STARS WEEKLY (WEEK 32)
Stars Prepare to Battle Grand Rapids in Conference Semifinals
2013-14 Record: 48-18-3-7, 106 points (29-8-0-1 Home, 19-10-3-6 Road), First Place – West Division
2014 Playoff Record: 3-0 (1.000)
Week 31 Recap:
The Texas Stars swept the Oklahoma City Barons in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, with a 4-2 win at Cedar Park Center on Wednesday, April 30th. It is the second sweep in team history; the first occasion happened in first round of the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs when the Stars swept the Rockford IceHogs in four games in Texas’ first-ever playoff series. Rookie Brendan Ranford put the Stars ahead with a goal at 7:16 of the first period. AHL MVP Travis Morin sent a beautiful cross ice pass to Ranford who was waiting at the back-post to tap it home. After playing in four 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Dallas Stars, Chris Mueller scored in his Texas playoff debut to give the Stars a two-goal lead. Mueller split through two defenders and, while getting hooked, snapped a shot under Baron’s goaltender Richard Bachman’s blocker 1:55 into the second period. However, Oklahoma City would not go down without a fight. Anton Lander scored a shorthanded goal at 8:54 of the second, and Brad Hunt tied the game at two 3:24 into the third period. About eight minutes later, while on a five-on-three power-play, Justin Dowling caught Bachman anticipating a pass and snuck a shot through the goalie’s legs to give Texas a 3-2 lead. Scott Glennie added an empty-net goal with one minute left, capping off the Stars’ victory and first round sweep. Goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 21-of-23 shots to win his second game of the 2014 playoffs and sixth of his AHL post-season career.
Week 32 Preview:
Texas was one of two teams to sweep their first round series, the other being the Toronto Marlies, who rolled over the Milwaukee Admirals in three games. Finishing so early, the Stars had to wait four days just to find out their second round opponent. The Chicago Wolves beat the Rochester Americans in Game 5 on Sunday, meaning after the reseeding of teams, the top-seeded Stars will play the fourth-seeded Griffins in a best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinal series. Playing a 2-3-2 format, Texas will host Grand Rapids for Games 1 and 2, opening the series on Thursday, May 8th at 7:30 p.m. at Cedar Park Center. The teams will then travel to Western Michigan for Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary, at Van Andel Arena. Games 6 & 7, also if necessary, will be held at Cedar Park Center. Texas and Grand Rapids have never met in the playoffs, but faced each other four times during the 2013-14 regular season. The Stars posted a 1-3-0-0 record; the Griffins (3-1-0-0) were one of only two teams this year to have a winning record against Texas.
Thursday’s game is H-E-B Night, where fans can bring a non-perishable food item to the box office to receive five dollars off their next ticket purchase. Saturday’s game is a Coke Zero Family Four Pack Night, where fans can purchase a ticket package that includes four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks at a discounted price. Every Texas Stars 2014 home playoff game is a Texas Lottery Lucky Row Night, where fans can win scratch off tickets courtesy of Texas Lottery when the first Stars player scores a goal.
C Justin Dowling (1-4-5) is tied for eighth in the league in points and is on a three-game point streak with five points (1 goal, 4 assists) and a +1 rating during that span. C Travis Morin (2-2-4) ranks second on the team in points and has 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) and a +2 rating in his last 3 games. LW Brendan Ranford (2-1-3) is on a three-game point streak with three points (2 goals, 1 assist) and a +1 rating during that span.
Week 32 Schedule:
(All games are broadcast LIVE over the Internet at www.TexasStarsHockey.com and the free radio button on the schedule page of www.ahllive.com and can be viewed via internet pay-per-view video on www.ahllive.com. All times listed in Central Time)
Thursday, May 8 – 7:30 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX
vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)
Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference
Saturday, May 8 – 7:00 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX
vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)
Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference
· Team Notes: The Grand Rapids Griffins traveled to British Columbia and took the first two games of their first round series with the Abbotsford Heat, winning 2-1 in overtime in Game 1 and then routing the Heat 7-2 in Game 2. Abbotsford struck back with a 2-1 win in Game 3 at Van Andel Arena, but the Griffins finished them off in Game 4 last Friday with a 5-3 victory. Grand Rapids outscored Abbotsford 15-8 during the four-game series. When the Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round by the Boston Bruins, defensemen Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet, left-wing Tomas Jurco and center Riley Sheahan were returned to the Griffins for the playoffs. Sproul, Jurco and Sheahan combined for eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) and two game-winning goals during the first round against Abbotsford. 11 players on the roster have registered multiple points in the first round, including six players with four or more points. Goaltender Petr Mrazek, who finished the regular season in contention for the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award for the AHL’s best goaltender, ranks sixth in the Calder Cup Playoffs in goals-against average (1.72) and is tied for fifth in save percentage (0.936). Grand Rapids ended the regular season tied for seventh in power-play percentage (20.2%) and fifth in shots-per-game (32.16). The Griffins have continued that pace in the playoffs, going 5-for-23 on the power-play (21.7%) and averaging the most shots per game (39.50). Grand Rapids was one of just two teams this season to have a winning record (3-1-0-0, 6 pts.) against the Stars; the Rockford IceHogs went 2-0-0-0 against Texas this year. This is the first meeting between Texas and Grand Rapids in the playoffs.
