Texas Stars Game Preview 11.18.11

Nov 18, 2011

The Texas Stars and the Houston Aeros meet for the second time this season and the 26th time in AHL history. The Stars and the Aeros will face off 10 more times this season, including five games at Cedar Park Center. Texas is 13-16-4-3 all-time against Houston after going 3-6-2-1 in 2010-11 against their in-state rivals. Texas is 9-7-2-0 all-time at home against Houston and is 4-9-2-3 all-time at Toyota Center. Houston claimed the first meeting of the season with a 5-2 victory at Cedar Park Center on October 14th. Texas has played Houston more than any other team in AHL history. The 26 meetings all-time is one in front of 25 all-time meetings with San Antonio.

The Stars are winless in the last three games after posting a three-game winning streak. Texas dropped two games at home to Abbotsford last weekend and finished the weekend with a 3-2 loss in San Antonio on Sunday. The Stars are 3-4-0-0 on the road this season, having been outscored by their opponents 25-22 on the road. The Stars are in a stretch of six straight divisional games. The Stars are 2-5-0-1 within the West Division. Texas’ scoring has been spread out this season, with 14 first-period tallies and 17 second-period markers. The Stars have outscored their opponents 14-13 in the third period of play. The Stars are the third ranked offensive team in the Western Conference with a 3.36 goals per game average. The Stars are 4-0-0-1 when leading after two periods of play, but they are 0-6-0-0 when trailing after two periods of play.

Houston ended a two-game slide on Sunday with a 5-2 win at home over Charlotte. Prior to the two-game streak, Houston rattled off a 6-0-0-2 mark over an eight-game stretch, outscoring opponents 28-20. The Aeros are 6-2-0-2 in the last ten games and 3-2-0-0 in their last five contests. Houston is 4-2-0-2 at home this season, outscoring all visitors 29-27. The team is 1-2-0-0 in the last three home games at Toyota Center. Trailing only Peoria, the Aeros are the second highest scoring team in the Western Conference, averaging 3.40 goals per game. Defensively, Houston ranks 11th overall in the league by allowing 2.80 goals per game. The Aeros have struggled to score in the first period of play, scoring nine times in their first 15 games. Houston has 20 goals in the second period and 22 in the third. The Aeros have scored the first goal six times this season, posting a 5-1-0-0 mark when they get on the board first. The 2011 Western Conference champions rank 25th in the AHL with a 14.60 penalty minutes per game average. The Aeros are in a seven-way tie for the most amount of shorthanded goals allowed with three.

Larsen called up to Dallas, Texas Recalls Labrie from Idaho
The Dallas Stars announced last Saturday that the NHL club has recalled defenseman Philip Larsen from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). He joined the Stars in Detroit on Saturday. The Dallas Stars also announced that defenseman Hubert Labrie has been reassigned from the Idaho Steelheads to the Texas Stars.

Larsen, 21, leads all Texas defensemen in scoring, with nine assists and 10 points in 10 games. He is also tops in power-play assists among defensemen, setting up six extra-man advantage tallies. Larsen is currently fourth among AHL defensemen in points and fourth overall in assists.

The 6-1, 190-pound defenseman from Esbjerg, Denmark, has appeared in 11 career NHL games with 3 points (3 assists) with a +2 rating. The Stars' fifth-round selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Larsen has appeared in three games this season with Dallas, averaging 13:30 time-on-ice per game. Larsen spent the majority of the 2010-11 season with the Texas Stars, appearing in 54 games and collecting 22 points (4 goals, 18 assists).

Labrie is a rookie defenseman who played in seven games with Idaho to start this season. He scored his first pro goal and totaled four points with the Steelheads. Labrie attended camp in Dallas and with Texas prior to his assignment to Idaho. He turned pro after playing the previous four years in Gatineau of the QMJHL from 2007-08. In 192 QMJHL games, the 21-year old defenseman scored ten goals and set up 38 others for a total of 48 points. He made his Texas and AHL debut last Sunday at San Antonio.

