Texas Stars announce 2016-17 schedule 

Here is the official release, I’ll have more on the schedule posted later tonight.
CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Monday their full 76-game schedule for the 2016-17 regular season. The team will kick off their eighth season at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. against the Charlotte Checkers.


Single-game tickets go on sale Thursday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. for all 38 home games. The full 76-game schedule and more information are available online at http://www.texasstars.com. The Stars also play a home preseason game against their in-state rival, the San Antonio Rampage, on Oct. 8, at 3 p.m.
The 2016-17 campaign will conclude on Saturday, April 15, against San Antonio on Fan Appreciation Night.
Coke Zero Family Four Packs are returning this season for all Saturday home games. Fans can enjoy four tickets, four hot dogs, four soft drinks and parking starting at just $16 a person. Texas Lottery Lucky Row Nights also return on Saturdays, where the first Stars player to score a goal will win scratch-off tickets for one lucky row of seats.
The Stars will continue to compete in the AHL’s Pacific Division against the Rampage, Bakersfield Condors, Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls, San Jose Barracuda, Stockton Heat and the newest member of the league, the Tucson Roadrunners. The Stars first home games against their divisional opponents are Oct. 25 against the Rampage, Oct. 28 against Ontario, Nov. 11 against San Jose, Dec. 29 against San Diego, Jan. 27 against Bakersfield, Feb. 10 against Tucson and March 24 against Stockton.
H-E-B Nights return for all Monday-Thursday home games where fans can donate any H-E-B branded, non-perishable food item at the box office for $5 off their ticket purchase.
A full promotional schedule for home games this season will be announced at a later date.
Other notable dates include a New Year’s Eve matchup with San Diego for the second straight season, and on Jan. 6 and 7, the defending Calder Cup Champion Cleveland Monsters come to town. All weeknight home games (Monday-Friday) will continue to start at 7:30 p.m. and all Saturday night puck drops are at 7 p.m.
In total, the Stars play 27 of their 38 home games on Friday or Saturday. 15 different teams will visit H-E-B Center this season. The team’s most common opponent is San Antonio with 14 total meetings between the two rivals. Texas will play 44 of their 76 total games within the Pacific Division. The other 32 will be played against the eight teams of the AHL’s Central Division.
The beginning and ending portion of the Stars’ schedule involves a lot of time away from home. Texas will play 11 of its first 19 games, and nine of the final 16 games, on the road this season. March will be the busiest month for the team with 15 scheduled games. The longest road trip of the season is a six-game, 12-day stretch on the West Coast in late February. The Stars will enjoy a pair of five-game homestands for their longest of the season, one in December and the other in February.

Stars hoping Herbert can copy Morin’s successful path from South Carolina to Texas

Caleb Herbert played for the 2015 Calder Cup with the South Carolina Stingrays. (Photo by Lauren Lyssy)

Caleb Herbert played for the 2015 Calder Cup with the South Carolina Stingrays. (Photo by Lauren Lyssy)

Back in 2009 Texas Stars general manager Scott White defined the future of the AHL franchise when he signed Travis Morin.

Morin was a former Washington Capitals prospect who had fallen out of favor with the NHL club. He was stuck in the ECHL — albeit a highly-successful ECHLer — with the South Carolina Stingrays, and was just looking for an AHL opportunity with Texas.

That opportunity laid the groundwork for one of the AHL’s best players over the past five seasons. Morin has hoisted the Calder Cup, grabbed AHL MVP honors, been named Texas’ captain, and racked up 412 points (276 assists, 136 goals) in 471 games.

It’s a story that came to mind when White signed Caleb Herbert to an AHL contract this summer.

“I reminded him about Travis Morin’s experience coming here (to Texas) from South Carolina,” White said. “I think you could say that worked out pretty well.”

Herbert’s career path has taken similar turns to Morin’s. A native Minnesotan, like Morin, Herbert was drafted in the fifth round (142nd overall) by Washington in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

He then spent three seasons playing college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth (Morin went through Minnesota State Mankato), before struggling to find an AHL role with the Hershey Bears and spending most of his time in South Carolina and the ECHL.

During his ECHL time Herbert had 42 points in 57 regular season games, and he played for a Kelly Cup in 2015 with the Stingrays. But, it didn’t stop Washington from letting Herbert leave the organization after the 2015-16 season.

That’s when the Stars and Herbert saw an opportunity for a low-risk, potentially high-reward AHL investment for both sides.

