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Greg Boysen The Hockey Writers

Published on Tuesday, March 3, 2020





AHL Central News: A San Antonio Surge

It looked for much of the season that there would be no drama when it came to crowning the 2020 American Hockey League Central Division champion. However, as we head into March, the gap between first and second place is as small as it has been in quite some time. The race for the final two Calder Cup playoff berths is as tight as ever and will come down to the final week of the regular season.

Admirals Feeling the Heat

The Milwaukee Admirals (38-13-5-3) had been enjoying a double-digit lead in the division for much of the season. After losing two of their three games last week their advantage in the Central is down to just five points. That is the exact same lead they have for the most points in the league as well.

The Admirals did not play their best game against the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday night, but they erased a pair of two-goal deficits in the third period to earn a point in a 5-4 overtime loss.

The Rampage scored the lone goal of both the first and second periods to take a 2-0 lead in the final frame. Cole Schneider got the Admirals on the board by deflecting a Jeremy Davies shot into the net for his 16th goal of the season.

San Antonio answered just 13 seconds later to regain their two-goal advantage. Less than a minute later, Freddy Gaudreau’s 11th goal of the season cut the lead back down to one. Defenseman Matt Donovan scored 51 seconds later to tie the game to finish off a crazy span of 1:54 that saw four goals.

Matt Donovan Milwaukee Admirals
Donovan found the back of the net on Wednesday. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

They found themselves down a goal again with just over eight minutes to play in regulation. Eeli Tolvanen responded with his 17th goal of the season just over a minute later to even things up 4-4. The Rampage took the extra point with a goal late in the overtime session.

The Admirals hopped on a plane for their first-ever trip to the Colorado Eagles and began a two-game weekend set with a 4-2 win on Saturday night.

They were led by a three-goal outburst in the opening frame. Less than seven minutes into the game, Zach Magwood forced a turnover and set up Lukas Craggs for the game’s opening game. Both players were making their first appearance after being recalled from the ECHL earlier in the week.

Tolvanen found some space in the slot where he doubled the lead just over two minutes later. Yakov Trenin used his backhand to redirect a Tommy Novak shot into the back of the net to give Milwaukee a 3-0 lead late in the period. Griffen Molino got the Eagles on the board less than a minute later with his first goal of the season.

Yakov Trenin Milwaukee Admirals
Trenin hit the 20-goal mark for the first time. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Admirals gave Colorado five power-play chances during the middle frame, but only allowed one goal. A Jacob MacDonald strike from the left circle, 57 seconds into the period, cut the Admirals’ lead down to 3-2.

Novak gave the Admirals some insurance with his 11th goal of the season late in the second period. All-Star Connor Ingram kept the home team off the scoreboard during the third period and made 34 saves for his 19th win of the season.

The Admirals did all they could to sweep the weekend series by getting 49 shots on goal, but Eagles’ goaltender Hunter Miska stood on his head during a 3-1 Colorado victory.

Former Chicago Wolves forward, Ryan Wagner, gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the first period by getting his stick on a bouncing puck in front of the crease. He struck again three minutes to double the lead, this time redirected a Molino shot from between the circles.

Magwood cut the Colorado advantage, seven minutes into the second period when he buried a wrist shot from the right circle. That would be as close as the Admirals would get as Sheldon Dries added a late insurance goal.

The Admirals put 37 shots on goal during the final 40 minutes of play but were only able to sneak one past Miska.

Player of the Week

Tolvanen was the only Admiral to score twice last week and he added an assist to finish with three points. The former first-round pick is heating up with five goals and seven points in his last nine games. He is up to 18 goals and 31 points on the season.

Eeli Tolvanen Milwaukee Admirals
Tolvanen is enjoying a career season. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, March 4 @ Texas Stars; Saturday, March 7 @ Stars, Sunday, March 8 @ Rampage

Wild Closing the Gap

The Iowa Wild (36-16-4-3) have been one of the best teams in the entire AHL this season and have spent the last couple of months chasing down the Admirals. They cut into Milwaukee’s lead by earning five out of a possible six points last week. Their 79 points are tied for the second-most in the league.

The Wild hosted the Wolves on Tuesday night before heading out west for some time in California. They were without leading scorer Gerry Mayhew, who is up in the NHL, but Luke Johnson came up huge by scoring a trio of power-play tallies to lead the way in a 5-2 win.

