Thursday, January 31, 2019

Depleted Stars Give Up Four Unanswered Goals in 5-3 Loss to Griffins

The Texas Stars lost a 5-3 decision to the Central-leading Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday night. Forwards Tony Calderone, Joel L’Esperance, and Michael Mersch each had a goal for the Stars, but Grand Rapids found the back of the net four straight times over the span of the second half of the game.

“We got the game to 3-1, and we had only given up thirteen shots,” said Stars head coach Derek Laxdal. “We had a turnover in the slot that ended up in our net. It kind of gave them a little bit of life, and from that point on they had a big push in the second period. They were kind of sleepy, and I think we woke them up.”

(credit: Texas Stars)
Before the game, the Stars found themselves without several key forwards due to the call-ups of Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz. Stars captain Justin Dowling and fourth line speedster Colin Markison are both nursing lower body injuries. With a deployment of eleven forwards and seven defensemen, Shane Hanna was used in a utility role and filled in admirably.

“I thought Shane did a good job tonight. I thought he was really good up front there. Obviously, he’s detailed player, he’s got a little bite in his game. I like the way he played.”

The shuffling of personnel worked well in the first half of the game. Seven minutes and change into the contest, Calderone threw a fluttering puck at Griffins goaltender Harri Sateri from the high slot and found twine for his third goal of the year.

“Calderone played up in the lineup, and I thought it was one of his better games of the year. He’s starting to come in his development so we want to see that continue to move along.”

Five minutes later, the Stars defense was caught too far up ice, which sprung a 3-on-1 rush the other way. Griffins forward Dominic Turgeon scored on a pretty tic-tac-toe play. L’Esperance’s goal gave the Stars back the lead when he cleaned up a loose puck on the power play three minutes later. The tally gave L’Esperance a temporary edge over Griffins winger Chris Terry for the number one slot in league goal-scoring.

“We’ve been struggling on the power play, and to get a couple tonight, it was a good thing going into next week,” said L’Esperance. “We gotta find a way to get to the net. When we get there, we’re good, and we’ve got to find ways to put it in the net when we get there.”

Five minutes into the second period, L’Esperance drew a hooking call by doing just that. Michael Mersch did the rest on the power play when he crammed in a rebound from in close to push the Stars lead to two.

Then the wheels came off.

The Griffins possessed the puck on virtually every shift for the rest of the second period and outshot the Stars 23-6 in the frame. “I think we kind of shot ourselves in the foot with the penalties. Kind of lost our momentum when we took those penalties in the second, and I think we never really got it back.”

Near the halfway point, the Stars coughed up the puck in their own zone, and Terry got a piece of the offering from the slot, to cut into the Stars lead and take away L’Esperances goal-scoring lead. For Laxdal, that was where the Griffins woke up.

“If you look back at the game, the second goal was probably the biggest turning point.”

Two minutes later, Michael Rasmussen scored on the power play to knot the game at three. Rasmussen would later add an empty net goal to his score sheet.

Laxdal made some strategic moves heading into the third period. Among players who wouldn’t see any ice time in the final frame were defenseman John Nyberg and forward James Phelan. “We’ve got some guys up in Dallas, so there’s an opportunity for some guys to really step up in the lineup. I benched [Phelan[ because he made some mistakes on the goal. Some guys are rising to the occasion and some guys aren’t.”

It took less than three minutes for the Griffins to strike in the third. Dominic Shine cleaned up a loose puck to give the Griffins the lead for good. The Stars didn’t take a penalty in the frame and made a good push to find the equalizer, but close doesn’t count.

Nic Caamano had a golden back door chance on a wide open net when the Stars pulled Bow in the waning minutes of the game, but he mishandled the puck.

“I thought Caamano had a great look there to tie it up 4-4. We had a couple other looks that we just didn’t score on. They did a good job defending, and their goalie made the big saves when counted upon.”

Rasmussen’s empty netter sent most of the fans to the exits with close to thirty seconds left of play.

For Laxdal, the message for the players after this one was simple: “Tonight was a huge four point game. If you look at our next two months, we play our Central division a lot. If you can’t sustain or play with pressure, you won’t be in the lineup.”

The Stars hit the road for a four-game stretch over the next two weeks. The first will be on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Admirals.

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

Heatherington-Hanley
Bayreuther-Hansson
Nyberg-Gleason
Hanna

Bow

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

Tonight’s attendance was 4,751.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - January 31 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
21-17-3-2, 49 pts
#5 Central Division
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
25-14-3-4, 57 pts
#1 Central Division
January 31st at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

(credit: Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars are back at it after a much needed period of rest. The sledding doesn't get any easier, as they will take on the Central-leading Grand Rapids Griffins.

Head coach Derek Laxdal recently talked about how tired the team was following in the midst of and following a fruitless road trip in which they dropped five straight. Fatigue was bound to set in at some point, seeing that the Stars played seven games in the span of only eleven days. That's exhausting no matter how young and athletic you are.

The All Star break came at just the right time for the reeling Stars. It gave them a healthy dose of rest and some time to get back to practice. Stars captain Justin Dowling opined after last game that it's hard to get back to winning when there is no time for practice. Think of this as a reset as the Stars look to push up the standings for the remainder of the season.

They'll have to do it without Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov. The two dynamic forwards appear to be staying in Dallas for the long haul this season.

These two teams have squared off three times this season with the Stars coming away with four points. Griffins winger Chris Terry paces his team in scoring at a point per game clip and remains near the top of the league in that category. Curiously, the Griffins are dead last in the league on the power play. The Stars can also find success on the man advantage, as Grand Rapids is below average on the kill.

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Denis Gurianov Recalled To Dallas Stars

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Following his All-Star Game appearance in the AHL, Denis Gurianov has been recalled to the Dallas Stars. He's likely to slot in on the fourth line with the also recently-recalled Roope Hintz.

If everything goes to plan, I feel like this should be the last time either player is recalled to Dallas. That's because they'll stick. The speed that both bring to the lineup is important for the NHL club's success.

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

Gurianov, 21, has skated in 33 AHL contests with Texas so far in 2018-19, registering 34 points (13-21=34). Among team leaders, he ranks third in assists (21) and fourth in points (34) and goals (13). In 12 NHL games with Dallas this season, he has posted three points (1-2=3) and an average 11:19 of ice time.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound native of Togliatti, Russia was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (12th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Forward Roope Hintz Heads Back to Dallas Stars

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Roope Hintz has been recalled to the Dallas Stars this morning. The speedy forward was sent down for the All-Star Break and recalled today as Tyler Pitlick was placed on IR.

Before the AHL All-Star Break, defenseman Connor Carrick was also recalled from his conditioning loan.

