Francis Wathier screens Abbotsford goalie Danny Taylor in their Wednesday January 11th contest. (Credit: Portraits by Deena)
It was yet another up and down week for the Texas Stars (17-18-1-2, 37 pts, #13 Western Conference). Texas went 2-2 on the week but in uneven fashion, winning against one of the best teams in the league and losing to the absolute worst. Consistency has been an issue all season for this club and it is now exacerbated by losing a key veteran piece in Francis Wathier.
The biggest storyline of the week has been the play of Wathier and his linemates, Colton Sceviour and Scott Glennie. All three are of particular interest to Dallas fans, none more so than first round pick Glennie. With the high pick, high expectations were set. Glennie has finally started to evolve his game to resemble what scouts saw in Brandon of the WHL. Coach Pyle definitely points to the concussion early season and some systems work that needed to be done as the reasons for the slow start. In the last six games, Glennie has eight points (4g, 4a) including two three-point efforts.
Colton Sceviour also picked up his game over the past few weeks. In the ten games since Christmas, Sceviour has four goals and eleven assists, including two game-winners. He's coming up all over the scoresheet and in clutch situations. Wathier, not to be outdone, is quietly having a career year. He is team-best plus-10 as well on a team that has struggled in that area. The next player behind him in that category is vet Brad Lukowich at plus-5.
More on each game, some thoughts on the Roman/Esposito trade, and more inside...
Some strong defensive play and a little bit of puck luck put the Texas Stars past the Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) for the first time this season tonight in Cedar Park. The game had the looks of a goalie battle early as both teams were scoreless through the first. "We focused on being on the defensive side of pucks and waiting for our opportunities and taking advantage of them," said Stephen Schultz, who potted one in the game off an opportunistic bounce.
The first two goals in the game came on misplays by the goalies. Danny Taylor dropped a puck in his crease and Andrew Raycroft knocked one in with his skates for the 1-1 tie. Colton Sceviour won it for Texas with 11.7 seconds left on a turnover at the Heat blueline. "The puck turned over somehow. I was yelling for it, and [Glennie] threw it to me," said Sceviour. "I made sure I could hit the net, and it went right where I wanted it to."
For the first time since November 11th, the Stars moved above .500 thanks to some fantastic work from Scott Glennie, Colton Sceviour and Francis Wathier. Glennie potted two goals, including the game winner, and added an assist while Sceviour assisted three times, including the primary on the game winner. Wathier picked up the Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist, and a fight. This was a big win for Texas in all kinds of ways. It was a comeback win that showed this team has the character to stay in games no matter the deficit.
After being down 4-2 after the first, Texas did not allow another goal and scored four of their own to win the thing outright. TExas goals came from Scott Glennie (2), Francis Wathier, Ryan Garbutt, Travis Morin and Matt Fraser.
Whenever the Stars meet the Admirals, it's always a low scoring tight game. Saturday was no exception. With all three goals were scored in the first period of the game as Milwaukee emerged with the win. Mike Hedden was the only goal scorer for Texas with an assist from Colton Sceviour. Both Milwaukee goals were scored in the span of seventy-five seconds in the first period. The loss moved Texas back to .500 on the season.
Texas was shutout for the first tiem on the season Monday afternoon in Rockford. The IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) and Stars played an even tighter game than a 2-0 score would indicate. Andrew Raycroft was quite good, but Carter Hutton was better, pitching his first AHL shutout of the season. The shutout loss ended Colton Sceviour's six game point streak. He was 2-9-11 in that span.
The Roman/Esposito Trade
The trade of Ondrej Roman for Angelo Esposito seems like a 'change of scenery' type trade for the two forwards. Both have been in the ECHL at some point this season and neither projects as an everyday NHLer at this point. Esposito had big expectations coming in after scoring the game-winner in the 2009 WJC for Canada. He never lived up to them as he now shuffles to his fifth team in his career. In Monday's game, he took a bad penalty late to prevent the comeback and shifted on the third line with AHL contracted players Brendan Connolly and Stephen Schultz.
The Week Ahead
Texas finishes off their road trip with a game against the Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks) on Wednesday. They return home for the weekend to battle the Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues) on Friday and Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild) on Saturday.
Raymond Sawada rejoined the lineup on Friday after ten games out only to be knocked out again in that game. He did not play in any games the remainder of the week. Mathieu Tousignant is close on his injury and could rejoin this week.