Texas Grabs First Place of West Division at Halfway Point

Jan 14, 2015

Stars Hosts Rochester Wednesday, Visit Charlotte This Weekend

2013-14 Record: 23-10-2-3, 51 points (15-2-0-1 Home, 8-8-2-2 Road), First Place – West Division

Week 15 Recap:

The Texas Stars continued their dominance on home ice in 2013-14 with two more victories in Week 15 within the friendly confines of Cedar Park Center. Last Friday’s highly anticipated matchup between the top two teams in the West Division turned into a one-sided rout as Texas shutout Abbotsford 5-0. Rookie Brett Ritchie scored twice, Justin Dowling found the net, breaking a 14-game goal drought, Mike Hedden had two assists, Francis Wathier scored an unassisted goal and Travis Morin added a power play goal midway through the third period for Texas’ 14th multi-power play goal game of the season. Cristopher Nilstorp shined in goal, stopping all 26 shots he faced to record his first shutout of the season, the fifth of his AHL career. Coincidentally, all three shutouts by Stars goaltenders this year (Nilstorp, Josh Robinson and Allen York) required 26 saves by their net minders.

Then on Saturday night Texas welcomed the Utica Comets to Cedar Park Center for the first time in franchise history. The Stars raced out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a natural hat trick by Travis Morin and a goal by Colton Sceviour, which put both players into first place tie in the AHL in goals (23). The Comets would not go away quietly, however, as the first year franchise clawed back within one by scoring three straight goals. Trailing 4-3 with 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Utica forced several crucial saves by Nilstorp before rookie Curtis McKenzie iced the game with his team-leading third empty net goal of the season. The win was Texas’ ninth straight at home, which extended their current franchise record streak, and tied a team record for the longest home point streak at 10 games (9-0-0-1).

Week 16 Preview:

The Stars will look to continue extending their current franchise record home winning streak and to break the club record for longest home point streak as they host the Rochester Americans on Wednesday, January 15th for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff at Cedar Park Center. This is the first meeting with Rochester this season and the only trip to Texas by the Americans in 2013-14. Wednesday’s game is another Winning Wednesday presented by H-E-B. If the Stars beat the Amerks, every fan in attendance will receive a voucher for a free ticket to the next Winning Wednesday game, January 22nd against the Iowa Wild.

Texas then hits the road this weekend for a quick trip to Charlotte. The Stars and Checkers will play two games in less than 24 hours, beginning with a 6:00 p.m. CT puck drop on Friday, January 17th and then quickly rematch at 11:00 a.m. CT on Saturday, January 18th. This is the second, and final, trip to North Carolina for Texas in 2013-14; the Checkers will not make their first trek to Cedar Park until February 21st and 22nd.

C Travis Morin (23-27-50) leads the AHL in points and power play points (23), is tied for first in goals, ranks second in in the league in assists and is on a six-game point streak with 14 points (8 goals, 6 assists) and a +3 rating during that span. RW Colton Sceviour (23-17-40) is tied for the AHL lead in goals and game-winning goals (5), ranks second in the league in shots (140) and power play goals (9), is tied for second in points and has 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in his last six games. LW Curtis McKenzie (12-21-33) is tied for first the AHL in rookie points, is on a three game point streak (1-3-4) and has eight points (1 goal, 7 assists) and a +1 rating in his last six games. RW Brett Ritchie (8-18-26) is tied for sixth in the league rookie scoring and has eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) and a +2 rating in his last seven games. LW Mike Hedden (13-14-27) is fourth on the team in goals, is tied for 34th in the AHL in points and has 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) and a +6 rating in his last eight games.