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

Hintz, 22, has skated in 21 AHL contests with Texas this season and has recorded 22 points (9-13=22). He shares sixth on the club in goals (9) and eighth in power play goals (2). The forward has recorded five points (2-3=5) in 25 NHL contests with Dallas in 2018-19.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Tampere, Finland was originally selected by Dallas in the second round (49th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

In a related move, the Dallas Stars have placed right wing Tyler Pitlick on Injured Reserve (upper body) retroactive to Jan. 17.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Gurianov, L'Esperance Combine for Seven Points in AHL All-Star Classic

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Texas Stars forwards Denis Gurianov and Joel L'Esperance dazzled in the All-Star Classic tonight, but the Central Division didn't have the overall muster to make it to the final round. Gurianov notched two goals and two assists while L'Esperance knocked back a goal and two assists across the three mini-games of the round-robin tournament.

The Central was unlucky in the contest, losing to both Eastern Conference Divisions and picking up their lone victory against the Pacific Division.

Gurianov's four points tied him with several others for second place in the scoring race behind Drake Batherson (5-0=5) in the round-robin portion.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Gurianov and L'Esperance Contribute to West Victory in Skills Challenge

Texas Stars forwards Denis Gurianov and Joel L'Esperance participated in the AHL Skills Challenge on Sunday night, helping the West edge the East 17-14. Both players were featured in three of the seven events.

(credit: Texas Stars)
Gurianov had a respectable showing in the Fastest Skater event, clocking a time of 13:703. The Russian winger nearly lost his edge on a turn, and probably would've fared better with another shot. Rochester Americans defenseman Brendan Guhle had an impressive attempt and finished with the fourth fastest time in league history. San Antonio Rampage forward upstaged him to end up third all time.

Florida Panthers prospect and Springfield Thunderbirds forward Anthony Greco outshone them all. Before the festivities, Greco made it clear that he was there to beat the record. His 13:251 not only locked him in for first place all time and dazzled the home crowd, it even beat Connor McDavid's time from the NHL Skills Competition the other night.

Gurianov's trio did not manage to score during the 3-on-0 event. The speedy forward did contribute to a comeback for the West during the breakaway event in which players are basically given a penalty shot on a goaltender. He strung a series of dekes together to finish with a soft backhand push that trickled the puck over the line.

L'Esperance also contributed during his breakaway chance. He was also featured in the Rapid Fire and Accuracy Shooting Challenges. He only managed to hit the two targets in the top corners on eight shots while picking his spots. He probably would've liked a better result, but the fact that L'Esperance is featured at all during his rookie season speaks his spectacular season so far.

Both Stars players will take part in tomorrow's All Star Classic.



How to Watch the AHL's All-Star Weekend

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars will send two players to this evening's Skills Competition and tomorrow's game in Springfield, Massachusetts. Joel L'Esperance and Denis Gurianov will represent Texas, and you have multiple options to watch them from the comfort of your own home here in central Texas.

The no cost way to watch is via WatchTheAHL.com, where the league will be streaming all of the festivities for no cost.

Additionally, for those you with NHL Network in your cable or satellite package, the skills competition and game will both be broadcast there as well.

Both events start at 6:00 PM Central on their respective nights, tonight and tomorrow.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Stars Snap Home Point Streak, Drop Tough 4-1 Contest to Gulls

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
Texas started out behind the eight ball in this one and never recovered. A 2-0 deficit in the first period was all San Diego needed to claim two points tonight in a 4-1 final. The Stars only goal came in the second period as AHL All-Star Joel L'Esperance ripped one to the top corner off the rush.

"It seems to be a tendency right now that we have slow starts," said captain Justin Dowling. "We have to figure out a way to motivate ourselves to be ready right from the get go."

Texas is now 1-6 in their last seven and snapped their home point streak at 12 (11-0-0-1). The road trip was a back-breaker for the club, "When we go on the road there and have a bad stretch, it zaps the life out of you. We have to figure out a way to battle out of this."

The All-Star Break is coming at the best possible time for the Stars, who need to rest both their minds and bodies. Coach Laxdal noted, "We've played a lot of hockey here and now we can rest."

Corey Tropp's tenth of the year came as the forward was left unmarked in front of the net. Ben Street found him from the corner on a solid dish for the opening goal. Three minutes later, Street got one for himself. The Stars lost a post-icing faceoff clean to the point, where Jacob Larsson wired it to the net with a tip by Street.

It was a rough period for Texas, one of their poorest showings at home in recent memory.

Texas would get one back in the second, but not before San Diego extended the lead to 3-0. It was a harsh goal as Texas had just had easily their best shift of the game to that point. In the offensive zone, Caamano, Hintz and Gurianov had a pair of chances but chased back to see a five-hole shot end up in their net.

"We had some good looks there we didn't bury on," said Laxdal. "We just couldn't find the back of the net."

Joel L'Esperance scored for Texas 90 seconds later to cut the lead to two. Sam Laberge found the All-Star forward on the rush. He wired one to the top-left corner.

Colton Hargrove, Gurianov and Laberge all had great chances as the period continued, but good luck by netminder Kevin Boyle kept them out of the net. The Stars were buzzing as the frame ended and looked to push that momentum into the third even as they held a 2-13-2-0 record when trailing after two.

Texas got their chances on the power play in the final frame but couldn't close the gap. As they pushed more, San Diego got their fourth, Ben Street's second of the night. Texas would empty the net with nearly four minutes remaining in the game.

Philippe Desrosiers took the loss, dropping to 3-5 on the season, with 28 saves on 32 shots. Kevin Boyle was fantastic for San Diego, stopping 24 of 25.

Texas is next in action on Thursday against Grand Rapids.

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

Bayreuther-Carrick
Heatherington-Hanley
Hanna-Gleason

Desrosiers

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

Tonight’s attendance was 6,863, Texas's second consecutive sellout.

Sam Laberge had a solid game despite the loss. Laxdal: "He brought a lot of energy. He's trying to stay in the lineup and he'll push ahead of some other guys. Other guys didn't have fresh legs."

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Diego - January 26 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
22-16-3-2, 49 pts
#4 Central Division
v.San Diego Gulls
21-13-2-3, 47 pts
#4 Pacific Division
January 26th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Since the last time these two met up, San Diego has actually lost a few games. Heck, last night the Gulls dropped a game in San Antonio.

Last night, Coach Laxdal noted that his guys were very tired coming off the trip. Tonight, it will be doubly so. It will be important for Texas to score early and not get behind early, which has been an issue in some games where they've had trouble.

Former Dallas Star Adam Cracknell has had the game-winning goal in the last two San Diego wins. His season has bounced him around the NHL and AHL from AHL Toronto to the Ducks org.  He's a point per game player (7-6=13 in 13 GP) for San Diego and a threat to score on any play.

