Friday, January 18, 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Jose Barracuda

Texas Stars
21-12-3-2, 47 pts
#4 Central Division
atSan Jose Barracuda
22-8-1-3, 48 pts
#1 Pacific Division
January 18th at 9:00 PM
SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, CA
(credit: San Jose Barracuda)
The West Coast trip continues for the Texas Stars in their Friday night tilt against the Pacific division-leading San Jose Barracuda. The two teams last squared off on October 27th in Cedar Park as the Barracuda administered a decisive 6-1 beatdown on the Stars.

Since then, the Stars have really rounded into form and turned into a team that can score nearly at will on the power play. They have especially been dominant at home but will be tested in the coming weeks as 18 of their next 27 will be played away from Cedar Park. Their play on the road so far this season has left something to be desired as they have gone 6-9-2-1.

The Barracuda are the class of the Pacific division on the strength of two capable goaltenders. The Stars remember well Antoine Bibeau (.918 SP) from last season, and now rookie Josef Korenar (.914 SP) has joined the fold. The Barracuda have the fourth ranked penalty kill but are near the bottom of the league on the power play. It will be an interesting match-up to watch if the Stars are given chances on the man advantage.

The puck drops at 9:00 PM CST.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Fedun, Hintz (call up)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Texas Stars Can't Find Third Period Equalizer in 2-1 Loss to Gulls

The Texas Stars made a solid third period push but fell on the road to the red hot San Diego Gulls 2-1. In his first game back after a handful of games in the NHL, Erik Condra scored the lone goal for the Stars. His tally came on a second period power play bringing his season total to fifteen.

A rough first period was where the Stars were undone in this contest. They took two penalties in the frame, leading to several chances that Landon Bow handled admirably. Bow did all he could in the effort, finishing with 28 saves.

Just after the second power play expired with less than five minutes left in the opening period, Gulls winger Corey Tropp was served a wide open net on a slick cross ice feed to open the scoring. When the Stars had a chance to knot the game up on a power play chance a couple minutes later, they turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and it led to a shorthanded goal from former Dallas Star Adam Cracknell.

Stars head coach Derek Laxdal doesn’t read too much into shot totals as a helpful metric, but the Stars were outshot 15-3 in the first period. It’s hard to win on the road that way.

Condra’s maker came with three and a half minutes left in the middle frame. Justin Dowling set him up in the slot, and Gavin Bayreuther notched the secondary helper.

In the third period, Joel L’Esperance caught a stick up high, requiring stitches for the standout rookie. The ensuing double minor in the third period gave the Stars a chance to tie, but it felt like the game was lost when the clock ran out on the man advantage. They did make a decent push to finish out the period, but Gulls goaltender Kevin Boyle got the better of them.

The Stars continue their West Coast swing on Friday night against the San Jose Barracuda. The puck drops at 9:00 PM CST.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Payne, Gluchowski, McClure, Calderone (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 7,207.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - January 16 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
21-11-3-2, 47 pts
#3 Central Division
atSan Diego Gulls
19-11-1-3, 42 pts
#3 Pacific Division
January 16th at 9:00 PM
Pechanga Arena, San Diego, CA
(credit: Texas Stars)
[Ed. Note: Erik Condra was reassigned to the Texas Stars this morning.]

The Texas Stars take a three game win streak into San Diego on Wednesday night to square off against an equally hot Gulls team. "Galvanizing" and "gutsy" are words that coach Derek Laxdal has used to describe recent wins, and the hope is that the success can be replicated on the road as the Stars kick off a two-week West Coast swing.

The Gulls are coming off an OT loss to the Iowa Wild on Monday, but they are playing as well as anyone right now having put together an 8-0-1-1 record in their last ten. Forward Sam Carrick has been flirting with the top ten in league scoring all season long and was recently named the AHL Player of the Week. Former Star Luke Gazdic dons the blue and orange this season and should provide some intrigue as he has brought his brand of physical hockey against the Stars in recent match-ups.

Some recent transactions could have an impact for the Stars on the road trip. Forward Robbie Payne and defenseman Nolan Gluchowski were called up from the Idaho Steelheads as depth options. The Stars have been looking for stability at center in the bottom six, and Payne figures to get a chance or two to show his production in the ECHL was no fluke.

The puck drops at 9:00 PM CST.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Fedun, Hintz, Condra (call up)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Texas Stars Recall Gluchowski, Payne from Idaho

Robbie Payne
(Credit: Texas Stars)
Ahead of their big road trip, Texas has recalled forward Robbie Payne and defenseman Nolan Gluchowski. Payne has been a point per game player in Idaho and Gluchowski is the Steelheads' top defenseman by points.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced today that center Robbie Payne and defenseman Nolan Gluchowski have been recalled from the club’s ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Payne, 25, recorded three points (0-3=3) in 10 games with the Texas Stars after beginning the season in Cedar Park. The first-year forward skated in six games at the end of the 2017-18 season and recorded a pair of assists for the Stars before signing with the club during the offseason.

In his time with the Steelheads, the 5-foot-11 rookie from Gaylord, Michigan has earned nine points (5-4=9) in nine games including four points (2-2=4) in three games last week. Payne was a four-year player at Northern Michigan University prior to turning pro and was named team co-captain as a senior in 2017-18. In 158 NCAA games with the Wildcats, Payne notched 94 points (54-40=94).

