The Texas Stars celebrated this week with the raising of the Western Conference Championship banner to the rafters in the Cedar Park Center. Only 15 of those who helping claim the championship were on the ice in Stars jerseys that night. Three of them were on the ice for the San Antonio Rampage (Phoenix Coyotes), including goalie Matt Climie.
Texas split this week's contests and lost a key piece from last year's campaign to call up. The Stars launched an all-out media blitz this week to bring people in for this weekend's games, specifically Saturday. Texas pulled in 6,300 for Saturday's game and only 3,400 for Sunday's afternoon game.
Below the break, we'll take a look at this week's game action, some analysis of the callup of Gagnon and assignment of Brunnstrom and a little bit of a preview for the coming week.
Stars Win Home Opener in OT, 5-4
(HDH blog link)
Texas had a wild one for the home opener. After raising the banner and announcing the 2010-11 squad, Texas had a shootout with the San Antonio Rampage. The Stars got goals from Scott McCulloch, Aaron Gagnon, Francis Wathier, and Ondrej Roman in reegulation. Tomas Vincour and Philip Larsen picked up their first professional points with assists on Texas tallies.
Texas had a great power play (3 for 4) after going 0 for 9 in their first game against the Rampage. Texas, which trailed 3-1 at one point in the game, came back to tie it 4-4 and take it to OT. With Maxime Goncharov in the box for holding, Scott McCulloch scored his 2nd of the night and 3rd of the season to win the home opener. Texas is now 2-0-0-0 in home openers, both won against San Antonio in OT. Greg Rallo scored last year's OT winner and was on the ice for this one as well.
Dallas Recalls Gagnon, Assigns Brunnstrom
(HDH blog link)
I think we all expected Aaron Gagnon to be recalled at some point this season. His strong preseason play for Dallas meant he was going to be a great call-up at some point in the season. This was a little bit early. Fabian Brunnstrom got sent down as the replacement for a little bit of AHL seasoning. Brunnstrom played in 8 games last year on a conditioning stint and had 1 goal and 4 assists. My personal hope is that Coach Glen Gulutzan's defensive style of play will inspire Brunnstrom to become a more responsible two-way forward.
Dallas is gaining a player who can do whatever Dallas needs. Gagnon was forced to play a two-way style in Grand Rapids two years ago and was in the "top six" forward role last year. He excelled at both, and the Stars will do well to keep him in the lineup.
Peoria's Four Goal Second Period Downs Texas, 5-2
(HDH blog link)
The Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues) were on quite a hot streak coming to the Cedar Park Center on Sunday having won their past four after losing their opener. Texas took the early lead on goals from Travis Morin and Scott McCulloch but gave it all back and more in the second period, allowing four goals. Brent Krahn was chased from the net, and Richard Bachman spelled him.
The third period got quite chippy with Mathieu Tousignant and Brad Lukowich doing a lot of the talking. Lukowich, the captain of the Texas Stars, took a matching minor for roughing with Ryan Reaves with less than a minute left in the game. Lukowich and Reaves chirped at each other all the way off the ice and while they were still in the penalty box. Saturday's rematch should be interesting.
The Week Ahead
Texas will play two games this week, both home games this coming weekend. The Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche) will come to town on Friday and the Rivermen will play the Stars again on Saturday. It should be one heck of a show on Saturday with all of the unpleasantness from Sunday's game.
Holy Scott McCulloch! After scoring just 5 goals in 50 games last season, McCulloch has scored 4 goals in just 3 games this season. Apparently McCulloch came into camp in the best shape of his life and things are really clicking for him. It's great to see the kid, who is a big fan favorite in Austin, show up on the scoresheet.
Brent Krahn is having a tough start to the season. He has allowed 8 goals in 3 games and got chased in Sunday's game. It's a lot harder to have stellar play without a sparkling defense in front of you. The pairing of Larsen and Lukowich will either be a fantastic pair or a liability early in the season. When Lukowich is having an off night, Larsen can't fill in the entire gap yet. He'll get there.
Raymond Sawada got crushed in the first game of the season and hasn't played for several games. The injury doesn't seem to severe though, and he should be back soon.