Friday, April 19, 2019

Texas Stars GM Scott White: Poor Road Play Killer for Playoff Hopes

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The architect of the Texas Stars for all ten seasons has been general manager Scott White. In that decade, his clubs have only missed the playoffs three times, including this season. 100 Degree Hockey caught up with White this week to go over the Texas Stars season and look ahead a bit to next year.

White diagnosed the team pretty simply in two points: inability to pick up road points and a particularly bad road trip in January and February.

“You have to be able to navigate those circumstances and find ways to win games and get points at various times of the year,” White told 100 Degree Hockey via phone on Thursday. He continued on to the California trip, “We didn't garner points. Instead of finding ways to get to overtime, we’d give up the empty netter. There were no lineup excuses. We didn’t score; we didn’t get the big save.”

The stretch of games that White said “probably cost us the opportunity” kicked off on January 16 in San Diego. Coming off three straight wins at home and a five-game point streak, Texas dropped every one of their five road contests on the trip. Close games in San Diego and San Jose gave way to not close games in Tucson, concluding with a 4-0 defeat on January 23. Texas came home and earned just one win on a three game stand and went on the road for a split at 2-2. In all, they went 3-9 and dropped themselves from 21-11-3-2 to 24-20-3-2, a significant dip.

“Getting that extra point was vital,” said White, clearly thinking back to the Stars’ 2017-18 squad that collected a boatload of points by making it to overtime. “That was some of the messaging for the more experience guys and the young guys alike. You have to find a way to get points on the road. We struggled on the road on the whole.”

Texas finished the year with a .421 road win percentage, sixth worst in the league. Their home percentage (.658) was 12th best. The sting of not getting can be a good motivator for summer workouts though, “It stings, and it should carry over to the fall.”

White is clearly excited by the youth movement with players coming in like Jason Robertson, Tye Felhaber and Jake Oettinger. Another big name is Joe Cecconi, who missed the last three games of the season. 100 Degree Hockey confirmed that Cecconi returned home after the Iowa homestand and had surgery. White expects he will be at Dallas Stars training camp. His surgery, upper body in nature, carries a lengthy recovery, so he will miss development camp and Traverse City as well. Texas definitely missed his defensive steadiness despite his youth in their last three games.

Among AHL contracted players, White called out Brad McClure, Colton Hargrove and Colin Markison as having good seasons for Texas. From the sound of it, Texas has interest in all three. On McClure, he said, “He plays fast and fits into the mold of our character and he scored some big goals.” On Markison, he added, “Colin Markison is Colin Markison. We missed him when he was out. He’s a good AHL player for a bottom six group.”

Even though they didn’t make the postseason, White notes that they played meaningful hockey right up to the very end. “Those were meaningful games all the way through and the level of hockey was good based in what we had. We asked a lot of some young players, especially down the middle.”

At the same time, they are taking a no excuses mentality. “There were some great things with the way the team played down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough to get us in. Our guys have to grab it. These guys get a chance to work on those things to get them ready for next fall.”

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Tell Us What You Think in the 100 Degree Hockey 2019 Reader Survey

(Credit: Texas Stars)
With the season in the rear view, everyone is taking time to reflect on the year that was. That includes Ryan and me concerning 100 Degree Hockey. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the content we write here and what we can do better to cover the Texas Stars.

We've created a short Google form, and we can't wait to get your feedback.

Vote in the 100 Degree Hockey 2019 Reader Survey...

Chirp us all you want in the free text boxes! Thanks for reading and for completing the survey.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Riley Tufte Signs with Dallas, Will Join Texas Next Season

Fresh off winning his second consecutive college national championship, Riley Tufte signed his entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars today. The 2016 first round pick (25th overall) has a championship pedigree with those two wins and a runner-up bid as a freshman at Minnesota-Duluth.

Tufte is likely to slot into the lineup with the Texas Stars next season, adding to a massive youth movement that already includes players like Jason Robertson, Jake Oettinger and Tye Felhaber.

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

Tufte, 21, finished his junior season at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) in 2018-19, recording 19 points (9-10=19) in 42 games played and helping the school to their second consecutive National Championship. Amongst team leaders, he finished first with seven power play goals and tied for fourth with nine goals overall.

During his three years at UMD, he competed in the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship Game in each season, winning the last two. In 121 career games played, he recorded 64 points (34-30=64) with a +28 plus/minus rating and 13 power play goals. He also represented the United States at the 2018 World Jr. Championship, helping his country secure a Bronze Medal by recording three assists (0-3=3) in seven games played.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound native of Coon Rapids, Minnesota was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (25th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Dallas Stars Recall Seven From Texas for Black Ace Duty

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Seven Texas Stars got the call today to head up to Dallas for the NHL club's playoff run. The three defensemen and four forwards will serve as black aces, gaining valuable experience and practicing with the team for as long as Dallas is in the hunt. Among the crew, only Nicholas Caamano and Adam Mascherin have never been recalled to Dallas before.