What’s Ahead:
Friday, November 18 at Houston 7:35 PM 92.5 FM
Saturday, November 19 vs. Houston 7:00 PM 92.5 FM
Wednesday, November 23 vs. Chicago 7:30 PM 104.9 FM
Friday, November 25 at Houston 7:35 PM 92.5 FM
Saturday, November 26 vs. Houston 7:00 PM 92.5 FM
*All times listed are central time
Texas 2 at San Antonio 3 11/13/11
The Texas Stars were defeated by the San Antonio Rampage 3-2 in front of 5,735 fans at AT&T Center on Sunday night. Right wing Tomas Vincour had a goal and an assist, scoring in his fifth straight road game. Left wing Francis Wathier also notched a goal and an assist on the night, as the Stars fell to 3-4-0-0 on the road this season. San Antonio goalie Jacob Markstrom stopped 28 of 30 shots in the win. Rampage centers Mark Cullen and Tim Kennedy each scored in the second period, while center Scott Timmins registered a third-period goal. Texas goalie Richard Bachman stopped 25 of 28 shots faced.

Abbotsford 3 at Texas 1 11/12/11
The Texas Stars were defeated by the Abbotsford Heat 3-1 in front of 6,226 fans at the Cedar Park Center on Saturday night. Abbotsford goalie Leland Irving stopped 35 of 36 shots to secure the victory and lead his team to a sixth straight road win. Abbotsford right wing Jon Rheault registered two goals on the night, helping the Heat improve to 8-1-0-0 on the road this season. Defenseman Jordie Benn scored the lone Texas goal in the defeat. Texas goalie Tyler Beskorowany stopped 37 shots in the defeat.

Abbotsford 3 at Texas 2 SO 11/11/11
The Texas Stars were defeated by the Abbotsford Heat 3-2 in a shootout in front of 5,393 fans at the Cedar Park Center on Friday night. The Heat scored twice in the last five minutes of regulation, including a game-tying goal with 47 seconds remaining to force overtime. The Heat went on to win the shootout 3-0 over Texas. Abbotsford defenseman Brendan Mikkelson scored his team’s first goal and set up the game-tying goal. Stars’ center Travis Morin added two assists, while left wing Matt Fraser netted his ninth goal of the season. Right wing Ray Sawada also scored for Texas, as the Stars saw their three-game winning streak come to an end. Texas goalie Richard Bachman stopped 20 of 22 shots in the shootout loss. Abbotsford goalie Leland Irving stopped 34 of 36 shots in the victory.

Texas Stars
Center Travis Morin and right wing Raymond Sawada lead Texas in scoring. Morin is the clubhouse leader with 11 assists and 15 points in his first 14 games played. He trails the league leader by seven points and he ranks in the top ten of the AHL for assists.
Morin is among the AHL leaders with eight power-play assists. Sawada is second overall in team scoring with four goals and ten assists for 14 points in 14 games played. Sawada and Morin are among the top five in the AHL with nine power-play points each.
Rookie forward Matt Fraser is third in team scoring with 13 points in 14 games. He leads the team with nine goals scored and 57 shots on net. Fraser is second in the AHL with six power-play goals and he is among the league leaders in goals scored. Fraser is third overall in the AHL with 57 shots on goals.

Forwards Tomas Vincour, Francis Wathier and Ryan Garbutt round out the top scorers for Texas. Vincour has 11 points in 13 games played. He had a five-game goal scoring streak from Oct. 27 – Nov. 6, which ended last Friday (11/11). Vincour’s streak tied Warren Peters’ team record for consecutive games with a goal. Vincour also tied a team record by recording a point in six straight games from Oct. 25 – Nov. 6. He currently has a goal in five straight road games. Wathier had a five-game points streak come to an end on November 11th. Over that span, Wathier scored three goals and totaled six points. The left winger has five goals and five assists in 14 games played. Center Ryan Garbutt has nine points in 14 games. Left wing Luke Gazdic leads the team in penalty minutes with 35, while Ryan Garbutt comes in second with 26 minutes. Garbutt leads the team and is among the top five in the AHL with 13 minor penalties.

Dan Spang leads all Texas defensemen in scoring with two goals and eight points in 14 games played. He is followed by rookie Brenden Dillon, who has six assists and seven points in 14 games played. Brad Lukowich has five assists and Maxime Fortunus has added four points this season. Defenseman Jordie Benn has scored in consecutive games and has seven points in 14 games this season. Benn totaled 12 points in 60 games as a rookie, including two goals.

