Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Local Group Breaks Ground on New Multi-Sport Complex with Two Full-Sized Ice Sheets

Rendering of the facility (Credit: iSports/Perardi Development)
This morning in Cedar Park, the dream of so many local Austin hockey players will get one step closer to reality as Perardi Development breaks ground on the new iSports Training and Performance Center across 183A from the H-E-B Center. Chaparral Ice is the lead tenant at the new facility.

100 Degree Hockey has been following the story of a suburban ice rink since its early days when the AHL’s Stars first moved to Cedar Park. Last year, Perardi and Chaparral Ice announced their partnership to build this facility and construction begins today.

The complex, which will be located at the southeast corner of Scottsdale Drive and 183A in Cedar Park, will be multi-sport, housing two full-sized NHL ice sheets and a mini-sheet for practice and individual skills work, along with two turf fields, one indoors and one outdoors. All of the fields will also be operated by Chaparral.

“The model is built on the fact we are in a non-traditional market,” Chaparral Ice owner Ryan Raya told 100 Degree Hockey when reached by phone this week. “We have other niche sports that take a backseat to football and baseball.”

(Credit: iSports/Perardi Development)
To that end, iSports looks to house sports beyond hockey and figure skating, such as soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics and cheer squads. Raya calls the concept a “sports mall” where all of the tenants work together to reinforce the value of the facility as a whole. “We’re just a tenant here, and we’re partnering to make sure that the people in the building are working toward the same goal.”

Other potential tenants include medical facilities, such as orthopedics, sports medicine and chiropractic services. As of the current moment, D1 Training is the only announced partner, but Raya notes, “There are a lot of groups in Austin that are well-known that are looking to be a part of this.”

Raya’s project came to fruition thanks to a bit of a chance meeting several years ago. The owner of Perardi Development, Eric Perardi, played Division 1 college hockey at RPI. When Eric came in to interview for a youth coaching opening, he joked with Raya that he should give him a call if he ever wanted to build a new facility.

Raya took him up on the offer. He already had a business plan ready to go for the multi-sport facility. Over the past few years, Chaparral has been using their renovations at the Northcross Mall location as a proof of concept for the market’s appetite for this type of facility. “We needed to see if Austin would gravitate to ice sports using the existing facility as a model. It worked. People are interested in coming out.”
(Credit: iSports/Perardi Development)
While multi-sport is definitely a huge part of the success, Raya also thinks that hockey will be a big winner in the facility. He points to the recent success of the youth teams based at Chaparral, including the 10U state championship, as proof that there is a massive talent base here in Austin that is untapped. “We’re building this facility for [those kids]. We want them to have the access that every kid has up north to develop.” He also believes the seeing is believing factor that every hockey fan knows about will attract even more players, envisioning soccer or lacrosse players walking by the rink and becoming enamored with the game of hockey.

As to the Texas Stars involvement, nothing is formally agreed to at this point. Texas practices at the Northcross location when the H-E-B Center is unavailable. “The Stars have always been interested in what we were doing. They’re sending some representatives to the ground breaking to show support, but it’s really up to them how much they do or don’t want to use the facility. I’m hopeful, but there isn’t anything formal in place.”

The facility is set to open June 2020.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Texas Stars Re-Sign Brad McClure for 2019-20

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars announced earlier today that they have re-signed winger Brad McClure for next season. McClure played most of the season in the ECHL but spent an extended stint with Texas in the back half of the year. He was a goal scorer for the Stars with a Cy Young stat line of 9-2=11. He scored a hat trick on March 30th and notched three game winners in those nine goals.

It appears that McClure is in the plans for the Stars in 2019-20. I would expect that he spends the majority if not the entire season in the AHL after the way he closed the season this year.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Tuesday that the club has signed right wing Brad McClure for the upcoming 2019-2020. McClure began the 2018-19 season with the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads, before logging 30 games with Texas.

McClure, 25, earned his first career promotion to the AHL on Jan. 7, 2019 and made his AHL debut five days later against the Iowa Wild. Following his AHL debut, McClure skated in 30 of the 29 of the Stars final 27 games and collected 11 points (9-2=11) in that stretch. Of his nine goals, three were game winning tallies which included his first AHL goal on Feb. 19 against the Iowa Wild in overtime. The 5-foot-11, 191 pound winger recorded his first career hat trick on Mar. 30, netting all three goals in the third period.