Mason Shaw opened the scoring, less than two minutes into the game, by guiding a wrist shot from the left circle through heavy traffic and into the back of the net.

Johnson scored his first power-play goal about minutes later to double the lead. He set up shop at the top of the left circle where his shot changed direction on its way past the goaltender. He had a second goal later in the opening period from nearly the identical spot on the ice.

Luke Johnson Iowa Wild
Johnson came through with a power-play hat trick vs Chicago. (Courtesy Chicago Wolves)

The Wolves got back into the game with a pair of quick goals early in the second period. Dmitry Sokolov gave the Wild a 4-2 after he scored just seconds after a power play expired with just four minutes left in the frame. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski led a 2-on-1 rush into the zone and made a nice saucer pass across to Sokolov for his 15th goal of the season.

Johnson finished off his hat trick of power-play goals with just eight seconds left in the second period. He, once again, scored from the left circle to become the first player in franchise history to score three power-play goals in the same game. Sam Anas had assists on all three goals.

Things settled down during a scoreless third period. The victory marked the first time the home team has won in the season series. The road team had scored the win in each of the previous five games.

While the rest of the team was heading to sunny California, Bartkowski was diverted to St. Paul after he was recalled by the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

The following evening, the Wild was in Stockton to take on the Heat and Kaapo Kahkonen stole the show in a 2-0 win.

Kaapo Kahkonen Iowa Wild
Saturday night belonged to Kahkonen. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Iowa scored the only two goals of the game, late in the second period, just 17 seconds apart. Cody McLeod, playing in his first game since Dec. 4, found Mike Liambas all alone at the left post for a one-timer and a 1-0 lead.

Connor Dewar doubled the advantage on the very next shift when he entered the zone on a 2-on-1 rush and snapped off a shot from the right circle that beat goaltender Artyom Zagidulin to the stick side.

Kahkonen made 35 saves to secure his league-leading seventh shutout of the season and 13th of his AHL career.

Related – THW’s Goalie News: Lehner’s Debut, Wild Shutout & More

On Monday morning, Kahkonen was named the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month. During February, he allowed just 11 goals on 267 shots. He finished the month with an 8-1-0-0 record to go along with a 1.22 goals-against average (GAA) and .959 save percent (SV%).

Later that afternoon, they were defeated by the San Jose Barracuda, 2-1 in overtime.

Jonny Brodzinski scored off a rebound to give San Jose a 1-0 lead just 29 seconds into the contest. That lead held until Anas tied the game nine minutes into the second period. While on a power play, Dewar forced a turnover and got the puck to Anas in the right circle for a one-timer.

The Wild outshot the Barracuda 15-3 in the third period, but they could not figure how to get the puck past goaltender Josef Korenar. Brodzinski scored again, three minutes into overtime, to earn the extra point for the Barracuda. It was his first multi-goal game in nearly two years.

Player of the Week

With Mayhew and his 61 points in the NHL, Anas stepped up to fill in the void. He finished the week with a goal and four points. He leads the league with 45 assists and 64 points, one point ahead of Reid Boucher of the Utica Comets.

Sam Anas, Iowa Wild
Anas leads the AHL with 64 points. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, March 4 @ Barracuda: Saturday, March 7 @ Manitoba Moose; Sunday, March 8 @ Moose

Rampage Back in Playoff Spot

The third-place Rampage (24-21-7-5) have been the hottest team in the Central Division for the past couple of weeks. They have won five in a row and seven out of their last eight games. They jumped over three teams this week and have a one-point lead over the trio of squads tied for fourth place.

The Rampage finished off their season-long 10-game road trip with a big 5-4 overtime win in Milwaukee Wednesday night. They earned 13 of a possible 20 points during the trip so they had to be feeling good on the flight home.

Defenseman Joey LaLeggia scored the lone goal of the first period, his sixth of the season. Captain Jordan Nolan doubled the lead with a power-play goal 13 minutes into the middle frame. Derrick Pouliot picked up his team-high 29th assist of the season on the play.

Joey LaLeggia San Antonio Rampage
LaLeggia had a big night in Milwaukee. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Admirals got on the board five minutes into the third period which kicked off a crazy portion of the game that saw four combined goals in less than two minutes. Jake Walman scored from the right circle just 13 seconds later. However, the Admirals scored a pair of goals 51 seconds apart to even things up at 3-3.

