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)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Crowded Nets Get Busier With Addition of ATO Jake Oettinger

After being eliminated from the Hockey Easy tournament on Friday night, Jake Oettinger has signed an NHL entry level contract and will join the Texas Stars this week on an amateur tryout.

With Landon Bow and Philippe Desrosiers already in the net for Texas, Oettinger joins a crowded crease. The former Boston University Terrier wouldn't have come to Texas without a chance to play some real, meaningful hockey. With the Stars down in the standings and needing every single point, will Texas roll out Oettinger in his first professional contest with the team's playoff chances on the line?

Stay tuned to find out.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed goaltender Jake Oettinger to a three-year, entry-level contract. Oettinger will report to the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

Oettinger, 20, posted a 16-16-4 record with a .926 save percentage, a 2.45 goals-against average and four shutouts in 36 games with Boston University in his junior season. Oettinger was tied for 10th in the NCAA in save percentage (.926) and shutouts (4) in 2018-19, while his 1,076 saves this season rank third-most in program history. The goaltender has logged a 58-39-11 record with a 2.34 GAA, a .923 SV% and 13 shutouts in 108 career NCAA games. Oettinger concludes his Boston University career tied for first in program history with 13 shutouts, while he ranks second with a .923 SV%, fourth with a 2.34 GAA and fifth with 58 wins in three seasons.

While at Boston University, Oettinger was named Hockey East Top Performer 16 times, was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week five times and earned Hockey East Player of the Week honors once. The two-time Hockey East Rookie of the Week was also named to the 2017 Hockey East All-Rookie Team as well as being named a 2017 Hockey East Second Team All-Star. Oettinger was named the 2018 Hockey East Tournament MVP after backstopping Boston University to the 2018 Hockey East Tournament title, while also being named to the 2018 Hockey East All-Tournament Team.

Oettinger has also represented the United States on the international stage five times at the IIHF World Junior Championships. The netminder helped Team USA win gold in 2017 (U20) and 2015 (U18), while he also earned bronze in 2018 (U20) and 2016 (U18).

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound native of Lakeville, Minn. was selected by Dallas in the first round (26th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Griffins' Experience Beats Out Green Texas Squad 3-2

(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
The Stars might have been in their black third jerseys tonight, but they were certainly the greener team in tonight's loss to the Griffins. With Dowling up in Dallas, the Stars rolled out four centermen who, at this time last week, were not in the AHL.

"Our four centermen tonight were all rookies, so you're throwing them in a playoff race," said Coach Laxdal. "It's an all-stakes-in race to make the playoffs. They battled, but at the end of the day, I think experience probably ended up winning the game for [Grand Rapids]."

"I think we had some good opportunities," added Nick Caamano, who had a goal on the night. "I thought those guys up the middle did a pretty good job tonight. They didn't look out of place at all, but they're a great team over there with playoff experience and veterans. It was a test for our group."

The Stars led as late as halfway through the third period, which is when a weak call from the refs put the league's worst power play on the job. Ty Dellandrea put Turner Elson into the Stars bench and earned an interference call.

"They stung us late on a power play that I thought was a weak call," said Laxdal. "It was a nothing hit by the bench. The guy made a play with the puck, and he went through the body so I didn't like that call."

Grand Rapids scored on the advantage and then again three minutes later to jump ahead of the Stars. "The third goal, at that time of the game, we kind of forced a pass in the neutral zone, and we didn't finish our route well. We probably needed a save at the net."

The Stars outshot the Griffins in a scoreless first period. It took until the twelfth minute of the frame for Landon Bow to see his first shot. Texas had a pair of power plays but scored on neither, rolling out power play personnel full of newcomers, including Ty Dellandrea and Joe Cecconi.

The second period brought a goal each way and a contentious ending. Joel Hanley found the net for his sixth of the season off a deft pass from Adam Mascherin as the two broke in 2-on-1. Hanley had another chance a few minutes later, a deflection, also on a rush, that struck Sateri's mask and glanced off.

Dellandrea had a great chance off the pass from Nick Caamano, but he himself physically ended up in the net on a collision with the puck going the other way. Dominic Turgeon cashed in on a tipped point shot from Vili Saarijarvi.

The Griffins were targeting the ATO additions all night, Dellandrea chief among them. Dellandrea got taken down at the end of the second, which created a fracas in the corner. The Stars ended up with a power play to start the third but lost Michael Mersch and Gavin Bayreuther to ten-minute misconducts for continuing the altercation.

"The third period, with Mersch and Gavin in the box, it broke up our first power play so it looked a bit disconnected when we got on the power play. Our second unit had some good puck movement."

That good movement gave Caamano the go-ahead goal just after the penalty expired. The Stars looked like they would be able to skate away with at least one point, but the Griffins' experience jumped ahead. Grand Rapids' aforementioned pair of goals netted them the two points. Texas would get a late power play to get a 6-on-4 chance. Nothing would come of it.

Milwaukee beat Rockford tonight, so the Stars lose ground in the playoff race. Texas is idle until Wednesday against Manitoba.

