Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Iowa Wild

Texas Stars
25-21-3-2, 55 pts
#6 Central Division
atIowa Wild
27-16-5-4, 63 pts
#2 Central Division
February 19th at 7:00 PM
Wells Fargo Center, Des Moines, IA

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The lone game in the AHL this evening finds the Texas Stars on the road against the Iowa Wild. Texas comes into the contest having dropped out of playoff position and just two points ahead of last place in the division. The rising fortunes of the San Antonio Rampage and Manitoba Moose have given way to an absurd race for fourth place in the Central. Just five points separates a playoff team from the last spot in the table.

The Wild come into the game on a five-game point streak, albeit limpingly. They lost Saturday in the shootout 5-4 after leading against Rockford. Sunday they fell in OT against Chicago. Nevertheless, they are the only club in the AHL with a top five power play and penalty kill at home. They've also scored a league-leading 106 goals at home this season. Point being: this is a tough two points to get at Wells Fargo Center.

That toughness is amplified by the struggles Texas has found on the road. Texas still owns the #4 road power play and #10 road penalty kill, so special teams isn't a sore spot there. It's sure to be interesting when either team goes to the box.

It's unclear if Colton Point will get a start any time soon. The rookie hasn't earned the confidence of this coaching staff, and Philippe Desrosiers has been playing more confidently himself in these past few weeks. Regular starts have given him a chance to fit into a groove. While he may not have a future in Dallas, the rest of the AHL season could set him up very nicely for a prove-it NHL or AHL deal next year.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Laberge (upper body)
Fedun, Hintz, Bow, L'Esperance (call up)

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Tucson Roadrunners Stymie Stars by 4-1 Margin

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
Texas fell 4-1 to the visiting Tucson Roadrunners in a game that did not by all account match the score line as far as the eye test went.

“Today could have gone either way,” said Texas captain Justin Dowling. “We had our chances to put the puck in the net and take some leads.”

The power play had great chances, including a post from Ben Gleason in the first, but couldn’t convert on four chances. Coach Laxdal added, “The goaltender was better than our power play. We had good looks on both units.”

Dowling noted that it’s getting repetitive at this point to be so close as to be a coin flip in so many games. Asked how to break the cycle, he was a little serious and a little bit lighthearted, “Might start in practice. Could be anything. It’s preparation. Maybe you’ve gotta eat something different pregame. I remember a story of Olli Jokinen. He didn’t score for a certain number of games, and [Wayne Gretzky] told him to eat a Big Mac before the game. Maybe we’ve all got to go eat Big Macs.”

Tucson opened the scoring with a deflection goal early in the first. Tyler Steenburgen put one past Desrosiers off the shot from captain Dakota Mermis. Texas’s opening tally came off the rush of Denis Gurianov. The speedster broke past three Tucson defenders and into the corner. He dished to an open Justin Dowling in the slot. The Stars captain made no mistake on the play, burying his 10th of the year for the tie score.

“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” Dowling said of his line. “We’ve got a good strong guy down low and one of the fastest guys in the league. We’ve got good chemistry because you’ve got all the pieces.”


Ben Gleason had Texas’s best chance in the rest of the period. On the power play, the defenseman rang the right post hard sneaking down from the point. The score would stay tied after one, however.

Tucson and the Stars started getting a bit spicy in the second period, trading penalty calls amounting to ten minutes in the box overall. None of the penalties amounted to any scoring, but the score was not tied at the end of the frame. David Ullstrom scored on a cross-crease pass from Michael Bunting with less than a minute to go as a Tucson power play ended.

“We lost a little bit of coverage with a defenseman coming out of the box as a forward,” noted Laxdal.

As Texas pushed, Tucson took advantage. David Ullstrom scored his second of the night to make it 3-1 before Jordan Gross made it 4-1 on the power play late.

Philippe Desrosiers stopped 22 of 26 on the night. Adin Hill was the first star of the game, closing the door repeatedly on the Texas power play and saving 32 of 33.

Texas hits the road for a few games, beginning Tuesday in Iowa.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Dowling-Gurianov
Caamano-Morin-Condra
McClure-Payne-Mascherin
Hargrove-Phelan-Calderone

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Nyberg-Gleason

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Laberge (upper body)
Hanna, Naas (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 6,320.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - February 16 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Tucson Roadrunners

Texas Stars
25-20-3-2, 55 pts
#4 Central Division
v.Tucson Roadrunners
24-16-4-2, 54 pts
#4 Pacific Division
February 16th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX
(Credit: Texas Stars)
Texas was no worse for wear last night after the afternoon recall of Joel L'Esperance. Huge credit goes to Phil Desrosiers, obviously, with the shutout effort. Big ups also to Robbie Payne and Brad McClure, who each had their first goal and point, respectively, in the AHL. When the chips are down, Texas is looking to its extended depth to bring scoring.