Before earning his full time call to the Texas Stars lineup, McClure was one of the leading scorers of the Steelheads. The Stratford, Ontario native produced 39 points (19-20=39) across 42 ECHL games ending the year third on the roster in goals. McClure went on to rejoin the Steelheads in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, helping them advance to the Mountain Division final with five points (3-2=5) in nine games.

McClure Is one year removed from a his collegiate career at Minnesota State University-Mankato. The former Mavericks captain logged 159 career games at his alma mater from 2014 to 2018 and tallied 91 points (45-46=91).

How Reece Scarlett Made the Most of a Season Lost to Injury

With his season over on opening night, Scarlett had to find new ways to contribute...
Reece Scarlett (Credit: Texas Stars)
It goes without saying that it wasn’t the season anyone had planned for Texas defenseman Reece Scarlett.

First game of the season, third period against Grand Rapids at H-E-B Center, “I just went into the corner with… I think it was [Chris] Terry. I don’t know, he sort of bounced off the boards and sort of fell in on me. I almost went into like a butterfly that I was not prepared to go into. Not a goalie, never been a goalie. My knee wasn’t supposed to go that way.

“You know, sometimes you get a charlie horse, or you twist something and you know that it’s just okay, that you’ll be able to come back. But even just trying to get off the ice, I knew it wasn’t right.”

The prognosis for Scarlett was a torn ACL, minimum recovery time of six to nine months. He knew forty minutes into the new season that he was already done for the year.

“Disbelief, just disappointment. I was excited to come into training camp, and I thought I did a really good job of proving myself to be a capable call-up if I ever got the chance. I was really excited to get the season going. And then it was, like I said, just disappointment and disbelief. It was a pretty bleak point.”

Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal called the unfortunate injury a big loss for the team, “Any time you lose a player, especially a veteran player who was one of our spiritual leaders in the back end, it’s a pretty big shot. Losing him was a big, big blow.”

But Scarlett never gave up on helping his team even though he wouldn’t play another minute of competitive hockey in the 2018-19 season.

Scarlett set out his mantra for the season from that point out, “Put your head down and go to work. Things might not always go your way, but it’s just how you deal with it. And that was the attitude that I tried to put forward and hopefully instill in others as well.”

Scarlett was a trade acquisition for the Dallas Stars. He put up a couple points in thirteen games to start the 2017-18 season in Springfield and then was swapped with Ludwig Bystrom. As Texas went deep in the playoffs last summer, Scarlett set a steady pairing with Andrew Bodnarchuk, finding his groove in the organization and setting himself up for a big year. Then, October 5th. Opening night was also closing night for Scarlett, and the long road to recovery started almost immediately.

Surgery isn’t always immediate for a torn ACL. Scarlett did some rehab to gain strength and movement in the knee before surgery to improve post-surgical recovery time. On October 24th in Dallas, Dr. William Robertson cut out Scarlett’s left patellar tendon and placed it where the torn ACL had been. Recovery went quickly. “I got to go on the ice probably about a month [later] by myself just messing around. We would just do basic six or seven year old [drills]: skate around in a circle, crossover, stuff like that.”

Within a few months, he noted he felt like a ‘normal human being,’ getting through day-to-day life without any pain. To begin athletic recovery, he and the rehab team had to walk a fine line to avoid re-injury. Even though he wasn’t going to play, the Texas training staff, including head athletic trainer Shay McGlynn, came in early to help Scarlett through his rehab.

“Hats off to Shay and our training staff helper, Hank [Petersen]. They did an unbelievable job being there for me everyday. They were coming to the rink early everyday. That’s their job, but at the same time, I wasn’t necessarily a priority in terms of guys playing, so I really appreciated the effort they put in as well.”

The organization offered Scarlett the opportunity to do his recovery back at home in Canada, but it didn’t even register as a possibility for him. “I’m under contract to play hockey for the Dallas Stars organization, and those are my teammates, those are my friends. And that’s where I wanted to be. So it was never an option for me to go home.”

Scarlett felt he needed to find a way to still contribute to the team in his recovery. He found that in video work. Wearing a suit and tie with a view of the ice from high above, the defenseman would watch the games and construct video breakdowns of plays.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
“I was able to just take some video clips for defensemen, and in the next couple of days after the game do video with the guys and show them what I see, get their perspective.”

Both players benefit from this arrangement. Aside from the coaching that Scarlett provided, he picked up on the finer points of every other player’s game to adapt into his own. “Just being able to watch different defensemen closely. Everybody plays a different style; everybody thinks the game a little bit differently. So for me being able to watch [Bayreuther]’s confidence breaking the puck out or Gleason’s confidence in general.