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

Heatherington-Cecconi
Bayreuther-Hanley
Nyberg-Gleason

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Hanna, Calderone, McClure, Point, Hansson (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,775.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - March 23 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
32-28-4-3, 71 pts
#5 Central Division
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
35-19-6-4, 80 pts
#2 Central Division
March 23rd at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Less than twelve hours removed from a game where Justin Dowling and his top line were the only offensive threats in a game where the Stars needed some more offense, the captain is headed to Dallas. Justin Dowling was recalled to the NHL this morning, putting the Stars out another forward.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Dowling's recall was not an emergency recall, which means it counts against the four that Dallas can make between the trade deadline and the end of the regular season. Personally, I don't think Dallas 'burns' a non-emergency recall if they don't intend to keep Dowling for a decent chunk of time.

Grand Rapids has been idle since losing 6-3 to Texas on Wednesday night. Head coach Derek Laxdal knows the Griffins are angling for revenge, "We talked about after the game we’ve gotta pick ourselves up and get ready for Grand Rapids. They’re not gonna be happy coming in here from the last game on Wednesday. Whatever lineup we have [Saturday], we have to make sure we manage it, play the right way."

Perhaps in a bit of sage advice from beyond the recall, Dowling noted the following after the game last night when asked about the new amateur additions to the lineup, "It’s that time of the year and we got a lot of guys who haven’t been in a scenario like this in pro hockey. Sometimes guys grip the stick a little tight. I mean everyone’s playing well and gelling well in there. Guys coming in and out of the lineup, sometimes it makes it tough, but I think we’ve handled it really well."

Still stuck in fifth place, Texas needs points tonight to keep pace. Milwaukee and Manitoba are both in action tonight against Rockford and Colorado, respectively. With the Ads and IceHogs both in the same race, Texas ideally just wants that game to not go to overtime and hand out extra points.

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

Friday, March 22, 2019

Stars Struggle to Bury Chances in 4-1 Loss to Wolves

The Texas Stars fell to the Chicago Wolves on Friday night in a 4-1 contest. Power forward Michael Mersch scored the lone goal for the Stars as the team struggled to capitalize on several golden chances throughout the contest.

“Probably the difference in the game is [Chicago] buried on a couple of their chances,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “They had a couple lucky bounces, but we didn’t bury our chances. I thought [Chicago goaltender] Oscar Dansk played pretty well. That’s twice he’s come in here this year when we’ve had some good looks, but they ended up winning.”

(credit: Andy Nietupski)
Chicago defenseman Dylan Coghlan got the Wolves on the board within the first five minutes of play with a power play goal from the high slot. In reaction to a check he didn’t like, Texas blueliner Ben Gleason took an undisciplined cross-checking minor to set the Wolves up with the man advantage.

Mersch answered just over a minute later with one of his signature goals from in front of the crease. Stars captain Justin Dowling recorded the primary assist on the play and was the best player for Texas. His line drove play throughout the contest and threatened to tilt the ice at any given moment.

“I thought Justin Dowling was absolutely outstanding tonight. [The top line is] showing their leadership and showing their will to get in the playoffs, to push this team and drive the team. Every five-on-five shift they were a threat.”

Mersch’s marker was a continuation of his strong play against the Wolves this season. The tally gives him ten points in his last ten games and seven points in his last eight games against Chicago. His line combination with Dowling and Erik Condra will be critical going forward as the Stars continue to incorporate their recently acquired young players into the lineup.

“Probably our best line was our most mature line with Dowling, Mersch, and Condra. After that, we had three rookie centers down the middle. I thought it was a little rich for them tonight. But that’s part of the process of the learning curve for these kids.”

In the last five minutes of the first period, the Stars broke a stick, which led to extended zone time for the Wolves. Ryan Wagner scored to give the Wolves a lead they would never relinquish.

The Wolves added an even strength goal from Keegan Kolesar less than four minutes into the second period and an empty netter from Tomas Hyka with two minutes remaining in regulation to seal the Stars’ fate. Again, the chances were there for the Stars, but the bounces didn’t go their way.

“Give our guys a lot of credit. We had a good push in the third period. We had a couple of good looks. I think [Colin] Markison had the empty net, hit the post. We had some good looks in the first period and hit the post. That’s an experienced team over there, and we had a lot of young guys in the lineup tonight.”

One player who could’ve helped the Stars keep the puck out of their net was lockdown defender Dillon Heatherington who missed the game due to an illness that has affected several Texas players.

“We missed Dillon Heatherington tonight. We missed him shutting down the cycle down low. He’s a big part of our back end, and you can see how much smaller we got without him in the lineup. At the end of the day, they have their injuries, they have their sicknesses, so do we. They took advantage of their opportunities tonight.”

Dowling agreed with Laxdal’s assessments after the game. “I thought we had our chances tonight to tie the game up in the third,” he said. “It’s a game of inches out there. We bury a couple of those, who knows what happens? Maybe we come out on top, get to overtime or something. But give credit to them. They played well.”

The Stars play against the Griffins tomorrow night in Cedar Park.

