The Texas Stars went 2-0-1 over the past week, won a franchise-record seventh straight game and clinched first place in the West Division.
The Stars (43-17-19) are three points ahead of Grand Rapids for the top spot in the Western Conference and one point ahead of Manchester for the best overall record in the American Hockey League.
And some of Dallas’ top prospects are heading to Texas after their seasons in juniors, Europe and college came to an end.
Here’s the latest on Dallas’ AHL affiliate.
Tuesday, March 25: Texas 4, Hamilton 0
Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 20 shots for his third shutout of the season and Justin Dowling scored two goals as the Stars defeated Hamilton, 4-0, at Cedar Park Center. Scott Glennie and Taylor Peters also scored for Texas, which won its sixth straight game, matching a franchise record.
“We’ve been fortunate. Everybody is contributing. That makes a difference,” Texas coach Willie Desjardins said of the team’s run. “Our goaltenders are playing well, our D are good and we have four lines rolling. Whenever your team is playing like that it makes it easier.”
March 27 (completion of March 1 game): San Antonio 5, Texas 4 (SO)
On Thursday, the Stars headed to San Antonio to finish the March 1 game that was postponed due to poor ice conditions. The game resumed with 12:01 left in the first period and Texas leading 2-0 on goals by Scott Glennie and Curtis McKenzie. Texas extended the lead to 3-0 on a goal by Derek Hulak, but San Antonio overcame that deficit and then a 4-3 deficit to force overtime before winning in the shootout. Jack Campbell took the loss in goal, stopping 20 of 24 in the game and then three of five in the shootout. The loss did not end Texas’ winning streak because the game counts as having been played on March 1.
Saturday, March 29: Texas 6 Hamilton 1
Six different players scored goals as Texas set a franchise record with its seventh straight victory, a 6-1 rout of Hamilton at Cedar Park Center Saturday night. Among the goal scorers was defenseman Hubert Labrie, who also had an assist and a fighting major for a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
“I think that never happened to me. First time tonight,” Labrie said of getting a goal, assist and fight in a game. “It was great.”
McKenzie, Patrik Nemeth, Matej Stransky, Brendan Ranford and Mike Hedden also scored for Texas. Travis Morin picked up two assists to reach the 80-point mark. Nilstorp stopped 24 of 25 shots to pick up the win in net.
The week ahead
Friday April 4, Lake Erie at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday April 6, Lake Erie at Texas, 5:00 p.m.
Dallas prospects on the way
Some of Dallas’ top prospects are starting to join the Texas Stars now that their seasons have wrapped up in other leagues.
Dallas signed LW Alex Guptill, a third round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, to an entry-level contract last week after he completed his junior season at Michigan. Guptill then signed an amateur tryout contract with Texas.
Guptill, a skilled left wing, recorded 94 points (44 goals, 54 assists) in 110 games during his three-year career at Michigan.
“He’s got good size, he’s about 6-3, 215 pounds. He has real good skills, skates well, handles the puck well,” said Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill. “He just needs to learn the pro game, the short shifts, the north-south game. He’s got all the tools and now it’s up to him to develop and make the most of them.”
Center Radek Faksa, Dallas’ first round pick (13th overall) in 2012, is expected to join Texas this week. Faksa’s junior season ended when Sudbury was knocked out in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. Faksa, a two-way forward, played two games with Texas late last season.
Defenseman John Klingberg is expected to join Texas later this week. Klingberg, a fifth round pick in 2010, had his season end when Frolunda was eliminated in the first round of the Swedish Hockey League playoffs. Klingberg, a highly skilled offensive defenseman, is expected to play with Texas until the end of April and then go back to Sweden to try to make that country’s World Championship roster.
“He is coming over here until the end of April and then he’s heading back over there for [Sweden’s World Championship] training camp,” Nill said. “It’s the best of both worlds. He gets to come over here and get some experience, and then he’ll head back there for their training camp and hopefully he makes their team. If he doesn’t, we’ll bring him back if [Texas] is still in the playoffs.”
Klingberg played one playoff game with Texas last season.
Dowling signs with Dallas
The Dallas Stars signed Texas forward Justin Dowling to a two-year, two-way contract last week. Dowling has 40 points (9 goals, 31 assists) in 67 games with Texas this season. He split time between Idaho (ECHL) and Texas last season, picking up 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) in 38 games in the AHL.
Here is the lineup Texas rolled out in its last game.
Scratched: Alex Guptill, William Wrenn, Cameron Gaunce
Injured: Toby Petersen
3/31: D Patrik Nemeth recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas (AHL)
3/29: C Chris Mueller assigned to Texas (AHL) from Dallas (NHL)
3/29: C Chris Muller recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas (AHL)
3/28: LW Alex Guptill signed to ATO by Texas (AHL)
3/28: C Chris Mueller assigned to Texas (AHL) from Dallas (NHL)
3/27: C Chris Mueller recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas (AHL)
3/26: LW Derek Hulak signed to ATO by Texas (AHL)
The Idaho Steelheads, Dallas ECHL affiliate, went 3-0-0 last week, improving to 36-25-7 on the season. The Steelheads are third in the Mountain Division and fourth in the Western Conference.
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