“We think he’s one of those guy that never really got a chance,” White said. “His agent was talking to me pretty much from Day 1 (of free agency). He was clear, he wasn’t looking for that NHL contract — just a realistic chance to play in the AHL and build his career. From what I’ve seen and what our guys in the ECHL have seen, he can do that with an opportunity.”

Herbert will have to earn his opportunity and role in Stars’ training camp next, but he’s a versatile player that could find a nice role as a wing or center in Cedar Park.

“He can play at this level,” White said. “He’s a player that has to work and prove that. But I think a fresh start (with Texas) could be big for him.”

When he’s been given chances Herbert has shown a scoring touch. He scored 10 goals in 14 ECHL games last season, while he has a quick, hard shot that once ripped a hole in the net as he completed a hat trick for the Stingrays.

The 24-year-old forward already has his own fan club, @herbertislife on Twitter, which I suspect will be accepting new members in Texas.

Dallas Stars announce training camp schedule for Cedar Park

Lindy Ruff and the Dallas Stars will bring training camp back to Cedar Park. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Lindy Ruff and the Dallas Stars will bring training camp back to Cedar Park. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Dallas Stars’ training camp will officially return to Cedar Park next month, the NHL club announced on Monday.

Training camp will start in Cedar Park on Sept. 23 and last through Sept. 25.

Here is the official release:

FRISCO, Texas – The Dallas Stars and H-E-B Center at Cedar Park have announced details for the team’s 2016-17 training camp, which includes open practice sessions and the Victory Green vs. White Intrasquad Scrimmage.

The Dallas Stars will hold training camp at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park in Cedar Park, Texas from Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25. The practices on Friday and Saturday are open to the public. Fans wishing to attend the sessions can enter through the east entrance of the building.

On Sunday, Sept. 25, the Stars will host the Victory Green vs. White Intrasquad Scrimmage at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Split into two teams, the Stars will play an officiated scrimmage beginning at 10 a.m. All Dallas Stars and Texas Stars ticket package holders will receive a complimentary ticket offer to the game. Tickets will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10 and may be purchased at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park box office, calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or visiting http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Friday, Sept. 23
9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – On-Ice Session One
12 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. – On-Ice Session Two

Saturday, Sept. 24
9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – On-Ice Session One
12 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. – On-Ice Session Two

Sunday, Sept. 25
10 a.m. – Victory Green vs. White Scrimmage

Please note: Times for all on-ice sessions are subject to change.

Texas Stars announce preseason slate with home-and-home against Rampage

The Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage will play a pair of preseason games in October. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage will play a pair of preseason games in October. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars have announced a home-and-home preseason schedule with the San Antonio Rampage, setting up a pair of battles with their I-35 rival in October.

Texas will travel to San Antonio on Thursday, Oct. 6 for a 7 p.m. game at the AT&T Center. The teams will play again two days later on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.

The full AHL schedule has yet to be released, and won’t come out until later this month after the NBA schedule has been finalized.

Here is the official release:

CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced today their 2016-17 preseason game schedule.

The Stars will play a home-and-home preseason series against their in-state rival, the San Antonio Rampage. The Stars will visit the Rampage on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. at AT&T Center. The two teams will face off at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m.

Texas Stars full-season ticket holders already receive tickets to the Stars’ home preseason game as part of their ticket plan. Individual game tickets for the Oct. 8 game will be on sale Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 10 a.m. CST.

2016-17 Pre-Season Game Schedule:

Thursday, Oct. 6 – Texas Stars at San Antonio Rampage

7 p.m. CST @ AT&T Center (San Antonio, Texas)

Saturday, Oct. 8 – Texas Stars vs. San Antonio Rampage

3 p.m. CST @ H-E-B Center at Cedar Park

Texas Stars fortunate to sign Brandon DeFazio late in the process

Brandon DeFazio adds another scoring threat for the Texas Stars. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Brandon DeFazio adds another scoring threat for the Texas Stars. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

It was a bit surprising that Brandon DeFazio was still looking for a job in the middle of the July.

The 27-year-old unrestricted free agent has registered 86 points in the past two season, and put together back-to-back 20-goal seasons for the Utica Comets and Providence Bruins. He played a pair of NHL games during the 2014-15 season with Vancouver, and he’s a versatile winger that can play on either side.

“We’re fortunate to get him, and he was still available late in the process,” Texas Stars general manager Scott White said. “To get him under an AHL contract is a bonus. He’s a good character guy and he’s been in the league for a while now. But he still has that drive and passion for the NHL, that’s what we are looking for.”

White said DeFazio’s availability was a ‘trickle down’ impact from the NHL.

“There were some names that lasted longer or are still available on the top-tier market, that’s probably why he was still available,” White said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our team. And we’re going to get a player that can help us win.”

