Texas defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 3-2 on Friday, continuing a strong season for the offense as a unit. The Stars have now scored three or more goals in seven straight games, and have scored fewer than three in a game only twice this season. They now have 90 goals in 23 games this season, an average of 3.91 goals a game, which has them tied with the Toronto Marlies atop the American Hockey League.
The offensive success could not have been more needed, as the Stars defensive corps has been plagued by injuries and call-ups all season. All things considered, Texas has done well defensively but still sits just 19th in the AHL allowing 3.26 goals a game. Thanks to the offense, however, that was enough to keep the team floating around .500 until this recent run.
The offense has been taken to another level over the past 12 games, with the Stars scoring 52 goals (4.33/game) over that span. The Stars have gone 8-4-0-0 in those 12 games, pushing their record to 12-9-1-1 overall (26 Pts, 6th Central). Texas has been able to consistently put four or more on the board thanks to recent hot-streaks from several players throughout the lineup.
Erik Condra has led the way for the Stars this season, as the 32-year-old veteran leads the Stars, and is tied for second in the AHL, with 28 points (11G, 17A). He has been on an absolute tear recently, posting at least one point in ten straight games, and 13 of the last 14. He has 23 points (10G, 13A) over those 14 games, setting the pace for the Stars offensive surge. He has been a massive piece in his first year with Texas and has helped to offset the loss of last season’s leading scorer, Curtis McKenzie, to the Chicago Wolves.
Justin Dowling has also been rolling, posting a point in eight straight games, and 11 of the last 12. He also has the longest road-scoring streak in the AHL this season, having currently scored in eight straight away from home. This has been no flash in the pan, however, as the long-time Star has a point in 16-of-19 games at the AHL level in 2018-19. Dowling sits third on the Stars, and tied for 11th in the AHL, with 24 (7G, 17A) points on the season. He has helped pace the second-ranked Texas power play (27.6%) this season, as he is second in the league with ten power play assists on the campaign.
Denis Gurianov has had a breakout season in his third year in Cedar Park, led by an explosion of assists. The 21-year-old from Togliatti, Russia already has a career high in assists with 17, surpassing his previous high of 15. He is second on the Stars, and sixth in the AHL, with 26 points (9G, 17A) in 22 games this year. He is currently on a run of points in five-of-six games and has the league’s longest goalscoring streak this season, a run of six games in a row between October 12 and 26. His progression offensively has been a major boost for Texas and has already led to a shot with NHL Dallas this year.
Joel L’Esperance was held off the board in the last outing but had a point in ten of eleven games prior to that. He scored two huge goals for Texas in limited action at the end of last season and has excelled in his first full year as a pro. He leads all rookies with 23 points, and 10 goals, and his 23 points leave him tied for fifteenth overall in the AHL. He is fourth on the Stars in points and has successfully filled the depth scoring role vacated by Sheldon Dries‘ departure to the Colorado Eagles over the summer.
Adam Mascherin has also had a standout freshman year for Texas, sitting eighth amongst all AHL rookies with 18 points (10G 8A) in 22 games. His ten tallies rank second behind L’Esperance in AHL rookie scoring, proving the Stars have certainly received youth scoring in 2018-19. His aim has been deadly this year, as he has scored his ten goals on just 39 shots. That’s a shooting percentage of 25.6%, third in the AHL amongst first-year players. He has been hot over the last six games as well, with points in five-of-six, and goals in four of them.
Roope Hintz returned to the Texas lineup on Friday for the first time in three weeks and picked up right where he left off. He scored a goal for the fourth straight game, and it gave him a point in five straight as well. The four-game goal streak is tied with Jordan Kyrou of San Antonio for the longest active streak in the league. Hintz has spent much of the year in the NHL with Dallas but has posted 12 points (5G, 7A) in just ten games for Texas. He instantly added another spark to an already scorching Stars offense upon his return to the lineup.
The surging Stars will now have a major test, as their next contest comes against the Central Division-leading Iowa Wild. Iowa comes in with the third-best goals against in the league, allowing just 2.67 goals a game. This is largely thanks to the incredible play of rookie-netminder Kaapo Kahkonen. He leads the AHL with a goals against average of just 1.94 and is 6-2-4 overall. He surrendered three goals on 28 shots in his only game against the Stars this year, picking up one of his two regulation losses.
The upcoming game will be the third meeting of the year overall between the Stars and Wild, but the first since October. Texas holds a record of 2-0-0-1 in the season series: winning twice in Cedar Park and falling in a shootout in Iowa. The puck will drop for game four-of-eight on the season Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. CT inside the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
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