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.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Texas Stars Miss Playoffs, Close Season with 3-1 Loss to Rampage

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
No matter the outcome of tonight's game, the Texas Stars knew their playoff fate just after the end of the second period. With Milwaukee's commanding 5-0 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Stars were officially eliminated from the postseason. On the ice in Cedar Park, the Stars fell 3-1 in what Coach Laxdal called the 'worst game' they had played all year.

"I think you saw the final result of a grind down the stretch finally catching up with our guys," Coach Laxdal said postgame. "I think it was a combination of the grind and that we'd asked so much of these guys down the stretch to stay in the race."

In the past ten years, it's been a rare occurrence in Cedar Park to have truly meaningless hockey be played. Ultimately, Texas only had twenty minutes of inconsequential hockey tonight, the final frame.

Much like the Dallas game tonight, the power play opportunities and the lack of scoring therein were a huge difference in the contest. Texas went 0-for-7 on the night while San Antonio collected a power play goal and a shorty to vault ahead of the Stars in the final scoring.

Rhett Gardner had the only Texas tally in the game, beating Jared Coreau on a slick backhand in the first. It was Gardner's fourth of the season and certainly set him up for a fantastic 2019-20 as he joins the club full time in the fall.

"It's been a great learning experience for me," said Gardner. "That's why I came down here, to learn and soak everything in."

Rhett Gardner's goal
Adam Mascherin had two chance in the game on odd-man rushes where he went for the pretty pass instead of shooting the puck, something that has plagued Texas a good deal this year. The first pass was off the mark behind his man and the second was broken up by San Antonio.

The Rampage got on the board early in the second period, tying the contest at one. Heading into the third tied at one, Texas squandered the opportunity to go out on a high note with the home fans, allowing a power play tally and a shorthanded marker.

Laxdal added, "It's a tough way to go out with a full building on game 76, but you can't ask any more of your guys. I think we got everything out of them throughout the 76 games. Unfortunately, we didn't make the playoffs."

Rhett Gardner summarized the takeaways of the end of season closed door team meeting: "Don't waste a day. We talked about how every win is so important. The games in January and February come back to bite you late in the season and just don't waste a day whether it be summer training or games."

Many of the Dallas-contracted players for Texas will head up I-35 to join the NHL's Stars as black aces for their postseason run. Brad McClure is the only player on the Texas roster eligible for the postseason in Idaho. It's unknown if he will head down.

Watch this space for season breakdowns over the next few weeks and a new look and feel coming later in the offseason. Thank you, as always, for reading.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Gardner-Condra
Caamano-L'Esperance-Gurianov
Mascherin-Dellandrea-McClure
Melnick-Damiani-Hanna

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Nyberg-Gleason

Oettinger

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Cecconi (undisclosed)
Point, Markison, Hargrove, Cuglietta (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,998.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - April 13 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
37-30-4-4, 82 pts
#6 Central Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
30-38-6-1, 67 pts
#8 Central Division
April 13th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Two points. To have any chance at the postseason, Texas needs two points. Sitting at 82 points on the season now, the Stars have a max possible point total of 84. With everyone around them also collecting points, 83 isn't good enough, and 82 is right out. Let's run down the scenario.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas needs all of the following to happen in order to qualify for the postseason:

  • Stars collect two points tonight against San Antonio
  • Milwaukee loses both of their remaining games (Grand Rapids, @Rockford) in regulation
  • Manitoba earns no more than one point this weekend in two games (@Chicago twice)

If all of the above occurs, three teams will be tied at 84 points. The Stars, in this scenario, would earn the final playoff spot by virtue of tie breakers. Texas would have 37 regulation and overtime wins (ROW) while Milwaukee would be woefully behind at 30 and Manitoba would have 36. Rockford, even if they win both games this weekend (@Iowa, Milwaukee), would be stuck at 33 ROW and could rise no higher than 6th place.

Of course, as mentioned before Rockford could vault over everyone in this last weekend to make it in, so nothing is out of the realm of possibility. Milwaukee's game begins at 6 tonight, so we'll know that result before the end of the Texas game.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Cecconi (undisclosed)
Dowling, Bow (call up)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Cuglietta's Game Winner Keep Texas's Slim Playoff Hopes Alive in 4-3 Win Over Rampage

The Texas Stars sure made things interesting by allowing three goals in the third period, but they ultimately prevailed over the San Antonio Rampage by a 4-3 score. For now, the Stars are still technically in the hunt for the playoffs, provided they win on Saturday and get help.

Colin Markison had two big helpers on the rush.
(credit: Andy Nietupski)
Rookie forward Diego Cuglietta scored the game winner nearly twelve and half minutes into the third period after a furious comeback by the Rampage. That’s not a bad way to pick up your first career AHL goal. That makes the fifth time this season a Texas Stars rookie has had the game winner count for his first AHL goal.

Jake Oettinger got the nod in net again and responded to his subpar game on Wednesday with a decent outing to give his club a chance. Allowing three goals in rapid succession in the third period isn’t ideal, but it was more of a team gaffe as the Stars were caught out of position several times. Oettinger finished with 24 saves on 27 shots.

Defenseman Gavin Bayreuther got the Stars started off the right way with an early tally from the point just over one minute into the contest. The Rampage started a super green goaltender in Joel Hofer to give him a look. Frankly, it was a goal that should never be allowed, but the Stars took it gladly.

Ty Dellandrea chipped in with his second goal of the season just after the two minute marker in the second period. He finished a feed from Colin Markison on the rush to push the lead to two.


Michael Mersch then followed his own rebound for a goal nine minutes later to give the Stars a commanding 3-0 lead. Just like Wednesday’s game, however, the Rampage didn’t seem to get the memo as they rang off three quick goals in the third period to tie.

Tallies from Bobby MacIntyre, Jordan Nolan, and Ryan Olsen were haymakers that could’ve sent the Stars to the bus with their heads down. Olsen’s equalizer had the building on their feet and forced Texas to regroup on the fly.


