Keeping in stride with their two recent regular seasons, the Texas Stars are looking to build on the experience they gained from last year's Calder Cup playoffs and advance beyond the 2nd round.  The Stars were able to exact some revenge against their 2nd round opponent from last year by sweeping the Oklahoma City Barons in 3 games (AHL playoffs begin with a best-of-5 first round) and currently hold a 2 games to none lead against the defending Calder Cup champions, Grand Rapids Griffins.

Below is the weekly preview from the Stars organization and a recap of the start of the 2nd round.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 12, 2014

The Texas Stars had seven days off after eliminating the Oklahoma City Barons on April 30th. The team showed no sign of rust as they opened the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals against the Grand Rapids Griffins with two emphatic victories, out-scoring the defending Calder Cup champs 9-2 and taking a 2-0 series lead.


Dustin Jeffrey was the star of Game 1, as he scored two goals, his first points of the playoffs, to lead the Stars to a 5-2 win over the Griffins on Thursday night at Cedar Park Center. Texas came out of the game running on all cylinders as they scored two goals 13 seconds apart to break the franchise playoff record. Rookie Brendan Ranford opened the scoring with a breakaway goal after a beautiful backhand pass from AHL MVP Travis Morin. Literally seconds later, Jeffrey also went to the backhand, taking a pass from Chris Mueller and beating goalie Petr Mrazek for a 2-0 lead just3:32 into the game. The Griffins answered back 70 seconds later with a power play goal by Cory Emmerton, the first power play goal allowed by the Stars in this year’s playoffs. Late in the frame, Mike Hedden tipped-in a Jyrki Jokipakka shot for a power play goal to regain Texas’ two-goal advantage. Tomas Jurco pulled Grand Rapids back within one early in the middle frame, but a mere 81 seconds later, Curtis McKenzie scored on another breakaway, from an inch-perfect 120-foot pass by Jokipakka from behind his own goal line. Jeffrey notched his second goal of the game, a power play goal, at the midpoint of the second period, to stretch the Stars’ lead to three. That score held up as the final after a scoreless third, as Texas held on for the 5-2 win in Game 1. Jack Campbell (2-0-0) stopped 23-of-25 shots faced and earned his second win of the playoffs in net for the Stars.

 

Game 2 did not feature three goals in the contest’s first five minutes. Instead, the Stars out-shot the Griffins 18-8 in the first period, yet almost had nothing the show for it until rookie Brendan Ranford jammed home a rebound during a goal-mouth scramble with 45 seconds left in the frame for a 1-0 lead. Justin Dowling scored a pair of goals in a 2:54 span of the second period to give the Stars some breathing room. First, he followed up a Kevin Henderson shot and backhanded the puck over a sprawling Mrazek and then he scored a power play goal for a 3-0 Texas lead. Ranford completed his heroics in the third period with this league-leading fifth goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs, taking a pass from Curtis McKenzie, slipping behind the defense and beating the Griffins’ goaltender to the far post. Cristopher Nilstorp was superb in goal for the Stars, stopping all 30 shots he faced to record his third win of the postseason and the franchise’s second playoff shutout; he also owns the first clean sheet.

 

Week 33 Preview:

 

Texas hits the road in Week 33 facing potentially five games over the span of seven days. The Stars and Griffins will meet for Game 3 on Tuesday, May 13th for a 6:00 p.m. CT faceoff at Van Andel Arena. For the first time in the series the teams will play back-to-back nights, with Game 4 on Wednesday, May 14th at 6:00 p.m. CT. If necessary, Game 5 will take place on Friday, May 16th at 6:00 p.m. CT, also at Van Andel Arena. Also if necessary, Texas will return home to host Game 6 and Game 7 at Cedar Park Center on Sunday, May 18th at 7:00 p.m. and Monday, May 19th at 7:30 p.m. Both games are Texas Lottery Lucky Row Nights, while Game 7 would also be H-E-B Night.

 

C Travis Morin (2-6-8) leads the team and is tied for second in the Calder Cup Playoffs in points, is tied for the league-lead in assists and is on a five-game point streak and a four-game assist streak, with eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) and a +6 rating during that span. LW Brendan Ranford (5-1-6) leads the AHL in goals, is tied for tenth in points, is on a four-game goal streak and a five-game point streak, with six points (5 goals, 1 assist) and a +5 rating during that span. LW Curtis McKenzie (1-4-5) is on a four-game point streak, with five points (1 goal, 4 assists) and a +4 rating during that span. C Justin Dowling (3-4-7) is tied for sixth in the Calder Cup Playoffs in points and has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) and a +2 rating in his last five games.

 

Week 33 Schedule:

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

GAME 3

Tuesday, May 13 – 6:00 p.m. – Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, MI

@ Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

 

GAME 4

Wednesday, May 14 – 6:00 p.m. – Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, MI

@ Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

 

GAME 5 – **IF NECESSARY**

Friday, May 13 – 6:00 p.m. – Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, MI

@ Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

 

GAME 6 – **IF NECESSARY**

Sunday, May 18 – 7:00 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX

vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

 

GAME 7 – **IF NECESSARY**

Monday, May 19 – 7:30 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX

vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Midwest Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

 

Stars Player of the Week: (Week 32)

 

Brendan Ranford – LW – #39         2 GP, 3 Points (3 G, 0 A), 1 GWG

 

Rookie forward Brendan Ranford had a strong regular season, but he has absolutely exploded in the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Edmonton, Alberta native started the week off with a dazzling breakaway goal to open the scoring on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. Grand Rapids. With the goal, Ranford set a new playoff team record for longest goal streak, with a goal for his third straight game. Two nights later, Ranford extended his record-goal streak to four with two more goals and first star honors in Game 2. He again scored the first goal of the game, also the game-winner, and then added the team’s fourth tally in the third period for his fifth goal of the post-season, taking over sole possession of the AHL’s goal-scoring lead in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs. Ranford has notched points in all five of Texas’ playoff games, which ties the franchise record for longest postseason point streak.