“It was helpful for me to see different options and different ways of doing things. It was sort of win-win for both of us, for the D corps and myself. Hopefully they got something out of it, I know I did. It also made home games a little more enjoyable. I get to be a part of the team somehow and not just sitting up there.”

Coach Laxdal complimented Scarlett on his work to stay involved and help the team any way he could, “We utilized him at home to help us with the D and a little bit of video work. Just monitor and look for things. Just to take his mind off of not playing and allow him to be part of the team. He embraced it and was great in the room. I think it made the season go a lot quicker for him.”

It was especially tough for Scarlett to see Dallas call up so many defenseman from Texas. It’s nearly certain he would have played his first NHL game this season if it weren’t for the injury. “It was a little bit tough to swallow. You always feel like you have an opportunity, you’re always close. Luckily, for half our D corps, it was the right time right place for them, and I couldn’t have been happier for them.”

Texas Stars General Manager Scott White noted the year he’d had in an interview earlier this summer, “It was a hell of year for him and he’s still got a ways to go. It’s a serious injury when you blow your knee out. He’s done everything right and I think he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in. The coaches will remember Reece from last training camp.” Laxdal agreed, calling Scarlett’s past few months the best training he’s probably had in his career. Scarlett added a few pounds in the weight room with intense rehab sessions.

Still, the circumstances stung for the player, “Guys go up and live their dream, and I was just struggling to move my knee. It was crazy to watch, but at the end of the day, you gotta just put your head down and work and trust that everything you do is worth it in the end. Hopefully I know I’m gonna come back stronger next year and hopefully that luck might come my way.”

It’s barely a month into the offseason, but Scarlett has already started his summer workout routine. He joked it’s hard to justify taking much time off given how rested his body is. It is expected that Dallas will qualify the defenseman and bring him back to the organization for another year. He was also able to get back on the ice with the team late in the season. In a red no-contact jersey, #24 dashed up and down the ice, participating in drills for the first time in six months.

“That was one of the highlights of my year, honestly. Just being able to be out there and be myself. You’re one person off the ice, you’re one person in day-to-day life, and for me when I’m out there playing hockey, that’s who I am. It felt really good to be out there, and I felt like myself again.”

Additional reporting provided by Ryan Pennington.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Texas Stars Announce Renovation Plans for Arena's Retractable Seating

Plan will add glass seating and cross-aisle row for better fan movement
Plans for the new seating in the west 'endzone'
(Credit: Texas Stars and Hussey Seating)
The Texas Stars and H-E-B Center at Cedar Park have announced their plans to replace the telescopic seating platforms in sections 111, 112 and 113. Season ticket holders in the affected sections received an email detailing the below information this morning. The seats were damaged during a routine changeover in the middle of the season and were out of commission since early February. 100 Degree Hockey previously reported on the arena's plans here.

Highlights of the new plan include the addition of 21 new glass seats in the section and a cross-aisle to facilitate movement across the sections, removing rows C and D as a result.

"With the increasing event count at H-E-B Center we had a need for an efficient, operator friendly, and robust system that will see hundreds of conversions per year," said Texas Stars Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Michael Delay, who spearheaded the effort. "Given the opportunity to redesign the seating area for Texas Stars games we felt it was important to add additional glass and second row seats as well."

Current estimates show work may not be completed until the second week of October. Current season ticket holders in these sections are being contacted by the team to begin the process of relocation or upgrade. Existing season ticket holders will be allowed to upgrade into these seats as their season seats during the ensuing two weeks and then the seats will be opened for all new ticket holders. Delay said the Stars are working with Hussey Seating and the arena to take every opportunity to make an opening night completion a possibility, but there are many factors at play.

Several significant changes are included in the project, which will be completed by Hussey Seating.
  • The addition of a total of twenty-one (21) Row A – Glass Seats in Sections 112, 113, and 114
  • The addition of additional second row seats bringing the total to twenty-two (22) Row B seats in Sections 112, 113, and 114 and the corresponding removal of the stairwells at the two center down aisles between sections 111/112 and 112/113
  • The addition of seats in Section 112 Row L – Lowering the height of the Zamboni tunnel by one row
  • An overall reduction of the total seating capacity by 86 seats primarily as a result of the removal of rows C and D in all 3 sections to create a cross-aisle between 111/112 and 112/113
  • The sections will feature fixed, armless seating in all Rows except Row R (top row) which remains folding seats. 
  • The down aisles will be wider in all sections, and row E seats may be entered from the front as they are now on the cross-aisle.
Pricing will be commensurate with other sections: Glass pricing for Row A, Luxury in B, Executive for E-G and everything else at Terrace.

