Last time we checked in with the Texas Stars, they’d won two straight and sent Travis Morin to Dallas for his big-league debut. Since then the team sits in that coveted last playoff slot in the AHL West. Click through for recaps on the games and a quick look at the AHL and NHL seasons at the midway point.
Last Friday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Barons was a breakthrough of sorts for Colton Sceviour, as the 21-year-old sniper from Red Deer, Alberta, seized two opportunities to make an impact on the final line. Sceviour assisted on the opener by Aaron Gagnon, then put away the game winner, a glove-side shot past Barons goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. It was his third multipoint game of the season.
The Stars came home to a packed Cedar Park Center Saturday, only to fall to the Abbotsford Heat in a shootout. A late effort that saw two goals in the last five minutes sent the game to overtime, where the teams stayed deadlocked. A shootout was in the Heat’s favor (they were a league-best 8-5 in shootouts coming into the game), and Texas goalie Richard Bachman (17-10-3) couldn’t hang onto two of the first three Abbotsford attempts.
The loss should only hurt temporarily, as the team still extended its point-earning streak to four games. The shootout loss added one point to mark the total at 58, three points ahead of next-best Chicago. In a comfortable but not secure position, Texas will need a little more defense in the second half to avoid early holes and continue their ride toward the postseason.
As for the All-Star break, most AHLers are able to take a mini interval from the grueling schedule. Not the case for Francis Wathier, the Stars’ representative sent to Hershey, Pa., for the events. Wathier, though a late replacement for Morin, proved his deserving role as an All-Star, netting a team-high two goals for the West. The East pulled out the victory, but the 11-8 final score gives you an idea of the game flow; it didn’t involve a whole lot of defense.
And Morin, described as “unavailable” for the All-Star game, was likely being viewed within the organization as a vital replacement on the injury-plagued pro team. After a short, meaningless reassignment to Texas, Morin was called back up and should skate against the Canucks Tuesday and possibly fly to Boston and Philly later this week. Gagnon will join him.
The NHL All-Star Game, held in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday night, was equally as ridiculous as the minor-league version, with no hits and barely any defense. Dallas first-time All-Stars Loui Eriksson and Brad Richards got into the 11-10 box score, mainly by beating the goaltenders and no one else. An assist from Richards plus two goals and two assists for Eriksson put the Dallas contribution at five points for the match. The pros in Dallas own the division lead and will start the second half with a five-point lead over second place Anaheim.
The Texas Stars will finish their refueling and head to Houston on Friday. They’ll host the Barons Saturday, February 5, 7pm, in what will hopefully be another sellout at the Cedar Park Center. The following Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday are home games, then the Stars hit the road for eight straight.
Vs. Houston: Thu., Feb. 8, 7:30pm. Vs. Rockford: Fri., Feb. 11, 7:30pm. Vs. Rockford: Sat., Feb. 12, 7pm. TexasStarsHockey.com.
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