Bizarrely, it's the end of the season series between these two teams. They're only playing twice this year. The schedule is rather strange in that way. For example, Colorado doesn't play Texas at all.

This is the last game before the All-Star Break, and Texas will be sending two players to the game: Denis Gurianov and Joel L'Esperance.

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

Hintz and Gurianov Help Texas Snap Skid in 5-4 Win Over Stockton

The Texas Stars were glad to be back in Cedar Park in a 5-4 win over the Stockton Heat that snapped a five-game losing streak. Recently sent to the AHL on conditioning assignments, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, and Connor Carrick all scored for the Stars to help the cause. Adam Mascherin and Nic Caamano also tallied in the victory.

(credit: Texas Stars)
“When you’re trying to get back into that win column, it just seems like that road is so long,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “That’s a big win coming off that road trip. You don’t realize how tired our guys were today. Give them a lot of credit for the effort they put in. We talked a lot about second efforts, and I thought we had a lot of those tonight.”

The effort was certainly there for the Stars, and it led to some of the breaks and bounces that didn’t seem to come during the road skid.

After goaltender Landon Bow stymied the unmarked Spencer Foo early in the game, the Stars came to life very quickly. They strung together a few positive offensive shifts and forced the Heat to ice the puck. Carrick cashed in on a slap shot from the point on the ensuing shift for his first goal with the AHL club.

The lead was short-lived as the Stars committed a major hockey sin and allowed a goal on the following shift. Heat winger Buddy Robinson finished a 2-on-1 on a pretty feed from Tyler Graovac to silence the building.

In the second period, the game took on a much chippier tone as both teams were clutching, grabbing, and generally getting under one another’s skin. Caamano dropped the gloves with heavyweight winger Anthony Peluso and did not get the better end of the exchange. “Caamy did a great job tonight. He was physical, he stood up for his teammate. He didn’t realize he was fighting one of the toughest guys in the league, but give him credit.”

The Stars would go on to outshoot the Heat 8-3 in the frame as they got goals from Mascherin and Gurianov.

Mascherin’s goal thirty seconds into the frame came on a lucky bounce from a Joel Hanley shot. The offering caught Mascherin up high and awkwardly dribbled through Tyler Parsons’ five hole. This was the type of bounce that was menacingly absent during the road trip. “We got a break on our second goal. It hit Masch in the face and went in the net. But give our guys credit for hanging in there.”

Twelve minutes into the stanza, Andrew Mangiapane scored right after a Heat power play expired to knot the game up at two.

Gurianov’s goal was the answer with a little over two minutes left before intermission. As he’s been known to do, Gurianov turned on the jets, beat the defense clean to the net and went backhand for the prettiest goal of the game. Hintz notched the primary assist on the play and made a good read to set up the Russian winger for the rush.

“I like playing with [Hintz],” said Gurianov. “He’s a smart player, fast skater. He has a great shot. He can find me and we understand each other pretty well.”

Power forward Joel L’Esperance had a monster sequence near the eleven minute marker in the third period to help give the Stars a cushion. First, he forced a turnover on the penalty kill and nearly crammed home a shorthanded goal. Hintz stepped out of the penalty box seconds later, and L’Esperance found him on the breakaway to give the Stars a 4-2 lead.

“I was feeling good tonight,” said Hintz. “Nice passes. It’s easier to get behind the defense when you get good passes from your linemates.”

Laxdal was very complimentary of his two young speedsters in Hintz and Gurianov. “Roope and Deni, their game has picked up right where they left off when they came down from Dallas. You saw their speed tonight, and they both scored on breakaways. When you’ve got a player coming at you that fast, you force guys to make mistakes.”

Foo was not to be denied with five minutes left of play on another unmarked, point blank chance after defenseman Ben Gleason coughed it up in the defensive zone. “The game should’ve ended at 4-2. [Gleason] made a mistake. He just seems to have a little too much time sometimes, and he wants to try and complicate the play. And he got stung on it.”

Another Heat forward, Andrew Mangipane, really made the home crowd sweat with his game-tying goal a minute and change later. Bow was caught out of position as he tried to play the puck and was just a little too late to thwart the redirect.

On the very next shift, Caamano cleaned up the garbage as he crashed the net hard to restore the lead, which the Stars wouldn’t relinquish. It was a big moment for the young forward after putting his well-being on the line against Peluso earlier in the game for the sake of the team. “That’s the type of game that’s going to help him springboard his career.”

“When you’re on a little bit of a slide like we were on that road trip, it was good to come back and play in front of our fans and have a full house here. I thought it gave us a lot of good energy. We just found a way to close out and get the win.”

The Stars are back at it on Saturday evening against the San Diego Gulls. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.

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

Bayreuther-Carrick
Heatherington-Hanley
Nyberg-Gleason

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Payne, Phelan, Hanna, Laberge, Hansson (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 6,883.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Stockton - January 25 2019

Friday, January 25, 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
21-16-3-2, 47 pts
#5 Central Division
v.Stockton Heat
17-19-4-1, 39 pts
#6 Pacific Division
January 25th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX
(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
No one is happy after two weeks on the road without one single point in the standings to show for it. The Texas Stars head back to the comforts of Cedar Park to take on the Stockton Heat on Friday as they lick their wounds from a winless five-game stretch on the West coast. 

Last week, when the Stars faced them in Northern California, we reported that the Heat are last in the league in goals allowed. If anything, that was an omen that the Stars could get their suddenly struggling offense back on track. They proceeded to pepper goaltender Tyler Parsons with 51 shots while only scoring twice. Go figure.

Making predictions is a dangerous game to play, especially considering what we all thought would happen on the road just now. But signs points to this team playing angry on Friday, relishing the opportunity to beat up on an inferior opponent. They would never say those words, but that has to be the mindset. The alternative is to play scared and lose belief in a team we all had penciled in for the playoffs five minutes ago.

Look for the offense to come alive at home. The Stars will still ice Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov for the time being to go with their second and third lines that can easily be any team's top group.

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST. 

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Texas Stars Lose Fifth Straight, Complete Winless Road Trip with Loss in Tucson

(Credit: Tucson Roadrunners)
It was bad off the hop tonight for Texas, and it just never got any better. Turnovers and bad bounces were the death knell for the Stars, who dropped their fifth straight game. This one came by a 4-0 score. They close the road trip winless and on an eight game road losing streak overall. It was the first time Texas has been shutout all season.

Landon Bow got the start and only snagged three of the six shots he faced before getting the pull. It wasn't as much a pull for Bow's performance as it was for the rest of the team's. Tucson's Adin Hill collected the shutout.

