Despite what some would call a disappointing end to the Dallas Stars’ playoff run in 6 games to the Anaheim Ducks, most would walk away realizing that at the very least the youngsters finally got a taste of playoff hockey. However, that experience didn’t end in overtime in game 6. In fact, that experience is snowballing all the way to the Calder Cup Final as Dallas’ AHL affiliate, Texas Stars will face off against Winnipeg’s AHL team, St. Johns Ice Caps. The series will open up this Sunday at the Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park just outside of Austin.
Not to take away the importance of the likes of Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin and Brenden Dillon all getting playoff experience, but when you have first rounders like Jamie Oleksiak and Radek Faksa along with perennial superstars like Brett Ritchie and Curtis McKenzie playing for a league championship that will speak volumes for years to come.
In fact, Oleksiak, Travis Morin, Chris Mueller, Patrik Nemeth and Christopher Nilstorp have all experienced playing time with the Dallas Stars already, so one would have to think along with the aforementioned McKenzie, Faksa and Ritchie, these guys are being well primed for a long career in the NHL.
When you take in consideration that the Toronto Marlies outscored the Stars 8-1 in the 7 first periods, it makes the run the Stars are on that much more incredible as they have had to come back from behind in every game during the West Final, including tonight’s game 7 in which they trailed 2-0 with as little as 2:34 remaining in the 2nd period.
For the Stars organization, it had been a long, dismal 5 seasons in which the Dallas Stars failed to make the post season and the Texas Stars found themselves either missing the playoffs two seasons ago or having a very disappointing end to their season in the 2nd round. However, those dark days appear to be lifting and the sun appears to be shinning through as the future appears to be now for this organization. It is now reaching a point that if someone from Dallas falls to injury or a trade is made, a playoff-caliber player can be called up from Cedar Park to join the team. Even in the OHL, Jason Dickinson of the Guelph Storm, who was the Stars’s 2nd first round pick from last year’s draft, has gained valuable experience in the post season, leading the Storm to the OHL championship and falling short of a Memorial Cup title in the championship game. In just 13 months, Jim Nill has taken this group of “almost was” to “we’re there now.”