But the Stars had one more card to play. On the very next shift, the Stars won the faceoff and Markison once again set his teammate up on the rush. Cuglietta made a diving play to force the puck past Hofer and regain the Stars lead.


The Rampage scored four unanswered goals on Wednesday night, but the Stars were determined to keep it at three on Friday.

Now to get our heads around the playoff scenarios. Iowa beat Chicago in the waning seconds of overtime during Texas’s game to put the Wild in third place for now. The Stars are no longer able to catch them. They will need to both win their final game on Saturday and have Milwaukee and Manitoba drop their final two games in regulation. The odds are long, but stranger things have happened.

The final game of the regular season is against the Rampage in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Melnick-Gurianov
Caamano-Gardner-Condra
Mascherin-L’Esperance-McClure
Cuglietta-Dellandrea-Markison

Hanley-Heatherington
Nyberg-Bayreuther
Gleason-Hanna

Oettinger

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Cecconi (undisclosed)
Point, Hargrove, Hansson, Damiani (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 9,185.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - April 12 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
36-30-4-4, 80 pts
#6 Central Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
30-37-6-1, 67 pts
#8 Central Division
April 12th at 7:30 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

In case you were wondering if the pressure was getting to the Texas Stars on Wednesday night against the Rampage, think again. The Stars have been in this mode for the past three weeks now.

"Our guys have done a pretty good job of handling it down the stretch, especially with the young group that we have," said head coach Derek Laxdal. "You play a team that’s out of the playoffs [in San Antonio], they have nothing to lose. As the game went along, I thought we pressed in the third and couldn’t generate. Give them credit. They did a pretty good job of shutting it down."

(credit: Andy Nietupski)
A couple of bad bounces and the puck was in the back of the Texas net. That's hockey. As much as Wednesday's loss stung, this is no time for the Stars to wallow in their woes, and that was the message coming out of the leadership group on Wednesday.

"Looking back, it’s a hard lesson to learn right now, but as a young team we can take lessons and it’ll help us in the long run," said Joel Hanley. "We got a game on Friday so we’re just going to focus on that right now."

Enough has been written about the Rampage this season, considering the Stars have now played them twelve times. They know what they're going to get when they head south on I-35, and it's on the Stars to give themselves a chance at the postseason with a couple of wins over the weekend. Should they fail to collect at least one point on Friday, it's all over.

Laxdal was realistic with his optimism: "We’re not out of it. We gotta pick ourselves up. It’s not looking good. But we’ve gotta pick ourselves up and get ready for Friday and go from there. We [needed] three in a row to get in. Now we have to win two to give ourselves a look with some help."

The puck drops at 7:30 CDT. 

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Cecconi (undisclosed)
Dowling, Bow (call up)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Texas Stars Playoff Hopes on Life Support After Zero Point Game

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Five out of six points. Coming into the week, that was the line that Texas needed to hit to reasonably have a shot at the postseason. With last night's regulation loss, the Stars can only gather four this week and might have seen their playoff dreams die on the vine Wednesday night. Let's break it down.

First of all, Texas needs to get four points the rest of the way this week. If Texas loses in regulation on Friday, they're eliminated. End of story. Their max points of 82 will put them below the established line at 83, and that'll be all she wrote.

If Texas collects three of four points, there is a chance that they could limp into the playoffs if Iowa collects no more points in two remaining games and Manitoba collects no more than two. If that occurs, three teams would be tied at 83 points and the tie break of ROW would come into play.  If Rockford gets three points as well, then four teams would be tied up. Manitoba and Texas are tied at 35 but Iowa and Rockford sit at 31, so that would be a major factor. The final tie break is season series record. Manitoba owns that break with Texas, so the Stars must beat Manitoba outright or hope the Moose's remaining victory comes in a shootout (and Texas's does not).

And by the way, seventh place Rockford could also just win their last two games and negate the above scenario entirely.

If Texas does collect all four points, they will sit at 84. They own the tiebreak over Milwaukee, if the Ads don't collect anymore points on the season. Iowa and Manitoba could both eclipse the 84 point mark easily with an 87 point max still possible. Any finish is still possible for the five teams gunning for the last two spots. Nearly any combination you can imagine, including 7th place Rockford finishing 3rd overall, is still in the cards.

It's going to be a mad dash to the finish.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Stars's Playoff Hopes Dented in 5-3 Loss to Rampage

The Texas Stars’s playoff hopes took a major hit on Wednesday as they fell to the San Antonio Rampage in a 5-3 decision. Brad McClure, Joel Hanley, and Rhett Gardner all scored to help the Stars to a 3-1 lead in the early minutes of the second period, but they went on to allow four unanswered goals.
(credit: Andy Nietupski)
“I thought it was a tale of two different teams tonight,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “Played decently the first half and just fell apart in the second.”

“We came out hard in the start of the second and we popped a couple,” added Hanley. “It was nice to get ahead there, but I think we took our foot off the pedal a little bit and let them back in the game.”

McClure opened the scoring fourteen minutes into the period after two Stars power plays failed to do the trick. McClure went short side on Jared Coreau who couldn’t get the full glove on it.


The Stars dominated in puck possession and shot total, outshooting the Rampage 14-3 in the opening frame. They left the period with a tie game, however, as the Stars gave the Rampage almost two minutes of 5-on-3 at the close of the frame resulting in a goal from Mitch Reinke.

It was a shame, too, because Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made the best save of his young professional career. The Rampage had the angle they wanted and got the puck to their one timer option on the left wing. Oettinger absolutely robbed Ryan Olsen to send the building into a frenzy.


“I thought he made some big saves when he had to,” said Laxdal of his rookie netminder. “It’s a lot of pressure on him. We gotta win to get in. And that’s what it’s all about is his game growing.”

The Stars scored two quick goals within the first five minutes of the second period to seize temporary control of the contest. Hanley’s goal came from the point where he beat Jared Coreau through a screen. Gardner chipped in when he cleaned up a loose puck created by Ben Gleason.

The Stars’s grip on the steering wheel was wrested away from there when red hot Rampage winger Joey LaLeggia got going. “We got it to 3-1 to start the second, and I thought our demeanor changed as a group.”

