It was another positive week for the Texas Stars as they went 2-0-1-0 in their three games last week. They squeaked out an OT win over the Milwaukee Admirals before falling in overtime (their third straight overtime game) to the Houston Aeros. They closed the week with a resounding 4-1 win over the Peoria Rivermen.
Cristopher Nilstorp started all three games and did quite well, even though he didn't face the high number of shots that he usually does. He stopped 65 of 69 shots and earned first and second star honors in the first two games of the week. He's been a great signing for the Stars.
On the non-goalie front, Reilly Smith had his second multi-point game of the month with two goals in the win over Peoria. He's been in a pretty good groove lately and seems to have finally adjusted to the speed of the pro game. He's been one of the most aggressive players on the team for the past few weeks and it's showing on the scoresheet. He, Colton Sceviour and Matt Fraser have been the best forwards for Texas during this good stretch of games.
Texas gets a weird scheduling quirk this week as they play the Abbotsford Heat on back-to-back nights on the road.
Dec. 14 – Texas Stars @ Abbotsford Heat
Dec. 15 – Texas Stars @ Abbotsford Heat
The Overseas Pros
Note: All European leagues are taking this week off so there will be no games played by anyone anywhere at anytime.
Jamie Benn – Hamburg Freezers
After two weeks without any points, Jamie Benn finally got himself back on the scoresheet. It was a big week offensively for the Freezers and Benn was in the giving mood. He had five assists in three games last week as the Freezers went 2-1-0. He was also earned second star honors so all is well again in Benn-land.
The Freezers don't play again until Dec. 18 so Benn gets a rest this week.
Season totals: 19 games, 7 goals, 13 assists, 30 PIM, +8 rating
Jaromir Jagr – HC Kladno
Kladno had a terrible week as it lost all three games but Jagr once again played well with two goals and two assists for another great week. He's no had eight goals and nine assists in his last 11 games. He may be as old as dirt but he can still play at a high level.
The only problem last week was that his team lost all three games by a combined 14-6 margin. His team sits fifth in the Extraliga table, 10 points behind the leader.
Hopefully he sticks around for one more NHL season with the Stars next year.
Like Benn, Jagr and his team don't play again until Dec. 18 so the old man gets extra rest this week.
Season totals: 24 games, 18 goals, 25 assists, 24 PIM, +15 rating
Loui Eriksson – HC Davos
Loui made his overseas debut on Friday for Davos and got himself a goal and a front row seat to a 8-1 thrashing of Lugano. He's playing on a line with Petr Sykora and Joe Thornton and should be able to tear through the Swiss league once he gets more comfortable there.
Like most of Europe, there are no games in the Swiss league next week so Loui has to wait until Dec. 18 before he gets back on the ice again.
Season totals: 2 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 0 PIM, +1 rating
Stephane Robidas – HIFK Helsinki
Robidas' contract ran out with Helsinki and the team chose not to bring him back. Thus, the Stephane Robidas overseas experiment is over with.
Final season totals: 15 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, 22 PIM, -11 rating
Tom Wandell – Severstal Cherepovets
Three games for Wandell and Severstal last week and he managed to actually get an assist. Any point for Wandell is a big bonus at this point so don't expect too much from him.
Season totals: 21 games, 1 goal, 7 assists, 12 PIM, -3 rating
Philip Larsen – Rauman Lukko
Just one game for Lukko last week and Larsen registered an assist during that game. Larsen had one assist in Lukko's three games last week. Larsen ended November with a solid couple weeks of play with five points in three weeks. He's doing quite well for himself over in Finland.
Season totals: 21 games, 5 goals, 7 assists, 22 PIM, +9 rating
Radek Faksa – Kitchener Rangers
It was a tough week for the Rangers as they lost all three of their games last week to start December off on the wrong foot. Faksa was only able to manage one assist in that timespan so it was a poor week for all involved.
Kitchener now sits fourth in their conference and fifth in their division. They get to play some of the weaker teams this week so they need to take advantage of that.
Season totals: 29 games, 7 goals, 18 assists, 22 PIM, +1 rating
Dec. 13 – Kitchener Rangers @ Windsor Spitfires
Dec. 14 – Erie Otters @ Kitchener Rangers
Dec. 15 – Kitchener Rangers @ Erie Otters
Brett Ritchie – Niagara IceDogs
Niagara played two games last week and Ritichie had three added three more goals to his total. Two of those goals came against a stout London Knights team so that was very impressive to see, especially since neither of those two goals were assisted by Ryan Strome. Ritchie is now on a five game point (and goals) streak.
