2009 Traverse City Prospects Tournament: Day Two

Mathieu Tousignant made an impressive debut yesterday as he tries out for the Dallas Stars.

[UPDATE] Once again, I've embedded a Twitter widget where you can find all of the up to the minutes updates on the game this afternoon.

We were promised a new and more uptempo style of play under Marc Crawford and if yesterday was our first taste of what is to come, then this season will be an incredible exciting one to watch. The Stars' prospects scored six goals on 37 shots, led by fifth round draft pick Tomas Vincour and free agent tryout Mathieu Tousignant. Unfortunately, the Stars were shaky on defense and lost 9-6 to the St. Louis Blues. Richard Bachman, making his professional debut after two seasons at Colorado College, allowed eight goals on 39 shots and from most accounts played solid despite the high goal total. It wasn't the stellar debut we were hoping for but there were signs that the new system will have definitely have the Stars playing a much different style than we've seen before. And it's not entirely embarassing to lose to the Blues prospects, since they have the top group of prospects among all NHL teams according to Hockey's Future.

Mike Heika, Mark Stepneski and Hockey's Future were on hand to give us excellent analysis of the game and the players.

After the jump, we rundown the reports from yesterday and preview today's game against Minnesota.

Mike Heika has some quotes from coach Glen Gulutzan on the game yesterday focusing on the new style of play the team is implementing, starting with the tournament this week.

``We do want to play a little uptempo game...so we're not going to hold anything back,'' Gulutzan said. ``These guys have all just been here a day. It's a process to get better and iron things out. That's what this tournament is for.''

There were certainly some hiccups yesterday, but that is to be expected when a group of players with just one practice together is asked to open things up. The amount of goals allowed is alarming, but Gulutzan doesn't blame Bachman:

``I thought he played well, especially early on. He gave us a chance to stay in that game. He might not have faced as many shots as the other goalie, but he faced more quality shots.''

Heika also has a couple of other observations on the game, including some notes on a few unknown defensemen who are making a good impression so far this week.

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Mark Stepneski did an incredible job yesterday updating fans on the game, and has a good analysis of what he saw from the young players:

The Blues scored two goals early in the third to take a 6-4 lead and never looked back. Final score was 9-6. Luke Gazdic and Mathieu Tousignant scored for the Stars in the third. Gazdic’s came off a nice set up off the rush by Colton Sceviour. Tousignant scored shorthanded as of a result some great penalty kill work along with Tomas Vincour. I thought Tousignant and Vincour were the two Dallas players who really stood out in the game, and not just because they scored the goals. They were noticeable at other times as well.

He also has a great story up on the tournament so far, including some great quotes from Jamie Benn and the team on the plan moving forward for the Stars' top prospect:

"I want to make the NHL this year and I am going to give it my best shot," Benn said after the team's morning skate in Traverse City on Sunday "If not, I am going to go down to Austin and keep working to make it."

"He'll get some experience here, but his true test will come when he comes to Dallas and gets in some games with us there," said Les Jackson, the team's Director of Scouting and Player Development. "He was one of the best amateur players in Canada last year. He certainly has the ingredients to go ahead and be a good pro."

"Every year there are expectations. That's part of the game. It's a challenge. It's nice to have and something I look forward to," Benn said. "I am hoping to have a good year and keep putting up some numbers."

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Finally, Hockey's Future is in attendance at the tournament. They have a great summary of all of the games played yesterday, including this note on the Stars:

Dallas got behind early in this game, and was just outplayed by an all-around better team. But the Stars made a game of it, and were actually in the game until the last minute.

Standouts for Dallas include defensive blueline tryout Zak Stebner, who was very solid in his own zone, and the line of Michael Neal, Mathieu Tousignant, and Sergei Korostin, high-energy players who were constantly making things happen on the ice.

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To summarize, the Stars unveiled a new system of playing yesterday that introduced an exciting brand of hockey but had some hiccups as well. The good news is that the team played hard and made it a closer game than it appears after falling behind early. With Jamie Benn (more on him below) and Scott Glennie having quiet nights, the third line was the best on the ice for the Stars.

The team might have found a gem in Tousignant, who has put up some decent numbers in the CHL the past few seasons (77 points last year in the QMJHL). He isn't the best skater on the ice, but knows how to make things happen with his grit and tenacity. 5th round pick Tomas Vincour also impressed with two goals, and flashed the offensive skill that led the Stars to draft him two months ago.

Jamie Benn, after all the talk this summer about his jump to the pro level, had a tough start to his season. After staying relatively quiet all game, Benn struggled with cramping his right leg and had trouble staying on the ice in the third period. After the game, he worked out on the ice and stated he would be ready to go for today's game. One bad game is not completely discouraging, but let's hope he picks thing up as the tournament moves on.

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