Nearly eleven minutes into the middle frame, he extended his point streak to eight games with a goal to cut the lead to 3-2. LaLeggia’s second goal came near the five minute marker of the third period to tie the game.

“LaLeggia’s been hot. He’s been carrying their offense, and he got a couple of looks tonight and scored. I think the second goal was kind of a broken play in the neutral zone. Shot off the wall, and we lost coverage.”

An empty netter from Ryan Olsen sealed the deal on a second half to forget for the Stars.

A somber and sullen Hanley fought for words to try to explain the loss. “Sometimes you can run into teams like that that are out of the playoffs and have nothing to lose,” he said. “But that’s no excuse on our part. I know we have a younger squad, and that’s not excuse either. There were a couple of bad bounces and they’re in the back of our net. It’s a tough one to swallow, but we just have to keep moving forward.”

Heading into this three game set against San Antonio, the Stars needed five of the six available points to give themselves a good chance to get into the postseason. Now that that’s off the table, they’ll certainly need to win the final two games and get help from other teams.

“The only thing we can do is just look ahead and take care of business moving forward. So that means winning the last two games and just hope we get some luck with the other teams. That’s our focus right now.”

The Stars head to San Antonio for Friday’s contest.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-L’Esperance-Condra
Caamano-Melnick-Gurianov
Mascherin-Dellandrea-McClure
Hargrove-Gardner-Markison

Hansson-Heatherington
Bayreuther-Hanley
Gleason-Hanna

Oettinger

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Cecconi (undisclosed)
Nyberg, Cuglietta, Damiani (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,448.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - April 10 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
36-29-4-4, 80 pts
#6 Central Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
29-37-6-1, 65 pts
#8 Central Division
April 10th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

It's the final week of the AHL regular season, and the Texas Stars have three huge tilts against the San Antonio Rampage on the docket. The Stars are coming off a rather successful two games against the Rockford IceHogs to give them more than a puncher's chance at the playoffs.

"That’s a big weekend for us, three out of four points," said head coach Derek Laxdal on Saturay. "It’s in our own hands. We’ve got San Antonio coming in on Wednesday trying to play the spoiler role."

(credit: Andy Nietupski)
Texas received a gift on Saturday in the reassignment of Joel L'Esperance. Providing some much needed punch down the middle with Travis Morin on the shelf, the AHL Rookie of the Year candidate netted the first goal in Saturday's game against Rockford to help the Stars pick up the point.

"Any point is huge at this point in the year," he said. "We’re battling for a playoff spot so I try to do what I can to help them."

What also helps is that the Stars are 7-4-0-0 against the Rampage this season. By our calculations, the Stars will need to take at least five out of the six available points and get help this week to get the playoff spot. Rest assured, you're going to see the Stars fight harder than they have all season.

"I think we’ve just got to go in with the mindset we're going to win. If we go in with that confidence and swagger, it’ll help us in those three games."

Laxdal added, "We just have to have the same effort [from Saturday]. We get this same effort Wednesday night we’ll have a good chance."

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Dowling, Bow (call up)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Playoff Race Could Be Down to Three Teams After Tonight

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The lone game on the AHL calendar affecting Texas tonight is Rockford's visit to Milwaukee. The Admirals sit at 83 points and own third place in the division as of this afternoon. If they can win tonight, they'll effectively turn a five-team race for two playoff spots into a three-team race for just one.

The current "line" for playoff contention is 85 points after the full season (rounded up from 84.36). With a win tonight, the Admirals' point total would cross that line and virtually lock in their playoff berth. Again, anything is possible, but Milwaukee will have, at that point, gone on an absurd 10-0-1-1 run to seal their spot in the postseason. What a run for Karl Taylor and Greg Rallo.

On the other side, the loss by Rockford would keep them at 78 points with just two games left, setting their best possible outcome at 82 points. Texas would pass that mark with a single win this week (by virtue of ROW tiebreaker). Iowa could do it with an OT or regulation win and Manitoba with any point at all.

Of course, none of this applies if Rockford wins, but it just goes to show how razor thin everything is right now.

Texas needs five of six points this week to meet that 85 point line. Even with a full six points, Texas does not control its own destiny. Manitoba and Iowa do not play each other in the coming week, so they can both claim a full six points as well.

There is even an outside chance that Texas finishes Saturday not knowing if they've made the playoffs. Sunday's games could be the decider for several clubs' playoff fates, even those not playing. Chicago plays Manitoba, and Milwaukee faces Rockford.

Suffice to say, it's going to be a wild week.

Monday, April 8, 2019

H-E-B Center Plans Summer Improvements for Arena's Retractable Seating

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Saturday night's contest against the IceHogs was a sellout, according to the Stars. Texas sold standing room only seats for a regular season game, and that's definitely a good thing. However, a sellout ain't what it used to be at H-E-B Center. Since early February, the Stars have been down approximately 700 seats thanks to the closure of the west side retractable seating area.

The issue occurred during a busy weekend where the arena changed over from a Stars game to an Austin Spurs game and finally to a sold-out TobyMac concert. After 10 years of wear and tear, the seats in section 111 wouldn't come out when arena staff tried to move them.

Since that point, the entire end zone area has been closed. The retractable seats are a package deal for safety reasons. If you can't pull them all out, you can't pull any of them out.

The arena is absolutely working as hard as they can to get the area fixed, but the earliest quote any company could give them was mid-April. It turns out there are only two or three companies that do this kind of work in the US. So, the Stars are taking the opportunity to improve the seating in that area and ensure that they continue to innovate on the fan experience ten years into the life of the arena.

Of course, fans who had season tickets in the retractable area had to be relocated and not all of them are happy with their new placement. Many reached out to 100 Degree Hockey wondering what was going on with the seating area. Rest assured, the arena is working hard to ensure they will have a great place to sit next season and the bar top seating there now is just a temporary way to recoup some of the lost revenue from walk-up sales in the popular section that is now temporarily gone.

