Francis Wathier, the Texas Stars' representative at the AHL All-Star game, shows off some of his more puglistic tendencies in a file photo. (Credit: Texas Stars/Byrd)
The All-Star break has come for the Texas Stars (26-15-3-3, 58 pts, #6 West), and it couldn't have come at a better time. The banged up Stars crawled into the break with a shootout loss against a struggling Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) club.
Coach Gulutzan pointed to consistency as the goal for the close of the season. Texas needs to ensure that they are not the team on the outside looking in when it comes down to it in the West. The Stars had a chance to seal up a 4 game winning streak this weekend but came out flat and lost in the SO. The Stars are aiming to be the team that "doesn't blink" according to Gulutzan. In the crowded West, you better bring your Visine.
Stars Win Tight Game in OKC 2-1
(HDH blog link)
The Stars faced off against the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers) in one of only two games this week. The Barons have fallen from the top of the West to nearly the bottom after being devastated by callups to standout players such as Linus Omark, Liam Reddox, Jeff Petry and others that Dallas saw last week in Oiler uniforms.
The Stars got goals from Aaron Gagnon and Colton Sceviour in the game in addition to 28 saves from ironman goaltender Richard Bachman, who has started every game since Tyler Beskorowany went back to Idaho two weeks ago. The win kept the Stars afloat in the West, keeping them at 6th place. Forward Cody Chupp left the game after a high hit in the second period, and blue liner Maxime Fortunus did not dress for a second straight game.
More inside about the rest of the week's games and the All-Star break, along with some injury news that you won't hear anywhere else...
Texas Scrapes Point Out of Heat, Falls in SO 5-4
(HDH blog link)
Speaking of Richard Bachman, the rookie netminder had a rough night against the usually offensively challenged Heat. Texas was up 2-1 after goals from Aaron Gagnon and Philip Larsen then surrendered three straight. On the second goal, Bachman had a scary moment while he was down on the ice for time after getting a puck to the neck area.
The Stars scraped back in the last 5 minutes with goals from Dan Spang and a 6-on-4 goal from Francis Wathier to take it to overtime. The Stars went to overtime or beyond for the 4th straight home game. Coach Gulutzan told the team afterwards that they need to be more prepared to play at home in the future, "At home, we have to be a harder team to play against."
Abbotsford claimed victory in a shootout as Texas failed to score and the Heat claimed 2 of 3 shots from Richard Bachman.
AHL All-Star Game
With Travis Morin getting a callup, likely, to play in the Dallas Stars next game against the Canucks, Francis Wathier was selected as the Stars' callup replacement for the AHL All-Star game. The game, which will be played tonight in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southwest+ in DFW (regular FSN in Houston/Austin/SA) at 6 PM CST. The format is East v. West, which is a change from last year's North America v. the World format.
The Week Ahead
After the All-Star break, Texas gets a nice long layoff with the next game not coming until Friday at Houston. The Aeros (Minnesota Wild) are a team that has done well against Texas this year, so the Stars will need to be on their game to gain ground in the division. Saturday sees another divisional matchup, this time with the Oklahoma City Barons.
The Stars have had three sellouts in the month of January and hope to continue that trend with a series of weekend games coming up. AHL attendance typically rises after the football season is over. Last year, Texas's attendance went up an average of 500 per night in the last 20 games of the season as opposed to the first 20.
Fresh off his stint in Dallas, Aaron Gagnon potted two goals on the week, paired on a line with Wathier and Brandon Segal. Colton Sceviour and Dan Spang each had two point nights on the week with a goal and an assist. Severin Blindenbacher had two assists in Saturday's game.
Where's Brandon Segal? Despite his linemates combining for four points in the two games this week, Segal has no points and is even. Stars fans were hoping for an offensive spark from the winger but he has not been as much of a spark as hoped.
G Brent Krahn is said to be skating. He is expected to come back sometime shortly after the All-Star break. F Scott McCulloch remains out with a lower body injury. F Cody Chupp is out with an upper body injury while D Maxime Fortunus has missed three games with an unspecified injury. When asked about the injury, team officials had no comment on the matter.