Saturday, December 15, 2018

Adam Mascherin Scores in OT to Give Texas 3-2 Win Over Rockford

The Texas Stars didn't allow the full two points to elude them a second time in as many nights as they beat the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 in overtime. Adam Mascherin had the game winning goal, while Erik Condra and Joel L'Esperance both chipped in with a tally.
(credit: Rockford IceHogs)
The Stars went 1-for-4 on the power play against Rockford's third ranked penalty kill unit with Condra getting the marker. Travis Morin set Condra up nicely in the slot for his fourteenth goal of the season to put the Stars up 1-0 in the opening minutes of the middle frame.

James Phelan was called for goaltender interference with a minute left before first intermission, and the IceHogs cashed in with only four ticks left as Jordan Schroeder got a stick on a rebound to swat it in past Phillippe Desrosiers. The potential was there for that play to become one that deflates a team, but Desrosiers played strong throughout the contest and matched Rockford tender Anton Forsberg save for save.

Desrosiers battled through two big breakaways in the second and third periods, which he confidently snuffed out. He also was the recipient of a reckless play by Rockford winger Nathan Noel as he came barreling into the crease unimpeded in the third period. There was no call, which could have been frustrating considering Phelan was called for far less an infraction. No matter. Desrosiers finished with a sparkling 32 saves on 34 shots.

The IceHogs pulled ahead by one eight minutes into the third period. The Stars were caught up ice with no help on the back end, and it led to a goal from Lucas Carlsson who finished from the high slot. L'Esperance went top shelf for the equalizer three minutes later.

The Stars possessed the puck for the majority of overtime play, and it paid off. Though several chances were generated by the likes of L'Esperance, Morin, and Condra, a loose dribbler left in front of the crease by Nick Caamano was all Mascherin needed to secure the victory. He nudged the rebound in for his twelfth goal of the year as Forsberg lost sight of the puck. Just like that, the Stars have picked up eleven out of twelve points in the past six games.

The Stars close out their road trip in a Tuesday matinee against the Chicago Wolves. The puck drops at 11:00 AM CST.

Tonight's lines:
Morin-Dowling-Condra
Caamano-Hintz-Mersch
Hargrove-L'Esperance-Mascherin
Laberge-Phelan-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Hanna-Gleason
Nyberg-Vala

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Norrish, Point, Naas (scratch)

Spencer Naas was recalled from Idaho prior to tonight's game in Rockford.

Tonight’s attendance was 3,457

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Rockford - December 15 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
13-9-2-1, 29 pts
#4 Central Division
atRockford IceHogs
12-10-1-4, 29 pts
#6 Central Division
December 15th at 6:00 PM
BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, IL

Playing their third game in four nights, Texas rolls into Rockford with a five-game point streak in tact. With a humming power play that eventually got them a goal last night, Texas comes in with the second-ranked power play in the league (28.4%).

The loss of Denis Gurianov for last night's game, and potentially for a while longer, takes a potent offensive weapon out of the lineup. This Texas Stars team is showing its mettle by filling in when their top players get recalled. Rookie Joel L'Esperance and veteran captain Justin Dowling stepped up last night. Rookie Adam Mascherin has been in the mix these past two weeks as well.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The IceHogs are coming to the game with a win last night in Grand Rapids. Curiously over the last six games for Rockford dating back to Thanksgiving, the club has either won 3-2 or been shutout entirely.

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

Friday, December 14, 2018

Texas Stars Earn Point But See Win Streak End in Milwaukee

(Credit: Milwaukee Admirals)
[Ed. Note: Denis Gurianov was recalled just before the game.]

The Texas Stars staged a revival of their 2017-18 season in Milwaukee this evening, trailing for most of the contest only to come back in the final period and earn an overtime point. Ultimately, they would fall in the extra frame 3-2 but not before a frantic comeback that saw them score twice in less than two minutes to set the Admirals on their heels.

With the loss, the Stars broke up their winning streak at four but continued a point streak for the fifth straight game. Erik Condra was on the ice for the Stars' second goal of the game but did not pick up a point, ending his personal point streak at 11 games, tied for the franchise record.