Team and arena officials have told 100 Degree Hockey that they expect to have detailed plans for the new retractable area within the coming month. We expect to be able to share those plans here soon.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Rockford Slips By Texas 4-3 in Shootout, Collecting Key Standings Points

(Credit: Texas Stars)
It was a close, tight affair tonight in Cedar Park as the Stars battled to a shootout loss with the Rockford IceHogs by a 4-3 score. Neither club led by more than a goal as each club scored once per period and dueled to a scoreless overtime. Texas got a single point in the loss.

“At the end of the day, with our young group, I thought our guys did a really good job right to the end of the game,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “I thought we had them in the shootout. That’s a big weekend for us, three out of four points. It’s in our own hands.”

Rockford was the more desperate team, as a regulation loss would have all but eliminated them from postseason contention. With two points, they rise to 78 total and stay in striking distance of the final spot.

“I saw a team desperate to try and win the game,” said Laxdal of Rockford. “They’re battling for their life to get back in the pack and we’re trying to get points. I give our guys credit. They battled their arses off from start to finish.”

The IceHogs struck first in the game. It was their first shot of the contest, a 2-on-1 effort that beat the pass defense of Ben Gleason and went roof on Jake Oettinger. Joel L’Esperance, fresh off assignment from Dallas, was quick to re-open his scoring account. Off the feed from Erik Condra, L’Esperance went bardown to even the score.

“You see a player that’s really taken another turn in his game. He looked like an NHLer out there tonight. Just controlled the play. His first goal was just tremendous where he walked off the wall and went bar down.”

L’Esperance got the call at 11:30 AM and was in town by 3:45, heading straight to the rink after the drive down I-35 in the rain. He added, “There was a little excitement going into the game. I was fired to get back down here and get some games in.”

Texas put a blistering 13 shots on the Anton Forsberg in the first period and only allowed three themselves. Two of those three shots came in the last minute of the period. Those numbers would continue into the second period with a 13-5 advantage for the Stars.

“They had some looks and shots that missed the net or didn’t get through. I think our guys did a good job blocking shots, especially in the second period. There were some looks they had where if they hit the net it might have been a goal.”

Despite the shot differential, the scoring result was the same. Nick Caamano went first this time for Texas. On the power play, generated by a boarding call to Dmitry Osipov, Gavin Bayreuther dished to Caamano down low. His shot bored through Forsberg to trickle in five hole.

The lead didn’t last long, just 36 seconds to be precise. Peter Holland tipped a shot from Matt Highmore. The entire sequence seemed to bewilder the home side.

The third period was another even scoring affair. Rhett Gardner slammed home his second in a week off the assist from Colin Markison. Tyler Sikura answered back with five minutes left on a fluky goal that fluttered up over Oettinger for the 3-3 tie.

Overtime was frenetic. Oettinger had two ten-bell saves on the same shift through the middle of the five-minute segment to keep the game even. Neither club scored, and the shootout commenced.

Colton Hargrove scored the only goal of the shootout in the first round. Peter Holland kept it alive in the third round with a goal, and Jacob Nilsson finished it off in the fifth.

Texas has three games left to make the playoffs, all against San Antonio. Wednesday night starts the final stretch.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-L’Esperance-Condra
Caamano-Melnick-Gurianov
Mascherin-Dellandrea-McClure
Hargrove-Gardner-Markison

Hansson-Heatherington
Bayreuther-Hanley
Gleason-Cecconi

Oettinger

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
Nyberg, Hanna, Cuglietta, Damiani (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 6,331, a sellout. Texas sold standing room only seats, making it a sellout, but their sellout number is lower due to the broken west 'end zone' seating area.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - April 6 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
36-29-4-3, 79 pts
#6 Central Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
33-29-4-6, 76 pts
#7 Central Division
April 6th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

The kids are alright, eh?

If it wasn't clear already, the Texas Stars have a good crop of young talent that filtered in over the last few weeks. They needed it last night with tight battle against Rockford on tap. Dellandrea's two points, including the game winner, combined with Oettinger's first home win and second win overall put them over.

"Every time they step on the ice, they’re only going to get better, get more experience, and grow," said Texas head coach Derek Laxdal last night.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
They'll need the kids especially now. Travis Morin could be out long term with an upper body injury he sustained in the first period of last night's game. The only centers Texas has remaining to slot in are either rookies or someone like Colton Hargrove, who has played center for extended stretches this season but is not a natural pivot man. Diego Cuglietta and Riley Damiani are your other centers that could come in tonight.

Texas will need to roll with what they have. Any belief that Justin Dowling is coming back is misplaced. The center earned his time in Dallas with his two-way play throughout the season. As the playoffs approach, he won't be coming back. He might even make the Game 1 lineup for Dallas.

After such a fun win, it's frustrating to look at the standings and see that Texas hasn't moved at all. Milwaukee beat Chigaco last night at home to move to 81 points. The Stars sit two points behind at 79, tied with Manitoba. The Moose play Stockton this afternoon. Milwaukee plays Iowa.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Morin (upper body)
L'Esperance, Dowling, Bow (call up)

Friday, April 5, 2019

Ty Dellandrea's First Professional Goal Gives Stars 2-1 Win Over IceHogs

The Texas Stars held serve in the four-team morass that is the final playoff spot in the Central division, beating the Rockford IceHogs 2-1 on Friday. In what is continuing to be a theme late in the season, two blue chip prospects stepped up to help the Stars win. Dallas Stars 2018 first round pick Ty Dellandrea had the game winning goal in the third period on a penalty shot. Goaltender Jake Oettinger got another start in net and turned in a 27 save performance.

“We’ve been in the playoff mode for three weeks,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “Give our guys a lot of credit. They grinded out a hard-fought win. There’s a ‘never say die’ attitude in that dressing room. For the young kid to score on the penalty shot to win the game, and Jake Oettinger was really good again. A lot of good, young energy in that room.”

(credit: Andy Nietupski)
For Dellandrea, it was a special moment to score his first professional goal in front of his family members. “Felt really good,” he said. “We got a big two points and it was pretty special. My family flew down today to come watch. So to have them there and get the first one, it’s a good feeling. But I’m really excited about the win.”