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

Bayreuther-Hanley
Hanna-Hansson
Cecconi-Gleason

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Caamano (lower body)
Morin, Heatherington (illness)
Nyberg, Calderone, McClure, Point (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 4,816.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - March 22 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
32-27-4-3, 71 pts
#5 Central Division
v.Chicago Wolves
37-19-4-3, 82 pts
#1 Central Division
March 22nd at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Only one point out of a playoff spot, the Texas Stars have been buoyed by an injection of youth and energy with the recent ATO acquisitions, and they can sense an opportunity. After beating Grand Rapids on Wednesday, they've got another upper echelon team on the docket in the Chicago Wolves.

"We’ve got another big test coming Friday and then on Saturday," said head coach Derek Laxdal after Wednesday's win. "We talked about our eleven games left. We have eight at home, and just try and win our home games."

(credit: Texas Stars)
Something to pay attention to in the coming games is how Laxdal handles the lineup. As the team was dealing with a couple illnesses, he dressed eleven forwards and seven defenseman against Grand Rapids. As players get healthy, it'll be interesting to see who rounds out the lineup. Forwards Robbie Payne and James Phelan have been sent to Idaho to make room.

"We had one new defenseman on the back end [in Cecconi]. We dressed seven D just to protect us that way. We’ve had some guys going through the flu here the last couple days including myself. And then bringing in three new centermen who have never played in the league, give the group a lot of credit in buying in and managing the situation."

They'll have their hands full with the division-leading Wolves who are coming off an overtime win against fourth place Rockford. But defenseman Gavin Bayreuther has a positive perception about his team's chances in any upcoming contest.

"We’re finally finding our stride," he said. "When guys start to play with confidence, good things happen. The first thing I noticed is last year we had a moment like this. We were kind of a bubble team, and all of a sudden we found our stride and started buzzing. I hope to continue that this year."

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Caamano (lower body)
Morin (illness)
L'Esperance (call up)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Texas Assigns Robbie Payne and James Phelan to Idaho

Robbie Payne (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Sufficiently satisfied with their new amateur tryout additions, the Texas Stars have assigned two forwards, James Phelan and Robbie Payne, to the Idaho Steelheads. According to the league transaction list, Phelan was technically assigned before the game last night, and Payne was assigned today.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced today that center James Phelan and right wing Robbie Payne have been returned on loan to the club’s ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Payne, 25, has recorded six points (2-4=6) in 29 games with the Texas Stars scoring his first pro goal on Feb. 15 against the Tucson Roadrunners in a 2-0 win. 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. The 5-foot-11 rookie from Gaylord, Michigan also logged nine games in the ECHL with the Steelheads, earning nine points (5-4=9).

The undrafted winger played four years 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).

Phelan, 22, entered his first professional season this year and has since accrued five points (3-2=5) in 27 games with the Stars. The 5-foot-11 forward made his pro debut on Oct. 5, 2018 against Grand Rapids and notched his first goal eight days later against the Rockford IceHogs.

The undrafted skater from Laval, Quebec played five seasons in the QMJHL before turning pro. Across 321 games with Shawinigan, Victoriaville, and Moncton, Phelan earned 191 points (86-105=191) in his junior hockey career.

Prospect Report: Promising First Outing Despite No Points

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars integrated four new players into the lineup last night, from highly touted first rounders to college free agent signings. While none of the four picked up points in the 6-3 win over Grand Rapids, there were promising first steps for the group.

With Travis Morin sick with the flu and Colton Hargrove transitioning back to wing, the Stars elected to roll three brand new centers down the middle. Captain Justin Dowling was the only player on the faceoff dot not in his first pro game.

"I thought they got through the first rotation of shifts and probably had some butterflies," said Coach Laxdal postgame. "It was important to get through the first three or four shifts and feel like 'I can play in this league.' It was a good chance for these guys to get their feet wet. And the next time they play we know we can put them in different situations and try and grow their game a little bit."

After Thursday's practice, these players should be even more integrated into the team, including systems and even special teams. ATO winger Diego Cuglietta, who was at the game last night but didn't get there in time to play, is also a potential player for Friday as well.

Let's go down the slate of players and see what we can see.

Ty Dellandrea

Ty Dellandrea, Dallas's top pick in 2018, made a mark on the game even if he didn't score. Late in the first, he went straight at Chris Terry on a hit. Perfectly legal though it was, Terry took exception and knocked Dellandrea back, shoving him in the chest, at the benches. That generated Texas's first power play of the night.

"I thought Ty Dellandrea was really solid early on. He got under the other team’s skin a little bit. They were chasing him around, and he drew a penalty."

Dellandrea even had a few chances to set up Colton Hargrove for the eventual hat trick, Hargrove noted. It should be interesting to see if Dellandrea figures into the power play on Friday after a day to practice with the team today.

Rhett Gardner

Gardner was less noticeable but still had a fine game for his first. The centerman, who was a fantastic faceoff specialist at UND, didn't win a bunch to start the game. Turns out the pro game is a little different. Surely he'll work on that to improve and make it a solid part of his game at the pro level.

"I thought Gardner was real simple. His game’s only gonna grow once he gets used to the speed, size, and strength of the league. So it’s a lot of promise there."