Texas will continue to communicate with season ticket holders in these sections over the summer as the season approaches.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Justin Dowling is the Texas Stars 2018-19 MVP

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas didn't have a championship season, but they still had several standout performances. Nominees and the winner for the team MVP award are below...

Runner up: Denis Gurianov
(20-28=48 in 57 games, plus-2, 12 PIMs, 3 GWGs, 4 PPGs)

The Russian winger had a fantastic year in the AHL and probably should not find himself in Cedar Park again. However, this year, he was in the minors and excelled. At times, Gurianov would completely take over a game in the way that he can in the A. His elite speed was put to good use on defense as well as offense this year as he worked to jet out of the defensive zone and create scoring opportunities the other way.

Runner up: Erik Condra
(20-34=54 in 71 games, minus-6, 64 PIMs, 8 PPGs, 16 PPAs)

Condra was a huge get of a signing. In the middle of the season, he was as high as third in the league scoring table. After a callup to Dallas, his performance tailed off and he had a less productive back half of the year. Still, he was prolific. He notched 24 points on the Texas power play, which was ranked #3 in the regular season. One might argue that Condra should be the team MVP, but I point to the club's performance after the departure of our winner, Justin Dowling, to Dallas and how they struggled without him. Condra also had a less consistent season.

Winner: Justin Dowling
(13-40=53 in 62 games, minus-6, 12 PIMs, 4 PPGs, 19 PPAs)

Justin Dowling was named Texas Stars captain early in the season and lived up to the billing as a leader both on and off the ice. He scored a career-best 53 points including another career-best 40 assists. He was deployed in all situations and put up huge numbers on the power play (23 points).

I lean toward Dowling as MVP over Condra because of his consistency across the season and how much the team struggled without him in the lineup. Texas was 0-5 without Dowling in the lineup until March, when he was called up for good and Texas got some ATO reinforcements. Even then, Texas went 5-8-0-1 without Dowling across the year. Condra, by comparison, saw Texas go 4-0-0-1 when he was out of the lineup.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Joel L'Esperance is the Texas Stars Rookie of the Year

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
It's been a few seasons since 100 Degree Hockey handed out end of season awards. For some teams, this is something that the organization does itself, even. I'm not going to go super in-depth for these awards though. We'll just have two: Rookie of the Year and MVP. Today, rookie of the year.

Alright, I don't think that we need to have much hemming and hawing over who won this award. However, let's discuss some runners up.

Runner up: Nicholas Caamano
(12-12=24 in 72 games, plus-1, 91 PIMs, 3 GWGs, 2 PPGs)

Nicholas Caamano had a solid season for the Texas Stars. As players started being called up to Dallas midseason, Caamano was one of the players called upon to raise his game. He answered the bell with 10 of his 24 points coming in the last month of the season.

Runner up: Ben Gleason
(5-32=37 in 72 games, minus-8, 34 PIMs, 2 PPGs, 18 PPAs)

From Traverse City tryout to playing an NHL game this season, Gleason has had an eventful year. He was a productive member of the Stars top-3 power play with 20 of his 37 points coming with the man advantage. His puck moving skills were evident from game one and the late season addition of Joe Cecconi to his pairing made him even better. Cecconi, of course, is used to working with high-caliber offensive talent like his Michigan D partner Quinn Hughes.

Runner up: Adam Mascherin
(18-26=44 in 75 games, plus-10, 30 PIMs, 4 PPGs, 4 GWGs)

There is no question that Adam Mascherin can put up points. He nearly claimed the rookie scoring lead among Stars at the end of the season with his 44 point effort. However, he has a tendency to be streaky and score in bunches. He will be there for a few games and then disappear. Any player knows that consistency is key to time in the lineup. If Mascherin wants to head to Dallas, he needs to score more evenly across all games and have a less lumpy scoring line.

