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)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Manitoba Shuts Out Texas 2-0 in Winnipeg

(Credit: Manitoba Moose)
Texas and Manitoba played a pretty sleepy Sunday afternoon game in Winnipeg this afternoon. The host Moose bested the Stars 2-0 on a third period tally and an empty net goal late as Texas pressed to tie.

Philippe Desrosiers got the start and played well, stopping all but one of the 32 shots he faced on the night. It was only the second time this season that Texas has been shutout, the other time being a 4-0 loss in Tucson on January 23rd. Mikhail Berdin, just recalled from the ECHL, got the shutout win with 34 saves.

Joel L'Esperance had one of Texas's best chances of the contest in the first period as he rang one off the crossbar on the power play in pursuit of his 27th goal. His current 26 tally leads the league. Texas finished the first with a clear shots lead at 15-9. Texas got flipped in the second as Manitoba led 12-7 in the frame.

The game-winning goal came on an icing clear. The Moose sent the puck down the ice, and Seth Griffith beat the icing call. Phil Desrosiers came out to play the puck, sending it around the boards right to Marko Dano. The forward slid it over to Logan Shaw in the slot for the 1-0 tally.

Texas would try for the equalizer late but their first chance 6-on-5 ended up with a faceoff win for the Moose and the puck in the back of their net. The final would be 2-0.

The Stars are back in action in Rockford on Tuesday.

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

Heatherington-Hansson
Nyberg-Hanna
Bayreuther-Hanley

Desrosiers

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

Today’s attendance was 6,004.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Manitoba - February 10 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Manitoba Moose

Texas Stars
23-19-3-2, 51 pts
#6 Central Division
atManitoba Moose
21-21-3-2, 47 pts
#8 Central Division
February 10th at 2:00 PM
MTS Centre, Winnipeg, MB

The Stars away record is abysmal. There's no other way to say it at this point. Among 23 road contests this year, they can count just seven wins to their name. They are 1-8-1 in their last ten and have a brutal -16 goal differential.
(Credit: Manitoba Moose)
Stars fans who come to game at the H-E-B Center know that Texas can win games. They can dominate at times this season. But the road games are a massive bugaboo.

I spoke briefly last week with GM Scott White for another story. We chatted a bit about some of the things that need to happen in the second half to break these trends and set Texas up for the playoffs. With Gurianov and Hintz in Dallas, White and the team are looking for someone to step up. Nicholas Caamano and Adam Mascherin both came up as potential players who need to snag more offense. Mascherin especially needs consistency. He's got a lot of points, but he's streaky. Caamano has good detail work but just needs to put the puck in the net more.

After last night's big hit, Sam Laberge is likely out of the lineup, pressing James Phelan into the already depleted lineup.

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

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Manitoba Scores Three Unanswered to Top Texas 3-2

(Credit: Manitoba Moose)
Texas saw their lead evaporate in the second period and fall in the third as Manitoba scored three unanswered goals to beat the Stars 3-2 tonight in Manitoba. Sam Laberge's second period match penalty for head contact on a check was a big turning point as it fueled the opening and tying goals for the Moose. Philippe Desrosiers took the loss with Landon Bow still in Dallas.

Michael Mersch collected the first goal of the game in the second period. It was a Moose turnover that he ran in alone on the breakaway, scoring it after collecting his own rebound. Joel L'Esperance also scored on a turnover to make it 2-0. It was the rookie's 26th goal of the season, leading not just all rookies but all skaters in the league overall.

The Laberge penalty was a turning point for Texas. As Stoykewych rounded the corner behind the net, Laberge came at him up for a solid hit that turned bad as the Moose skater turned to avoid it. You can see below the hit and aftermath.

Laberge also appeared to injure his shoulder on the play. Neither player returned. Stoykewwych took a two-minute penalty for delay of game as he flipped the puck out of play as the hit occurred. Laberge's five-minute major was offset by that penalty for two.

With some open ice, Manitoba scored on a 2-on-1 during the 4-on-4 segment and on a one-timer during the power play. The game was tied heading into the third.

The only marker of the third was Marko Dano's game winner. It was a fantastic hand-eye coordination play as he found a rebound off the body of Seth Griffith and baseball-whacked it into the net.


The Stars get a chance for quick revenge against Manitoba tomorrow at 2 PM.

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

Tonight’s attendance was 4,438.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Manitoba - February 9 2019