DeFazio also adds leadership and internal competition, which White was looking for. A product of Clarkson University, DeFazio was an assistant captain with Providence and Utica, and he helped the Comets to the Calder Cup Finals in 2015.

With Texas, he’ll be one of the top candidates for a top-six role, and his presence (along with Adam Cracknell) will force younger prospects to earn their playing time. It’s also going to create one less AHL roster, forcing several AHL-ECHL bubble players to come through with a strong training camp.

Texas Stars sign Brandon DeFazio to standard AHL contract

Brandon DeFazio, left, talks to the Texas Stars bench during the 2013-14 season. DeFazio signed an AHL contract with the Stars this week. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Brandon DeFazio, left, talks to the Texas Stars bench during the 2013-14 season. DeFazio signed an AHL contract with the Stars this week. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars have signed Brandon DeFazio to a standard AHL contract.

DeFazio is an AHL veteran that has scored 43 goals during the past two seasons with the Utica Comets and Providence Bruins. It gives Texas an additional veteran forward and creates more competition for a top-six role with the AHL club.

Here is the official release:

CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Monday the club has signed forward Brandon DeFazio to an AHL contract for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

DeFazio, 27, is set to begin his sixth full season in the AHL and has appeared in 359 career games between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Utica Comets and Providence Bruins. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward also brings 33 games of Calder Cup playoff experience to the Stars. DeFazio was a part of the 2014-15 Utica team that reached the Calder Cup Final before falling to the Manchester Monarchs in five games.

The Oakville, Ontario native tallied 43 points in each of the past two AHL seasons, and also reached the 20-goal mark in both of those campaigns. His 21 goals in 2014-15 led Utica during the regular season. Prior to his pro career, he was a four-year player at Clarkson University from 2007-2011.

He made his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 9, 2014, in a 2-1 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Report: Austin Fyten signs with the Texas Stars

According to his agent, Austin Fyten will be re-joining the Texas Stars this season.

Fyten played for Texas during the 2012-13 season and appeared in 11 AHL games.

The Texas Stars have yet to confirm the signing, but it’s believed that Fyten has signed an AHL standard contract.

Texas Stars Mailbag: Thoughts on Pacific Division, prospect outlook, and goalies

It's the middle of summer. Why not kick around the soccer ball like Jason Dickinson? (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

It’s the middle of summer. Why not kick around the soccer ball like Jason Dickinson? (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

We’ve reached the slowest point on the hockey calendar.

Free agency has simmered down (anybody seen Kris Russell lately?), the draft was a month ago, the World Cup is still two months away, and most of the NHL’s big news breakers are enjoying some free time lakeside in Canada right now.

So, what better time to answer some mailbag questions?

The Pacific Division is always going to be the most polarizing division in the AHL. A combination of geography (California plus Arizona) and schedule imbalance (68 games vs. 76) guarantees that.

The off-season moves should also grab league-wide attention.

In Bakersfield, the Condors added veterans Mark Fraser and Taylor Beck, while Tyler Pitlick re-signed with the Oilers. Ontario brought back much of the core from a team that won the Western Conference regular season title and added T.J. Hensick.

You also have the Tucson Roadrunners entering the division, and they should be much improved from last season’s pitiful showing as the Springfield Falcons.

However, the best off-season moves happened down in the Alamo City where the San Antonio Rampage will be greatly improved under new head coach Eric Veilleux. Rocco Grimaldi returns to San Antonio (he was traded for Reto Berra), Trent Vogelhuber brings Calder Cup experience, Mike Sislo and Joe Whitney were added to the fold, and J.T. Compher is coming off a great college career at the University of Michigan.

Speaking of San Antonio, the former Rampage captain (and more recently Texas Stars alternate captain), is still looking for a job this summer. And it’s been quiet on that front, however it’s a near certainty that he won’t be returning to Texas.

Gemel Smith, Cole Ully, and Remi Elie are three prospects at slightly different phases of development.

Smith, 22, is a in the final year of his entry-level contract and is playing for a contract this season. The center needs a big campaign to earn his qualifying offer as an RFA, otherwise the Stars will likely let him walk next summer.

Ully, 21, is coming off his rookie season in the AHL and dealt with a season-ending collarbone injury this past spring. Ully may have a smaller frame, and that was exposed against more physical teams, but he’s a natural finisher and is at the right place at the right time in the offensive zone. He should get more opportunities this season, and he fits the high-flying model the Stars plan to build around in the future.