Week 16 Schedule:
(All games are broadcast LIVE over the Internet at www.TexasStarsHockey.com and the free radio button of www.ahllive.com and can be viewed via internet pay-per-view video on www.ahllive.com. All times listed in Central Time)

Wednesday, January 15 – 7:30 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX
vs. Rochester Americans (15-14-3-3, 36 pts.)
Fourth Place, North Division
Team Notes: The Rochester Americans are 15-4-2-2 (0.739) against fellow North Division teams, but are 3-13-1-1 (0.139) against the rest of their opposition, comprising of teams from the East, Midwest and West Divisions. Rochester is 2-3-0-0 since returning from Switzerland where they participated in the Spengler Cup. Last Saturday the Americans began a six-game road trip by beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-1 at Copps Coliseum to snap a three-game losing streak. The Amerks will face Texas on Wednesday, then travel to Oklahoma City on Friday and San Antonio on Saturday. This will be the first meeting of two this season between Texas and Rochester; the Stars travel to Blue Cross Arena on Sunday, February 16th for a 2:05 p.m. CT faceoff with the Americans. The Amerks are currently without third year defenseman Brayden McNabb, who was recalled by the Buffalo Sabres last Friday. Rochester ranks 16th in the AHL for highest penalty minute average (16.63), but the squad is fourth amongst Western Conference teams. Additionally,  the Americans’ penalty kill ranks 27th (78.0%) and will face quite a task against the Stars’ top-rated power play.
Leading Scorer: Phil Varone (C) – 30 points (7 goals, 23 assists) and a +5 in 35 GP.
Leading Goaltender: Matt Hackett (G) – 2.89 GAA, 0.904 save pct., 9-12-2, 0 SO in 24 GP.
Who’s Hot: C Luke Adam (15-8-23) leads the team and is tied for seventh in the AHL in goals, ranks second on the team in points and has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a +3 rating in his last six games. RW Joel Armia (4-6-10) is tied for eighth on the team in points and has four points (2 goals, 2 assists) and a +1 rating in his last five games. C Phil Varone (7-23-30) leads the team in points, is tied for sixth in the AHL in assists and has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in his last five games. D Nick Crawford (3-7-10) has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and a +4 rating in his last five games.

Friday, January 17 – 6:00 p.m. – Time Warner Cable Arena – Charlotte, NC
@ Charlotte Checkers (17-18-0-1, 35 pts.)
Third Place, West Division


Saturday, January 18 – 11:00 a.m. – Time Warner Cable Arena – Charlotte, NC
@ Charlotte Checkers (17-18-0-1, 35 pts.)
Third Place, West Division
Team Notes: The Charlotte Checkers sit 16 points behind the Texas Stars, with a record of 17-18-0-1, which is good for third place of the West Division and 11th in the Western Conference. After splitting a weekend series with the Stars in Charlotte on January 2nd and 3rd, the Checkers swept the Barons in Oklahoma City last weekend to generate a three game winning streak. Since going 0-7-0-0 to start the month of November, the Checkers have rebounded with a record of 12-8-0-0 (0.600). Charlotte ranks second in the AHL in power-play percentage (23.3%), including 27.4% at home, trailing only the Stars in that category. However, on the penalty kill, the Checkers rank 22nd in the league with an 80.4% success rate. Since Texas’ first trip to Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte has received significant reinforcements from the Carolina Hurricanes, returning left wing Zach Boychuk (14-13-27) and captain Brett Sutter (2-12-14) to the AHL. Philippe Cornet (LW) has 13 points (5 goals, 9 assists) with Charlotte since being traded from San Antonio on November 22nd.
Leading Scorer: Aaron Palushaj (RW) – 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) and a -2 in 36 GP.
Leading Goaltender: John Muse (G) – 2.52 GAA, 0.918 save pct., 12-8-0, 2 SO in 21 GP.
Who’s Hot: LW Philippe Cornet (5-9-14) has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a +3 rating in his last four games. RW Justin Shugg (8-9-17) is tied for fifth on the team in points and is on a four game assist streak, with four assists during that span. RW Aaron Palushaj (10-22-32) leads the team and is tied for fifth in the league in points and has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) and a +5 rating in his last six games. LW Chris Terry (14-14-28) is tied for the team lead in goals, ranks second in assists and points and has five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in his last five games.