Those three goals now puts Ritchie with 27 goals this year. That total is tied for first place with Boone Jenner of the Oshawa Generals.
In our weekly look at Ritchie's goals and Strome's influence, Strome only had an assist (primary) on one Ritchie's goals. 18 of Ritchie's 27 goals this season has a Strome assist (15 of them primary) listed beside it.
I would expect at least three more goals this week as the IceDogs take on two terrible defensive teams (Erie and Sudbury) and a below average one in Brampton.
Season totals: 32 games, 27 goals, 23 assists, 25 PIM, +28 rating
Dec. 13 – Erie Otters @ Niagara IceDogs
Dec. 15 – Sudbury Wolves @ Niagara IceDogs
Dec. 16 – Niagara IceDogs @ Brampton Battalion
Gemel Smith – Owen Sound Attack
Smith managed a goal and an assist in the Attack's three games last week (two of which they lost). He's been putting up points pretty consistently but has only one multi-point game since Nov. 10.
Season totals: 32 games, 14 goals, 20 assists, 30 PIM, +14 rating
Dec. 14 – Owen Sound Attack @ London Knights
Dec. 15 – Belleville Bulls @ Owen Sound Attack
Matej Stransky – Saskatoon Blades
Stransky took advantage of a couple of games against the terrible Regina Pats to put together his best week of the season. He had five goals and three assists in three games last week (seven of those points coming against Regina). Saskatoon beat Regina by a combined 16-0 score in those two games so to say it was lopsided would be a severe understatement.
Stransky has been playing very well for the past month so he's just continuing to ride a hot streak. He now has at least a point in 18 of his last 22 games. He has a multi-point effort in 10 of those games and has been mixing in a good number of goals and assists.
Brett Ritchie has been stealing all the headlines for the Stars prospects this season but Stransky has been playing nearly as well as him for the past month and a half. It's all the more impressive that he's doing to on a below average team.
He should put up some solid numbers again this week, especially against the defensively allergic Wheat Kings (worst in the WHL).
Season totals: 30 games, 16 goals, 19 assists, 35 PIM, +4 rating
Dec. 11 – Saskatoon Blades @ Brandon Wheat Kings
Dec. 12 – Saskatoon Blades @ Moose Jaw Warriors
Dec. 14 – Swift Current Broncos @ Saskatoon Blades
Dec. 15 – Kootenay Ice @ Saskatoon Blades
Mike Winther – Prince Albert Raiders
It was an okay week for Winther as he had three assists in three games. It just continues his usual run of consistent games. He now has at least a point in five of his last seven games (multi-points in four of those efforts).
He could be in for a big week as the Raiders take on three of the four worst teams in the WHL.
Season totals: 29 games, 13 goals, 17 assists, 33 PIM, +22 rating
Dec. 13 – Prince Albert Raiders @ Regina Pats
Dec. 14 – Kootenay Ice @ Prince Albert Raiders
Dec. 16 – Brandon Wheat Kings @ Prince Albert Raiders
Branden Troock – Seattle Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds had three games last week and Troock is still out due to injury. He's only played in three games since Oct. 16. There's really no timetable for his return.
Season totals: 7 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, 4 PIM, -3 rating
Dec. 11 – Victoria Royals @ Seattle Thunderbirds
Dec. 14 – Seattle Thunderbirds @ Spokane Chiefs
Dec. 15 – Seattle Thunderbirds @ Portland Winterhawks
Troy Vance – Victoriaville Tigers
Vance and the Tigers finally broke out of their respective slumps last week. The Tigers won both of their games and Vance had a goal and an assist. It was Vance's first point in three weeks (since Nov. 10).
Season totals: 29 games, 3 goals, 10 assists, 24 PIM, -1 rating
Dec. 11 – Victoriaville Tigers @ Sherbrooke Phoenix
Dec. 12 – Rimouski Oceanic @ Victoriaville Tigers
Dec. 14 – Victoriaville Tigers @ Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Dec. 16 – Sherbrooke Phoenix @ Victoriaville Tigers
Maxime Lagace – Prince Edward Island Rocket
Lagace started two of the Rocket's three games last week and had mixed results. He stopped 26 of 28 shots in a 4-2 win over Quebec but then gave up six goals on 29 shots in a 6-1 loss to Rimouski.
Just when it looks like Lagace is finally doing okay, here comes a six goal game.
Season totals: 18 games, 8-6-1, 66 goals allowed, 4.15 GAA, .867 SV%, 1 shutout
Dec. 13 – PEI Rocket @ Halifax Moosheads
Dec. 14 – PEI Rocket @ Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Dec. 16 – Saint John Sea Dogs @ PEI Rocket