Stars Hold Serve, Take 2-0 Series Lead Over Grand Rapids

May 12, 2014

Texas Travels to Michigan for Road Portion of Conference Semis

2013-14 Record: 48-18-3-7, 106 points (29-8-0-1 Home, 19-10-3-6 Road), First Place – West Division

2014 Playoff Record: 5-0 (1.000)

Week 32 Recap:

The Texas Stars had seven days off after eliminating the Oklahoma City Barons on April 30th. The team showed no sign of rust as they opened the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals against the Grand Rapids Griffins with two emphatic victories, out-scoring the defending Calder Cup champs 9-2 and taking a 2-0 series lead.

Dustin Jeffrey was the star of Game 1, as he scored two goals, his first points of the playoffs, to lead the Stars to a 5-2 win over the Griffins on Thursday night at Cedar Park Center. Texas came out of the game running on all cylinders as they scored two goals 13 seconds apart to break the franchise playoff record. Rookie Brendan Ranford opened the scoring with a breakaway goal after a beautiful backhand pass from AHL MVP Travis Morin. Literally seconds later, Jeffrey also went to the backhand, taking a pass from Chris Mueller and beating goalie Petr Mrazek for a 2-0 lead just 3:32 into the game. The Griffins answered back 70 seconds later with a power play goal by Cory Emmerton, the first power play goal allowed by the Stars in this year’s playoffs. Late in the frame, Mike Hedden tipped-in a Jyrki Jokipakka shot for a power play goal to regain Texas’ two-goal advantage. Tomas Jurco pulled Grand Rapids back within one early in the middle frame, but a mere 81 seconds later, Curtis McKenzie scored on another breakaway, from an inch-perfect 120-foot pass by Jokipakka from behind his own goal line. Jeffrey notched his second goal of the game, a power play goal, at the midpoint of the second period, to stretch the Stars’ lead to three. That score held up as the final after a scoreless third, as Texas held on for the 5-2 win in Game 1. Jack Campbell (2-0-0) stopped 23-of-25 shots faced and earned his second win of the playoffs in net for the Stars.

Game 2 did not feature three goals in the contest’s first five minutes. Instead, the Stars out-shot the Griffins 18-8 in the first period, yet almost had nothing the show for it until rookie Brendan Ranford jammed home a rebound during a goal-mouth scramble with 45 seconds left in the frame for a 1-0 lead. Justin Dowling scored a pair of goals in a 2:54 span of the second period to give the Stars some breathing room. First, he followed up a Kevin Henderson shot and backhanded the puck over a sprawling Mrazek and then he scored a power play goal for a 3-0 Texas lead. Ranford completed his heroics in the third period with this league-leading fifth goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs, taking a pass from Curtis McKenzie, slipping behind the defense and beating the Griffins’ goaltender to the far post. Cristopher Nilstorp was superb in goal for the Stars, stopping all 30 shots he faced to record his third win of the postseason and the franchise’s second playoff shutout; he also owns the first clean sheet.

Week 33 Preview:

Texas hits the road in Week 33 facing potentially five games over the span of seven days. The Stars and Griffins will meet for Game 3 on Tuesday, May 13th for a 6:00 p.m. CT faceoff at Van Andel Arena. For the first time in the series the teams will play back-to-back nights, with Game 4 on Wednesday, May 14th at 6:00 p.m. CT. If necessary, Game 5 will take place on Friday, May 16th at 6:00 p.m. CT, also at Van Andel Arena. Also if necessary, Texas will return home to host Game 6 and Game 7 at Cedar Park Center on Sunday, May 18th at 7:00 p.m. and Monday, May 19th at 7:30 p.m. Both games are Texas Lottery Lucky Row Nights, while Game 7 would also be H-E-B Night.

C Travis Morin (2-6-8) leads the team and is tied for second in the Calder Cup Playoffs in points, is tied for the league-lead in assists and is on a five-game point streak and a four-game assist streak, with eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) and a +6 rating during that span. LW Brendan Ranford (5-1-6) leads the AHL in goals, is tied for tenth in points, is on a four-game goal streak and a five-game point streak, with six points (5 goals, 1 assist) and a +5 rating during that span. LW Curtis McKenzie (1-4-5) is on a four-game point streak, with five points (1 goal, 4 assists) and a +4 rating during that span. C Justin Dowling (3-4-7) is tied for sixth in the Calder Cup Playoffs in points and has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) and a +2 rating in his last five games.