Here's the list:

  • Joel Hanley
  • Dillon Heatherington
  • Gavin Bayreuther
  • Denis Gurianov
  • Joel L'Esperance
  • Nicholas Caamano
  • Adam Mascherin
Remember that ATO players are not eligible for callup to Dallas since their professional contracts have not yet begun. The only surprise here is that D Ben Gleason is not in the group going up.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

End of Season Updates to 100 Degree Hockey Stat Tracking

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
With the season drawing to a close on Saturday night, it's time to do some housecleaning with some of the 'stat tracking' documents that we maintain here at 100 Degree Hockey. All four of those major documents have been updated to the end of the 2018-19 season.

Texas Stars Historical Jersey Numbers
This is a complete list of everyone to ever wear a sweater for the Stars in a regular season or playoff game. It's up to date with the end of the season, adding Riley Damiani in the very last game of the season.

Texas Stars Attendance
This is the only public place where Texas's attendance is crosstabbed and deep dived. The Stars really crushed it on attendance this year, marking the second best attendance in their ten years.

Stars of the Game Record
The awarding of the three stars of the game is an imperfect process at best, but it is a matter of permanent record. We've collated all 1406 stars that Texas has been awarded over ten seasons of regular season and playoff games. This season, Justin Dowling moved into third place on the all time list behind Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour.

Texas Stars: Where Are They Now?
This is a list of every player to ever suit up for Texas and where they've gone since. This document will continue to grow over the summer as more players sign new contracts.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Texas Stars Miss Playoffs, Close Season with 3-1 Loss to Rampage

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
No matter the outcome of tonight's game, the Texas Stars knew their playoff fate just after the end of the second period. With Milwaukee's commanding 5-0 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Stars were officially eliminated from the postseason. On the ice in Cedar Park, the Stars fell 3-1 in what Coach Laxdal called the 'worst game' they had played all year.

"I think you saw the final result of a grind down the stretch finally catching up with our guys," Coach Laxdal said postgame. "I think it was a combination of the grind and that we'd asked so much of these guys down the stretch to stay in the race."

In the past ten years, it's been a rare occurrence in Cedar Park to have truly meaningless hockey be played. Ultimately, Texas only had twenty minutes of inconsequential hockey tonight, the final frame.

Much like the Dallas game tonight, the power play opportunities and the lack of scoring therein were a huge difference in the contest. Texas went 0-for-7 on the night while San Antonio collected a power play goal and a shorty to vault ahead of the Stars in the final scoring.

Rhett Gardner had the only Texas tally in the game, beating Jared Coreau on a slick backhand in the first. It was Gardner's fourth of the season and certainly set him up for a fantastic 2019-20 as he joins the club full time in the fall.

"It's been a great learning experience for me," said Gardner. "That's why I came down here, to learn and soak everything in."

Rhett Gardner's goal
Adam Mascherin had two chance in the game on odd-man rushes where he went for the pretty pass instead of shooting the puck, something that has plagued Texas a good deal this year. The first pass was off the mark behind his man and the second was broken up by San Antonio.

The Rampage got on the board early in the second period, tying the contest at one. Heading into the third tied at one, Texas squandered the opportunity to go out on a high note with the home fans, allowing a power play tally and a shorthanded marker.

Laxdal added, "It's a tough way to go out with a full building on game 76, but you can't ask any more of your guys. I think we got everything out of them throughout the 76 games. Unfortunately, we didn't make the playoffs."

Rhett Gardner summarized the takeaways of the end of season closed door team meeting: "Don't waste a day. We talked about how every win is so important. The games in January and February come back to bite you late in the season and just don't waste a day whether it be summer training or games."

Many of the Dallas-contracted players for Texas will head up I-35 to join the NHL's Stars as black aces for their postseason run. Brad McClure is the only player on the Texas roster eligible for the postseason in Idaho. It's unknown if he will head down.

Watch this space for season breakdowns over the next few weeks and a new look and feel coming later in the offseason. Thank you, as always, for reading.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Gardner-Condra
Caamano-L'Esperance-Gurianov
Mascherin-Dellandrea-McClure
Melnick-Damiani-Hanna

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Nyberg-Gleason

Oettinger

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Cecconi (undisclosed)
Point, Markison, Hargrove, Cuglietta (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,998.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - April 13 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
37-30-4-4, 82 pts
#6 Central Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
30-38-6-1, 67 pts
#8 Central Division
April 13th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Two points. To have any chance at the postseason, Texas needs two points. Sitting at 82 points on the season now, the Stars have a max possible point total of 84. With everyone around them also collecting points, 83 isn't good enough, and 82 is right out. Let's run down the scenario.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas needs all of the following to happen in order to qualify for the postseason:

  • Stars collect two points tonight against San Antonio
  • Milwaukee loses both of their remaining games (Grand Rapids, @Rockford) in regulation
  • Manitoba earns no more than one point this weekend in two games (@Chicago twice)

If all of the above occurs, three teams will be tied at 84 points. The Stars, in this scenario, would earn the final playoff spot by virtue of tie breakers. Texas would have 37 regulation and overtime wins (ROW) while Milwaukee would be woefully behind at 30 and Manitoba would have 36. Rockford, even if they win both games this weekend (@Iowa, Milwaukee), would be stuck at 33 ROW and could rise no higher than 6th place.

Of course, as mentioned before Rockford could vault over everyone in this last weekend to make it in, so nothing is out of the realm of possibility. Milwaukee's game begins at 6 tonight, so we'll know that result before the end of the Texas game.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Cecconi (undisclosed)
Dowling, Bow (call up)