Josh Melnick

Melnick had the good fortune to be put in the middle of two speedsters with Denis Gurianov and Colin Markison. There was one particular play in the second period where it felt like all three of them went from the center line to right on top of Harri Sateri in the blink of an eye. In speaking with some folks who saw him during his USHL days, Melnick is a player to watch for Texas and at an essentially no-risk level of contract.

Joe Cecconi

Joe Cecconi was a big get for Dallas. Even though they drafted him, the fact that he signed with Dallas instead of going to free agency was huge. He was paired with Ben Gleason in a setup reminiscent of his pairings with Zach Werenski and Quinn Hughes.

"I thought Cecconi was very good tonight. He was very simple in his game, and he made a lot of good plays with the puck. Didn’t panic very much. It was promising. They’re going to have moments moving forward, and we’ll just have to grow with them and take advantage while they’re here."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Colton Hargrove's First Career Hat Trick Paces Texas to 6-3 Win Over Grand Rapids

The Texas Stars added four new players to their lineup and beat the Grand Rapids Griffins 6-3 on Wednesday night. Immediate scoring contributions were unnecessary from the newcomers as the older players provided plenty, blowing the game open in the third period.

Colton Hargrove scored his first career hat trick to account for half of the goals. The DFW native was moved back to his natural position on the wing and made two pretty plays with the puck in the second period to confound Griffins goaltender Harri Sateri.

“I thought [Hargrove] really stepped up tonight,” said head coach Derek Laxdal after the game. “We’ve asked him to play center for us the last couple months, and he got back into his normal position. Harsy’s pretty good in tight when he gets a chance. He’s going to bury it.”

(credit: Texas Stars)
The new-look lineup for the Stars featured three new centers and one defenseman. Dallas first round pick Ty Dellandrea especially stood out to both Laxdal and Hargrove.

“I thought we had really good chemistry right out of the gate,” said Hargrove. “Our goals that we had started with good D zone play. Ty down low winning his battles, winning battles up the wall.”

Defenseman Gavin Bayreuther also helped carry the scoring load, chipping in a goal and a helper. His goal came in the second period after a choppy first for both teams. The Stars had a power play expire right before Bayreuther caught Sateri swimming.

Four minutes later, Griffins forward Turner Elson scored on the rush. Denis Gurianov answered within the final minute of the period to give the Stars the lead again. He made a slick move on the rush, hesitating just enough to get the defender to lay out, then burying the puck.

Hargrove’s first two goals in the third period were beauties. “I thought he made a great play when he got out there on the late power play and had great speed down the left side and took it to the net,” said Laxdal. Hargrove finished the play with his backhand.

Minutes later, the same look for Hargrove came at even strength, but he changed his approach in a split second. “I figured [Sateri} was going to read that and maybe cheat,” he said. “So I kind of tried to fake like I was going across again and put it short side.”

Erik Condra got in on the action eight minutes into the third period, burying a one timer to a 5-1 lead. “It kind of opened up in the third period, and I think it took the pressure off our guys and allowed them just to kind of play through the game,” said Laxdal.

Joe Hicketts scored for the Griffins two minutes later during 4-on-4 play. The goal sparked the Griffins to go with an empty net with over five minutes left in regulation, leaving the door open for Hargrove to secure the hat trick. It wasn’t easy, though. “He missed the first one, and then he shot out of a cannon on the second one.”

Griffins forward Carter Camper scored with forty ticks left for aesthetic purposes. The Stars deserve credit for integrating so many new bodies into the lineup and beating a playoff-bound team to continue their bid for that fourth and final playoff spot in the Central.

“It’s a huge two points. You have to win your games to get in that fourth spot. Doesn’t matter who we play, we have to try and get the two points.”

The Stars square off against the Wolves on Friday in Cedar Park.

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

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Cecconi-Gleason

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Laberge (upper body)
Caamano (lower body)
Morin (illness)
Payne, Phelan, Nyberg, Calderone (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,420.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - March 20 2019

Morning Skate Report: Ty Dellandrea "Feels Good," Will Play Tonight for Texas

Ty Dellandrea (Credit: Dallas Stars)
When I first got to practice, word on the street was that Dallas Stars 2018 first round pick Ty Dellandrea would be waiting until Friday to make his pro debut. Before the zamboni hit the ice, Dellandrea's plans had changed. Tonight will mark his first pro game as he will center for Texas against Grand Rapids.

Initially, Texas was holding out Dellandrea after he went hard into the boards on Sunday in his final game with Flint. "I’m feeling good," he told 100 Degree Hockey today. "I was a little banged up in the last game, but I got a couple days to rest and I’m feeling good now."

The young center is excited to get started in Texas. After playing for a club that was virtually eliminated from the playoffs months ago, Dellandrea noted he is "excited to play some fun, competitive, high-end hockey." He's already gelling with the guys, many of whom he knows from camp, "I think I first noticed that it was a fun group of guys. They’re all laughing, enjoying each other and having a good time. It’s fun to come in and they made it easy to feel welcome. It’s fun to learn from them already."

As to what he will bring, he adds, "I’m an all-around forward. I take care of my own end first, make sure all those boxes are checked, and then I can bring some offense too."

The lineup that we saw at practice did not include Dellandrea so things will shift based on his insertion. However, Rhett Gardner, Josh Melnick and Joe Cecconi will all play. As of this morning, Melnick was set to center Denis Gurianov and Colin Markison while Gardner would center the third line. Things might shuffle around with Dellandrea at center now.

