|(Credit: Mollie Kendall/Texas Stars)|
Aside from the 2013-14 season, the Texas Stars have been hard-pressed to collect any year-end AHL hardware. Matt Fraser came close to the goal scoring title in 2012 and of course Willie Desjardins won the Pieri (Coach of the Year) in 2013, but otherwise, it's been a bare cupboard. This year, it's different.
With two dynamic rookies in Riley Damiani and Thomas Harley and a reinvigorated Adam Mascherin, the Stars should expect several post-season honors coming their way. Let's run down the case for each player and see what they might earn.
Note that All-Star teams will be honored by division, instead of per the entire league. This raises the likelihood that Texas will have multiple award winners.
11-25=36 in 36 GP
1st in rookie scoring
1st in centerman scoring
T-3rd in overall scoring
Damiani has been the rookie scoring leader pretty much wire to wire. Henderson's Jack Dugan pressed him a bit as the Stars hit a losing skid in March, but Damiani's nine points in eight games in May opened a gap that proved unbeatable. His point-per-game pace puts him in the conversation for three different awards. He should be a lock for two of them, and he's iffy on the third.
First of all, All-Rookie Team is a lock for Damiani. He's the leading scorer among all rookie players, so this is set. Next, AHL All-Star. This year with the divisional alignment, Damiani should be a lock here as well. He has two points on the next scorer behind him in the Central.
Finally, the case of Rookie of the Year. The only Star to ever win it was Curtis McKenzie. For Damiani, the case seems pretty simple at first. When you look at rookie scoring, he's up on Jack Dugan by four points. He was the leader across the season and clearly is a strong competitor. But the issue comes when you look at the goalies.
Henderson's Logan Thompson was incredible this year (16-6-1, 1.96 GAA, 0.943 SV%). He might well win the Bastien (Goalie of the Year) as well as the rookie trophy. This is a tough one to predict as I'm not sure how well-known the success of Henderson has been broadly communicated this year. The lack of playoffs and low to no interdivisional play meant that many focused only on the teams they might encounter. I'd give this one even odds.
8-17=25 in 38 GP
9th in rookie scoring
1st in rookie defenseman scoring
2nd in defenseman scoring
3rd in left wing scoring