Alexey Toropchenko’s fifth goal of the season gave the Rampage a short-lived 4-3 lead as the Admirals drew even again just over a minute later.

Nolan Stevens won the game in overtime when he found a pass from LaLeggia in the slot and buried his ninth goal of the season.

LaLeggia and Walman both finished the night with a goal and two assists. Adam Wilcox made 25 saves to pick up the win.

The Rampage finally returned home to the AT&T Center, on Friday night, for the first time since Jan. 31 and they scored a big 4-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The Griffins struck first, but the home team answered just 12 seconds later. Pouliot had his backhand shot denied and Mike Vecchione was in the right place to blast home the rebound for his 21st goal of the season.

Former Griffin Zach Nastasiuk helped give his current team a 2-1 lead with just 32 seconds left in the opening frame. Tanner Kaspick redirected Nastasiuk’s shot from the point into the net for his sixth goal of the season.

Grand Rapids evened the score with an early third-period power-play strike. About two minutes later, Josh Ho-Sang scored the game-winning goal from the bottom of the left circle. It was his fourth AHL goal this season and his first with the Rampage after being loaned to them, earlier in the day, by the New York Islanders.

Josh Ho-Sang - Islanders
Ho-Sang has been loaned to the Rampage by the Islanders. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Nolan iced the game with a late empty-net goal. Ville Husso made 31 saves for his 15th win of the season.

The Rampage capped off their huge by beating the Rockford IceHogs 3-0 on Sunday afternoon. Ville Husso made 19 saves to lead the Rampage to their fifth straight win and into a playoff position.

After 40 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Rampage dominated the third period of play. Austin Poganski opened the scoring sixth minutes into the final frame with his 10th goal of the season.

Ho-Sang picked up his second point with the Rampage by setting up Nolan’s 10th goal of the season just 31 seconds later. Dakota Joshua finished off the scoring with a late empty-net goal.

Husso only faced two shots during the third period. The shutout was his fourth of the season and 10th of his AHL career. He also set a new career-high by picking up his 16th win. In his last 10 starts, Husso is 7-3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

Player of the Week

Nolan is not the team captain because of his offensive prowess. He wears the “C” because of his leadership skills and the hard-nosed style he brings to the ice. However, last week he scored a goal in all three games. His 10 goals and 25 points are the second-best offensive output of his AHL career.

Jordan Nolan San Antonio Rampage
Nolan has goals in three straight games. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, March 3 vs Griffins; Friday, March 6 vs Stars; Sunday, March 8 vs Admirals

Wolves Hanging On to Fourth

The Wolves (26-25-5-2) went winless last week but were able to salvage two big points in a pair of overtime losses. They are tied for fourth place with 59 points and own the tiebreaker for having the highest points percentage of the three deadlocked teams.

The week on the road started in Iowa, where the Wolves were undefeated in three visits this season. That streak ended as undisciplined play and a bad night on the penalty kill factored heavily into a 5-2 loss.

The Wolves found themselves down a goal just 96 seconds into the game. The Wild doubled their lead with their first of three power-play goals less than minutes later. A second strike on the man advantage gave them a 3-0 lead late in the opening period.

The script was flipped in the first half of the second period as the Wolves dictated play and got back into the game with a pair of goals. Gage Quinney, in his first game back after a short stint in the NHL, had a Brandon Pirri shot go off his skate and into the net.

Gage Quinney Chicago Wolves
Quinney was effective in his lone AHL game last week. (Sarah Avampato / The Hockey Writers)

The goal was initially waved off, but after a short review, it was put on the scoreboard as the replay clearly showed no distinct kicking motion. Pirri extended his personal point streak to five games with the primary assist.

A couple of minutes later, the Wolves went on a power play after defenseman Nic Hague took a check to the head. He got his revenge by finding Tye McGinn at the right circle, where he scored his team-high 16th goal of the season to cut the Wild’s lead down to 3-2.

That was as close as the Wolves would get as a parade to the penalty box in the second half of the period did them in. Iowa scored just a couple of seconds after a power play expired to go up 4-2. They added their fifth and final goal, with just eight seconds to play in the period, while on yet another power play.

For the second time in the last four games, the Wolves only dressed 17 skaters against the Moose on Saturday afternoon. Quinney was back up with Vegas Golden Knights and Pirri was held out of the lineup before his recall was made official later in the evening. In addition, Valentin Zykov missed a fourth straight game with an illness.

