For the 2nd time in just their short 5 year history, the Texas Stars are Western Conference champions and will be facing off against 3 year old St. John's IceCaps for the 2014 Calder Cup.  Having lost to the Hershey Bears in 2010 in 6 games, the Stars are looking to finish the climb to the peak of the AHL mountain as champions.  This year, thanks to some incredible drafting and roster management by the Dallas Stars organization, this year is primed to set the Stars up for their first championship.

Below is a recap of the West final and a look ahead at what Stars fans can expect as the Calder Cup Final kicks off in Cedar Park on Sunday.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 5, 2014


STARS WEEKLY (WEEK 35)

Texas Wins Western Conference Championship, Advance to Finals

Stars to Face St. John’s IceCaps in 2014 Calder Cup Finals

 

2013-14 Record: 48-18-3-7, 106 points (29-8-0-1 Home, 19-10-3-6 Road), First Place – West Division

 

2014 Playoff Record: 11-5 (0.688)

 

Western Conference Finals Recap:

Both teams came out firing in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Brandon Kozun opened the scoring 3:11 into the game, followed by goals from T.J. Brennan and Peter Holland in the second period for a 3-0 Toronto lead. Curtis McKenzie and Travis Morin setup Chris Mueller for a power play one-timer with 4:27 left in regulation to pull Texas within two goals. However, the Marlies added two empty-net goals to cap off their 5-1 victory. The Stars sent a barrage of shots on Toronto goaltender Drew MacIntyre, but were only able to get one of 50 shots past him.

Texas looked to bounce back and claim the victory in Game 2. Jerry D’Amigo put the Marlies in front 4:22 into the first period and Brett Ritchie then tied the game with a power play goal at 16:51. The teams traded goals during a five-goal second period. Scott Glennie, Ritchie (again) and Chris Mueller gave the Stars a 4-3 lead heading into the third period. Glennie scored his second goal of the game at 14:07 of the third period and Travis Morin added an empty-net goal with 9.9 second left to seal Texas’ 6-3 win, tying the series at 1-1.

The teams traveled up to Toronto to play Games 3, 4 and 5 at Ricoh Coliseum. In Game 3, T.J. Brennan struck first for the Marlies at 9:16 of the first period. At 3:16 of the second period, Radek Faksa tipped in a Patrik Nemeth slap shot to tie the game at one. Texas came out firing early in the third period, bombarding the Toronto goal with shots. The pressure paid off as Kevin Henderson redirected a pass from Brett Ritchie off the back of MacIntyre and into the net at 6:59 for a 2-1 Stars' lead. Brennan scored his second goal of the night to tie the game  at two, but just 59 seconds later, Travis Morin beat two Toronto defenders to the net and slammed home the rebound, lifting Texas to a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead.

The tables would turn in the Marlies’ favor during Game 4 the following night. Spencer Abbott recorded a natural hat trick, scoring three power play goals at 1:36 and 5:14 of the first period and 7:05 of the second. In the third period the Stars tried to rally, but Drew MacIntyre came up with some big saves to keep them off the scoreboard. Texas pulled Nilstorp with just under eight minutes remaining and he was off the ice for nearly four minutes before Jerry D'Amigo scored an empty net goal from the red line at 16:31 for a 4-0 lead. The Stars would not quit, however, and Radek Faksa would spoil MacIntyre's shutout bid with just 1:42 left in regulation. Toronto’s 4-1 victory tied the series at 2-2 and setup a pivotal Game 5.

Fresh off his natural hat trick in Game 4, Spencer Abbott received some good fortune in the opening minute of Game 5. Abbott's centering pass ricocheted off defenseman Patrick Nemeth and into the Stars' net just 41 seconds into the game. Texas faced some adversity in the second period when the Marlies received a prolonged five-on-three power play. However, the Stars penalty kill came up big and held Toronto off the board. With the momentum squarely in their favor, Texas finally cashed in as Scott Glennie’s scorching shot tied the game at 11:10. At 9:02 of the final frame, Taylor Peters collected a rebound and shoveled a backhand shot into the net for his first career Calder Cup Playoff goal. The Stars buckled down and claimed the 2-1 victory in Game 5.