On a somber note, Travis Morin left the game in the first period and did not take a shift afterward. Laxdal called his injury “upper body” and hinted that it could potentially be long term. The Stars had to roll three rookie centers for most of the game.

Dellandrea’s first mark on the game came in the first period when he sprung Adam Mascherin into the offensive zone. Mascherin dished to Brad McClure who broke open the scoring six minutes into the contest and continued his recent strong play.

“I just kind of made a play in the middle and Masch was in the right spot to pick it up. Masch made an unbelievable pass to bring the D in and pass it to Brad. That was a big one early in the game to take control.”

The IceHogs continued to attempt a pushback to no avail through two periods. Oettinger was completely cool between the pipes. He talked more about the job his defensemen did in front of him, tough.

“Out there, every guy can score and make plays,” he said. “I think our D do a really good job of boxing out around me. Our forwards sold out a couple of times and made some big blocks. That’s what you need this time of year. I think if they continue to do that, it’s going to make my life easy.”

Oettinger had a tough break in the third period when the IceHogs tied the game up. Seven and a half minutes into the frame, he made the initial kick save on a shot from the point, but Rockford forward Peter Holland was there for the putback. I think even thought [Rockford] scored late, we still had control,” said Dellandrea. “We felt good about how the game was going. The three centers were working hard.”

Five minutes and change later, Dellandrea took matters back into his own hands. First, he turned on the jets for a breakaway and was rewarded with a penalty shot when he was stymied by Collin Delia. No matter. His entombed his penalty shot chance, setting off a raucous applause from the Stars faithful.

Laxdal talked about how moments like these will be building blocks for the young players going forward. “This is really going to springboard [Dellandrea] next year going into Traverse City and Dallas Stars camp next year.”

Milwaukee won their game against Chicago, which means that for now the Texas Stars are still on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. All they can do is win the games in front of them.
“Our guys are doing what it takes to win the game. It was a playoff atmosphere. The guys banded together and found a way to win.”

The Stars play against Rockford tomorrow night at 7 PM.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Morin-Condra
Caamano-Melnick-Gurianov
Mascherin-Dellandrea-McClure
Hargrove-Gardner-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Cecconi-Gleason

Oettinger

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Nyberg, Hanna, Cuglietta, Damiani (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 6,009.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - April 5 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
35-29-4-3, 77 pts
#6 Central Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
33-28-4-6, 76 pts
#7 Central Division
April 5th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars are dead-locked with Milwaukee and Manitoba for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central division. With five games left to play in the regular season, there are plenty of reasons for optimism. However, the Rockford IceHogs would disagree that this is currently a three-team race. 

As the Stars prepare to take on Rockford in a weekend pair beginning on Friday, the IceHogs are merely one point behind the Stars in the standings and have to be thinking four points on their trip to Cedar Park. They are 6-4-0-0 in their last ten games, identical to Texas's record. To say that these games could make or break a playoff bid for the Stars is an understatement. 

The IceHogs have been buoyed all season long by a top goaltending tandem in Collin Delia and Anton Forsberg. Though they have a putrid power play, their penalty kill unit is top ten in the AHL. The formula to beat them is simple: outplay Delia or Forsberg and the Stars will win. 

On the prospect front, the Stars now possess and intriguing crop of young centers that all figure to see time in the last several games. Riley Damiani has come over from the Kitchener Rangers and could get a look in the lineup on Friday. That would give the Stars an astounding four rookie centers down the middle. But this is what they've come to expect, given that these youngsters have been at the forefront of this playoff push. 

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT.  

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

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Breathe, Texas Fans: 9 Reasons Stars Still in Great Spot for Playoffs

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Last night's results may not have been the best outcomes for the Texas Stars. Fellow playoff bubble teams Milwaukee and Manitoba each emerged with two points.

Here's why I'm still confident that Texas can make it in.
  1. The Stars have the best strength of schedule of all the clubs remaining in the race. They must play 7th place Rockford twice at home and get two of three at home with last place San Antonio. For comparison, this weekend while Texas is playing the IceHogs, the Admirals will face #1 Chicago and #3 Iowa. The SOS for Texas is .477 as of this morning, nearly .08 less than the closest team.
  2. Texas is on a three-game winning streak.
  3. Texas has four of their last five games at home and holds a .691 home winning percentage (7th best in the league).
  4. Against Rockford, Texas is 4-2 this season and has won both home games so far (5-1 on Nov 16, 4-3 SO on Jan 11).
  5. Against San Antonio, Texas is 7-3-1 this season. The AT&T Center has been friendly to Texas as well (16-14-3 in the last five years in San Antonio).
  6. Rhett Gardner and Jake Oettinger's excellent game on Saturday shows that the young kids are ready to contribute.
  7. A week of practice does everyone good, especially younger players who are learning systems. Watch for an even crisper power play this weekend. They're already 3rd best in the league (24%).
  8. Finally, everyone is on an even playing field. Every club has 71 games played and just five remaining. On an even field, Texas has a great chance. No more worrying about the games in hand.
  9. If it comes down to it, Texas has excellent ROW (regulation and overtime wins), which is the first tiebreaker if teams are tied on points at the end of the season. Manitoba and Texas both have 34.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Nicholas Caamano Named Texas Stars Nominee for IOA/American Speciality AHL Man of the Year

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have named their AHL Man of the Year nominee, Nicholas Caamano. The rookie has taken community involvement and volunteered all across Austin and Cedar Park.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, are proud to nominate Nicholas Caamano as their representative for the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Central Texas community during the 2018-19 season. Having participated in the most community events of any other player on the team, he has embraced the Austin community as his home.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Texas Stars in Pole Position to Make Playoffs Despite Idle Week

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In the midst of an idle week, the Texas Stars are stuck scoreboard watching as the rest of the division catches up to their games played mark. Everyone chasing the Stars has at least one game in hand as of today, and Manitoba has a pair.