Milwaukee opened the scoring on a bad luck play down low. The puck ricocheted off the skates of Adam Mascherin and ended up on the stick of an uncovered Anthony Richard. Richard's ninth of the year came in the second minute of the game, putting Texas down early. In the second period, Frederic Allard added another goal to set the score at 0-2.

The Texas power play had a mess of chances and has a bit less focus on it with the overtime point. However, down 2-0 and with five chances in the game at that point, it was starting to look like a sore spot. Joel L'Esperance made the power play count in the final frame, scoring his 13th of the year. Milwaukee was incensed as they were miffed at the initial penalty call on Brian Cooper, who made head contact with Colin Markison on a clear boarding call.

Justin Dowling completed the comeback with a snipe from the left-wing side off a slick pass from Travis Morin. From there, both teams poured it on. Landon Bow had the best play of the remainder of regulation, sprawling to his right to block a point-blank chance with just over a minute left.

The overtime period wouldn't last long. Just 21 seconds in, Richard collected his second of the game. The Stars were off balance to start the frame as they were unable to get the change they wanted, Ben Gleason coming off for Dillon Heatherington.

Landon Bow stopped 19 of 22 in the loss, his first in two weeks. Texas picks up and heads out to Rockford tomorrow.

Tonight's lines:
Hargrove-Dowling-Mascherin
Caamano-Hintz-Mersch
Morin-L'Esperance-Condra
Laberge-Phelan-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Hanna-Gleason
Nyberg-Norrish

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Gurianov, Bayreuther, Hanley, Fedun (recall)
Vala, Point (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 9,307.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - December 14 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
13-9-1-1, 28 pts
#5 Central Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
15-9-4-0, 34 pts
#2 Central Division
December 14th at 7:00 PM
UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Milwaukee, WI

Heading into Friday's game against the Milwaukee Admirals, the Texas Stars are in the midst of a well-timed four game winning streak, each coming against division opponents ahead of them in the standings. If you ask head coach Derek Laxdal to weigh in on what that does for a team, he's far more concerned about taking each game as it comes rather than focusing on the big picture.
(credit: Andy Nietupski)
"Every game you play galvanizes your team," he said. "They’re getting rewarded for their hard work. If you know our dressing room, we’ve got a great group of guys and they play hard for each other. I think that’s important as a team. And they want to win for each other. So you see that in their game and there’s a lot of pride on that bench."

After Wednesday night's win over Iowa, Laxdal did specifically mention how recent back to back wins over the Milwaukee Admirals has had their team feeling confident in what they can achieve. If the Stars can go up into their barn and eke out another win, it will be another signature win in a season that got off to somewhat of a rocky start. Rather than worrying about that, Laxdal just wants to make sure their A game translates away from Cedar Park.

"As we go along in the season I think the galvanization of our club will get better even in losses. If you grind one out and lose a game, you’re going to be stronger as a team moving forward. We’ve just gotta make sure we take this show on the road."

Coming off his two-goal performance on Wednesday, veteran winger Michael Mersch likes what he sees from his team heading into Friday's tilt in Wisconsin. "It’s just a really good group," he said. "Good leadership and good young guys. It’s a lot of fun, especially when you’re winning. We’re looking forward to going [on the road] this weekend. When you win on the road, it’s a lot of fun."

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST. 

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

Thursday, December 13, 2018

High-End Offense Pushes Texas to Fourth Straight Win in 6-3 Victory Over Iowa

The Texas Stars knocked off the Central division-leading Iowa Wild on Wednesday night 6-3, running their current win streak to four games. The offense once again came in spades, with Texas receiving scoring from all over the lineup.

Veteran forward Erik Condra scored two goals, extending his point streak to eleven games and tying Matthew Fraser’s team record set in 2012-13. Winger Michael Mersch also notched two goals in the effort. Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov were strong with two helpers each, while Adam Mascherin scored the game-winning goal on the power play in the third period. A successive power play goal from Mersch salted the game away.

