GAME NOTES: Texas Stars vs. Tucson Roadrunners
REVENGE ON THE MIND FOR TEXAS
For the first time since opening night in the AHL, the Texas Stars (11-13-1-2) will face the Tucson Roadrunners (20-5-0-0) who topped the Stars in the first game of the season 2-0. Since then, the clubs have had very different paths. The Stars have climbed back into the Central Division by winning five in a row and earning 17 out of the last 18 points on the table. Tucson has been the leader from the get-go in the Pacific Division and have rattled off eight wins in their last nine game as well. Both clubs have battled through three games with week as Tucson closes out a four-game road trip tonight and Texas plays their final home game until Dec. 28. It is also the final meeting at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park this year, with the final two non-divisional games between the teams taking place in Tucson in March. Texas holds a 4-3-1-0 record at home against Tucson since they joined the league in 2016.
HEAD-TO-HEAD SCHEDULE (0-1-0-0)
Oct. 4 – Tucson 2 at Texas 0 – Final
Dec. 14 – Tucson at Texas – 7:00 pm CST
Mar. 14 – Texas at Tucson – 7:05 pm MST
Mar. 15 – Texas at Tucson – 4:05 pm MST
TODAY’S CENTRAL DIVISION GAMES (5)
Milwaukee at Chicago - 7:00 PM CST
Manitoba at San Antonio - 7:00 PM CST
Tucson at Texas - 7:00 PM CST
Iowa at Ontario - 6:00 PM PST
Grand Rapids at Bakersfield - 7:00 PM PST
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Texas: Stars winger Joel Kiviranta missed Wednesday night’s game this week due to illness but picked up an assist last night to extend his point streak to four consecutive games. The Finnish forward scored three goals in two games against the Penguins last weekend and has bookended the effort with two assists in the streak. Kiviranta is tied for fourth on the team with 14 points (6-8=14) in his first North American season of professional hockey. He is also tied for second on the team with a +5 rating through 26 games this year.
- Tucson: You could say that Lane Pederson is due for a goal tonight. The center currently ranks 15th in the AHL’s scoring race with 23 points (13-10=23) and is tied for sixth in goals overall. The third-year forward has played in 25 games and is on his longest scoring drought in more than a year having been held off the board in four consecutive games. The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native ranks second on the Roadrunners scoring chart but is the top active scorer after Brayden Burke’s call up to the Arizona Coyotes yesterday.
LAST TIME OUT
- Texas: Friday, Dec. 13 – The Stars held on for a 3-2 win over Manitoba after leading in the first period 2-0. Jason Robertson scored the opening goal late in the period and Michael Mersch added a second goal a little more than a minute later. The Moose replied in the second period with a power play goal from Seth Griffith and would score another late power play goal in the third period from Kristian Vesalainen. However, the game-winning goal went to Adam Mascherin 45 seconds into the third period. The winger beat Mikhail Berdin who surrendered three goals on 29 shots while Landon Bow earned his second consecutive win with 31 stops.
- Tucson: Friday, Dec. 13 – Just down the road in San Antonio, the Roadrunners prevailed with a 2-1 win over the Rampage after a 15-round shootout. The goaltenders shined on the night as Ivan Prosvetov made 26 saves for Tucson and Ville Husso stopped 33 of 34. Both goals came in the second period as Kelly Klima opened the scoring 11 minutes into the period and Jordan Nolan responded six minutes later. Only three skaters scored in the shootout as Jordan Gross opened the first round with a goal for Tucson, Joey LaLeggia responded in the second round for San Antonio and Nate Schnarr ended the game in the 15th round.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK STILL GOING
- Texas rookie Jason Robertson was named CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Monday and has not disappointed this week either. The winger has a goal and an assist this week to extend his point streak to five games with seven points (4-3=7) in those games. Robertson leads the Stars with 20 points (11-9=20) this year and is climbing the AHL’s rookie leader board as well. The Arcadia, California native ranks sixth among rookies in scoring and is tied for second in goals with 11.
CHANGE OF SCENERY IS WORKING OUT
- Anthony Louis had one point in eight games to start the season with the Charlotte Checkers before he was acquired by the Texas Stars. Since that trade, Louis has gathered seven points (2-5=6) in 10 games and helped Texas to an 8-1-1-0 record. Louis has five points (1-4=5) in the last three games. The third-year skater spent the first two years of his career with the Rockford IceHogs and now has 88 points (30-58=88) in 174 career AHL games.
HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13th, 13
- Adam Mascherin had the game-winning goal last night during his 100th professional game, netting his fourth goal of the season. The second-year winger has three goals in his last six games after being stymied in his first 16 games of the season. The Maple, Ontario native has notched 10 points (4-6=10) this year and has 54 points (22-32=54) including five game-winning goals since turning pro last season.
MUCH MORE MERSCH
- Michael Mersch scored his ninth goal of the year last night and his third goal in five games. Mersch has been an integral part of the Stars winning ways lately, earning nine points (5-4=9) in those nine games. Overall this season, Mersch has 15 points (9-6=15) and is fourth on the roster in points.
L’ESPERANCE RISING TO THE OCCASION
- Second-year forward Joel L’Esperance scored his 10th goal of the season on Wednesday and added an assist last night. The winger had also previously earned a goal and an assist against the Penguins on Saturday for his fourth multi-point night in his last nine games. The center has scored six goals and added five assists to his season total in those nine games, pulling him to second on the roster with 17 points (10-7=16). Seven of his 10 goals have come in the last 12 games.
NEXT MAN UP
- On Tuesday morning, the Dallas Stars promoted Derek Laxdal to the NHL’s coaching staff and named Neil Graham the fifth head coach in Texas Stars history. Graham was hired as assistant coach of the Stars on July 8, 2019, and had previously run the bench for the club’s ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads, from 2015 to 2019. During his time with the Steelheads, the Calgary, Alberta native amassed a 166-91-31 record and guided the team for four consecutive Kelly Cup Playoff appearances. Graham was also the Steelheads full-time assistant coach from 2013-15. In addition to Graham’s promotion, Travis Morin has been promoted from Skills Coach and Director of Business Development to Assistant Coach.
ADDITIONAL TEAM FACTS
- After a 3-13-0-2 start to the year, the Stars are now just three points outside of a playoff position and four points from second place in the Central Division. The Stars also hold the longest active point streak in the AHL.
- Emil Djuse is tied fourth among all AHL defensemen with 15 assists.
- No Western Conference team has been on the power play more this year than Tucson, earning 121 chances on the man advantage.
- Special teams for the Stars have stalled as they are now 2 for their last 29 power play chances (6.9%) and 21 of the last 28 power plays against (75.0%).
- Joel Hanley | 95 Assists
- Adam Mascherin | 100 GP
TEXAS STARS IN DALLAS (2019-20)
- *Denis Gurianov – 28 GP | 6-4=10
- Nick Caamano – 12 GP | 1-1=2
- Joel Hanley – 8 GP | 0-2=2
- Rhett Gardner – 8 GP | 0-0=0
- Joel L’Esperance – 3 GP | 1-0=1
- Gavin Bayreuther – 0 GP | 0-0=0
TOTAL NHL MAN GAMES: 59 GP | 8-7=15 *On Dallas Stars Active Roster