Week 33 Schedule:
(All games are broadcast LIVE over the Internet at www.TexasStarsHockey.com and the free radio button on the schedule page of www.ahllive.com and can be viewed via internet pay-per-view video on www.ahllive.com. All times listed in Central Time)

Tuesday, May 13 – 6:00 p.m. – Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, MI

@ Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)
Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

Wednesday, May 14 – 6:00 p.m. – Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, MI

@ Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)
Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

Friday, May 13 – 6:00 p.m. – Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, MI

@ Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)
Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

Sunday, May 18 – 7:00 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX

vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)
Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

Monday, May 19 – 7:30 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX

vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)
Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference
·         Team Notes: The Grand Rapids Griffins returned home under very different circumstances than in round one. Against Abbotsford in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Grand Rapids won the first two games at Abbotsford Center, taking a commanding lead in the best-of-five series. Now the Griffins are facing the opposite end of the spectrum, having lost two road games and now will feel the pressure of needing to win at least two of their three potential home games to send the series back to Cedar Park Center. Grand Rapids scored 15 goals in four games against the Heat, averaging 3.75 goals per game in the first round. The Stars have held the Griffins to just two goals in the first two games, including handing the defending Calder Cup champions their first postseason shutout since the opening game of last year’s first round series with the Houston Aeros, a 3-0 loss at Toyota Center on April 26, 2013. Goaltender Petr Mrazek, who allowed eight total goals to Abbotsford in the first round, has been tagged with nine goals on 73 shots against by the Stars over the first two games of this series. The five goals Mrazek allowed in Game 1 at Cedar Park Center were the most the second-year goalie has allowed in one playoff game in his pro career. The Griffins went 23-13-0-2 (0.632) at Van Andel Arena during the regular season, but they are just 1-1 so far in the playoffs and went 7-6 at home during their 2013 cup-winning run.
·         Leading Scorer: Nathan Paetsch (D) – Five assists and a +2 rating in six GP, Teemu Pulkkinen (RW) – Five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a +4 rating in six GP & Ryan Sproul (D) – Five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a +1 rating in six GP.
·         Leading Goaltender: Petr Mrazek (G) – 2.59 GAA, 0.914 save pct., 3-3-0, 0 SO in 6 GP.
Who’s Hot: LW Tomas Jurco (2-1-3) has three points (2 goals, 1 assist) and a -5 rating in his last four games. D Nathan Paetsch (0-5-5) leads the team in assists and has five assists and a +2 rating in his last six games. RW Teemu Pulkkinen (2-3-5) is tied for the team lead in points and has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a +2 rating in his last five games. D Ryan Sproul (2-3-5) is tied for the team lead in points and has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a +1 rating in his last six games.

Week 32 Game Results:

May 8, 2014                                        Game 1: Grand Rapids 2 @ Texas 5
May 10, 2014                                      Game 2: Grand Rapids 0 @ Texas 4

Stars Player of the Week: (Week 32)

Brendan Ranford – LW – #39                      2 GP, 3 Points (3 G, 0 A), 1 GWG

Rookie forward Brendan Ranford had a strong regular season, but he has absolutely exploded in the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Edmonton, Alberta native started the week off with a dazzling breakaway goal to open the scoring on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. Grand Rapids. With the goal, Ranford set a new playoff team record for longest goal streak, with a goal for his third straight game. Two nights later, Ranford extended his record-goal streak to four with two more goals and first star honors in Game 2. He again scored the first goal of the game, also the game-winner, and then added the team’s fourth tally in the third period for his fifth goal of the post-season, taking over sole possession of the AHL’s goal-scoring lead in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs. Ranford has notched points in all five of Texas’ playoff games, which ties the franchise record for longest postseason point streak.

Stars Quick Hits:

·         RECORD-SETTING ROOKIE – First year left wing Brendan Ranford broke one Texas Stars playoff record and equaled another in Week 32. The rookie from Edmonton, Alberta extended his goal-streak to four games (5 goals), a new record; no Stars’ player had ever scored goals in more than two straight games prior to Ranford’s run. He also extended his point streak to five games (6 points), which tied the club record set by Andrew Hutchinson during the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs.