Texas had a bad luck bounce early when a puck deflected past Bow off Justin Dowling's skate. Cam Dineen's third of the year made it 1-0. A pair of turnovers just over a minute apart set the score at 3-0. The third goal was particularly egregious as Texas evacuated the zone before they managed to clear the puck. It came back on them 2-on-1.

Philippe Desrosiers would take the net over at that point. Texas got out of the period without anymore damage. They put the lines in the blender to start the second, looking to spark something. The Stars had some good chances in the frame, including Travis Morin shot off the post around the halfway mark of the period and a late effort from Dowling and Gurianov halted by Adin Hill.

Any chance of a third period comeback was squelched by Texas's continued march to the penalty box. Three penalty kills in the first half of the period gave way to an empty net with more than four minutes left. Fasching would add an empty net goal to close the game at 4-0.

Texas returns home to face Stockton and San Diego this weekend before the All-Star Break.

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

Bayreuther-Carrick
Heatherington-Hanley
Gleason-Nyberg

Bow
Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Payne, Calderone, Hanna, Laberge, Hansson (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was not announced at press time.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Tucson - January 23 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Tucson Roadrunners

Texas Stars
21-15-3-2, 47 pts
#4 Central Division
atTucson Roadrunners
22-11-3-1, 48 pts
#2 Pacific Division
January 23rd at 8:05 PM
Tucson Convention Center, Tucson, AZ

Note: Defenseman John Nyberg was recalled from Idaho last night.

It's a tale of two Texas Stars clubs as January rolls on. Monday's third period collapse marked the Stars' fourth straight loss, all on the road. If you are looking solely at the away ledger, Texas is 0-6-1 stretching back to an overtime win in Rockford back on December 15th.

Without a road win in over a month, Texas is only keeping itself afloat in the standings when they could be surging ahead to secure a berth firmly. Indeed, this is the tale of two teams. At home, Texas is tied with Grand Rapids for the second-best home record in the league (.762, just a thousandth behind Bridgeport). On the road, you could easily mistake Texas for a club out of the running. At .375, they are the 6th worst club in the league when they hit the road.
(Credit: Tucson Roadrunners)
It's hard to say exactly what's going wrong. The Stars are arguably icing their best roster since opening night with the recent addition of Condra, Hintz, Gurianov and Carrick from Dallas. Rockford on Saturday was a goalie getting hot on the other side; Tucson on Monday was just one of those games that got away from the Stars. You aim for .500 hockey on the road and are elated with anything you can get above that.

To that point, Texas should have had the first two game of this trip. Landon Bow did his job in stopping all but two shots, usually enough to win in this league. The offense just couldn't activate. On Monday, the offense was clicking but Bow had an off game. Everything needs to come together on the same night to have success. If Texas can get their offense and defense going on the same night, they've got a good chance against any team in the league home or away. Tonight's game is the last of their trip and has a chance to send them into their home stand weekend with some momentum.

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

Texas Stars Can't Snap Road Skid, Fall to Tucson 6-3

The Texas Stars lost their fourth straight game on Monday in a 5-3 defeat to the Tucson Roadrunners. All four losses have come on the road, and that makes seven straight in their current skid away from Cedar Park.

The calvary came for the Stars in the form of a conditioning assignment to help them break the cycle. The assignment netted them Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, and Connor Carrick, giving them the means to ice perhaps the deepest lineup they’ve had since opening night. There was an expected scoring boost, but the results were just as vexing as the previous road losses.

MLK Day should generally connote a day of remembrance. It was anything but for Landon Bow. He finished with fourteen saves on only nineteen shots. Although he was the victim of a few too many odd-man rushes, one or two saves here or there would’ve made all the difference.

The start for Texas was positive as promising young blue liner Gavin Bayreuther scored just after three minutes into the first period. The early tally bucked the recent annoying road trend of the Stars having to chase the game from behind.

The Stars struck twice in the second period, but the Roadrunners gave an answer each time and tallied three goals of their own. The first goal they gave up came when the Roadrunners earned over a minute of 5-on-3 play nearly three minutes into the period. AHL All Star defenseman, and Tucson’s leading scorer, Kyle Capobianco blistered a one timer for the first of his two goals in the game.

The Stars responded to the tying goal about five minutes later when Nick Caamano set up Gurianov on a 2-on-1 rush. However, Tucson forward Michael Bunting clapped back in less than three minutes when he went short side on the rush. Bow did a poor job of sealing the post and should’ve made the save.

Michael Mersch got a stick on Ben Gleason’s offering from the point on the power play to restore the Texas lead near the fourteen minute marker. Just as before, the Roadrunners responded when they needed to, and Lane Pederson put back a rebound generated by Bunting within another three minute block to knot it up at three.

Things really went off the rails for the Stars in the third period. Tucson winger Hudson Fasching went bar down after forcing a neutral zone turnover that led to a breakaway less than two minutes into the final frame.

Capobianco’s second goal came on a 3-on-2 rush halfway through the period. The Stars took two ill-timed penalties during that part of the game, when they should’ve been pushing for some offense. Instead, they were left with no choice but to pull Bow with about four minutes left, leading to a goal from David Ullstrom.

The Stars stay in the desert and will play the Roadrunners again on Wednesday. The puck drops at 8:05 PM CST.

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

Bayreuther-Carrick
Heatherington-Hanley
Gleason-Hansson

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Payne, Calderone, Hanna, Laberge (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 3,776.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Tucson - January 21 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Tucson Roadrunners

Texas Stars
21-14-3-2, 47 pts
#4 Central Division
atTucson Roadrunners
21-11-3-1, 46 pts
#2 Pacific Division
January 21st at 5:05 PM
Tucson Convention Center, Tucson, AZ

[Ed. Note: D Nolan Gluchowski was reassigned to Idaho yesterday evening.]

The Texas Stars need to get off the schneid in a hurry if they are going to make anything of this recent gut-punch of a road trip. They'll have their chance on Monday evening in Tucson against their second round opponent from last season's playoffs, the Roadrunners. 

The Stars have lost three straight, but it's not as if they're getting dominated. They're actually playing the right way in a lot of situations and outshooting their opponents by a sizable margin. It sounds so simple, but their main troubles stem from an inability to find the back of the net right now. 

(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
It's a safe bet that inserting three NHL-caliber players into the lineup will help matters. Forwards Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz, along with defenseman Connor Carrick, have been assigned to Texas for a conditioning stint while the Dallas Stars are on All Star break. The reprieve could not have come any sooner for Texas. Time will tell if both Gurianov and Hintz are called back up, but Carrick will be a lock for a cup of coffee in the AHL. 