The Stars had players stepping up all over the lineup, including veteran Travis Morin playing center for the first time in a few years. "I thought [Morin] showed a lot of leadership stepping up and playing a solid role in the middle," said Coach Laxdal last night. "Everybody stepped up in their role tonight and responded, so we have to bring the same game-plan [Saturday] night."

For tonight's game, it shouldn't surprise anyone to see Phil Desrosiers come down the tunnel first again. "I work so hard for this, so it’s pretty easy to play every night," he said. "That’s what I like, so it’s easier to get in and be in every game." The fourth-year goalie has now started four straight and won his last two with two goals against on 59 shots total.

Two wins this week have vaulted Texas to 4th in the division. They can't catch third with a win tonight, but they need the points to hold on with 4th through 8th place spanning just 3 points total.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Fedun, Hintz, Bow, L'Esperance (call up)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Desrosiers Earns Second Career Shutout in 2-0 Texas Win Over Tucson

The Texas Stars scored twice in the second period to beat the slumping Tucson Roadrunners 2-0 on Friday night. Goaltender Phillippe Desrosiers, who has started the last four games for the recalled Landon Bow, continued his strong recent play and notched his second AHL shutout with a 29 save performance.
(credit: Texas Stars)
“I thought Phil was outstanding,” said Stars head coach Derek Laxdal. “I thought he made some timely saves for us, especially down the stretch there. I thought his rebound control was outstanding, and he’s played the last three or four games and played very well for us. Given us a chance every night.”

Desrosiers had been doing his part in the last three contests with a .932 save percentage, but two of them were losses on the road. Tonight, he was pleased with the full team effort. “It’s always good to get a win, but when you get a shutout, it’s even better,” he said. “Good job from the boys. A lot of blocked shots. I thought everybody bought in, and it was nice to see.”

With the call-up of Joel L’Esperance to the Dallas Stars on Friday, the coaching staff had to reconfigure a couple of lines. The third line, centered by Robbie Payne, was the best line for the Stars and created chances on virtually every shift.

“A lot of guys stepped up,” said Laxdal. “I thought the Payne line was outstanding. They probably could’ve had four or five goals.”

Payne was rewarded as he roofed one nearly eight minutes into the second period to pick up his first career AHL tally. His marker proved to be the game-winner. Forward Brad McClure tallied his first AHL point with an assist on the play.

“It’s been a long time to finally get that,” grinned Payne. “It’s been something I’ve been working for. Just a great feeling to get that off your back and finally get one in. Ready to keep going and get some more here.”

Winger Michael Mersch also reached his own personal milestone as he scored on the power play late in the middle frame to bring his career total to 100.

Desrosiers was right to give credit to his teammates. They mostly kept Tucson to the perimeter in the defensive zone and were quick to clear pucks. Early in the game, defenseman Niklas Hansson faced a 3-on-1 rush and played it perfectly, forcing the shot to far post, which gave Desrosiers the easy save.

Tucson forward Lane Pederson also clanged a post that’s still ringing from the slot late in the opening frame. Other than that, Desrosiers was flawless.

“Phil’s a great goalie,” said Payne. “He’s been working hard all year. He finally got an opportunity to play a few games in a row, and it’s really boosted his confidence. We kind of let him down a few times in the last couple of games, but he’s doing really well.”

The Stars had outshot the Roadrunners by a sizeable margin headed into the third period, but the ice tilted in Tucson’s favor from there. The Roadrunners completely controlled play and had the Stars on their heels. They outshot Texas 12-4 in the frame, but Desrosiers stood tall.

Late in the period, Tucson had a glorious chance to cut the lead in half as Michael Bunting stepped out of the penalty box. He found Jeremy Gregoire as the trailer near the slot, and Desrosiers came out confidently to challenge the shot.

“I’m not very big, so I have to challenge the shooter,” explained Desrosiers.

Laxdal noted the play: “I think they had Gregoire walking down the pipe, but [Desrosiers] came out and challenged the shot and controlled the rebound. At this time of year every shift counts, every shot block counts, every save counts. It was good to see our guys respond.”

Every win is big at this point of the season, and the Stars need to build as much positive momentum as possible if they are going to make a bid for the playoffs. The point isn’t lost on Payne. “We need to get wins here, we need to get points down the stretch,” he said. “We’re in a big playoff push, so it’s exciting to be in this situation where we can still have the opportunity to get in.”