Cecconi will slide in next to Ben Gleason, which really fits his mold from college where he played opposite offensive phenom Quinn Hughes. Coach Laxdal added, "Cecconi has played with some real offensive defensemen so he has a pedigree of being a shutdown guy and defending for those offensive guys, so we put him with Gleason."

As to how these players will integrate, Coach Laxdal is just looking to keep it simple for them, "We don’t give them too much, just try to give them the basics of how we play and what we want to see. These players are coming off playoff highs of getting eliminated and now they have to change their mindset again to get ready to play. They’ve got to ramp it up a bit, but they’re going to be thrown right in."

Without a chance to work on special teams, I don't anticipate a big debut for any of them on the power play. With Thursday's practice, however, it makes sense that Gardner could be a netfront player on the PP on Friday and Dellandrea would be added to the unit as well.

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
31-27-4-3, 69 pts
#5 Central Division
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
34-18-6-4, 78 pts
#2 Central Division
March 20th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

(credit: Texas Stars)
At the very least, the Texas Stars's last eleven games will be an engaging prospect watch as the club brought in a bevy of amateur players on Tuesday, rounding out the roster with some intriguing youngsters. Among that group is Ty Dellandrea, the Dallas first round pick from 2018, who figures to play on Friday.

But there's still a playoff race to consider, and the Stars are by no means out of the picture. The Grand Rapids Griffins head into Cedar Park on Wednesday on the second night of a back-to-back. They are a lock for the top three in the Central but still have a ton to play for in terms of positioning. Perhaps the Stars will catch them at the right time with Grand Rapids playing in San Antonio on Tuesday, although they failed to take advantage of the weary Rockford IceHogs on Sunday.

Phil Desrosiers has been doing enough recently for the Stars to win their share of games. However,  Landon Bow has been reassigned and will only help stabilize the situation in net. Last time the two teams played was in early March, and Desrosiers allowed four goals on 23 shots in the loss.

It's hard to spot trends in Texas's offense in the last several games. The team will flash some serious scoring potential, as evidenced in a seven-goal explosion last week, and then follow it up with a game in which they can't buy a goal. It can be attributed to the ebbs and flows of a professional hockey team's offense, but I tend to believe that this is a team looking for a couple of depth forwards to step up and establish themselves as consistent scoring threats. Something to keep an eye on.

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT. 

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Texas Stars Add Five Amateur Players Including Ty Dellandrea, Joe Cecconi

(Credit: Dallas Stars)
The Texas Stars got a big boost today as the parent club worked out deals with three new entry-level contracts and added 2018 first-round pick Ty Dellandrea on assignment as well. In a separate deal, the Texas Stars signed an ATO player without Dallas ties as well.

Dellandrea is the headline assignment out of this group. It was unclear if he would be playing at all in the AHL this season after he left the final game of his OHL season with a head injury. It appears that has been cleared up, and he could play as early as Wednesday against Grand Rapids.

Forward Rhett Gardner's NCAA season ended with North Dakota in the NCHC tournament, and he will be more of a black ace player, in my estimation, as Texas goes down the stretch.

Another big get is D Joe Cecconi. The Dallas pick was reportedly flirting with becoming a college free agent in the fall, but he ultimately decided to stick with Dallas.

Additionally, Dallas found an undrafted free agent, RW Josh Melnick, out of Miami Ohio. He was the captain of the Redhawks this year and totalled 10-16=26 in 32 games.

Finally, the Texas Stars signed Diego Cuglietta on an ATO. The left wing is a pretty standard pickup for Texas. G Scott White has strong ties back to Michigan collegiate circles and Cuglietta hails from Sault Ste. Marie's Lake Superior State University. He had 25-16=41 in 38 games, leading the Lakers.

Very lengthy release after the break.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Texas Stars Get G Landon Bow Back as They Begin Tough Homestand

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Ben Bishop is back to health, so Landon Bow has been reassigned to the Texas Stars. He will be available as Texas begins a tough home stand against some of the best teams in the division. Grand Rapids and Chicago are the next three for the Stars, and Landon Bow will surely get two of three.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has reassigned goaltender Landon Bow to 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 42 games played for Texas this season, he owns a record of 22-13-5 with a .893 SV%, a 2.90 GAA and one shutout. Bow is tied for sixth in the AHL with 22 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.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Stars Cede Ground in Playoff Race, Lose 2-1 to Rockford

The three-game road trip ended with a thud for the Texas Stars as they fell to the Rockford IceHogs 2-1 on Sunday. The loss dropped the Stars to fifth in the Central and vaulted the IceHogs to that coveted fourth and final playoff spot. Rockford also has two games in hand on the Stars.

(credit: Rockford IceHogs)
It wasn’t for lack of effort that the Stars lost. They outshot their competition 35-25 and just couldn’t connect on several of their key chances. Perhaps it was the lineup situation as the Stars were forced to go with eleven forward and seven defenseman with an ailing Nick Caamano removed the mix.

