Stargazing: Weekend edition

Today in Stargazing:

  • Mark Fistric makes a huge play in the final minute of a playoff game.
  • Jamie Benn is still not playing, and the Kelowna Rockets are losing.
  • A Texas professional sports team actually wins a championship.
  • Brenden Morrow talks about the past season.
  • ...and much much more.

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The Kelowna Rockets lost game five of the WHL Finals to Calgary 6-2.

More importantly, Jamie Benn missed his third straight game with what is now being called a concussion. He took a bad hit against the boards in the first period of game two and has yet to return to the ice.

“It‘s an opportunity for other guys, but of course you want Jamie in the lineup all the time, “ said Huska. “He was our leading scorer during the playoffs when he got hurt. But it gives other guys an opportunity to do something special.”


A competitive player, Benn said watching games from the cheap seats isn‘t ideal.
“It‘s tough watching the games,” Benn said just prior to Game 5, “but I think the boys will do just fine out there.”

Game six is Saturday in Kelowna. It is unknown if Benn will play.

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The Manitoba Moose swept the Grand Rapids Griffons, winning the AHL North and moving on to the Western Conference finals. In the series-clinching game, the Moose were under heavy fire in the third period and were up by just a goal. With chaos reigning in the final minutes, Mark Fistric made a huge block in the slot with his knee.

Under that pressure, Moose defenceman Mark Fistric blocked a shot on the side of the knee and was unable to get up until after the final horn marked the Moose victory.

The Moose were outshot 16-4 in the final period, but their two-goal cushion had them in good shape until Grand Rapids' Jamie Tardif made it 3-2 with exactly seven minutes left.

"Obviously we wanted to keep pushing the pace of the game and that didn't go well, but credit to our guys," Fistric said. "We held on and got the win. Now we have a good week to rest up and get ready for Round 3. That's exciting."

After he was helped from the ice and had some attention from the team's medical staff, Fistric showed off the cut the puck left on the outside of his knee in the last minute.

"Please call that an upper-body injury," Fistric laughed. "I was just unlucky it hit me where there wasn't much padding.

For updates on how each Dallas Stars player is doing in the AHL playoffs, be sure to visit Andrew's Dallas Stars Page.

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The Texas Brahmas (formerly the Fort Worth Brahmas) won the CHL championship this week with a 4-1 series win over the Colorado Eagles. For more info on the Brahmas and the CHL, head on over to Big D Hockey.

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A reader asks Mike Heika whether the Stars made a mistake in trading away Jussi Jokinen. His emphatic answer?

Hey Kevin, I disagree with you on this one.

Jokinen is playing very well for Carolina in the playoffs, but I think a part of the reason for that is that he was on his last chance in the NHL.

If he had not gone to Tampa Bay and dealt with all of that hardship (healthy scratches and two trips through waivers), I don't think he would be playing the game he is playing right now. I don't remember him ever going to the net with the Stars, and now he does it all of the time. Is that coaching or is that he finally decided he had to play a harder game to stay in the NHL? It's probably a little of both, but the coaching is a lot easier when you have a motivated audience.

The other thing to consider in whether it was a good decision to move him is that Jokinen is a left-handed left wing, and that's where the Stars have their most depth.

I have to say I agree. Jussi was a postseason disappointment and rarely made the physical sacrifices needed to get big goals when the Stars needed them. You don't keep someone on your team just because they're a shootout specialist.

And we've all seen how important Brad Richards has become.

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The Dallas Stars signed left wing Michael Neal to an entry-level contract this week.

Neal, 20, went scoreless in three games with the Belleville Bulls last season before being traded to the Sarnia Sting, where he posted 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists) and 48 penalty minutes in 63 games. His nine goals were tied for fifth on the team. The 6-2, 202-pound left wing added an assist and four penalty minutes in five OHL Playoff games with the Sting.

Michael, as some of you may know, is the younger brother of James Neal.

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The DMN has a great story about the rise of youth hockey in North Texas, and how the level of play rivals that of youth powerhouses elsewhere in the US, like Michigan, New England and Minnesota.

Sixteen years after the Stars moved to Dallas, North Texas sports several promising players, and interest in youth hockey continues to widen. "It's just night and day from what it was," said Craig Ludwig, the former Stars defenseman who has sent three sons through the local hockey teams. "I think what we're seeing is obviously kids starting to skate a lot earlier, playing hockey a lot earlier and getting better coaching all around. We just have a much better base for youth hockey here."

When the Stars moved from Minnesota in 1993, the area had maybe two or three usable youth rinks, some league games were held at malls and maybe 250 youths played hockey. Now, there are more than 23 rinks, more than 8,000 registered youth players and 80 high school teams. Local teams have gone to national tournaments and garnered championships or runner-up trophies, and North Texas even hosted a national championship tournament this year for under-14 players.

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Like the Dallas Stars, Marty Turco had a roller coaster of a season. He started off abysmal, had a month of dominance and then faded down the stretch. One factor in his inconsistency was that he played more than in other point in his career.

“I think, Marty, to get the best out of him, we need him to be at full capacity all the time and there was probably some times this year where he wasn’t,” Tippett said. “Tobias came into training camp, didn’t have a great camp, never really gave the coaching staff a sense that he could take the ball and run with it for any stretch of time. The way our season was going, we were looking for the consistency factor and you look to your number one guy to try to get you that and it was up and down all year.”

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And finally, Brenden Morrow talks about this past season.

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