The Stars complete the weekend set against the Roadrunners on Saturday at 7:00 PM CST.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Dowling-Gurianov
Caamano-Morin-Condra
McClure-Payne-Mascherin
Naas-Hargrove-Calderone

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Hanna-Gleason

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Nyberg, Phelan, Laberge (scratch)

Center Joel L’Esperance was recalled to the Dallas Stars just prior to the game.

Tonight’s attendance was 5,129.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - February 15 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Tucson Roadrunners

Texas Stars
24-20-3-2, 53 pts
#6 Central Division
v.Tucson Roadrunners
24-15-4-2, 54 pts
#4 Pacific Division
February 15th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX
(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Update: Denis Gurianov was sent down to Cedar Park late this morning and figures to draw into the lineup. Joel L'Esperance has been recalled to the NHL as well.

A 2-2-0-0 road trip is much more palatable than the 0-for-5 egg the Texas Stars laid a few weeks back. After a 3-2 win in Rockford on Tuesday to give the Stars their second win in a jaunt through the central, they almost certainly have to be thinking four points in two games against the Tucson Roadrunners at home.

Not only is the clock ticking on the season, the Stars are also looking at another four-game road trip after this weekend home set. With how they've performed on the road this season, not to mention a 3-7-0-0 record in their last ten games, it's not hyperbole to suggest that the stakes headed into Friday are about as high as they can be in a regular mid-season game.

The good news is that the Stars still have Joel L'Esperance, the league leader in goals with 27 tallies. As long as L'Esperance continues to park his imposing frame within ten feet of the crease, he can drink any goaltender's milkshake, even a stalwart like Tucson's Adin Hill (.910 SP). The bad news is that the Stars are slightly shorthanded. Bottom six speedster Colin Markison continues to nurse his lower body injury, and number one goalie Landon Bow is still with Dallas. Phil Desrosiers turned in a nice 28-save effort against Rockford and could start both games against Tucson.

The Roadrunners don't want to hear anything about being shorthanded. In what seems to be an annual tradition, the Coyotes are dealing with several injuries and have called up several AHL players as a result. All Star defenseman Kyle Capobianco, who scored twice in two games against Texas this season, was recently ruled out for the year due to a right leg injury. To give perspective, Tucson only dressed 17 players on Tuesday in a shootout loss to San Jose. The Stars need to seize the opportunity here.

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Fedun, Hintz, Gurianov, Bow, L'Esperance (call up)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Texas Finishes Trip with 3-2 Win in Rockford

(Credit: Rockford IceHogs)
Texas polished off their trip with a win in Rockford, a relatively rare road win for the Stars. The scoring was evenly spread across the periods, one in each, en route to a 3-2 victory. The power play, ranked second in the league this year, activated twice on six opportunities. The Stars never trailed in the contest as goaltender Philippe Desrosiers stopped 28 of 30 shots against him.

Michael Mersch had a three point game with a goal and two assists. Mersch got things started in the first with a tip effort on a shot from Niklas Hansson. Rockford tied things up on the power play in the second, but Texas answered quickly. Travis Morin potted a rebound off Mersch's initial shot at the net.

Each club would score once in the third period. Joel L'Esperance scored his league-leading 27th goal of the season, a power play marker in tight off Ben Gleason's initial shot. It was the ultimate game winner in this one as Rockford would score once more but be unable to find the equalizer.

Texas heads home for two games against the Roadrunners this weekend. The club is still seeking to move back into playoff position. They've got games in hand, but the time to gain on the teams ahead of them is dwindling.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Laberge (suspension)
Nyberg (scratch)

Today’s attendance was 2,465.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Rockford - February 12 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
23-20-3-2, 51 pts
#7 Central Division
atRockford IceHogs
23-20-3-5, 54 pts
#4 Central Division
February 12th at 7:00 PM
BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, IL

The Texas Stars are wilting at just the wrong time. Two losses in Manitoba dropped them to seventh place in the division just as the San Antonio Rampage are surging. The Rampage are on a six-game point streak even as the Rodeo Road Trip begins and could pull ahead of Texas if their road record is better than Texas's in the month of February.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
But tonight's opponent is not the Rampage; it's the IceHogs. Rockford is sitting fourth in the division. Heavy hitters like Dylan Sikura and goalie Collin Delia are in Chicago helped to fuel their own surge up the standings. The IceHogs just suffered their first loss in seven contests, going 7-3 over the last ten games.

How many more ways can it be written that Texas just needs to win road games? It doesn't have to be a perfect record, but 50% would be a massive improvement at this point.

The Stars are especially depleted today with Sam Laberge serving the second game of his suspension for a high hit on Saturday. Spencer Naas was recalled yesterday to backfill the gap.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Laberge (suspension)
Fedun, Hintz, Gurianov, Bow (call up)