· Leading Scorer: Teemu Pulkkinen (RW) – Five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a +4 rating in four GP.
· Leading Goaltender: Petr Mrazek (G) – 1.72 GAA, 0.936 save pct., 3-1-0, 0 SO in 4 GP.
Who’s Hot: RW Teemu Pulkkinen (2-3-5) leads the team in points and has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a +2 rating in his last three games. LW Jeff Hoggan (3-1-4) leads the team in goals, tied for second in points and has four points (3 goals, 1 assist) and a +3 rating in his last three games. D Nathan Paetsch (0-4-4) leads the team in assists, tied for second in points and has four assists and a +4 rating in his last four games. C Andrej Nestrasil (2-2-4) is tied for second on the team in points and has four points (2 goals, 2 assists) and a +3 rating in his last four games.
Week 31 Game Results:
April 30, 2014 Game 3: Oklahoma City 2 @ Texas 4 – Series Ends
Stars Player of the Week: (Week 31)
Justin Dowling – C – #10 1 GP, 2 Points (1 G, 1 A), 1 GWG
Since March 5th, Justin Dowling has been a major offensive threat for the Texas Stars and he proved that yet again during Week 32. With about 10 minutes left in an elimination game, and on a five-on-three advantage, Dowling scored a nifty goal that ended up being the game-winner, advancing the Stars to the second round. He also assisted on Scott Glennie’s empty net goal for a game-high two-point night. The Cochrane, Alberta native currently leads the team with five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in the first three games of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs. Dowling has nine career points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 12 career Calder Cup Playoff games, all with the Texas Stars.
Stars Quick Hits:
· FRANCHISE PLAYOFF GOAL – Travis Morin’s game-tying goal with 40 seconds left in the third period of Game 2 against the Oklahoma City Barons was the Stars’ 100th all-time Calder Cup Playoff goal. Jamie Benn scored the Stars’ first playoff goal on April 16, 2010 against the Rockford IceHogs.
· CHAMP VERSUS CHAMP – The Texas Stars, the 2013-14 regular season champions, will be facing the Grand Rapids Griffins, the defending Calder Cup Champions in the second round. This is the first time since 2000 when the current regular season champion and defending Calder Cup champion met in the playoffs. The 1999-2000 Regular season champion Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the 1999 Calder Cup champion Providence Bruins and went on to win the 2000 Calder Cup championship.
· ENERGIZER BUNNY – Goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp has stretched his impressive play into his two playoff starts, winning Games 1 and 3 against the Oklahoma City Barons with a 1.91 GAA and a 0.922 save percentage. Nilstorp finished the season with a seven-game winning streak and has not lost in regulation since February 17th.
· AN ALL-TIME RECORD – Maxime Fortunus played in his 97th Calder Cup Playoff game last Wednesday night. He is three games away from becoming the 17th player in AHL history to play in 100 career Calder Cup games. Fortunus is currently in sole possession of 17th place on the AHL’s all-time list and is the only Texas player to skate in all 42 playoff games in team history.
· AWARD-WINNING COACHES COLLIDE – For the second time in the last decade, the two most recent AHL Coach of the Year winners will face each other head-to-head in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins earned the honor in his first season in Cedar Park (2012-13), while Grand Rapids bench boss Jeff Blashill was this year’s award recipient. The last time this occurred was during the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs when Guy Boucher’s (2009-10 AHL Coach of the Year) Hamilton Bulldogs faced Scott Arniel’s (2008-09 AHL Coach of the Year) Manitoba Moose in the first round; Hamilton won the series in six games.
Stars Week 31 Transactions:
May 2 – ADD – Ludwig Byström (D) – Reassigned by Dallas (NHL) from Färjestad BK (SHL).
Texas Stars Team Leaders:
Games Played: 13 Players tied (3)
Goals: Mike Hedden, Travis Morin & Brendan Ranford (2)
Assists: Justin Dowling (4)
Points: Justin Dowling (5)
Plus/Minus: Mike Hedden (+3)
Penalty Minutes: Scott Glennie (7)
Power Play Goals: Justin Dowling, Derek Meech & Travis Morin (1)
Short Handed Goals: N/A
Game-Winning Goals: Justin Dowling, Mike Hedden & Brendan Ranford (1)
Shots: Justin Dowling & Travis Morin (13)
Shooting Percentage: Scott Glennie & Chris Mueller (50.0%)
Saves: Cristopher Nilstorp (47)
Wins: Cristopher Nilstorp (2)
GAA: Jack Campbell (1.61)
Save Percentage: Jack Campbell (0.950)
The Texas Stars will open the 2014 Western Conference Semifinals with Game 1 on Thursday, May 8th at 7:30 p.m. at Cedar Park Center against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased via Ticketmaster or the Cedar Park Center Box Office. Thursday’s game is H-E-B Night, as well as a Texas Lottery Lucky Row Night. Texas Stars’ 2014 Calder Cup playoff ticket packages are on sale now! Reserve your seats for all Calder Cup playoff games at Cedar Park Center at a discounted rate. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.
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