Goalies Richard Bachman and Tyler Beskorowany split time in net for Texas. Bachman is 5-4-1 with a 3.19 goals against average and a .887 save percentage. In his last four starts, Bachman has turned aside 104 of 112 shots and posted a 1.95 goals against average. Over that span, the 24-year-old is 2-1-1 with one shutout and a .929 save percentage. Beskorowany is 0-2-0 in his last three starts with a 2.57 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. He turned aside a season-high 37 shots last Saturday.

Special Teams
After going 2-for-5 on Sunday in San Antonio, the Stars have resumed the top-rated power play in the AHL. The team has converted 21 of 72 for a 29.2% conversion rate. The Stars have failed to register a power-play goal in only four of the first 14 games. Texas has scored more than one power-play goal seven times this season. The Stars lead the AHL with 21 power-play goals scored. The Stars have killed off 31 of the last 35 penalties (88.6%). Texas ranks 23rd overall on the penalty kill at 79.4%. The team ranked as low as 29th as recently as October 31st. Houston is 18-of-82 on the power play this season, ranking ninth best in the league at 21.4%. The Aeros are 19th in the AHL on the penalty kill, stopping 80% of their opponents’ power plays. Houston has picked up at least one power-play goal in eight straight games. The streak started on October 28 with a 3-for-5 performance against San Antonio. In the last eight games, Houston is 12-for-47 (25.5%).

This Date in Stars History…
Texas has played once on November 18th, 2009.The Texas Stars defeated the Rockford Ice Hogs 3-1 at the Rockford MetroCentre. Center Warren Peters scored two goals and left wing Luke Gazdic also scored for the Stars. With the win, the Stars extended their unbeaten in regulation streak to 12 games (9-0-2-1). The team also moved to 18 games with only one regulation loss. Texas goalie Brent Krahn improved to 9-1-0-0 with 31 saves for his ninth straight win. The Stars improved to 6-1-1-1 on the road in their first season.

The Houston Aeros
The Aeros have also seen a coaching change since last season. Mike Yeo was promoted to head coach of the Minnesota Wild after last year’s Calder Cup Finals appearance. In his first year with Houston, Yeo posted a 46-28-1-5 mark and a berth to the Calder Cup Finals where the Aeros fell to the Binghamton Senators in six games. This season, John Torchetti is now behind the bench for Houston. Torchetti has an extensive hockey background spanning 27 years. Last season, he was the Atlanta Thrashers’ associate coach. Prior to his position in Atlanta, Torchetti was an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2008-10. Chicago went to the Western Conference Finals in 2009 and won a Stanley Cup championship the following year.

Houston returns 11 skaters and one goaltender from their 2010-11 season. Of their top scorers, only two return. Robbie Earl, who played 69 games and registered 24 goals, left for Europe. Maxim Noreau also left for Europe after playing in 76 games for the Aeros. Patrick O’Sullivan played 60 games over two seasons in Houston and registered a combined 66 points. He left for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Right wing Jon DiSalvatore returns for his third season in Houston. The Aeros captain leads the team with 16 points in 15 games played. DiSalvatore is tied for second on the team with seven goals and he is second on the club with nine assists. Center Casey Wellman leads the Aeros with ten goals this season, including a league-leading seven power-play goals. Wellman is tied for second in the AHL for goals scored and he leads the team with 48 shots on goal. The second-year Aero is second on the team with 15 points in 15 games. Veteran center Jeff Taffe leads the team with ten assists and is third overall with 14 points. Taffe leads the team and the AHL with nine power-play assists. He is tied for the league lead with 11 points on the power play this year. The Aeros top-scoring defenseman is Chay Genoway, who has nine assists and ten points in 14 games played. Former Star Warren Peters is currently on recall to the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. Peters had four goals and four assists in 13 games for Houston this season.

In goal, the Aeros feature Matt Hackett and Dennis Endras. Hackett is 7-1-2 on the year, sporting a 2.39 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Hackett is 3-1-0 in his last four starts, posting a 2.77 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. Hackett helped carry the Aeros to the Calder Cup Finals as a rookie in 2010-11. Endras is an AHL rookie after spending six years in the DEL. The 26-year old is 2-2-1 with a 2.76 goals against average and a .904 save percentage.

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