Week 15 Game Results:

January 10, 2014                               Abbotsford 0 @ Texas 5
January 11, 2014                               Utica 3 @ Texas 5

Stars Player of the Week: (Week 15)

Travis Morin – C – #23                                   2 GP, 4 points (4 G, 0 A), +3, 2 PIMs
Center Travis Morin continues to one-up himself as he paces the American Hockey League’s 2013-14 scoring race. The Brooklyn Park, Minnesota native scored four goals in Week 15, helping the Texas Stars claim first place in the West Division. Morin began the week with a power play goal, his 20th goal of the season, on Friday night in a 5-0 win over the Abbotsford Heat that propelled Texas to the top of the division. He then turned in yet another virtuoso performance on Saturday night against the Utica Comets, scoring a natural hat trick, becoming the first player in the league to reach 50 points, and leading the Stars to a 5-3 win and a franchise record ninth straight home victory. Morin now has 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) and a +12 rating in 32 games this season. He leads the AHL in points, is tied for the lead in goals with teammate Colton Sceviour and ranks second in assists; he also leads the league in power play points (23) and power play assists (16).

Morin extended his current goal streak to four games, one game shy of a team record, the second time this season he has scored in four straight. He also stretched his current point streak to six games, piling up a massive 14 points (8 goals, 6 assists) and a +3 rating during that span. Morin’s three-goal performance on Saturday was the first hat trick of his AHL career; he had 10 prior two-goal games, all with the Stars. He now has 15 multi-point games this season and seven games with three or more points.

Stars Quick Hits:

·         STRETCHING THE RECORD – The Stars won both home games in Week 15, extending their current franchise record home winning streak to nine games. Texas has not lost a game at Cedar Park Center since November 22nd, a 4-3 shootout loss to the San Antonio Rampage.

·         NATURAL HAT TRICK – Travis Morin scored three consecutive goals on Saturday against Utica to record a natural hat trick, the first hat trick of his AHL career. Morin had previous posted 10 two-goal performances, all with Texas. He had two hat tricks in his ECHL career with the South Carolina Stingrays, scoring three goals (and two assists) on October 31, 2007 at Columbia and netting four goals (and one assist) on December 13, 2008 at Florida.

·         RECORD PACE – The Texas Stars completed their 38th game of the 2013-14 season on Saturday, marking the halfway point of their 76 game regular season schedule. The Stars lead the AHL with a 29.8% power play percentage (48-for-161), which is a full three percentage points higher than the league record of 26.78% set by the Springfield Indians during the 1993-94 seasons. With a league-leading 48 power play goals, the Stars are currently on pace to record 96 power play goals on the season, much higher than the team record 65 power play goals scored in an 80-game season in 2009-10, but well off the pace of the AHL record 124 power play goals scored by the Nova Scotia Voyageurs during the 1980-81 campaign. Texas’ team record for best power play rating in a season was set last year when the Stars scored at 20.9% (62-for-297), which was the second highest in the league in 2012-13.

·         GAME-WINNERS – Colton Sceviour scored his team-leading fifth game-winning goal on Saturday against Utica, which put him into a tie for first place in the AHL in the category, sharing the distinction with Abbotsford’s Ben Street.

·         THE WINS KEEP COMING – The Texas Stars tied a franchise record by extending their current home point streak to 10 games (9-0-0-1, 19 pts). The record was originally set last season when Texas went 8-0-0-2 at Cedar Park Center from December 29, 2012 vs. Charlotte to February 15, 2013 vs. Oklahoma City. The Stars 15-2-0-1 at Cedar Park Center this season and lead the AHL in home wins, home points (31), home point percentage (0.861) and home goal differential (+36).