Vegas Golden Knights Brandon Pirri
Pirri was back in the NHL over the weekend. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite all the missing bodies, the Wolves managed to earn a point in a 3-2 overtime loss. Former Moose, McGinn, gave the Wolves a 1-0 lead in the first period by putting home a rebound to add to his team lead in goals.

The lead held up until Manitoba evened the score eight seconds into the third period before taking a 2-1 lead five minutes later.

The Wolves had a lengthy 5-on-3 power play midway through the frame, but could not find the back of the net despite applying constant pressure. Paul Cotter tied the game with 2:24 left to play with his third goal in as many games. His wrist shot was initially saved but was inadvertently kicked over the line during the ensuing goalmouth scramble.

The Moose won the game by finishing off a 2-on-1 rush in overtime. Dansk made 34 saves in the losing effort.

They closed out the week with another overtime loss on Sunday, this time falling to the Moose 4-3.

Manitoba appeared to be headed into the first intermission with a 1-0 advantage, but Lucas Elvenes had a different idea. With just 40 seconds left in the opening period, Elvenes redirected a Brayden Pachal shot from the right point for his 12th goal of the season. Pachal picked up his third assist in the last four games on the play.

Lucas Elvenes Hartford Wolf Pack
Elvenes leads the Wolves in scoring. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Wolves built up a 3-1, midway through the second period, with a pair of shorthanded goals while killing off the same penalty. Patrick Brown broke the tie with his second shorthanded goal of the season after Curtis McKenzie won a puck battle behind the net and fed him the puck out front.

Defenseman Jake Bischoff doubled the lead just 35 seconds later by burying a rising wrist shot from the left circle.

The Moose quickly got one of those goals back by scoring six seconds after the power play expired. They tied the game while on a 4-on-3 power play nine minutes into the third period. A Wolves turnover led directly to a slick passing play for the game-winning goal 1:32 into overtime.

The Wolves will return home to start a six-game homestand. Under head coach Rocky Thompson, they have a .714 points percentage in March so this will be the perfect opportunity to start a hot streak.

Player of the Week

This was a tough choice this week as the Wolves got all seven of their goals from seven different skaters. McKenzie didn’t score any goals but he assisted on two of them. With all the roster movement due to injuries and NHL recalls, McKenzie has been one of the few constants in the Chicago lineup. He is up to 24 assists and 38 points on the second, both are second on the team, only behind Elvenes.

Curtis McKenzie, Chicago Wolves
McKenzie has been a rock this season. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Thursday, March 5 vs Tucson Roadrunners; Saturday, March 7 vs Roadrunners; Sunday, March 8 vs IceHogs

Griffins Trending Wrong Way

The fifth-place Griffins (26-26-3-4) were swept over the weekend in San Antonio as their losing streak reached four games. They have gone from having a comfortable spot in third place to out of the playoffs altogether in just two short weeks. They are part of the three-way tie for fourth place and just one point out of third place with five weeks to play.

The Griffins have had problems beating the Rampage of late and they dropped their fourth straight contest in the season series on Friday night.

Joe Veleno gave the Griffins a 1-0 lead, nine minutes into the game, by firing a wrist shot into the top corner of the net. Taro Hirose and Evgeny Svechnikov had the assists on Veleno’s 10th goal of the season.

The lead last for only 12 seconds as the Rampage answered with the quick tying goal. They took a 2-1 lead off a redirection with just 32 seconds left in the opening frame.

After a scoreless second period, the Griffins tied the game early in the final frame with a power-play goal. Matt Puempel set up Charle-Edouard D’Astous at the right point where he blasted home a one-timer. It was D’Astous’s first AHL goal in his league debut after being recalled from the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL on Feb. 24.

Matt Puempel Grand Rapids Griffins
Puempel had three assists over the weekend. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Rampage had another quick response as they regained the lead just over two minutes later. They added an empty-net goal to cap off the scoring and grab the 4-2 victory. Goaltender Pat Nagle made 27 saves in the losing effort.

The road trip continued on Saturday with a Leap Day meeting at the Stars on Saturday night. The Griffins squandered a two-goal lead and dropped a 4-2 decision.

Veleno got the scoring started with a power-play goal late in the first period. He was the first to rebound off a shot from the left point by Puempel and he hammered it home, scoring in consecutive games for the first time in his AHL career.