Rockford goaltender Anton Forsberg was stellar as was Phil Desrosiers, who did more than enough to win the game. Desrosiers’s biggest save came in the first five minutes of the game when he stoned Will Pelletier on a breakaway.

The IceHogs got the benefit of some puck luck to open the scoring nearly fourteen minutes into the first period. The puck hit the linesman and found the slot where it was pushed in by Alexandre Fortin. Desrosiers got the pad on it but his backward momentum with his leg pushed the puck across the line.

Denis Gurianov answered two and a half minutes later when he tipped in Colin Markison’s shot, both tying the game and tying his career high in goals with nineteen. Rockford winger Andreas Martinsen gave his team the lead once again a few shifts later when he buried one off a rebound. Moments before, he missed on a wide open net on a back door play.

Speaking of open nets, the Stars had a handful that they couldn’t capitalize on in the second period. One power play opportunity gave them several chances when Forsberg was swimming around, but they weren’t able to pull the trigger at key moments.

Gurianov, Brad McClure, and Justin Dowling all with point blank chances in the middle frame that could’ve swung the game had they gone in. The second period is also where the Stars made their biggest push, outshooting the IceHogs 14-5 in the stanza.

The Stars drew the lone penalty of the third period, forcing a delay of game call with a hard and desperate forecheck with less than five minutes to go in regulation. Again, the chances were there, but the Stars failed to capitalize. Dowling had the best chance, but it hit the crossbar.

The Stars will head back to Cedar Park for Wednesday’s game against Grand Rapids.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Dowling-Condra
Markison-Morin-Gurianov
Mascherin-Hargrove-McClure
Phelan-Calderone

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Nyberg-Gleason
Hanna

Desrosiers

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

Tonight’s attendance was 3,110.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Rockford - March 17 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
31-26-4-3, 69 pts
#4 Central Division
atRockford IceHogs
29-24-4-6, 68 pts
#5 Central Division
March 17th at 4:00 PM
BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, IL

The final playoff spot in the Central division is completely up for grabs with four teams scratching and clawing on a daily basis to secure it. Two of those teams, the Texas Stars and Rockford IceHogs, square off on Sunday in a matinee.

(credit: Rockford IceHogs)
The Stars are catching the IceHogs at a good time. Rockford will be playing their third game in as many days, but both of their previous games were wins against Grand Rapids and Cleveland. They are currently one point behind the Stars and have a game in hand. The Stars need to take advantage of some tired legs.

After Friday's overtime win in Manitoba, the Stars clearly needed a breather as they gave up three goals in the third period and narrowly escaped with the victory. The day off on Saturday could be a huge factor against the IceHogs.

Phil Desrosiers figures to get all the starts in net while Landon Bow is up in Dallas. To fill in behind him, the Stars brought up Colton Point on Saturday from the Idaho Steelheads. It would be tough to ask Point to step in during this critical stretch, though it could pay dividends in his development.


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

Friday, March 15, 2019

Michael Mersch Scores in OT as Stars Hold Off Moose 5-4

Though the Manitoba Moose surged back to tie the game in the third period, the Texas Stars came away with two points in the standings on Friday in a 5-4 overtime win in Winnipeg. Forward Michael Mersch scored the game winner in a critical contest to keep the Stars in the last playoff spot in the Central division.

(credit: Texas Stars)
The optics weren’t great considering the Stars had a three-goal lead headed into the third period. The Moose completely outplayed Texas in the final frame and took advantage of some tired Texas Stars, scoring three straight goals.

But, as head coach Derek Laxdal likes to say, the Stars will take the two points and move on. Style points are of far less value than standings points after all.

The first period was the polar opposite of the third for the Stars as they came roaring out of the gates. Travis Morin opened the scoring nearly nine minutes in, finishing a beautiful tic-tac-toe play initiated by Justin Dowling. Dowling’s perfect pass found its way to Condra then to Morin for the redirect. It was Morin’s eighth goal of the season in what has been a down year in the goal-scoring department.

Tony Calderone scored a weird one six minutes later when a puck bounced off of his leg and in on a set-up by Colin Markison.

With less than a minute and a half remaining in the opening frame, Erik Condra came up with a shorthanded goal, the second of the season for the Stars. The other shorty was scored by Colton Hargrove in the season-opener.

One key factor that gave Manitoba life after they went down by three was that the Stars couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. Texas went to the penalty kill six times and only killed off four. The first goal they allowed from Logan Shaw on a pretty one timer with just under five and half minutes remaining in the second period.

Denis Gurianov would answer four minutes later to restore the three-goal lead.

Goals from Mason Appleton, Marko Dano, and Jimmy Oligny capped the Moose comeback in a third period in which Manitoba completely controlled play. They ended up outshooting the Stars 22-8 in the frame. Phil Desrosiers got the start in net for the recalled Landon Bow and finished with 38 saves on 42 shots.

With two and a half minutes remaining in regulation, the Stars had to kill off a huge penalty and ended up drawing one of their own to close out the period. With a healthy amount of 4-on-3 time in the overtime frame, the Stars seized momentum. Mersch put the finishing touches on the victory with his nineteenth goal of the season.