·         ROOKIE ON TOP – Curtis McKenzie scored an empty net goal Saturday night to seal Texas’ 5-3 win over Utica. It was his third empty netter of the season, which leads the team and ties him for the AHL lead with Toronto’s Jerry D’Amigo, Rockford’s Klas Dahlbeck and Oklahoma City’s Matthew Ford. McKenzie’s goal was his 33rd point of the season, which put him into a tie for the AHL lead in rookie points with Bridgeport’s Ryan Strome.

·         A FRANCHISE FIRST – Travis Morin’s shorthanded goal on Saturday against Utica was significant in many ways. Not only did it complete his natural hat trick and give him 50 points on the season, but it was also the first shorthanded goal scored against the Comets in their young franchise history. Thanks for Morin’s goal, only Providence and Oklahoma City remain as the two AHL clubs that have not allowed a shorthanded goal against this season.

·         150 AND COUNTING – Defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka played in his 150th career pro game on Saturday night vs. Utica. Jokipakka, who is in his first year in the AHL and in North America, played 111 games as a senior-aged played the last two seasons for Ilves in the Finnish SM-liiga. He has 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) and 10 penalty minutes in 36 games for Texas this year.

·         FRIENDLY COMPETITION – Travis Morin’s natural hat trick against Utica on Saturday put him briefly ahead of teammate Colton Sceviour for the AHL lead in goals. Just 8:27 after Morin’s hat trick goal, an unassisted shorthanded tally early in the second period, Sceviour scored the game-winner and pulled back to level terms with his linemate for the league lead with 23 goals each.

·         NEWEST MEMBER – Defenseman Derek Meech made his Texas Stars debut on Saturday night against Utica, becoming the 34th player to hit the ice for Texas this season and the 121st player to appear in an AHL game in a Stars uniform. Meech’s debut was a solid one, as the veteran finished the contest with three shots on goal and a +3 plus-minus rating. It was also his 357th career AHL game.

·         APPROACHING STARS MILESTONES – D Maxime Fortunus is 1 GP away from his 600th career AHL game and 2 points away from his 200th career AHL point. D William Wrenn is 2 GP away from his 100th career pro game. LW Mike Hedden needs 4 GP to reach his 300th career pro game and needs 1 point to reach his 100th career AHL point. C Toby Petersen is 5 GP shy of his 550th career AHL game and 7 GP shy of his 950th career pro game. LW Francis Wathier is 4 points shy of his 200th career pro point and 3 assists shy of his 100th career AHL assist. D Derek Meech needs 1 point to reach his 150th career pro point and 3 assists to reach his 100th career AHL assist.

Stars Week 14 Transactions:

January 9 – ADD – Cameron Gaunce (D) – Returned on loan from Dallas (NHL).

Texas Stars Team Leaders:

Games Played:                     Justin Dowling & Brett Ritchie (38
Goals:                                   Travis Morin & Colton Sceviour (23)
Assists:                                 Travis Morin (27)
Points:                                  Travis Morin (50)
Plus/Minus:                           Travis Morin (+12)
Penalty Minutes:                   Curtis McKenzie (53)
Power Play Goals:                Colton Sceviour (9)
Short Handed Goals:            Six Tied (1)
Game-Winning Goals:          Colton Sceviour (5)
Shots:                                   Colton Sceviour (140)
Shooting Percentage:           Travis Morin (20.0%)
Saves:                                   Cristopher Nilstorp (637)
Wins:                                     Cristopher Nilstorp (12)
GAA:                                     Jack Campbell (1.40)
Save Percentage:                 Jack Campbell (0.947)
Shutouts:                               Three Tied (1)

The Texas Stars will complete their three-game homestand on Wednesday, January 15th as they host the Rochester Americans for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff at Cedar Park Center. Wednesday’s game is a Winning Wednesday presented by H-E-B. Pro-rated full and partial 2013-14 Texas Stars Season Tickets are on sale now. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.

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