Elie, also 21, is in a similar spot to Ully but has different adjustments to make. While Ully has to find a way to physically compete in the AHL (and later the NHL), Elie has the size and abilities to be an NHL player. However, the left winger needs to mature mentally and establish some consistency. Last season he was one of the last cuts from NHL training camp, but then struggled and never really established himself as an AHL player. Rookie struggles tend to be the norm in the AHL — it’s a big jump from major junior to the AHL — so this will be a much better season to judge Elie as a future NHL player.

Of those three players, Elie has the best chance at an NHL future, while Smith is least likely to play an NHL game in his career.

Matej Stransky will be in the group battling for a NHL call-up this season from Texas, but ultimately I don’t think it’s going to happen during the 2016-17 season.

It’s simply a matter of fit and other cards in the deck.

Justin Dowling, Jason Dickinson, and Devin Shore are more versatile call-ups that can play wing or center for the NHL club. Add in the fact Adam Cracknell was signed to compete for an NHL roster spot, and that likely leaves Cracknell or Curtis McKenzie in the AHL and contributing to Stransky’s glass ceiling.

On the goalie front, I think the 2017-18 season is a legitimate target for Maxime Lagace or Philippe Desrosiers NHL debut.

Barring a major injury, the Stars are going to have Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi (or another goalie they trade for at some point) play every game. While a minor injury could result in a call-up for Lagace or Desrosiers this season, both Niemi and Lehtonen are used to a heavy, so one Finn would likely play out the entirety of the others injury.

There’s also a confidence factor in play. While the Stars are happy with the development paths of Desrosiers and Lagace at this moment, neither has proved they’re ready to play an NHL game tomorrow.

I like Texas’ current setup. It’s a group with a couple veterans in place (Travis Morin and Adam Cracknell), but it’s really prospect heavy and will give younger players a chance to step into larger roles.

With prospect-laden squads there are going to be ups and downs, but Texas should be a playoff team and possibly advance to the second round of the playoffs (depending on who the Stars matchup with).

Julius Honka is ahead of the curve. Remember he’s only 20-years-old and most players his age would be entering their AHL rookie season at this point.

The talented Finn has made nice strides the past two seasons in the AHL, and he really started to make better decisions after the Stars scratched him for a game against San Antonio near the middle of the season. That moment really sent a message to Honka, who started moving the puck better and realized he had to be held accountable for his mistakes after watching from the press box.

Honka also isn’t ready for the NHL at this moment. He still needs to improve his decision making, and he needs to earn his first opportunity. Signing Dan Hamhuis is a nice stop gap to allow Honka to “over-ripen” and really take a step as an AHL leader this season.

(On a side note, I disagree with Dallas carrying eight defensemen this season. It’s bad for the group overall and really turns Jamie Oleksiak or Patrick Nemeth into a wasted asset. It would have behooved the Stars to trade either Oleksiak or Nemeth this summer.)

I disagree with this. As mentioned before, there are several forwards close to the NHL.

Matej Stransky, Brendan Ranford, and Justin Dowling could all play NHL games and be trusted to contribute for Dallas tomorrow if needed. These may be closer to 4A players (AHL leaders, that seemingly can’t get over NHL hump), but they’re NHL-ready if Dallas needs them.

If you’re looking for “bonafide” or big-time forward prospects, the Stars have forward prospects Denis Gurianov, Riley Tufte, and Roope Hintz in the system and a couple years from hitting that “over-ripe” stage.

Overall, the Stars forward situation is in good shape. Especially when you consider the NHL roster is built around players just entering their prime (Jamie Benn is only 27, Tyler Seguin is 24).

I think Los Angeles is the perfect situation for Jack Campbell. The former first-round pick needed a fresh start, and he’s going to be given time to find his game with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick is the present and future goalie for the Kings, and Jeff Zatkoff is a nice two-year stop gap as the back-up in LA. That leaves Campbell to work with Peter Budaj — arguably the AHL’s MVP last season — in Ontario, and find his confidence that was lost in Texas.

Campbell is probably going to back-up Budaj this season in Ontario, which will give him time to build for the 2017-18 season. A strong showing in the second year of his contract with the Kings could set up Campbell for a back-up job in the NHL during the 2018-19 season.

Before we close the book on Campbell, I want to point out a couple things. Campbell has the talent to be an everyday NHL goalie — frankly he’s more talented than Maxime Lagace and Philippe Desrosiers. However, something never clicked mentally and he never really found that even-keel level he needed in Texas. Maybe it was the pressure thrust upon him and the 20-20 hindsight that Dallas passed on Cam Fowler, maybe it was his goalie coaching in the Stars organization. Either way, Campbell will have a fresh start with the Kings and at 24 he still has time to piece together an NHL career.