The Stars will swing through Rockford for a 4:00 PM contest on Sunday before heading back to Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Dowling-Condra
Caamano-Morin-Gurianov
Mascherin-Hargrove-McClure
Calderone-Payne-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Hanna-Gleason

Desrosiers

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

Tonight’s attendance was 3,483.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Manitoba - March 15 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Manitoba Moose

Texas Stars
30-26-4-3, 67 pts
#4 Central Division
atManitoba Moose
30-26-3-2, 65 pts
#6 Central Division
March 15th at 7:00 PM
Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, MB

Update: Landon Bow was recalled to the Dallas Stars on Friday morning. The club has signed ATO Byron Spriggs as emergency backup for Philippe Desrosiers tonight.

The heat is on for the Texas Stars after losing the first of a pair against Manitoba on Wednesday, a game in which the hockey gods spotted them some generous puck luck. The opportunity to put the Moose in the rear view mirror in non-existent at the moment as the Stars will only be able to keep them at bay with a win. A loss would mean that the Moose leap-frogged them in the standings with two games in hand.

(credit: Texas Stars)
The good news for the Stars right now is that they still maintain a modicum of control over the standings while holding onto the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central. Also, they are getting some great production from their blue line with both Joel Hanley and Gavin Bayreuther picking up goals in Wednesday's game. This was after a three-point performance by Niklas Hansson in Cedar Park last Sunday.

Head coach Derek Laxdal spoke on the importance of getting scoring from the defense corps on Sunday: "It just kind of compliments the whole group. You’ve got [Ben] Gleason, you’ve got Bayreuther. Now if [Hanley] can start jumping in that group and providing some offense, it’s only going to help us down the stretch. We run Gleason [on the second power play unit] with Hansson, and you saw what Hansson’s done this last couple of games on the power play."

In other news, Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop Thursday's game against the Minnesota Wild in the second period with an injury. He did not return and is currently considered day-to-day. Chances are pretty good that Landon Bow will be one of the NHL club's emergency recalls within the coming hours.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Manitoba Slides By Texas in Winnipeg Despite Strong Puck Luck for Stars

(Credit: Manitoba Moose)
Some bizarre bounces in the Stars' favor couldn't help them get past the Manitoba Moose tonight in Winnipeg as Texas fell 4-3. Each of Texas's first two goals involved strange deflections off the left-wing halfwall in the Manitoba zone. The most mind-bending was this tally from Joel Hanley, who scored from center ice on a physics-defying goal:


With the loss, Texas loses some ground in the playoff race. They retain fourth place but lose a game-in-hand against their next closest trailer in Milwaukee, who beat Cleveland tonight. Manitoba jumped to 6th in the division with the two points and now trail the Stars by just two points for the last playoff spot.

Erik Condra had the best chance of a scoreless first period, ringing one off the post on the power play. The quiet first gave way to a busy second period. Cam Maclise and Brad McClure traded goals early in the frame. McClure's tip came off the point shot of Ben Gleason, who got it from Adam Mascherin in the aforementioned left-wing corner Twilight Zone. It looked like Manitoba would achieve the  clear, but the bounce to Mascherin allowed the scoring chance and goal.

Joel Hanley's center ice dump-in goal was next up as a deflection and rolling puck confounded Eric Comrie for the 2-1 lead. Manitoba answered back twice. Marko Dano tipped a power play marker past Landon Bow to tie things.

Then, with twelve seconds left in the period, Cameron Schilling had an open net off the pass from Jimmy Oligny. The net was open as Landon Bow lost his footing and his stick on the preceding play, giving a full 6x4 cage for Schilling's target practice.

After getting some good zone time on the power play in the third, Texas cashed in with Gavin Bayreuther's fifth of the year, a slick pass from Condra to the defenseman sneaking down from the point.


It wouldn't last long as the Moose reclaimed the lead off a rebound goal late in the period.


The Stars took a questionable penalty to kill any momentum that they might have built late in the period. Erik Condra hit the post during the 6-on-5, but that was the closest they would get.

Texas stays in Winnipeg to play Manitoba again on Friday night. There are no AHL games on the schedule tomorrow night, so there's no scoreboard watching to do in the playoff race.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Dowling-Condra
Caamano-Morin-Gurianov
Mascherin-Hargrove-McClure
Calderone-Payne-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Hanna-Gleason

Bow

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

Tonight’s attendance was 2,848.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Manitoba - March 13 2019

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Manitoba Moose

Texas Stars
30-25-4-3, 67 pts
#4 Central Division
atManitoba Moose
29-26-3-2, 63 pts
#7 Central Division
March 13th at 7:00 PM
Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, MB

Four huge points this past weekend against San Antonio put distance between Texas and the rest of the field in the divisional playoff race. The final visit of the season to Manitoba will provide an opportunity for more distance.

"We try to move up in the standings," said Coach Laxdal after Sunday's win as to what the next month brings. "If you look at our division, there’s three teams that have pretty much run away and they’re probably going to get in. It’s four teams battling for that last spot."

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The players echo the sentiment with Nick Caamano added, "It’s crunch time. We’re even with a bunch of teams. Every game matters, and when we go on the road, those are big points for us. We can’t really take those games off, and I think it’s huge for us."