Sitting in second place in the Pacific division, the Roadrunners are paced by their AHL All Star defenseman Kyle Capobianco, who leads the team with 29 points. Interestingly, the Roadrunners are winning their games in the strangest ways. Their power play is near the bottom of the league (24th), their penalty kill is average (15th), and both of their goaltenders have a save percentage below .900. 

Perhaps the boost to the Stars lineup will yield dividends, and the puck luck will run out for the Roadrunners for the moment. The puck drops at 5:05 PM CST. 

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

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Joel L'Esperance Named to AHL All-Star Squad

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Amid so many games, one great bit of news for the Texas Stars was Joel L'Esperance being named to the AHL All-Star roster as a replacement for Brandon Pirri. Honestly, L'Esperance probably should have been on the roster to begin with, having the second-most goals in the league as a rookie. Nevermind that though. The AHL always has dropouts from the game due to recall to the NHL, so L'Esperance's name was sure to be called.

Here's the release:
The American Hockey League announced today several changes to the playing rosters for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield, to be held January 27-28 in Springfield, Mass.

Texas Stars forward Joel L’Esperance, Manitoba Moose forward Logan Shaw, and Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Troy Grosenick have been added to the Central Division roster. Charlotte Checkers forward Andrew Poturalski has also been added to the Atlantic Division roster for next week’s event.

In addition, Charlotte’s Janne Kuokkanen, Manitoba’s Mason Appleton, Rockford’s Collin Delia and Chicago’s Brandon Pirri will be unavailable for the event.

L’Esperance ranks first among AHL rookies and second overall with 22 goals for the Stars this season. Shaw has 26 points in 32 AHL games this season, including 21 points in 25 games with the Moose. Grosenick ranks third in the league with a .921 save percentage and eighth with a 2.46 goals-against average in 22 appearances for the Admirals. Poturalski is currently tied for third in the AHL in scoring with 42 points (17g, 25a) in 42 games for the Checkers.

Dallas Assigns Hintz, Gurianov and Carrick at Bye Week

(Credit: Texas Stars)
As the Dallas Stars hit their combined bye week and All-Star Break, they have assigned three players to the Texas Stars. Immediately following last night's game against Winnipeg, Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz were assigned to Texas. Defenseman Connor Carrick, who missed significant time with injury over the last few months, was also assigned on a conditioning loan.

Texas hasn't seen any conditioning assignments for a few seasons. By rule, they must last no longer than 14 days. I would assume Carrick is recalled as soon as the break is over.

Gurianov's assignment also means he will be available for the AHL All-Star Classic.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has reassigned right wing Denis Gurianov and center Roope Hintz to the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). Additionally, the club assigned defenseman Connor Carrick to Texas on a conditioning loan.



Gurianov, 21, has skated in 12 NHL games with Dallas this season, logging three points (1-2=3) and an average 11:19 of ice time. He has recorded 31 points (11-20=31) in 29 AHL contests with Texas so far in 2018-19. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound native of Togliatti, Russia was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (12th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.



Hintz, 22, has recorded five points (2-3=5) in 25 NHL contests with Dallas in 2018-19. In 17 AHL contests with Texas this season, he has 19 points (8-11=19). The 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Tampere, Finland was originally selected by Dallas in the second round (49th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.



Carrick, 24, has skated in 13 NHL games with Dallas this season and has tallied four points (1-3=4). The 5-foot-11, 192-pound native of Orland Park, Ill. was acquired by Dallas via trade on Oct. 1, 2018 from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a conditional seventh-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Early Deficit Dooms Texas Stars Despite 51 Shots on Net

(Credit: Asvitt Photography/Stockton Heat)
In what has become an unfortunate trend on this road trip, Texas fell behind early and could not overcome the deficit, losing by a single goal to a Stockton team that they should have beaten. After hitting 2-0, the Stars and Heat exchanged goals as Texas got within one goal twice.

The story of the contest was the unexpected play of Tyler Parson in net for the Heat. It took 31 shots before Texas pierced the netminder, and the Stars eclipsed 50 shots in the contest overall. For a team that averages four goals against per game, the Heat did not look it tonight. It wasn't a bad game by Texas; it was hot goaltending.

Texas has lost three games for the first time since the first week of November.

Within three minutes late in the first, Stockton made it a 1-2 punch to go up two. Alan Quine and Glenn Gawdin notched their 13th and 9th of the year, respectively.

Colin Markison would make it 2-1 with a jam at the goal line. Dillon Dube got it back in the third period to make it 3-1 but Shane Hanna scored quickly to make it 3-2 off the pass from Sam Laberge. Markison's secondary assist gave him two points on the night.

The Stars could not get a goal to drop on the man advantage in six opportunities and put 51 total shots on Parsons. Stockton would earn an empty net goal to set the final at 4-2. The Stars are next in action on Monday afternoon in Tucson.

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

Heatherington-Hanley
Bayreuther-Hansson
Gleason-Hanna

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Gluchowski, Calderone (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 6,633.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Stockton - January 19 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Stockton Heat

Texas Stars
21-13-3-2, 47 pts
#4 Central Division
atStockton Heat
16-19-4-0, 36 pts
#1 Pacific Division
January 18th at 8:00 PM
Stockton Arena, Stockton, CA

A tough road trip is made tougher by close losses. The Stars had every right to win last night in San Jose as they belted Korenar with 41 shots. Michael Mersch alone had eight shots in the game, but the only goal was Bayreuther's late tally.

After two 2-1 losses to hot teams, the Stars get a chance against a club below .500 to right their trip. The Heat were losers in their last three, taking just a point out of Bakersfield last night on the road. Their last win was a week ago at home against Ontario, a 6-5 OT victory.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Like Texas, Stockton scores a ton. The issue for the Heat is their goals against. Coming into today, they're the worst in the league with 4.13 per game. Jon Gillies had a hot rookie season and has regressed, marking off a 5-12-4 record with an .857 SV% and 4.11 GAA. The goalies as a group have allowed at least four goals in all but two of their last ten games.

This feels like a game that Texas should have well in hand. The Stars would feel much better about the trip if this is a 7-2 victory. Especially with so much scoring prowess in the lineup, despite the departure of Denis Gurianov to Dallas, this club should score at least 4 tonight.

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

Texas Drops Second Straight on Road in 2-1 Loss to San Jose

The Texas Stars dropped their second consecutive road game on Friday in another 2-1 loss--this time to the San Jose Barracuda. The effort was there for the Stars, as they peppered rookie goaltender Josef Korenar with 41 shots, but the results weren’t. This was likely an instance in which head coach Derek Laxdal “didn’t mind their game.”

(credit: San Jose Barracuda)
A couple of bounces didn’t go the Stars way in the first period which led to their undoing. Barracuda forward Matt Fonteyne opened the scoring on the power play four minutes into the contest and made the Stars chase the rest of the way.