The Stars and Rampage will remain in the Pacific Division until a seventh team makes a drastic move west — likely the Canucks moving their AHL affiliate closer than Utica, New York.

And moving to the Central Division wouldn’t be much of a travel change for the Texas-based AHL clubs. Either way the Stars and Rampage are going to fly for road games (except when they play each other seemingly one thousand times), so where they’re flying isn’t that big of a difference.

I will say this, moving to the Central would allow the Pacific Division to exist in it’s own pod of 68 games. That would create much less confusion in the standings and allow Texas and San Antonio to play teams on even schedule footing.

My ultimate goal is to be a full-time hockey writer, whatever that means. Right now I’m a freelance writer that covers high school football, auto racing, basketball, baseball, etc. If you name the sport, I probably have a story about the time I covered it (I’ve even covered bocce and pickleball at one point in my career).

In an average week I probably write anywhere from 20 to 30 stories for various publications on various topics. I certainly enjoy the variety, but I’m always looking for that opportunity to be a full-time hockey writer and journalist.

Enough about me, back to hockey questions…

I only had a chance to watch Josh Morrisey once in person this season, while I also caught a handful of the Manitoba Moose games on AHL Live (Manitoba has one of the better feeds in the league). I also watched Morrisey live during the 2014 Calder Cup playoffs with the St. John’s IceCaps.

From what I’ve seen, the first-round pick in 2013 lives up to his billing. He moves the puck well and he can start the rush from his own end. He also makes smart decisions on the power play. Morrisey should have had better numbers this season with Manitoba, but the cupboard was close to empty in Winnipeg.

I can’t give an exact judgement since it’s a small sample size, but based on what I’ve seen and heard he should be an NHL defenseman sooner than later.

Earlier this summer I floated the idea that the Stars should sign Michael Leighton as an AHL mentor and NHL insurance option. However, that’s not going to happen.

The Stars are going to live and die with the young goalies they have in the AHL. It’s going to create a competitive atmosphere in training camp, and it should bring the best out of Maxime Lagace, Philippe Desrosiers, and Landon Bow.

No, the Stars are still going to be coached by Derek Laxdal and Karl Taylor. They’ve done a nice job nurturing the Stars development the past two seasons.

Why don’t you live in Chicago or Boston?

Texas Stars sign Caleb Herbert to AHL contract

(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars have signed forward Caleb Herbert to a standard AHL contract, the team announced today.

Herbert is a right-handed shot that can play center or wing, and provides forward depth for Texas. He’ll have a chance to make the AHL opening night roster, while it’s highly likely he’ll also spend some time in the ECHL this season with the Idaho Steelheads.

Herbert was a fifth-round (142nd overall) draft pick by the Washington Capitals in 2010, that never cracked the NHL roster. He spent the past two seasons bouncing between the ECHL and AHL, and was not issued a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent this summer by Washington.

Here is the official release:

CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday they have signed forward Caleb Herbert to an AHL contract for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

Herbert, 24, joins Texas after splitting last season between the AHL’s Hershey Bears and the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. The 6-foot, 200-pound forward tallied a pair of assists in 26 games with Hershey, and 14 points in 15 contests with South Carolina (10-4=14). In 2014-15, the Bloomington, Minn. native recorded two assists in 12 games with the Bears, and 28 points in 48 games with the Stingrays (19-9=28).

Herbert also helped lead the Stingrays’ charge to the ECHL’s 2015 Kelly Cup Final with 14 points in 27 playoff games before falling to the Allen Americans in seven games.

Prior to his professional career, Herbert competed for three seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth from 2011-2014, and also skated with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers in 2010-11. He was a fifth-round pick of the Washington Capitals (142nd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

July Edition of Dallas Stars Prospect Insider now available for subscribers

Maxime Lagace and Phil Desrosiers think you should subscribe for monthly Stars prospect content. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Maxime Lagace and Phil Desrosiers think you should subscribe for monthly Stars prospect content. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The July Edition of the Dallas Stars Prospect Insider published last night for my subscribers on Patreon.

The July prospect update includes 12 pages of scouting reports, and updates on every prospect in the Stars’ system — no matter where they’ll be playing next season.

It’s only $3 per month to subscribe, and Dallas Stars Prospect Insider comes out around the middle of each month. In addition, subscribers receive occasional unannounced bonus content, which will pick up during the regular season.

You can subscribe here: https://patreon.com/user?u=3339200&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=creatorshare2