Texas Stars Report: Slowly Catching Up

Greg Rallo battles on the board against Oklahoma City's Liam Reddox in a game on December 20th in Cedar Park. (Credit: Texas Stars)

With so few games on the week of the holidays, we're covering two weeks' worth of contests with today's post, dating all the way back to the 20th of December.

The Texas Stars (21-11-2-2, #3 West) had a total of five contest over the two week holiday period.  With a 4 game road stretch included in that set, the Stars needed to continue their points streak to stay in competition in the crowded West Division.  Much like the Western Conference in the NHL, the top 7 (of 8) teams in the AHL West Division are all within 6 points of each other.  Texas ended the two week period on a seven-game point streak, which is a good start to staying in competition.  However, the Stars only have 5 games over the next 15 days, which will not help them keep up if they stumble.

Stars Reach Third Place With 4-3 Win Over Barons
(HDH blog link)

Texas made it all the way up the standings to 3rd place just before the Christmas break as they defeated the reeling Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers).  The Barons, who were once at #2 in the division, had lost 3 straight coming into the game and are currently in 6th place in the division.

It was all Texas early in this one, with goals coming from Aaron Gagnon, Colton Sceviour and Francis Wathier.  Sceviour's goal came on a misplay by Jeff Deslauriers practically passed the puck to the winger.  He called it "the easiest goal [he'd] ever scored" after the game.  Oklahoma City attempted to mount a comeback, getting the next two goals, but Texas closed the door with Ray Sawada's sixth of the year.

Aeros Slip Past Stars in Shootout, 4-3
(HDH blog link)

The Stars continued their campaign the day after Christmas in Houston against the Aeros (Minnesota Wild). Houston jumped out to an early lead off the stick of former Star Warren Peters but Texas came back with goals from Brad Lukowich and Colton Sceviour.  The goal was Lukowich's first of the year.  The Aeros' captain, Jon DiSalvatore, had the next two, both power play tallies.

Texas gritted it out in the last minute to take the game to overtime.  Down 3-2, Texas scored with 19 seconds left in the game. Francis Wathier's tally ensured the extra point for Texas.  Despite the comeback, Texas lost in a seven round shootout.

More inside on the rest of the week's games, what's ahead, and the injury reports...

Stars Mount Third Period Comeback To Win 4-3 Over Barons
(HDH blog link)

The Stars went to the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City to continue their road trip against the Barons, now losers in their last 4 games straight.

Through 40 minutes, it was all Barons.  Texas stared down a 3-1 deficit in the second intermission and came out with 20 miles to go and took the game to overtime.  Goal from Tomas Vincour early and Fabian Brunnstrom late took the game to 3-3 and Texas downed the Barons in the shootout with Sceviour, Vincour and Mathieu Tousignant scoring for Texas.

Texas came back from a deficit after 40 minutes for the third time on the season, something that took last year's squad until April to achieve.

Scoring From All 4 Lines Gives Texas 4-1 Win in British Columbia
(HDH blog link)

The Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) are a team that started with a bang and ended the calendar year with a whimper.  The offensively challenged Heat showed why they have plummeted out of playoff contention in the North Division with a 4-1 shellacking by the Stars.

This game was all Texas as a player from each of the four lines scored in the game and even Richard Bachman had an assist.  Ten of the Stars' 18 skaters had a point in the game.  Richard Bachman had 38 saves on 39 shots, losing the shutout bid with 10 minutes left in the third. Stars goal scorers included Tomas Vincour, Fabian Brunnstrom, Ondrej Roman, and Luke Gazdic.

Beskorowany Earns First AHL Shutout, Stars Win 3-0
(HDH blog link)

After so many games from Richard Bachman, Tyler Beskorowany slid into nets for the Stars and had a bang up performance.  Facing 25 shots, Beskorowany stopped all 25 for his first AHL shutout.  

The Stars kept up their offensive fireworks with goals from Brunnstrom, Sawada, and Tousignant.  Brunnstrom's goal stretched his goal streak to 3 games.  The win sent the Stars point streak to 7 games and pushed them, temporarily, into the #2 spot in the West Division, just one point behind San Antonio.

The Week Ahead

Texas gets a long break this week as a sparse January (11 games in 31 days) gives way to a heavy February (14 games in 28 days).  A trip down Interstate 35 to visit the San Antonio Rampage (Phoenix Coyotes) will be first on the docket this Friday.  The West Division's top team for most of the first half of the season, the Rampage have struggled against the Stars this season, going 1-3-1 in 5 games.  The Stars will return home for their first game in Cedar Park since December 20th on Saturday against the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche).

Who's Hot

Fabian Brunnstrom has put together a 3 game goal streak and during the last stretch here, Francis Wathier and Raymond Sawada have also put together point streaks as well.  Richard Bachman is doing well, but I'd like to throw a bone to Tyler Beskorowany, who was pressed into service early in the campaign when Richard Bachman was called up and didn't fair so well.  He acheived a 25 save shutout this week and that's a good start for the 20 year old rookie.

Who's Not

After getting three goals and four assists in the first half of the month, Sean Backman has gone silent (0-1-1 in four games) and was a healthy scratch in New Years' Eve's game against the Heat.

Injuries

Brent Krahn is still on the mend.  Texas also has some skaters in the press box as well.  Scott McCulloch, Severin Blindenbacher, and Matt Stephenson are all out with unspecified injuries.  Severin Blindenbacher has not played since December 14th.

You can always follow the Texas Stars by reading my blog at HundredDegreeHockey.com, following me on Twitter @100degreehockey, or becoming a fan on Facebook.

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