I think we were playing hard all night in [Iowa’s] zone,” said Mersch about his team’s offensive output. “We were cycling pucks and getting them up to the point, crashing the net. When you’re doing that and pucks are going to the net, you’re going to get opportunities. All four lines played really well tonight and generated offense.”
(credit: Andy Nietupski)
Iowa made their presence felt in the opening minutes of the contest, showing why they currently lead the division. Two minutes in, Gerry Fitzgerald cleaned up a loose puck with his backhand to break scoreless play after a flurry of chances in front of Landon Bow. Bow finished the game with 25 saves on 28 shots.

“We were kind of chasing our tails a little bit in the first period,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “When they’re coming with that much speed at us--we’ve got a real young back end there without our veteran guys in the lineup. Teams do pre-scouts and they understand that, so they came real hard on the forecheck.”

The Stars got things under control as the period moved along and answered with Mersch’s first goal right as their first power play expired to knot the score at one. Mersch’s 218 lb frame was unmovable in the crease as Gurianov found him for the deflection.

The second power play unit generating the goal led to a strategic move by Laxdal as the game progressed. “Our second unit is really good. They snapped the puck around, and they scored just at the end of a power play in the first period. So they basically had three power play goals. And so I gave them the 5-on-3 [at the end]. I gave em a little cookie and they rewarded us for it.”

The Wild regained the lead five minutes into the second period when Colton Beck went high glove on Bow after catching the Stars on a change. “[Iowa] is trying to win too, and they’re a good hockey club. They’ve got 14 or 15 wins and they’re their for a reason.”

Once the game moved past the halfway point, the Stars tilted the ice in their favor permanently. Condra crashed the net hard about eleven minutes through the middle frame and was cleaned up the rebound created by Samuel Laberge. “I thought we made a real good push in the second. I think we only gave up three 5-on-5 scoring chances in the second.”

The second period push concluded with a Colin Markison goal with a minute left. Initially, he beat everyone down ice for a loose puck and missed on a backhand chance. Colton Hargrove was there to force a turnover on the forecheck a second later and found Markison wide open on the back door. Hargrove notched his hundredth career point in the AHL with his helper on a Colin Markison goal.

“You look at everybody’s stat lines, everybody’s got a lot of points,” said Mersch of the depth contributions.

The Wild couldn’t get out of their own way in the third period, costing themselves a chance to get back in the game as they were parading to the penalty box to the tune of eleven total minutes. Laxdal rolled out his second unit during a 5-on-3 and was rewarded with Mascherin’s goal from the left circle. “They took advantage of it and that’s part of the inner competition of your group,” added Laxdal.

Mersch scored the second power play goal for the Stars when he cleaned up a loose rebound after Hintz put a puck on net. “It doesn’t matter if its the other unit or our unit going out,” said Mersch of the big third period. “It’s nice to have that confidence to score the goal. We get put out there and get rewarded.”

Then the Stars opened the door a bit for the Wild with successive penalties to give Iowa some 5-on-3 time. Dmitry Sokolov found the top shelf from the right circle to cut into the Stars lead near the halfway marker of the period. “They’ve got some shooters,” offered Laxdal. “The Sokolov kid’s a shooter, and he buried one to make it 5-3.”

Condra’s empty net goal with sixteen ticks left of regulation removed all doubt, giving the Stars plenty to build on with their recent success against stellar competition. “For us to beat Milwaukee back to back, and then to beat Iowa in our building says a lot about the growth of our hockey club,” said Laxdal. “We’ve just gotta make sure we take this show on the road.”

The Stars begin a three-game road trip on Friday against the Milwaukee Admirals. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.

Tonight's lines:
Gurianov-Dowling-Mascherin
Morin-L'Esperance-Condra
Caamano-Hintz-Mersch
Laberge-Hargrove-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Hanna-Gleason
Nyberg-Norrish

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Vala, Point, Phelan (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 4,671.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Iowa - December 12 2018

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Iowa Wild

Texas Stars
12-9-1-1, 26 pts
#6 Central Division
v.Iowa Wild
14-5-4-2, 34 pts
#1 Central Division
December 12th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX
(credit: Andy Nietupski)
Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal mentioned last week how these division games are essentially worth four points and that his team is looking to move up the standings. Recently putting together an impressive three-game win streak within their division was a great start toward that goal but nothing more. Getting it done against the Iowa Wild, who currently sit atop the Central, is going to be a tall task, yet almost manditory if these Stars are who they think they can be. 