Jayden Halbgewachs tipped in a puck that bounced awkwardly off the end wall to push the Barracuda lead to 2-0 with less than three minutes left in the opening frame.

Unfortunately for the Stars, they played a really good opening period but couldn’t catch any breaks. About halfway through the frame, they were sure they scored on a rebound and celebrated on the ice as such. After further review, the officials ruled no goal. The 20-9 shot differential in favor of the Stars tells a different story than the goal totals in the opening frame.

Gavin Bayreuther pulled the Stars within one on his power play goal nearly five minutes into the second period. Erik Condra and Justin Dowling notched the helpers on the tally.

Goaltender Landon Bow turned in another strong outing with 29 saves. He was good enough to win on most nights and was the best player on the ice for the Stars. It was just one of those nights where the effort did not show up on the score sheet while the opposing goaltender stood on his head.

The Stars have a chance to get back on track with their road game on Saturday as they take on the Stockton Heat. The puck drops at 8:00 PM CST.

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

Tonight’s attendance was 3,064.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Jose - January 18 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Jose Barracuda

Texas Stars
21-12-3-2, 47 pts
#4 Central Division
atSan Jose Barracuda
22-8-1-3, 48 pts
#1 Pacific Division
January 18th at 9:00 PM
SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, CA
(credit: San Jose Barracuda)
The West Coast trip continues for the Texas Stars in their Friday night tilt against the Pacific division-leading San Jose Barracuda. The two teams last squared off on October 27th in Cedar Park as the Barracuda administered a decisive 6-1 beatdown on the Stars.

Since then, the Stars have really rounded into form and turned into a team that can score nearly at will on the power play. They have especially been dominant at home but will be tested in the coming weeks as 18 of their next 27 will be played away from Cedar Park. Their play on the road so far this season has left something to be desired as they have gone 6-9-2-1.

The Barracuda are the class of the Pacific division on the strength of two capable goaltenders. The Stars remember well Antoine Bibeau (.918 SP) from last season, and now rookie Josef Korenar (.914 SP) has joined the fold. The Barracuda have the fourth ranked penalty kill but are near the bottom of the league on the power play. It will be an interesting match-up to watch if the Stars are given chances on the man advantage.

The puck drops at 9:00 PM CST.

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Texas Stars Can't Find Third Period Equalizer in 2-1 Loss to Gulls

The Texas Stars made a solid third period push but fell on the road to the red hot San Diego Gulls 2-1. In his first game back after a handful of games in the NHL, Erik Condra scored the lone goal for the Stars. His tally came on a second period power play bringing his season total to fifteen.

A rough first period was where the Stars were undone in this contest. They took two penalties in the frame, leading to several chances that Landon Bow handled admirably. Bow did all he could in the effort, finishing with 28 saves.

Just after the second power play expired with less than five minutes left in the opening period, Gulls winger Corey Tropp was served a wide open net on a slick cross ice feed to open the scoring. When the Stars had a chance to knot the game up on a power play chance a couple minutes later, they turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and it led to a shorthanded goal from former Dallas Star Adam Cracknell.

Stars head coach Derek Laxdal doesn’t read too much into shot totals as a helpful metric, but the Stars were outshot 15-3 in the first period. It’s hard to win on the road that way.

Condra’s maker came with three and a half minutes left in the middle frame. Justin Dowling set him up in the slot, and Gavin Bayreuther notched the secondary helper.

In the third period, Joel L’Esperance caught a stick up high, requiring stitches for the standout rookie. The ensuing double minor in the third period gave the Stars a chance to tie, but it felt like the game was lost when the clock ran out on the man advantage. They did make a decent push to finish out the period, but Gulls goaltender Kevin Boyle got the better of them.

The Stars continue their West Coast swing on Friday night against the San Jose Barracuda. The puck drops at 9:00 PM CST.

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

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Hanna-Gleason

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Payne, Gluchowski, McClure, Calderone (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 7,207.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - January 16 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
21-11-3-2, 47 pts
#3 Central Division
atSan Diego Gulls
19-11-1-3, 42 pts
#3 Pacific Division
January 16th at 9:00 PM
Pechanga Arena, San Diego, CA
(credit: Texas Stars)
[Ed. Note: Erik Condra was reassigned to the Texas Stars this morning.]

The Texas Stars take a three game win streak into San Diego on Wednesday night to square off against an equally hot Gulls team. "Galvanizing" and "gutsy" are words that coach Derek Laxdal has used to describe recent wins, and the hope is that the success can be replicated on the road as the Stars kick off a two-week West Coast swing.

The Gulls are coming off an OT loss to the Iowa Wild on Monday, but they are playing as well as anyone right now having put together an 8-0-1-1 record in their last ten. Forward Sam Carrick has been flirting with the top ten in league scoring all season long and was recently named the AHL Player of the Week. Former Star Luke Gazdic dons the blue and orange this season and should provide some intrigue as he has brought his brand of physical hockey against the Stars in recent match-ups.

Some recent transactions could have an impact for the Stars on the road trip. Forward Robbie Payne and defenseman Nolan Gluchowski were called up from the Idaho Steelheads as depth options. The Stars have been looking for stability at center in the bottom six, and Payne figures to get a chance or two to show his production in the ECHL was no fluke.

The puck drops at 9:00 PM CST.

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Texas Stars Recall Gluchowski, Payne from Idaho

Robbie Payne
(Credit: Texas Stars)
Ahead of their big road trip, Texas has recalled forward Robbie Payne and defenseman Nolan Gluchowski. Payne has been a point per game player in Idaho and Gluchowski is the Steelheads' top defenseman by points.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced today that center Robbie Payne and defenseman Nolan Gluchowski have been recalled from the club’s ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Payne, 25, recorded three points (0-3=3) in 10 games with the Texas Stars after beginning the season in Cedar Park. The first-year forward skated in six games at the end of the 2017-18 season and recorded a pair of assists for the Stars before signing with the club during the offseason.

In his time with the Steelheads, the 5-foot-11 rookie from Gaylord, Michigan has earned nine points (5-4=9) in nine games including four points (2-2=4) in three games last week. Payne was a four-year player at Northern Michigan University prior to turning pro and was named team co-captain as a senior in 2017-18. In 158 NCAA games with the Wildcats, Payne notched 94 points (54-40=94).

Gluchowski, 24, has played all 27 games to start his pro career with the Idaho Steelheads. The blue liner has accumulated 21 points (5-16=21) and is the team’s top point producing defenseman this season. The first year skater is tied for second on the club with 16 assists. Gluchowski was named ECHL Player of the Week on Jan. 2 after tallying a goal and five assists across two games at the end of December.