·         HE JUST KEEPS WINNING – Goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp was victorious in Game 2 vs. Grand Rapids, extending his personal winning streak to 10 games. The Malmö, Sweden native won his final seven starts of the regular season and is a perfect 3-0 to begin the playoffs. The streak ties the franchise record, which was initially set by Brent Krahn from October 10, 2009 to November 21, 2009.

·         FIVE PLAYOFF WINS – The Texas Stars equaled their team record five-game playoff winning streak with a 4-0 shutout over the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Stars first won five in a row to open the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs, eventually reaching the Finals before losing to the Hershey Bears in six games.

·         NO GOALS AGAINST – Cristopher Nilstorp recorded the second shutout of his Calder Cup playoff career with 30 saves in Game 2 on Saturday against Grand Rapids. Nilstorp is responsible for both shutouts in Texas Stars postseason history, the first on May 1, 2013 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Milwaukee Admirals. Both of Nilstorp’s playoff clean sheets have taken place at Cedar Park Center. The Stars’ goaltender is leading the Calder Cup Playoffs in goals against average (1.29) and is second in save percentage (0.951).

·         THE 16TH IN HISTORY – Captain Maxime Fortunus is just one game away from becoming the 16th player in AHL history to skate in 100 career Calder Cup Playoff games. Fortunus, who played in his 99th game in Game 2 on Saturday vs. Grand Rapids, has 28 points (6 goals, 22 assists) and 44 penalty minutes while playing for Texas, the Houston Aeros and the Manitoba Moose. He reached the Calder Cup Finals in back-to-back seasons, in 2009 with Manitoba and 2010 with Texas, losing both series to the Hershey Bears in six games. Fortunus is currently the AHL’s active leader in Calder Cup Playoff games played and he is the only Texas player to skate in all 44 playoff games in team history.

·         PLAYING LIKE AN ALL-STAR – Reigning AHL MVP Travis Morin has picked up in the playoffs right where he left off during the regular season. Morin is tied for the Calder Cup Playoffs lead in assists (6) and is tied for second in the league in points (8) after just five games played. With 34 points (9 goals, 25 assists) in 42 career Calder Cup games, all with Texas, Morin is the franchise leader in playoff points and is second in games played behind captain Maxime Fortunus.

·         PENALTY KILL MAGIC – The Stars are currently leading the league in playoff penalty kill percentage (93.3%) after allowing just one power play goal against in 15 chances over their first five games. Texas was third-best during the regular season with a 86.9% success rate when shorthanded.

·         MORE SHOTS EQUAL MORE GOALS – Just like the regular season, Texas is leading the league in shots on goal per-game average (35.80). The Stars have fired 179 shots on opposition nets in their first five games of the season. Texas averaged 36.51 shots per game during the regular season, led the league with 2,775 total shots and had a +297 shot advantage over the second place San Antonio Rampage (2,478).

Stars Week 32 Transactions:

No Transactions in Week 32

Texas Stars Team Leaders:

Games Played:                     13 Players tied (5)
Goals:                                   Brendan Ranford (5)
Assists:                                 Travis Morin (6)
Points:                                  Travis Morin (8)
Plus/Minus:                           Travis Morin (+6)
Penalty Minutes:                   Scott Glennie (7)
Power Play Goals:                Justin Dowling (2)
Short Handed Goals:            N/A
Game-Winning Goals:          Mike Hedden & Brendan Ranford (2)
Shots:                                   Maxime Fortunus & Travis Morin (18)
Shooting Percentage:           Scott Glennie & Chris Mueller (50.0%)
Saves:                                  Cristopher Nilstorp (77)
Wins:                                    Cristopher Nilstorp (3)
GAA:                                    Cristopher Nilstorp (1.29)
Save Percentage:                Cristopher Nilstorp (0.951)
Shutouts:                              Cristopher Nilstorp (1)

The Texas Stars lead the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals 2-0 over the Grand Rapids Griffins and will play Game 3 in Michigan on Tuesday, May 13th at 6:00 p.m. CT at Van Andel Arena. If necessary, Texas will return to Cedar Park Center for Game 6 on Sunday, May 18th for a 7:00 face off. Texas Stars’ 2014 Calder Cup playoff ticket packages are on sale now! Reserve your seats for all Calder Cup playoff games at Cedar Park Center at a discounted rate. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.

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