At this point everyone is just left to wonder how the hell Texas is doing this. Despite the continued line shuffling and call-ups to Dallas and just the general roster turnover, the Texas Stars managed to win all three of their games last week (all on the road).
The Stars have now won five in a row (six of their last seven) and sit atop the AHL standings. They were able to do it again this week despite losing Cristopher Nilstorp, Matt Fraser and then Jordie Benn to the Dallas Stars and a bunch of unknowns were on the roster (William Wrenn? Gord Baldwin? Justin Dowling? Bretton Cameron? Austin Fyten? Who are these people?).
The heroes of the week were Jack Campbell, Tomas Vincour and Jamie Oleksiak.
Campbell started and won all three games. He stopped 77 of 83 shots during the week and was huge in a shootout victory over Lake Erie (stopped five of six attempts). Campbell has now won five straight.
Vincour was the team’s leading scorer during the week with six points (three goals, three assists) while Oleksiak made huge play after huge play on the offensive end of the ice.
The BigRig had three goals during the week including a game tying goal with a minute left against Lake Erie and a subsequent shootout extending goal in that same game (Texas won two rounds later on a Tom Wandell shot). He also had two power play goals just a day later and was called up again to Dallas with all the injuries they have on the blue line.
Texas will throw out their Frankenstein lineup again this week that’s now without the recently called-up Oleksiak and Carl Sneep (though Sneep is back in the AHL now). They finish off a four game road trip this week and enter a five game homestand.
Feb. 26 – Texas Stars @ OKC Barons
Mar. 1 – Chicago Wolves @ Texas Stars
Mar. 2 – OKC Barons @ Texas Stars
Radek Faksa - Kitchener Rangers
Faksa continues to sit with his MCL injury and will most likely miss the rest of the regular season for Kitchener. There’s only three weeks left in the regular season for the OHL and Faksa isn’t expected back for another two or three weeks. He won’t be back in shape until the playoffs.
Kitchener went 2-2-0 without Faksa last week and clinched a playoff spot. They currently sit fourth in the conference.
Season totals: 32 games, 7 goals, 19 assists, 22 PIM, +0 rating
Mar. 01 – Kitchener Rangers @ Owen Sound Attack
Mar. 03 – Kitchener Rangers @ London Knights
Brett Ritchie - Niagara IceDogs
Both Ritchie and his IceDogs had a tough start to the week. Niagara lost their first two games of the week by a combined 15-5 scoreline while Ritchie went pointless and sat out the second of the two games.
Ritchie came back for the third game though and scored his first goals since the second day of February. His two goals helped Niagara in a 4-1 victory.
It’s been a tough couple of months for Ritchie as he’s been playing a lot of hockey. He’s scored only five goals this month and only six in 2013. It’s just nice to see him scoring some goals again since coming back from the WJC.
Niagara is sixth in the Eastern Conference and has not yet clinched a playoff spot.
Season totals: 46 games, 33 goals, 31 assists, 38 PIM, +30 rating
Feb. 28 – Plymouth Whalers @ Niagara IceDogs
Mar. 02 – Niagara IceDogs @ Belleville Bulls
Mar. 03 – Windsor Spitfires @ Niagara IceDogs
Gemel Smith - Owen Sound Attack
Gemel Smith returned to the Attack’s lineup after having missed three weeks due to a lower body injury. He played in two of the three games last week and is just getting his feet back under him.
Smith went pointless in both of his games but Owen Sound was able to win all three games. He’s just trying to get back into the swing of things before the playoffs come around.
The Attack have clinched a playoff spot and sit third in the Western Conference.
Season totals: 52 games, 19 goals, 24 assists, 50 PIM, +13 rating
Feb. 28 – Owen Sound Attack @ Barrie Colts
Mar. 01 – Kitchener Rangers @ Owen Sound Attack
Mar. 02 – Mississauga Steelheads @ Owen Sound Attack
Matej Stransky - Saskatoon Blades
Stransky (and Saskatoon) are on an incredible run right now. The Blades won all four games last week (by a combined 24-7 score) and have now won an amazing 15 games in a row. Yeah you heard right. 15 in a row.