As for some optimism, Texas has the best chance to make the playoffs of all the remaining teams, I believe. Four of their remaining games are at home, and that fifth game is in San Antonio, which is like a second home to the Stars in terms of win percentage historically. Their strength of schedule on remaining games is significantly lower than any other club as well. And finally, although it is tough to watch the rest of the division play around you, the idle week gives them a chance to fine tune systems and rest weary bodies before the final push. If Texas doesn't make the postseason here, I think something really has to go off the rails.

Here's a rundown of the relevant games for Texas through the idle week.

Texas would love some help tonight from two teams whose playoff fates are already decided. First, the playoff bound Condors faceoff against the Moose, who trail Texas by just two points but have that extra game in hand over everyone else. Bako lost their last contest but is on a 6-2-1-1 run in the last ten. The Condors have won both previous matchups this season, both in Bakersfield in December.

On the non-playoff side, the Rampage could help Texas out as they play Rockford tonight. It's not looking great though. San Antonio has picked up a win in their last game, their first victory since March 6th. Rockford has also been the loser in four of their last five. Rockford is three points back.

On Wednesday night, Bako and Manitoba play again to finish their season series. San Antonio slides over to Milwaukee to play the Admirals. The Ads are tied with Texas at the moment but with that extra game in hand.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Texas Adds More Young Center Depth with Riley Damiani

The Dallas Stars announced today the signing of Riley Damiani to a three-year entry-level deal. The centerman will report to the Texas Stars on an ATO.

Texas has been hard up for centers until recently, but the ones they've got now are quite green. Damiani is fresh off a series sweep in the opening round of the OHL playoffs. His Kitchener Rangers went down 4-0 to the Guelph Storm. Fellow Stars' prospect Liam Hawel plays for Guelph.

Damiani will be on ATO to Texas this season but report back to the OHL next season unless he makes the NHL. This is due to the NHL/CHL agreement and Damiani's age (19). More info on the NHL/CHL agreement is here.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed center Riley Damiani to a three-year, entry-level contract. Damiani will report to the Texas Stars on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

Damiani, 18, has recorded 85 points (30-55=85) in 58 regular-season games with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Damiani finished the regular season tied for 10th in the OHL and second on Kitchener with 55 assists, while he ranked 16th in the OHL and third on the team with 85 points. The center also posted on assist (0-1=1) and 13 shots on goal in four games during the 2019 OHL Playoffs. Damiani has registered 144 points (58-86=144) in 184 career regular-season OHL contests, all with Kitchener.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound native of Mississauga, Ontario was originally selected by Dallas in the fifth round (137th overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Jake Oettinger's Strong Debut, McClure's Hat Trick Lead Stars Past Wild 4-1

The Texas Stars finished a weekend sweep of the Iowa Wild with a 4-1 win in goaltender Jake Oettinger's professional debut on Saturday. With his family having flown out to Des Moines for the game, the former Boston University Terrier turned in a tidy 23 saves on 24 shots.

Winger Brad McClure paced the Stars in scoring with a natural hat trick in the third period giving the former Idaho Steelhead seven goals in his brief AHL stint. For the Stars, it was the second natural hat trick of the season, the first from Colton Hargrove last week. Nick Caamano scored the other goal for the Stars in the second period.

(credit: Iowa Wild)
The Stars have had the Wild's number all season long, finishing with 7-0-0-1 record against their divisional foes. For Iowa, the loss gives them five straight and has them suddenly looking over their shoulder in the playoff standings.

The first period was low event hockey, which helped Oettinger get his feet wet. The Stars went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and held the Wild to seven shots on goal. Oettinger only had to make one high danger save, which earned him a stick-tap to the pads from Denis Gurianov.

In the first two periods of play, Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen was equally as strong as Oettinger, if not moreso. It took twenty shots on net to finally pierce his armor. Eight minutes and change into the middle frame, Caamano squeaked one by Kahkonen for his eleventh goal of the season. Rookie center Josh Melnick had the assist on the play.

Oettinger's lone mistake in the contest happened in the second period when he played the puck just outside of the trapezoid. It was a reasonable mistake from the rookie as the trapezoid doesn't exist in the college game. The penalty was followed up by a hooking call on Erik Condra, giving the Wild over a minute of 5-on-3 play.

The Stars managed to kill the 5-on-3, but just after the 5-on-4 expired, Dmitry Solokov found just enough daylight to skitter through the slot and tie the game up.

McClure took over from there. Nearly ten minutes into the third period, Travis Morin got tied up with Nate Prosser behind the play, prompting Prosser to throw punches as Morin was falling to the ice. The resulting 4-on-4 play gave McClure the open ice to dig a puck out of the corner and bury his first goal from the slot.

Less than two minutes later, Adam Mascherin set McClure up in the slot once again for a one timer. McClure's final feat came with two and a half minutes left in regulation with a wraparound goal. Mascherin was once again awarded the primary assist.

The Stars will mostly sit idle this week while their competitors for the final playoff spot, Milwaukee and Manitoba, will have chances to catch up. For now, the Stars are still in fourth place with the aid of a bunch of ATO signings. They will next play at home against Grand Rapids on Friday.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Morin-Condra
Caamano-Melnick-Gurianov
McClure-Dellandrea-Mascherin
Hargrove-Gardner-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Gleason-Cecconi

Oettinger

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Nyberg, Hanna, Cuglietta (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was --.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Iowa - March 30 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Iowa Wild

Texas Stars
34-29-4-3, 75 pts
#4 Central Division
atIowa Wild
34-23-7-5, 82 pts
#3 Central Division
March 30th at 6:00 PM
Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA

Friday's win against the Wild was a huge boon the the Stars' playoff chances. Now they face the challenge of a second night of a back-to-back against Iowa to keep the pressure on Milwaukee and Manitoba.

"We've got four teams right in there fighting for that fourth position," said defenseman Dillon Heatherington after Wednesday's win over the Moose. "Nerves are high. Intensity is high. You have to bring your A game every night. We hope to win [all the games] outright, but we're also scoreboard watching right now too."