Texas looked to close out the series at Cedar Park Center in Game 6. Rookie Brendan Ranford almost put the Stars in front four minutes into the game, but the puck rolled off his stick on a shorthanded breakaway. The Marlies opened the scoring at 8:54 when Carter Ashton found a rebound that slipped underneath Cristopher Nilstorp. Early in the second period Trevor Smith scored a power play goal on a one-timer from the slot at 2:28 and with 55.7 seconds left in the period, Spencer Abbott fed Ashton for his second goal of the game on a two-on-one rush that gave the Marlies a 3-0 lead heading into the final frame. Curtis McKenzie put the Stars on the scoreboard with 3:25 left in regulation, tipping a Maxime Fortunus slap shot on the power play, pulling them within two goals and ending Drew MacIntyre's shutout bid. Toronto was able to keep the Stars from getting any closer and won the game 3-1, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7.

Things did not look good for the Stars early on in Game 7. Frazer McLaren scored the only of the first period and Peter Holland doubled the lead just 23 seconds into the second period. Texas continued fighting back and finally cut into the lead late in the period when Mike Hedden tipped a pass through Drew MacIntyre. Dustin Jeffrey notched the equalizer a mere 51 seconds later on a power play when he sniped a shot top shelf to even the game at two. With all the momentum, the Stars broke the deadlock at 6:28 in the third when Justin Dowling found Ritchie backdoor for the tap in. Rookie Matej Stransky extended the Texas lead just 17 seconds later, carrying the puck all the way down low and wrapping it around to give the Stars a 4-2 lead. Dowling scored on a one-timer at 14:32 and Jeffrey added an empty netter 32 seconds later, closing out the Game 7 victory and sending Texas to the 2014 Calder Cup Finals.  

Week 35 – Calder Cup Finals Preview:

For the second time in the team’s five-year history, the Stars are Western Conference Champions and have advanced to the Calder Cup Finals. The Stars overcame the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2010 Conference Finals in seven games to advance to the Calder Cup Finals against the Hershey Bears. This year Texas will square off with the St. John’s IceCaps. The two teams have never faced each other in either the regular season or playoffs. Texas, who had the AHL’s best record during the regular season and captured the franchise’s first Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy, beat Oklahoma City (3-0) in the first round, Grand Rapids (4-2) in the second and Toronto (4-3) in the third round to reach the championship round. St. John’s finished second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference during the regular season. The IceCaps eliminated the Albany Devils (3-1) in the Quarterfinals, the Norfolk Admirals (4-2) in the Semifinals and then the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (4-2) in the Eastern Conference Finals to reach the Calder Cup Finals.

The best-of-seven series will begin on Sunday, June 8th at 7:30 p.m. at Cedar Park Center for Game 1. Like all home playoff games this year, Sundayis a Texas Lottery Lucky Row Night. Game 2 will be on Monday, June 9th at 7:30 p.m. and is both a Texas Lottery Lucky Row Night and H-E-B Night, where fans can bring a non-perishable food item to the box office to receive $5 off their ticket price. The series will then shift approximately 3,400 miles northeast to Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland for Game 3 on Wednesday, June 11th at 7:30 p.m. Newfoundland Daylight Time (NDT), which is 5:00 p.m. Central Time.

C Travis Morin (4-11-15) is tied for second in the Calder Cup Playoffs in points, is tied for first in assists, leads the league in shots (55) and has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in his last 7 games. LW Mike Hedden (6-9-15) is tied for second in the AHL in points and has four points (1 goal, 3 assists) and a +4 rating in his last six games. RW Brett Ritchie (4-3-7) has six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in his last seven games. RW Matej Stransky (1-4-5) has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and a +3 rating in his last four games.