The Wixom, Michigan native enjoyed a four year career at St. Lawrence University from 2014 to 2018. The defenseman notched 71 points (16-55=71) in 133 NCAA games. He recorded a career best 20 points (2-18=20) in his senior season, ranking third on the roster.

Michael Mersch Reassigned to Texas, John Nyberg Sent to Idaho

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars quickly reassigned Michael Mersch to Texas this morning before morning skate. The Stars had recalled the left winger to the NHL yesterday for what turned out to be precautionary reasons. If Tyler Seguin of Alexander Radulov couldn't play tonight, Mersch was the fallback. With both players in, Mersch comes back to Texas.

In other news, John Nyberg has been assigned to the Idaho Steelheads. It's his first ECHL assignment. He has 1-4=5 in 27 games with Texas. He has struggled to make a mark on the lineup, bouncing in and out as a healthy scratch at times and not scoring his first AHL goal until late December. The assignment should give him a chance to play solid top pair minutes and establish himself better in the North American game.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Dallas Stars Recall Forward Michael Mersch

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
The Dallas Stars have recalled forward Michael Mersch from the Texas Stars this afternoon. Mersch has 9-11=20 in 29 games this season. He missed several weeks with an injury to his foot, dropping his games played number.

If I'm being honest, the purpose of the recall isn't immediately clear. He has recorded 3 points in 17 NHL games, all with the LA Kings.

Erik Condra is also still on recall with Dallas.

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

Mersch, 26, ranks eighth on the Texas Stars with 20 points (9-11=20) in 29 AHL games this season. The winger also ranks second on the club with 91 shots on goals and shares fourth with three power play goals. Mersch has recorded three points (1-2=3) in 17 regular-season NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2015-16 campaign.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound native of Park Ridge, Ill. was originally selected by Los Angeles in the fourth round (110th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft and was signed by Dallas as a free agent on July 1, 2018.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

L'Esperance Scores Twice as Texas Stars Earn "Gutsy" 4-2 Win Over Iowa

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
After tonight's 4-2 win at home, the Texas Stars are the best team in the division. While the standings might not show it, they've got the best points percentage in the group and three games in hand on first place.

"It was a solid team effort from start to finish," said Coach Laxdal, who pushed off any thoughts of the points percentage lead, looking ahead. "We've got a long ways to go here, but our guys are battling."

Texas had a chance to get knocked out of the contest mentally early as a 1-0 lead turned into a 2-1 deficit within 60 seconds of game clock. "That was tough. Both times we had possession of the puck on dumps and they just had a good forecheck. we were a little sleepy. I was on the bench telling guys to wake up."

Colton Hargrove, who scored the opening goal for Texas, said the team got a bit "complacent" after the first score.

The top line of Joel L'Esperance, Michael Mersch and Travis Morin starred again with two goals for L'Esperance and a tally for Mersch, the game winner. They drove the offense in the second period, which was all the scoring they needed to put the game in the win column for the Stars.

Phil Desrosiers got the start and stopped 25 of 27 against him.

The scoring was fast and furious in the opening frame. Texas opened the scoring but then saw their lead evaporate and flip to trail in less than a minute. Colton Hargrove's eighth of the year came just 2:14 into the contest, and the depth scoring seemed to have put Texas on a good footing for the first stanza. Almost before the goal could be announced, Sam Anas had marched down the ice to beat Philippe Desrosiers for the tie at 2:41. Twenty-one seconds later, Matt Read would push Desrosiers' glove over the goal line for the 2-1 lead. The goal did go to review but stood up.

"I think the message on the bench was to wake up," said Hargrove.

Texas had a scary moment late in the frame as Travis Morin got a puck to the left leg and left the ice gingerly. While he played point on the power play shortly thereafter, he left the ice around five minute remaining for the locker room. He would return after the intermission.

The second period saw Texas jump ahead on the strength of the Morin-L'Esperance-Mersch line. Dillon Heatherington just sent a puck into the slot on the rush. A bad bounce off an Iowa defender put it on L'Esperance's stick for his 21st of the season.


The home squad went up 3-2 halfway through the game on a swooping move by Michael Mersch. Joel L'Esperance dished to Mersch, and the vet cut left to right across the crease before roofing one over Kahkonen.

The penalty kill came out strong in the game tonight, stopped all three Iowa chances. That included an extended set in the second period where Texas was locked in their zone for nearly the full two minutes.

Mersch was one of the forward stuck out there, "Once it got to a minute, we just held tight and let them pass around the outside, hoping they'd shoot it and get a whistle or a clear. Once it gets that long, you try to hold it tight and get the whistle."

Laxdal laughed about the kill, noting "Mersch couldn't even skate, just swinging around his stick."

Texas is in the middle of a huge stretch of game, 10 in 18 days to make it to the All-Star Break. Tonight's game, their third win in a row, was a momentous one to send them on the road with a streak in tact. Colton Hargrove added, "It's draining mentally and physically, but I think the boys did a good job battling through everything.

Texas tacked on an empty net goal from L'Esperance to ice the game. It was his 22nd of the season.

The Stars hit the road to play San Diego on Wednesday, the start of a five game road trip.

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

Heatherington-Hanley
Gleason-Bayreuther
Hanna-Hansson

Desrosiers

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Nyberg, Calderone (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,720.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Iowa - January 12 2019

Friday, January 11, 2019

Texas Notches 'Galvanizing' Win Over Rockford, 3-2 in Shootout

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Neither team ever led by more than a goal in a back-and-forth affair tonight in Cedar Park. The Texas Stars extended their home point streak to 10 games with a shootout win after coming back from behind in the third period. Denis Gurianov had a pair of goals, and Joel L'Esperance scored his 20th of the season.

"It was a really good hockey game tonight," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "This was a galvanization win because we had to battle back."

The Stars had two one-goal leads melt away with late period goals in the first and second periods, sending them to both intermissions tied when they had every right to be ahead. Rockford jumped ahead in the third early.

"The entire bench was positive. 'One shot. We'll get this.'"

Indeed they did as Gurianov's second of the night tied up the contest. It was his second of the contest and 11th of the year.

"Every goal we get out of Gurianov is great until he goes back. He was outstanding tonight. That's a fast team and he blew by guys shift after shift."

A scoreless overtime frame put the game to a shootout where Travis Morin was the lone goal scorer for either side. Landon Bow's flawless shootout game him his 10th win in his last 11 home starts and his 16th win overall.

L'Esperance scored his 20th on the power play in the first. After winning the faceoff back to Gleason, he drove the net to collect the rebound off Travis Morin's point shot. Never one to rest on his laurels, L'Esperance noted, "It's pretty exciting obviously, but I've got to keep going."