Gluchowski, 24, has played all 27 games to start his pro career with the Idaho Steelheads. The blue liner has accumulated 21 points (5-16=21) and is the team’s top point producing defenseman this season. The first year skater is tied for second on the club with 16 assists. Gluchowski was named ECHL Player of the Week on Jan. 2 after tallying a goal and five assists across two games at the end of December.

The Wixom, Michigan native enjoyed a four year career at St. Lawrence University from 2014 to 2018. The defenseman notched 71 points (16-55=71) in 133 NCAA games. He recorded a career best 20 points (2-18=20) in his senior season, ranking third on the roster.

Michael Mersch Reassigned to Texas, John Nyberg Sent to Idaho

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars quickly reassigned Michael Mersch to Texas this morning before morning skate. The Stars had recalled the left winger to the NHL yesterday for what turned out to be precautionary reasons. If Tyler Seguin of Alexander Radulov couldn't play tonight, Mersch was the fallback. With both players in, Mersch comes back to Texas.

In other news, John Nyberg has been assigned to the Idaho Steelheads. It's his first ECHL assignment. He has 1-4=5 in 27 games with Texas. He has struggled to make a mark on the lineup, bouncing in and out as a healthy scratch at times and not scoring his first AHL goal until late December. The assignment should give him a chance to play solid top pair minutes and establish himself better in the North American game.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Dallas Stars Recall Forward Michael Mersch

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars have recalled forward Michael Mersch from the Texas Stars this afternoon. Mersch has 9-11=20 in 29 games this season. He missed several weeks with an injury to his foot, dropping his games played number.

If I'm being honest, the purpose of the recall isn't immediately clear. He has recorded 3 points in 17 NHL games, all with the LA Kings.

Erik Condra is also still on recall with Dallas.

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

Mersch, 26, ranks eighth on the Texas Stars with 20 points (9-11=20) in 29 AHL games this season. The winger also ranks second on the club with 91 shots on goals and shares fourth with three power play goals. Mersch has recorded three points (1-2=3) in 17 regular-season NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2015-16 campaign.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound native of Park Ridge, Ill. was originally selected by Los Angeles in the fourth round (110th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft and was signed by Dallas as a free agent on July 1, 2018.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

L'Esperance Scores Twice as Texas Stars Earn "Gutsy" 4-2 Win Over Iowa

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
After tonight's 4-2 win at home, the Texas Stars are the best team in the division. While the standings might not show it, they've got the best points percentage in the group and three games in hand on first place.

"It was a solid team effort from start to finish," said Coach Laxdal, who pushed off any thoughts of the points percentage lead, looking ahead. "We've got a long ways to go here, but our guys are battling."

Texas had a chance to get knocked out of the contest mentally early as a 1-0 lead turned into a 2-1 deficit within 60 seconds of game clock. "That was tough. Both times we had possession of the puck on dumps and they just had a good forecheck. we were a little sleepy. I was on the bench telling guys to wake up."

Colton Hargrove, who scored the opening goal for Texas, said the team got a bit "complacent" after the first score.

The top line of Joel L'Esperance, Michael Mersch and Travis Morin starred again with two goals for L'Esperance and a tally for Mersch, the game winner. They drove the offense in the second period, which was all the scoring they needed to put the game in the win column for the Stars.

Phil Desrosiers got the start and stopped 25 of 27 against him.

The scoring was fast and furious in the opening frame. Texas opened the scoring but then saw their lead evaporate and flip to trail in less than a minute. Colton Hargrove's eighth of the year came just 2:14 into the contest, and the depth scoring seemed to have put Texas on a good footing for the first stanza. Almost before the goal could be announced, Sam Anas had marched down the ice to beat Philippe Desrosiers for the tie at 2:41. Twenty-one seconds later, Matt Read would push Desrosiers' glove over the goal line for the 2-1 lead. The goal did go to review but stood up.

"I think the message on the bench was to wake up," said Hargrove.

Texas had a scary moment late in the frame as Travis Morin got a puck to the left leg and left the ice gingerly. While he played point on the power play shortly thereafter, he left the ice around five minute remaining for the locker room. He would return after the intermission.

The second period saw Texas jump ahead on the strength of the Morin-L'Esperance-Mersch line. Dillon Heatherington just sent a puck into the slot on the rush. A bad bounce off an Iowa defender put it on L'Esperance's stick for his 21st of the season.

The home squad went up 3-2 halfway through the game on a swooping move by Michael Mersch. Joel L'Esperance dished to Mersch, and the vet cut left to right across the crease before roofing one over Kahkonen.

The penalty kill came out strong in the game tonight, stopped all three Iowa chances. That included an extended set in the second period where Texas was locked in their zone for nearly the full two minutes.

Mersch was one of the forward stuck out there, "Once it got to a minute, we just held tight and let them pass around the outside, hoping they'd shoot it and get a whistle or a clear. Once it gets that long, you try to hold it tight and get the whistle."

Laxdal laughed about the kill, noting "Mersch couldn't even skate, just swinging around his stick."

Texas is in the middle of a huge stretch of game, 10 in 18 days to make it to the All-Star Break. Tonight's game, their third win in a row, was a momentous one to send them on the road with a streak in tact. Colton Hargrove added, "It's draining mentally and physically, but I think the boys did a good job battling through everything.

Texas tacked on an empty net goal from L'Esperance to ice the game. It was his 22nd of the season.

The Stars hit the road to play San Diego on Wednesday, the start of a five game road trip.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Nyberg, Calderone (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,720.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Iowa - January 12 2019