Winner: Joel L'Esperance
(30-15=45 in 54 games, minus-5, 23 PIMs, 13 PPGs, 7 PPAs, 5 GWGs)

This one felt pretty obvious. L'Esperance had a beastly first season. In just 54 games, he notched 45 points. The power play numbers are truly impressive as well. Thirteen power play goals leads all Texas skaters by four and puts him eighth in the league overall for PPGs. Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal regularly called him a "horse" of a competitor and compared him to Jay Beagle, an undrafted player who continues to enjoy NHL success after being signed to Idaho by Laxdal out of the University of Alaska Anchorage.  L'Esperance's scoring line also showed what he was: a scorer first. He can distribute, but he's most dangerous when he's the triggerman. His five game-winners show that as much as anything.

I'm expecting that L'Esperance will be a bubble player when the year begins. Under contract for the coming season still on his ELC, he has a healthy chance to make the team out of camp and if not, be the first callup to Dallas when the need arises.

MVP coming soon...

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Reviewing the Texas Stars' Best Games of the Season

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Two weeks ago, we looked at the worst games of the season. After last night's outcome, it feels like a good time for an injection of positivity with the best games. In chronological order, here are some of the best...

Texas Stars Crush Rampage 8-1 with Balanced Attack
November 10, 2018 - Texas 8 vs. San Antonio 1

It's going to be a going trend here that a lot of the best games of the season were against San Antonio. It's almost not fair. It starts with this 8-1 affair in November. Texas got a hat trick from Erik Condra and four points out of Justin Dowling. With Morin, the trio combined for nine total points. Joel L'Esperance, Colton Hargrove and Colin Markison also scored as the Stars impressed a capacity crowd. Landon Bow also made 30 stops.

Mascherin's First Pro Hat Trick Headlines Heated 7-3 Win for Texas
November 25, 2018 - Texas 7 at San Antonio 3

Goals galore in San Antonio put this one in the conversation. Coming off a loss at home to the Rampage, Texas needed its depth players to step up and bring them across the line. They responded. Adam Mascherin notched a hat trick. Elgin Pearce and Brady Norrish scored their first goals of the season, and there were multi-point nights for depth players Shane Hanna and Robbie Payne. The game is also famous for Jordan Binnington's slash on Joel L'Esperance after the Stars rookie made it a 7-2 game. He was assessed a major and a game misconduct.

Erik Condra's Five Points Power Texas Stars to 7-4 Win Over Chicago Wolves
December 2, 2018 - Texas 7 at Chicago 4

Erik Condra's five-point night is absolutely in the conversation for the best individual performance of the season. At the end of a three-in-three weekend, Texas had plenty of gas in the tank to take the Wolves to task. Nick Caamano had a pair, as did Travis Morin. The top performance, however, came from Condra, who was in the midst of a fantastic points streak. This game was his eighth straight with points and pushed him to third in the league scoring table.

Key Timeout Spurs Texas Stars Past San Antonio Rampage 6-4
March 9, 2019 - Texas 6 at San Antonio 4

Texas had a 4-2 lead but gave it up late. A well-timed timeout by the Texas coaching staff helped to re-center the club and push them past in-state rival San Antonio 6-4. Denis Gurianov and Niklas Hansson each had three-point nights, and several others had two in the contest. Landon Bow picked up a rare road win, just his fifth of the season, stopping 22 shots. Texas got scoring from all over the lineup, including a game-winner from rookie Tony Calderone and the reappearance of the streaky scorer Adam Mascherin, who had two points. It is in the best of list because the Stars came back to win it and because they got contributions from all over the lineup.

Colton Hargrove's First Career Hat Trick Paces Texas to 6-3 Win Over Grand Rapids
March 20, 2019 - Texas 6 vs. Grand Rapids 3

This game was good for more than a few reasons. First, obviously the scoring line against a team like Grand Rapids is a big plus. Second, the fact that a depth player like Colton Hargrove scored a hat trick is a bonus as well. Finally, this was the first game where ATO depth started to affect the lineup. Ty Dellandra, Josh Melnick, Rhett Gardner and Joe Cecconi all made their professional debuts in the game. None looked out of place, and their debuts set a strong path forward for the coming year.

Jake Oettinger's Strong Debut, McClure's Hat Trick Lead Stars Past Wild 4-1
March 30, 2019 - Texas 4 at Iowa 1

A late season road trip to Iowa saw Texas capture all four points available. Brad McClure did his thing, scoring goals as he does to notch a hat trick, his first. Jake Oettinger made his professional debut just a few days after being bounced from the NCAA tournament. He stopped 23 of 24, aided by the depth offense ahead of him. These were huge points for the playoff race, helping to keep Texas in it right until the bitter end.