(credit: Iowa Wild)
With dusk settling in on the AHL season, the Stars have made an admirable stand to potentially punch their ticket to the postseason. What's incredible is that they have recently relied on rookie ATO acquisitions to stabilize their center position. One such player, Rhett Gardner, scored his first professional goal on Friday. The high stakes haven't seemed to bother the young players one bit.

"Everyone handled themselves well, especially the new guys coming in."

Iowa is pretty much sitting pretty as a lock for the third spot in the Central. They could probably use another couple wins, but they're in no real hurry. The most interesting story heading into Saturday night will be goalie-watch. Will head coach Derek Laxdal ride with Phil Desrosiers who turned in 24 saves on Friday, or rely on another youngster in Jake Oettinger? We'll know soon.

The puck drops at 6 PM CDT. 

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

Friday, March 29, 2019

Texas Vaults Back Into Playoff Spot With 5-2 Win Over Wild

For the moment, the Texas Stars are in possession of fourth place in the Central division as they beat the Iowa Wild 5-2 in the first game of a weekend pair. After the Wild scored twice in the first period, the Stars displayed a classic case of desperation and controlled the rest of the way, rattling off five unanswered goals. Three of the Stars goals came on the man advantage as they finished 3-for-4.

Recent ATO signing and Dallas Stars draft pick Rhett Gardner scored his first professional goal in the second period and tallied a helper to boot. Forwards Colin Markison and Adam Mascherin also had a goal and an assist each, and Niklas Hansson scored an insurance goal in the third period. Michael Mersch added yet another power play goal to seal the deal.

Rhett Gardner's first professional goal
(credit: Iowa Wild)
It took a whole period for the Stars to wake up and crank up the urgency. The Wild had two goals in the opening frame just over a minute apart. Eleven and a half minutes in, the Stars gave the Wild their first man advantage of the game and Gerald Mayhew had a tip-in from the slot.

The next Iowa tally came from Kyle Rau when Phil Desrosiers went down hard in traffic and Rau had a wide open net. There was no replay for goaltender interference, much to the chagrin of head coach Derek Laxdal. Desrosiers finished with 24 saves.

The Stars took over from there. Mascherin kicked off the scoring blitz by following up his own rebound after it bounced off a defender. His second attempt caught the post and went in less than three minutes into the second period. Markison tied the game about six minutes later when his power play attempt trickled past goaltender Andrew Hammond.

With less than three minutes left in the middle frame, Markison set up Gardner in front of the net to give the Stars the go-ahead goal.

The life sucked out of the Wells Fargo Arena, the Stars had only to search for the insurance goal in the third period. They found two. Eight minutes in, Hansson found the five hole on his power play goal, and Travis Morin absolutely dimed up Mersch seven minutes later to top off the 5-on-4 scoring.

As of now, the Stars have leap-frogged the idle Milwaukee Admirals for the final playoff spot. The Ads do have a game in hand over the Stars, but Texas can really pressure Milwaukee with a win over Iowa tomorrow night.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Morin-Condra
Gurianov-Melnick-Caamano
Hargrove-Gardner-Markison
McClure-Dellandrea-Mascherin

Bayreuther-Hanley
Heatherington-Hansson
Gleason-Cecconi

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Nyberg, Hanna, Cuglietta (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 8,629.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Iowa - March 29 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Iowa Wild

Texas Stars
33-29-4-3, 73 pts
#5 Central Division
atIowa Wild
34-22-7-5, 82 pts
#3 Central Division
March 29th at 7:00 PM
Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA

The Texas Stars can keep the pressure on the Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs, two teams they are battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central, with a points in a weekend pair against the Iowa Wild. Both the Ads and the Hogs have a game in hand over the Stars, but a win in Des Moines on Friday would turn up the heat.

(credit: Iowa Wild)
It doesn't matter how the points come against the Wild, whether in overtime or otherwise, as they are all but cemented as the third seed in the Central. With the Stars down to seven games left in the season, points are as good as gold. 

With Landon Bow now called back up to the Dallas Stars for the moment and Tony Calderone sent down to the Steelheads, the Stars have enough healthy bodies to get the job done. Dillon Heatherington and Travis Morin were back in the lineup for Wednesday's win over the Moose after battling illnesses. Head coach Derek Laxdal also no choice right now but to roll out his green centermen for better or for worse. It'll be interesting to see how the youngsters respond in high stakes play down the stretch.

Speaking of youngsters, the door is now wide open for Jake Oettinger to get a start in net. It has been confirmed that the goalie's family is flying out to Des Moines. Will Laxdal and company pull the trigger on giving him a start? The likely scenario is that Phil Desrosiers at the very least gets game one on Friday.

The puck drops at 7 PM CDT. 

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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Forward Tony Calderone Heads to Idaho Steelheads

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Further evidence that Texas is satisfied with its new forward pool came today as the Stars assigned Tony Calderone to the Idaho Steelheads. The first-year forward has made two previous appearances with the Steelheads, totaling 14 points in 18 games. Calderone had not played for Texas since March 17th.

Here's the release:
Forward Tony Calderone has returned to the Idaho Steelheads on assignment by the Dallas Stars (NHL) from the Texas Stars (AHL), Steelheads Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Neil Graham announced Thursday.

Calderone, 24, has played in 33 games with AHL Texas this season, posting five goals and five assists for 10 points with one game-winning goal. The Trenton, Mich., native makes his third stint with the Steelheads this season, owning six goals and eight assists for 14 points through 18 games with two power play goals and coming off a four-game point streak in his most recent trip to Idaho. He recorded one assist in his ECHL debut on Nov. 7, 2018 against Tulsa and scored his first ECHL goal on Nov. 30, 2018 over Jacksonville. Calderone was signed to a two-year, entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars on Apr. 9, 2018.

Goalie Landon Bow Heads to Dallas; Will Oettinger Get a Start as a Result?

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In a move that surprises precisely no one, the Dallas Stars announced this morning that they have recalled Landon Bow to the NHL. Late in last night's game in Calgary, Dallas starter Ben Bishop was injured, necessitating the recall.