Late in the frame, Denis Gurianov was called for a pretty weak hooking call, and Texas looked to have survived the two minutes. With a single second left, Dylan Sikura roofed it on Landon Bow for the tie with under a minute in the period.

Again in the second, Texas surged ahead and Rockford came back. Denis Gurianov put on the afterburners to generate a chance then got the eventual goal off a drop pass into the slot by Justin Dowling, as seen below.


The shorthanded tally for Rockford was a backbreaker. Adam Mascherin jumped out onto the ice, seemingly ready to accept the puck at the point. He had to jump right off as he couldn't get his helmet buckled up, a penalty for helmet violation, and Nathan Noel collected the puck and was off to the races.

In the third, Rockford scored on a point shot, again on the power play, to go up 3-2. Gurianov made sure that also melted away with the hockey equivalent of a turnaround jumper, collecting a pass from Nicholas Caamano and sliding it past Lankinen for the 3-3 score.


Travis Morin was the shootout hero, scoring in round one. Colton Hargrove and Justin Dowling were both stopped, but Laxdal noted Gurianov and L'Esperance were up next if needed.

Texas is right back at it tomorrow against second-place Iowa.

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

Heatherington-Hanley
Gleason-Bayreuther
Nyberg-Hansson

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Hanna, McClure (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 4,823.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - January 11 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
19-11-3-2, 43 pts
#5 Central Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
16-15-3-4, 39 pts
#6 Central Division
January 11th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Rockford has had a rocky past few week. The Central Division foe has just three points since Christmas and broke up a six-game losing streak on Sunday with a win. However, that win was a 6-2 victory over the division-leading Iowa Wild.

The club has struggled since the recall of Collin Delia to the NHL. The netminder is getting shelled in Chicago, leaving Anton Forsberg and Kevin Lankinen to tend net in Rockford. Forsberg is 7-6-1 while Lankinen is 2-4-2.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
What more can be said about what the Stars are doing right now. At 8-0-0-1 in their last nine home games, everything is clicking. The power play is second in the league. The penalty kill is average, but it doesn't hurt them most nights as they've limited bad penalties much more than in the past. Multiple lines are scoring with regularity. Landon Bow is having the breakout season that he needed to make his case for the NHL long term.

Texas is 2-1 against Rockford this season, who is just behind them in the standings but trails them significantly by percentage thanks to all the games in hand that Texas has. Everyone in the division but the Moose has played at least two more games; some, including Rockford, have played three more.

This stretch until the All-Star game will be where the Stars catch up on games played. Therefore, the coaching staff is watching rest days to keep everyone fresh. Yesterday's practice was a limited one with the younger players being the only participants.

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Texas Uses Strong First to Surge Past Condors 3-2

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
After a first period to forget on Saturday, Texas flipped the script tonight to start the game. A goal just two minutes in followed by a second ten minutes later put Texas on pace to overcome the visiting Bakersfield Condors 3-2 this evening.

"It's a sign of a team that's growing," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "I liked the start to the game and how we caught them sleeping a little bit."

Tony Calderone and Adam Mascherin each had a goal and an assist from the other, a combination that is clicking right now with Colton Hargrove on the opposite wing. "They just worked hard forechecking. You see guys guys get cute and that fuels [Bakersfield's] offense. It's a mindset and attitude."

The game wasn't without difficulty, however. Landon Bow both came up big and needed a bit of luck in the middle frame to get things done. Several early period 2-on-1s misfired for the Condors, and a couple more shots rose a bit too high on Bow.

"They had about three rushes where we got guys stuck at the blue line or on the halfwall. Bow made some big saves at critical times. When you're up two goals, that third goal is huge. After the nine minute mark [of the second], we tightened up."

Texas opened the scoring with a power play marker. Ben Gleason rifled one from the blue line through traffic and past Bako's Shane Starrett for the 1-0 score. Perhaps looking to inject some emotion into a sleepy game, Sam Laberge and Jake Kulevich dropped the gloves just over a minute later.

Tony Calderone got his second of the season to extend the lead halfway through the period. Adam Mascherin won a one-on-one battle against Keegan Lowe in the slot and got the initial shot off. Calderone put back the rebound.


Bakersfield would get one back as Landon Bow found himself outside the blue paint after a bad bounce off the end boards ended up in the slot for an easy score by Josh Currie.

But Calderone's night wasn't over as he was instrumental in the Stars' third period insurance goal. Pressure on Luke Esposito followed by an outright strip of Tyler Benson led directly to Adam Mascherin's 14th of the year, as you can see below.

"I saw the guy fumbling it and I was able to catch him," said Calderon. "Mascherin made a good turnaround shot quick, and the goalie wasn't ready for it."


The Condors scored one more late to make it interesting, a 6-on-5 tally with 18 seconds left in the third. The Stars tightened up for the final 18, not allowing a shot, to seal the win. It was their eighth in the last nine home games. Landon Bow improved his record to 15-5-4 with 28 saves on 30 shots.

Texas continues their busy stretch with a pair of games this weekend, starting with Rockford on Friday.

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

Hanley-Heatherington
Gleason-Bayreuther
Hanna-Hansson

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Nyberg, McClure (scratch)

Texas assigned Robbie Payne to Idaho before tonight's game.

Tonight’s attendance was 4,053.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Bakersfield - January 9 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Bakersfield Condors

Texas Stars
18-11-3-2, 41 pts
#5 Central Division
v.Bakersfield Condors
16-13-2-1, 35 pts
#5 Pacific Division
January 9th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Now comes the grind. Do you remember all those weeks in October when you could have mistaken the Texas Stars for a high school football team based on their schedule of only Friday and Saturday games? This is where it comes back. Over the next 18 days leading into the All-Star game, Texas has ten games, mostly in the Pacific Division when not at home. Tonight's match against Bakersfield begins the slog.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Texas has points in their last 8 straight home games, including seven outright wins. Bakersfield comes in losers in their last three. They are three games above .500 and doing everything... alright. The PP and PK are 15-20th in the league, goaltending is around replacement level (.900SV%), and their scoring 19th in the league. They are limiting shots (8th fewest in league), however, so that replacement level goalie work is keeping the score down more than you would think.

Something to watch in this slog of a run is how much Coach Laxdal has to lean on his #1 goalie, Landon Bow. Since Thanksgiving, Bow has been the goalie of record in 13 of those 16 games. He's played the second most minutes of all goalies in the league this season so far (1373). Only Charlotte's Alex Nedeljkovic has played more (1435). Bow is young, and as long as he stays hot, Texas will keep going back to that well. However, 18 games in 10 days is enough to wear anyone out.


The Stars shuffled their bottom six forwards a bit this week ahead of the contest. Texas recalled James Phelan and Brad McClure from Idaho while assigning Spencer Naas.

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