Stransky is rolling right along with his team and scored in every game last week. He finished up with six goals (one hat trick) and two assists during the week.
Stransky has now gotten at least one point in 14 of the last 15 games (not coincidently the start of the winning streak) and has had a point in all but one of the Blades 13 games in February so far.
He’s had multiple points in eight of those 13 games and is on a tear that no other Stars prospect can relate to, not even Ritchie.
The Blades have shot up to second in the Eastern Conference in the WHL after wallowing near the bottom for most of the season. They’re a couple of wins away from clinching a playoff spot.
Season totals: 62 games, 37 goals, 39 assists, 71 PIM, +29 rating
Feb. 26 – Saskatoon Blades @ Red Deer Rebels
Feb. 27 – Saskatoon Blades @ Calgary Hitmen
Mar. 01 – Brandon Wheat Kings @ Saskatoon Blades
Mar. 03 – Saskatoon Blades @ Moose Jaw Warriors
Mike Winther - Prince Albert Raiders
Winther had an average week with a goal and an assist in three games with the Raiders. They were his first points since Feb. 05 and only his third and fourth points since Jan. 23 (16 games ago).
Winther has been in a pretty big slump for the past month and the Raiders have struggled as a whole (3-5-1-1 in the last 10). They sit fifth in the Eastern Conference but look pretty good so far for a playoff spot as long as they don’t collapse.
Season totals: 58 games, 19 goals, 25 assists, 55 PIM, +14 rating
Feb. 26 – Prince Albert Raiders @ Moose Jaw Warriors
Feb. 27 – Regina Pats @ Prince Albert Raiders
Mar. 02 – Brandon Wheat Kings @ Prince Albert Raiders
Branden Troock - Seattle Thunderbirds
Troock missed both of the Thunderbirds games last week as he deals with another injury. I don’t expect him back this season.
It’s been a tough, injury-riddled year for Troock. He’s played in only 19 of the Thunderbirds’ 60 games. He’s been injury prone in his career (only nine games played two years ago) and that bug hit him again this season.
Season totals: 19 games, 5 goals, 6 assists, 19 PIM, -5 rating
Feb. 26 – Edmonton Oil Kings @ Seattle Thunderbirds
Feb. 28 – Seattle Thunderbirds @ Kelowna Rockets
Mar. 01 – Seattle Thunderbirds @ Tri-City Americans
Mar. 02 – Tri-City Americans @ Seattle Thunderbirds
Troy Vance - Prince Edward Island Rocket
Vance had his best week as a Rocket as he pretty much exploded on offense. He had a point in all three of the Rocket’s games last week and ended up with one goal and three assists. PEI won two of the three games last week.
The three game point streak in the second longest of the season for him and the goal is the fourth of the year. He’s fared better defensively with PEI than he did with Victoriaville and he’s been throwing his weight around getting hits as well.
The Rocket have clinched a playoff spot with two weeks left in the regular season. They sit eighth overall in the QMJHL standings.
Season totals: 39 games, 3 goals, 15 assists, 41 PIM, -6 rating (With Victoriaville)
19 games, 1 goal, 7 assists, 8 PIM, +11 rating (With PEI)
Feb. 27 – PEI Rocket @ Gatineau Olympiques
Mar. 01 – PEI Rocket @ Val-d’Or Foreurs
Mar. 02 – PEI Rocket @ Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Maxime Lagace - Prince Edward Island Rocket
Lagace started one game last week and played 10 minutes of fill-in time in another game for the Rocket. He stopped 21 of 24 shots and won the game he started due to his offense exploding for eight goals.
Lagace has now won four of his last five starts and has improved since his horrid start to the season, though it’s still nothing great.
Season totals: 31 games, 13-11-1-0, 101 goals allowed, 3.96 GAA, .872 SV%, 1 shutout