Week 35 – Calder Cup Finals 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 1

Sunday, June 8 – 7:30 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX

vs. St. John’s IceCaps (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Atlantic Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

GAME 2

Monday, June 9 – 7:30 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX

vs. St. John’s IceCaps (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Atlantic Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

GAME 3

Wednesday, June 11 – 5:00 p.m. – Mile One Centre – St. John’s, NFLD

@ St. John’s IceCaps (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Atlantic Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

GAME 4

Monday, June 16 – 5:00 p.m. – Mile One Centre – St. John’s, NFLD

@ St. John’s IceCaps (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Atlantic Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

GAME 5 – If Necessary

Thursday, June 12 – 5:00 p.m. – Mile One Centre – St. John’s, NFLD

@ St. John’s IceCaps (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Atlantic Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

GAME 6 – If Necessary

Thursday, June 19 – 7:30 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX

vs. St. John’s IceCaps (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Atlantic Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

GAME 7 – If Necessary

Monday, June 23 – 7:30 p.m. – Cedar Park Center – Cedar Park, TX

vs. St. John’s IceCaps (46-23-2-5, 99 pts.)

Second Place, Atlantic Division – Fourth Seed, Western Conference

·         Team Notes: The St. John’s IceCaps are playing their third season in franchise history, making the Calder Cup Finals for the first time. In their inaugural season (2011-12), the IceCaps reached the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, only to be swept by eventual Calder Cup Champion Norfolk Admirals. St. John’s finished the 2013-14 regular season with a 46-23-2-5 (99 pts.) record, good for second place in the Atlantic Division and the fourth in the Eastern Conference. They averaged the third most goals per game (3.39), ranking two spots behind first place Texas (3.61). Four players during the regular season eclipsed the 50-point mark; Jason Jaffray (59), Andrew Gordon (57), Jerome Samson (56) and Kael Moullierat (53). During the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs, the IceCaps have made quick work of their opponents. In the first round, St. John’s defeated the Albany Devils 3-1, then the Norfolk Admirals 4-2 in the second round, and Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-2. Andrew Gordon currently leads the AHL in playoff scoring, with 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists), and Will O’Neill, who was suspended for Game 6 against the Penguins, ranks 10th with 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists). Goaltender Michael Hutchinson has played all 16 games for the IceCaps and leads the league in wins (11). They have the second most penalty minutes in the playoffs (267), but back it up with the best playoff penalty kill (91.0%). Currently, the IceCaps are on a streak of 25-streak successful penalty kills, not allowing a power play goal since Game 6 against Norfolk on May 16th. Their power play is ranked 10th in the AHL (16.9%) and have scored a power play goal in four straight games, going 7-for-25 (28.0%) during that span.

·         Leading Scorer: Andrew Gordon (LW) – 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists) and a +4 rating in 16 GP.

·         Leading Goaltender: Michael Hutchinson (G) – 1.61 GAA, 0.946 save pct., 11-5 and 3 SO in 16 GP.

Who’s Hot: RW Andrew Gordon (8-8-16) leads the Calder Cup Playoffs in points, is tied for second in the league in goals and has 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) and a +1 rating in his last seven games. D Will O’Neill (2-11-13) ranks 10th in the AHL in points and is currently on a four-game point streak, with six points (2 goals, 4 assists) and a +2 rating during that span. C Eric O’Dell (9-2-11) is tied for the league lead in goals, ranks third on the team in points and has 10 points (8 goals, 2 assists) and a +5 rating in his last 10 games. LW Jason Jaffray (4-6-10) ranks fifth on the team in points and has 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in his last four games.


****Fun Note**** How fitting would it be if the Stars, in game 6 on June 19th, could win the Calder Cup Title?  It would mark the 15th anniversary of the Dallas Stars Stanley Cup victory in game 6 against Buffalo.