Dallas plays tonight in Edmonton, so Bow will make quick work of a long travel day to get there by puck drop.

With two games this weekend for Texas, the recall increases the likelihood that ATO Jake Oettinger makes his pro debut in Iowa. Even before the recall, Coach Laxdal indicated he "wouldn't rule out" a start for Oettinger. Sean Shapiro of The Athletic reported last night that Oettinger's parents are en route to Des Moines, so read into that what you will.

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

Bow, 23, made his NHL debut for the Stars this season and has appeared in two contests, logging a 1.03 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. In 46 games played for Texas this season, he owns a record of 24-15-5 with a .893 SV%, a 2.89 GAA and one shutout. Bow ranks sixth in the AHL with 24 wins in 2018-19.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound native of St. Albert, Alberta was originally undrafted and signed as a free agent by Dallas on March 10, 2017.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Texas Stars Top Manitoba 3-2, Earning Crucial Points in Tight Playoff Race

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Stars captured two critical points tonight in a head-to-head matchup with one of the four teams chasing the last playoff spot. In a crucial 4-on-4 sequence, Texas got a pair of tallies by two veterans within 34 seconds to go from down 2-1 to up 3-2, which would be the final score.

"It was a tight game," said head coach Derek Laxdal. "Every play that we make, every play that we stop, there was a lot of consequences to it, especially when we're down 2-1 and we have to battle back to tie it."

Dillon Heatherington scored the first game-winning goal of his career, a beauty of a backhander on a homerun pass from Erik Condra.

"I just saw Condra with the puck coming up the ice and saw a lapse in their D," said Heatherington. "I took a chance and their D man knocked down the flip so it worked out perfectly. I just went in there and went to the backhand."


Laxdal called tonight's game the best of Heatherington's season, "You can see that he had an energy in his persona before the game that he was going to help will this team to a win tonight."

With the W, Texas rises to 5th place in the Central Division, tied with Milwaukee. The Admirals defeated the IceHogs tonight to hit 73 points but in one fewer game than Texas, giving them the tiebreak.

"We're battling Milwaukee, Manitoba," added Laxdal. "Tonight's game was so big. If you lose in regulation, the separation between you and Manitoba almost knocks you out of the playoffs."

Texas got the first goal of the evening off the stick of Joel Hanley. Early in the first period, Hanley snuck down low and put what seemed to be a harmless backhand on net. The puck skittered along the ice and through the five hole of Mikhail Berdin. The next best chance of the frame came as Dellandrea's line buzzed the net and caught Berdin behind the cage on a puck that bounced out to the slot. The Moose goalie made it back just in time to halt Nick Caamano's bid with his glove.

The Moose answered in the second period on a fluky goal. Breaking in 1-on-3, Marko Dano just dumped one on net as he crossed the Texas blue line. Landon Bow got most of it but not all of it. The puck trickled in five hole, definitely one that Bow wants back in the worst way.

Late in the second with the Stars on the penalty kill, Caamano had a knee-on-knee hit as he covered the point. He finished the shift but limped to the bench afterwards and was clearly in a lot of pain. He waved off trainer Shay McGlynn but would come back in the third.

Seth Griffith scored his 13th of the year to put Manitoba up 2-1 early in the third period. There was no panic in the Stars' game, according to Heatherington. "It was a situation that we've become familiar with this year a little bit. That's not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is. Everyone handled themselves well, especially the new guys coming in."

Some tussling in the corner led to a 4-on-4 sequence where Texas stepped up with the open ice. Michael Mersch nabbed a puck right off a Manitoba defender on a backcheck and turned around to score unassisted high over Berdin's blocker.

With the building already on fire, Heatherington's goal burned the place down as Texas reclaimed the lead and would not relinquish it.

"I thought that there was good poise on the bench, especially in the last five minutes of the game, where we didn't give up a lot, we didn't panic. Our key guys like Heatherington, Hanley, Bayreuther [were] shutting down their top two lines."

The Stars will look to bottle this up and hit the road against Iowa on Friday.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Melnick-Condra
Gurianov-Dellandrea-Caamano
Hargrove-Gardner-Markison
McClure-Morin-Mascherin

Bayreuther-Hanley
Heatherington-Hansson
Gleason-Cecconi

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Desrosiers, Hanna, Nyberg, Calderone, Cuglietta (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 4,967.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Manitoba - March 27 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Manitoba Moose

Texas Stars
32-29-4-3, 71 pts
#7 Central Division
v.Manitoba Moose
33-27-4-2, 72 pts
#4 Central Division
March 27th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

I think this is the part of the season called "put up or shut up."

While the Stars might find themselves in seventh place by the standings, just a single point separates them from fourth place and the current holders of that playoff spot come to town tonight. The other two, Rockford and Milwaukee, are also in action this evening at the exact same time.

A schedule with more playoff implications couldn't have been constructed if you tried.

The most important thing right now, and this should be obvious, is to get the two points. The next most important thing is to ensure Manitoba gets zero points. Going to OT would be fine if Texas is down late, but giving away points to another club when a single point could decide the entire playoff race is criminal.

(Credit: Texas Stars)

The Stars assigned Colton Point to Idaho yesterday afternoon, but they've still got three goalies on the roster. New collegiate signee addition Jake Oettinger is on the roster and eligible to play tonight. You have to figure that the former BU Terrier was coaxed out of college with the prospect of some playing time this spring.

Manitoba comes in with momentum, winning their last three, including two on the road at Colorado. Ever since closing their pre-Christmas schedule five games below .500, they've been on a tear. It would have been completely understandable if you left them for dead at that point. Since Christmas, they're 22-11-2-2, a pace that would lead the division were they able to maintain it all season.

The Moose have added a pair of ATOs last week, but neither has played a game yet. Manitoba has had Texas's number overall this year, owning a 5-1-1 record in the season series. Forwards Marko Dano and Logan Shaw have been Star killers this year with eight points each against Texas. Michael Mersch and Travis Morin lead the way for Texas with 2-3=5 for both of them.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
L'Esperance, Dowling (call up)