Jason Robertson is used to being “the guy” for his hockey team.
Even when he was just 17 years old and in only his second OHL season, Robertson was the focal point for his Kingston Frontenacs club. Their offense lived or died on his stick, and it was his stick that scored a team-high 81 regular-season points that year and led the scrappy Frontenacs to the second round of the playoffs with 18 more.
That trend continued for another season and a half in Kingston, until he was traded to a much deeper Niagara IceDogs team for their 2019 playoff push. But even though he had much more support around him, Robertson was still Niagara’s biggest offensive star, and wound up leading the entire league in points that year, with an eye-popping 117 in 62 games.
So, suffice to say, he has a knack for this kind of thing.
Which is why it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that, just halfway through his rookie season in the AHL, Robertson is steadily starting to become “the guy” on offense for the Texas Stars.
Robertson has 11 points over his past 10 contests, a scoring spurt that propelled him into the sole points lead on the team, with a total of 35 in 48 games. He’s also currently the only player on the roster with 20 goals, and one of only 11 guys in the entire AHL to hit that marker so far.
Fans also might be soon seeing more times where Robertson single-handedly takes over entire games — something that he did on a regular basis during his junior days. On Saturday he had easily the best match of his professional career thus far, scoring four points (two goals and two assists) to go along with a game-high eight shots on net as Texas pulled off a 4-3 overtime win over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
It’s been some time since the Stars drafted and developed a serious point producer at the NHL level. Even though Robertson isn’t fast and flashy like most of the big scorers in the NHL these days, he nevertheless still possesses that potential, given his excellent track record on the matter.
Until that day comes, however, AHL goaltenders will learn to fear him just like OHL ones did.
It was quite a busy week for the Texas Stars, playing four games in six days, including a three-in-three over the weekend.
Despite the heavy workload, though, the team managed to pull an even record of 2-2 from the schedule. The Stars will have to fight tooth and nail for a playoff spot between now and the end of the regular season, so surviving this kind of test and emerging with a couple of wins is a good sign.
They weren’t easy games either, going up against the AHL-leading Milwaukee Admirals and then two divisional rivals who are nearby in the standings — the Rockford IceHogs (one game) and the Grand Rapids Griffins (two contests).
Oh, and did I mention that all of these games were on the road?
Things didn’t start great for Texas, falling 5-2 to Rockford on Tuesday. Jake Oettinger got chased from the net in the first period after uncharacteristically allowing four goals on 10 shots and the team never really reset from there. Gavin Bayreuther scored his fourth goal of the season in the loss.
The Stars rebounded in a big way on Friday, though, by pulling off a big upset over those league-leading Admirals, 3-2 in the shootout. Robertson and Joel L’Esperance had the goals in the skills competition, while Landon Bow came up huge in net, stopping 34 of 36 shots.
Saturday night against the Griffins was Robertson’s aforementioned four-point game of dominance, although L’Esperance’s rocket in overtime was the game-winning tally, while Oettinger had a nice bounce-back game between the pipes, stopping 28 of 31 shots.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, things unraveled pretty badly for a tired Texas group in the final game of their busy week, falling 5-1 to the same Grand Rapids team. Robertson had the lone Texas goal in the defeat.
North American Juniors
Remember when the Flint Firebirds were the laughingstock of the OHL and couldn’t win a game to save their lives?
These days, Ty Dellandrea might not.
The Firebirds are both soaring and searing-hot right now, winning 10 games in a row while smashing franchise records in the process.
We don't even know what to say anymore...— Flint Firebirds (@FlintFirebirds) February 10, 2020
- 10 straight wins
- 7 straight road wins
- Tied record of 32 wins in season
- Record 15 road wins in season
Be there this Saturday for #FlintTropics Night! pic.twitter.com/BIvofVw880
Dellandrea himself had four points in three games last week, and produced a jaw-dropping 22 in total over the 10-game streak. Think he’s excited to finally bring this team back to the playoffs?
Speaking of hot OHL teams, the Kitchener Rangers aren’t doing so bad for themselves lately either, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 to jump to the top spot in the league’s Midwest Division. Riley Damiani had 15 points over those 10 games, and continues to lead his team in scoring.
And while we’re still on the topic of impressive 10-game stints, Thomas Harley has 12 points in his last 10.
Defenseman and 2019 fourth-rounder Samuel Sjölund dressed for his home country of Sweden last week in the U19 5 Nations Tournament hosted in Germany. It’s not exactly the most prestigious of international events, but it did feature a handful of different players drafted by NHL teams, and serves as a good way for prospects to audition for future spots in the World Juniors. Sjölund finished with one goal in four games. For anyone curious, you can watch one of the games in full at this link. Sjölund is No. 4 in yellow.
For a full database of the organization’s prospects and their stats, check out the Stars’ “In the System” page on Elite Prospects.