Usually, measuring stick games don't come this early in the season. But with the Stars offense, even more potent with the return of Roope Hintz, clicking at an elite level, the time to make their push could be now. They're simply playing their best hockey and rising to the occasion while they await the return of key blue-line reinforcements. 

The Stars have to be confident heading into Wednesday evening, as they went 2-0-0-1 in their first three match-ups against the Wild in October. Even so, they're going to need every bit of offense they can muster with Iowa icing arguably one of the top goaltender tandems in the AHL in rookie Kaapo Kahkonen (.933 SP) and savvy vet Andrew Hammond (.911 SP). Kahkonen's save percentage and 1.94 goals against are both tops in the AHL. He's no ordinary rookie. 

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST. 

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

Friday, December 7, 2018

Texas Extends Winning Streak to Three, Wins 3-2 Over Ads

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars
The Texas Stars continued their recent streak of hot play, winning their third straight by a 3-2 mark over the visiting Milwaukee Admirals. Erik Condra extended his point streak to ten with an assist in the first period, one away from the franchise record. Roope Hintz had the game-winner in his first game back from NHL recall.

“I think we’re coming together as a team,” said Coach Laxdal. “That’s the kind of [tight] game where your young guys are going to grow.”

Hintz added, “It’s a good group here. They are playing really well, so it’s easy to hop in.”

It was a great start as the Stars hit the ice like they'd been shot out of a cannon in the first period. On their first two shots of the game, Texas beat Troy Grosenick to go up 2-0. Justin Dowling scored on a nice cross-crease dish from Denis Gurianov, and Niklas Hansson found twine from the goal line on a pass from Erik Condra.

“We had a really good start to the game,” said Laxdal. “But sometimes when you score early the guys get the mindset that it’s going to be easy.”

Milwaukee took advantage of their power play chances to bring things back to even into the second. After being outshot and outscored 2-0 in the game's opening minutes, they notched a power play goal off the stick of Connor Brickley to make it 2-1 after 20 and took a 16-6 shot advantage to the room. As the second opened, another power play goal put them at 2-2, with Alexandre Carrier being the trigger man. Laxdal added, “Their push came right after we scored the two goals.”

Grosenick was no slouch in the contest, and things could have gotten out of hand without him, especially early in the second period. Big stops on Adam Mascherin and Joel L'Esperance gave Milwaukee the chance to tie things in the middle frame.

“We could have blown the game open at 2-2, Grosenick was really solid for them.”

The recently-assigned Roope Hintz put Texas back on top in the second period with his fifth goal of the season and twelfth point in the ten games he’s had in the AHL. The genesis of the goal came on a heads-up play form Brady Norrish, who spotted an unmarked Michael Mersch at the opposing blue line. Mersch was picked up quickly, but Hintz cleaned up the garbage for the 3-2 score.

Hintz noted, “Mersch just made a good play. I got it and I shot it.”

Texas held on late to close out the game. Landon Bow, who stopped 31 of 33 on the night, was a big part of that. “I like the way Bow is playing right now. He’s getting into his own this year. I think he understands that he’s our #1 goalie right now and he’s playing like it.”

“He was really good today,” Hintz agreed. “There were so many chances to tie the game, especially at the end.”

Milwaukee’s best chance came just as time expired. With the extra attacker, they rang one off the crossbar and stayed on the ice after the horn to see if they would earn a goal review. None came, and Texas skated away with their fourth victory in five contests.

Texas plays again on Wednesday at home against Iowa.

Tonight's lines:
Gurianov-Dowling-Mascherin
Condra-L'Esperance-Morin
Caamano-Hintz-Mersch
Laberge-Hargrove-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Gleason-Hanna
Nyberg-Norrish

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Phelan, Vala, Payne, Point (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,410.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - December 7 2018