Texas heads to Winnipeg as the Moose are winners in their last two as well and 5-5 in their last ten. Their late season surge has put them in the conversation to be the last team into the playoffs. They are four points back of Texas, but they have games in hand on everyone in the race. The gap could close very quickly, so the Stars have to play their best hockey of the year right now.

"This is the best time of the year," said Texas defenseman Niklas Hansson. "We’re fighting for a playoff spot right now, and it’s tight in the standings. Every game means something big. I think we have a good feeling [in the dressing room]. We’re just trying to be positive and working hard every day."

Texas needs to bank points this week because even coming home next week, it's a brutal slate. The Stars play in Rockford on Sunday and come home to a pair against second-place Grand Rapids interrupted by another against division-leading Chicago.

As a saving grace, after this road trip, Texas will only have three remaining road games, including one in San Antonio, which is just a bus trip away. Eight home games will remain on the schedule. Time to buckle up.

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

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Offensive Fireworks Spark Stars to 7-4 Win Over Rampage

The Texas Stars followed up their six-goal game on Saturday with an even better offensive performance in a 7-4 thrashing of the San Antonio Rampage. The victory gives the Stars back-to-back wins in their home-and-home set against their rivals to the south.

“It’s a pretty good combination of a group effort from the forwards and the back end,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “I know we haven’t scored a lot of goals lately in the last couple of months, so you’re happy for the guys to have a little bit of success. For us to have any success here moving forward, it’s gotta be scoring by committee.”

The Stars got depth scoring in spades on Sunday. Defenseman Niklas Hansson continued his recent stretch of strong play, leading the Stars in scoring with a goal and two assists to match his output from Saturday. That gives Hansson ten points in his last nine games.

“I guess the puck is bouncing my way right now,” he said. “We’ve come up with two big wins, so I’m happy for that.”

(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Nick Caamano scored an even strength and a power play goal in the first period to give the Stars 2-1 lead at first intermission. The first goal came nine and a half minutes into the game when Caamano cleaned up a loose puck fired from Dillon Heatherington’s stick.

"It’s definitely nice when you can help the team by scoring,” said Caamano. “It’s kind of one of those days when everything was going in for me.”

The power play goal was the result of hard and fast work by the second unit. Denis Gurianov stepped onto the ice with Caamano and they immediately set up a zone entry with their blazing speed. Caamano deflected Gurianov’s offering from the left circle with just over four minutes left in the frame. The goal was an answer to Rampage center Ryan Olsen’s back door tally two minutes earlier.

Laxdal spoke on the importance of that second power play unit. “They’re a group that’s got a lot of speed and some skill on the back end. If we can have two units that provide some offense, that’s going to help us win that next game and get into the playoffs.”

Fourth liner Colin Markison also pitched in with a goal and a helper. Three minutes into the second period, he got his stick on a bouncing puck and put it past Jared Coreau to push the lead to two. Erik Conda picked a corner on the power play three and a half minutes later to give the Stars even more head room.

“We’re starting to play the right way and just getting over pucks, which is creating offense for us,” said Caamano. “I think they’re just starting to go in for us. We had a lot of chances during those games when we had a slump, so it’s nice that they’re going in for us.

The scoring cushion would pay dividends later in the frame. With less than eight minutes to go, Gavin Bayreuther turned the puck over on his blue line, leading to another goal from Olsen who went five hole on Landon Bow. Colton Hargrove answered six minutes later as he wired a one timer through traffic, giving the Stars a 5-2 lead at second intermission.

"Overall, I liked the way our guys got the lead,” said Laxdal. “They play the right way in certain situations. We scored a couple of big power play goals to give us some breathing room. And we defended well when we had to.”

The Stars scored twice more in the third period to put up the seven spot. Defenseman Joel Hanley fired a prayer from the point that somehow found its way through traffic with just thirty ticks off the clock. Hansson capped his impressive showing seven minutes later when he pinched way down and roofed a slick feed from Tony Calderone.

“I think there’s a lot of trust in the staff in using [Hansson], and we’ve given him the freedom to join the rush. He’s got a pretty smooth skillset, and obviously he’s had some benefits with six points in two games. We’re going to have to continue to have that kind of output from him on the back end.”

Hansson’s lone blemish in the game came with a minute and a half left in regulation. He missed a defensive assignment on the back check, leading to a goal from Tanner Kaspick, though the game was well in hand. That mistake was a drop in a bucket compared to what Hansson’s been giving his team as of late.

“These two games have been a total team effort,” he said. “Everybody chipping in and doing their role. Everybody’s producing, so it’s really good for the group right now.”

Laxdal summed up the importance of these games. “At the end of the day you want to be playing important games down the stretch,” he said. “Every game that we play is our playoffs. Every game down the stretch is going to be a grind, and there’s going to be a sprint to the finish.”

The Stars head to Manitoba to play the Moose on Wednesday. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT.

Tonight's lines:
Mersch-Dowling-Condra
Caamano-Morin-Gurianov
Mascherin-Hargrove-McClure
Calderone-Payne-Markison

Heatherington-Hansson
Bayreuther-Hanley
Hanna-Gleason

Bow

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

Tonight’s attendance was 6,294, along with 84 doggos.

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