick penalties from Curtis McKenzie and Greg Rallo each led to San Diego power play goals, Texas should have clamped down on any malfeasance, real or otherwise.

"Penalty trouble in the second cost us," noted Coach Laxdal. "We took some bad penalties that hurt our team."

When McKenzie took another penalty for boarding in the middle of the second, it was clear as day what would happen next. Corey Tropp potted his third in a row, all on the power play, giving San Diego the ultimate game-winner and collecting a natural hat trick in the process.

"McKenzie was trying to be physical, which we want to be, and I can't fault the refs for calling it. I would want those called against our players. but there's a time to hit and a time not to hit. At the end of the day, we have to be a little smarter with our play. We take penalties in the second period, and it takes away from our momentum."

Austin Fyten got things started in the first with his first AHL goal of the season. Really it was Colin Markison doing the tough work to get the play started, chipping a puck to himself down the boards to enter the zone. Sam Laberge got it out front for Fyten's goal.

"I just try to play the same way every night. I have a speed game, a north game," said Markison. "My linemates helped me out with that, getting the puck to me to get it into the zone in the first place."

San Diego answered on a turnover by Roope Hintz as Texas worked to clear the zone. Laxdal commented that Hintz is coming off injury and not playing with a lot of confidence. He challenged Roope on the bench after the goal and his play picked up through the game. He added, "When players are in that first year, they find periods of time where they play really well and where they fall back."

The Stars went up one on a weird play as Gavin Bayreuther bounced one off the end boards and in off Reto Berra's rear. The first ended 2-1 for Texas, a solid start after Saturday's loss.

The second period was all San Diego as the aforementioned penalties came to bite Texas in a big way.

"It's something we'll address in the room and will be a point of emphasis," said Markison of penalties and the PK in general. "[The Gulls] move the puck around, and they're hot so they understand each other's game well, so it asks more of us."

"It deflated our bench," added Laxdal. "When you're penalty killing, a lot of guys aren't getting ice time. Our penalty kill has hurt us lately, and it's not good enough. It's costing us points."

The Stars would get one back early in the third period though with a rare call for playing without a helmet on Kalle Kosilla. The San Diego forward found his way to the scoresheet in other ways though as he had four assists in the game. Curtis McKenzie scored off a misplay by Berra, who committed too hard to Andrew Bodnarchuk as he raced down the wing. Texas had a shot at 4-3 Gulls, especially after the Mike McKenna halted a 2-on-1 chance

They got even more help when Joe Blandisi upended Brent Regner for a chance at 6-on-4 hockey. Texas couldn't get close though. "Shot selection is huge for me," commented Laxdal, noting that Bayreuther went for a short-side bar-down shot with three men in front when he should have gone for something lower to generate rebounds.

Texas takes a four-game losing streak into the weekend against Bakersfield, which comes to town on Friday.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Flynn (injury)
McNeill, Scarlett, Thompson (scratch)
Dickinson (call-up)

Dowling, Hansson and Regner all returned from injury tonight.

Tonight's attendance was 3,334.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Diego - January 3 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
18-12-3-1, 40 pts, 0.588
#4 Pacific Division
v.San Diego Gulls
15-13-1-0, 31 pts, 0.534
#6 Pacific Division
January 3rd at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

It's time for quick redemption for the Texas Stars. After rattling off a good number of wins in late November and early December, the club has lost three straight. Uncharacteristically, two of those were OT losses.

However, winning with a banged up lineup is going to be a tall order against an improving San Diego squad. Coach Laxdal noted after last game that the Gulls were a team on the rise with a lot of very strong players entering their lineup since the last time the two teams played in early November. Especially notable on Saturday was Eric Fehr. The veteran of 566 NHL games scored two that night and is knocking in points at nearly a one-per-game pace.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The fact that Texas is no longer bumping up against the veteran rule should give you some indication as to the place they're in with injuries. Regner's injury was supposed to be day-to-day, but he hasn't played in a few weeks. With Hansson also out, Shane Hanna and Gavin Bayreuther have drawn in as regulars and it's rough at time on the back end. The power play has also hit a hiccup with Brian Flynn and Justin Dowling out, putting the aforementioned Bayreuther on the second unit and disrupting chemistry that had been building to make Texas the 8th best power play in the league at the peak. Of course, remember, Texas was the worst power play in the league six weeks ago, so this is pretty fantastic as a turnaround.

Regardless of the injuries, Texas has to find a way to keep the tank full through all three periods tonight. They hung with the Gulls in the first forty on Saturday but faded in the third. Three days worth of rest should help in that regard.

Stars injury/call up report:
Dickinson (call up)
Regner, Dowling, Flynn, Hansson (injury)

Gulls Web Resources:
Twitter: @SDGullsAHL
Twitter: @619sports (PBP)
Twitter: @danarelAHL