Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Despite Playoff Miss, Texas Stars Score Near Record Attendance in Tenth Season

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In their tenth season in Central Texas, the Texas Stars are still a great draw. The team celebrated a decade in Cedar Park with their second-best average attendance ever: 5,406. This year trailed only the 2011-12 season, which saw an average of 5,470 and was a jump of over a hundred per game compared to last season.

“We had a great response from our season ticket holders for the tenth anniversary year,” Texas Stars Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Michael Delay told 100 Degree Hockey when reached by phone last week. “The sales team did a great job. Groups were up this year. I think we increased groups by over 11%.”

Season ticket holders form the majority of the ticket base in H-E-B Center’s 6,863 full capacity crowd. Incentives for the tenth season including commemorative jerseys and the chance to drop the puck before the game were big draws for retention and growth of those numbers. Winning Wednesday, where fans in attendance for a Wednesday win get a free ticket to the next Wednesday game, also yielded huge dividends as Texas won six straight Wednesday games from December 5 to March 27.

The Stars saw 26 nights with attendance over 5,000. Their record is 27, set during the 2011-12 season. They also set a team best for fewest nights under 4,000, just two.

“Not too bad considering we went two and a half months with a net loss of 570 seats,” continued Delay. “We might have done a bit better if we had had those extra seats for the last two and a half months.”

The missing seats in the visitor’s end zone were definitely a factor in the Stars not getting to record attendance. In the ten weeks after the seats broke, Texas lost twelve homes games worth of attendance in those sections. If Texas had averaged 35% occupancy or better in those sections during that stretch, they would have set a new record.

“We might have been able to get there with all the great nights we had on the back half. It is what it is.”

Texas had some more new variables to deal with as well. It seems second nature now, but this was the first year with a harmonized 7 PM start time for all home games. Delay expects that to continue, “That was a request that came down from the hockey side of things. We looked at those Friday games, and we were one of the last holdouts for 7:30 games. It’s become pretty much a standard across the board that folks are doing 7 o’clock local time start.”

For individual ticket buyers, many received text messages this year reminding them that Texas was in town and tickets were on sale. “There’s a few teams using their peer-to-peer texting platforms, and that was something new we tried. If you think about your personal experience of getting an email versus a text. The email might sit in your inbox if it’s a newsletter or something like that. But if you get a text message, you’re much more likely to respond back to it in one way or another.

“We’re looking to continue it, so I would say that it’s been successful.”

Theme nights were a success again, and Texas is busy planning the coming season. This is the the “busiest time of the year behind the scenes,” according to Delay, with game operations, specialty jerseys, theme nights and giveaways all in the planning stage. “It’s constantly tweaking. We can’t just cookie cutter. We’re always looking to change things up. Two years ago, Harry Potter [night] wasn’t a thing for us, but now it’s one of our mainstays.”

The Stars look ahead to the next season, their eleventh at H-E-B Center, ready to innovate to keep the building packed and loud.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Report: Texas Stars Sign NCAA Tourney MVP, RW Parker Mackay, on AHL Deal

According to the CBS 3 Duluth, Riley Tufte won't be the only UMD Bulldog skating for the Texas Stars next season. Forward and team captain Parker Mackay has been added on an AHL contract for next year.The right winger will be 25 at the start of next year and racked up 16-17=33 in 40 games his senior season. In addition to winning the championship with Duluth, he was also named the tournament's most outstanding player.

The Texas Stars have not confirmed the signing as of this time and have no comment on the report.

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.