Joe Hicketts was credited with the secondary assist to become the 43rd player in team history to score 100 points in a Griffins’ sweater and just the sixth defenseman.

Joe Hicketts Grand Rapids Griffins Detroit Red Wings
Hicketts has 100 points in his career with the Griffins. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Michael Rasmussen doubled the lead with another power-play goal a minute into the middle frame with Puempel picking up his second primary assist of the evening.

The Stars scored their first of four unanswered goals two and a half minutes later before tying the game midway through the second period. They scored a pair of third-period goals just 44 seconds apart to pick up the huge win.

Player of the Week

Veleno was the only Griffin to score twice during the weekend in Texas. He finished with three points, tied with Puempel, who had three assists, for the team lead. Since returned from the World Junior Championship in early January, Veleno has become a vital part of the offense in Grand Rapids. He is now tied for third on the team with 11 goals on the season.

Joe Veleno Grand Rapids Griffins
Veleno is off to a hot start in 2020. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, March 3 @ Rampage; Friday, March 6 @ IceHogs; Saturday, March 7 vs IceHogs

IceHogs Staying Alive, Somehow

The IceHogs (28-29-1-2) won two out of their three games in Texas last week. They are tied with the Wolves and Griffins at 59 points and will spend all of this week playing those two teams.

Gabriel Gagne’s big night got the IceHogs’ week in the Lonestar State off on the right foot. He scored twice in a 3-2 shootout win to snap a three-game losing streak.

Gagne scored his first goal of the night about four minutes after the Stars grabbed a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal midway through the first period. Veteran defenseman T.J. Brennan, who was acquired on Monday, picked up his first point in his second go-round with IceHogs by getting the secondary assist.

He gave the IceHogs a 2-1 lead with an unassisted goal from the right circle, early in the second period. The Stars forced overtime with their second power-play goal of the game with about seven minutes to go in regulation.

After a scoreless overtime period, Dylan Sikura was the only shooter to score during a four-round shootout.

Collin Delia stopped all four shooting he faced in the shootout after making 30 saves in regulation and overtime.

The IceHogs completed the two-sweep by hanging on to a 5-4 win on Friday night with five different players finding the back of the net.

Dylan McLaughlin set up Phillipp Kurashev in the slot, where he quickly scored his sixth goal of the season to open up the scoring. Less than five minutes later, Garrett Mitchell struck for his fourth goal of the season to double the Rockford lead. The Stars answered with their first goal just over a minute later.

The IceHogs scored twice in the second period to open up a 4-1 lead. Tyler Sikura redirected a Joni Tuulola shot for his 14th goal of the season. Four minutes later, Alexandre Fortin used his speed to convert on a breakaway to give his team a three-goal advantage.

Alexandre Fortin Rockford Icehogs
Fortin was a key to Saturday’s victory. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Brandon Hagel scored his team-high 19th goal of the season to extend the lead to 5-1, eight minutes into the third period. The Stars answered less than a minute later, then made things interesting with a shorthanded tally two minutes after that. They cut the lead down to a single goal, while on the power play, with just over two minutes to play, but were unable to draw any closer. 11-3-1-0 

Delia made 30 saves for the second straight game and is now 4-0-0-0 versus the Stars this season. The IceHogs improved to 11-3-1-0 when leading after the first period.

The IceHogs could not pull off a three-game sweep in Texas as they were shutout by the Rampage on Sunday afternoon.

Goaltender Matt Tomkins was not tested often during the first two periods, but he still had to make a handful of tough saves to keep the game scoreless through 40 minutes. The Rampage outshot the IceHogs 15-2 in the third period and put up three goals to win going away.

Player of the Week

Gagne has been a great addition since signing a PTO with the IceHogs in mid-January. He was the lone IceHog to score two goals last week and added an assist to finish with three points. He has five goals and 10 points in his 18 games with the IceHogs. He has seven games left on his PTO before he either has to be let go or signed to an AHL contract.

The Week Ahead

Friday, March 6 vs Griffins; Saturday, March 7 @ Griffins; Sunday, March 8 @ Wolves

Stars Need to Right Ship

The Stars (24-27-2-4) have had a roller-coaster season so far. After a dismal start to the season, they had an amazing stretch that got them all the way up to third place in the Central Division. However, just two wins in their last 10 games have them down to seventh place and five points out of a playoff spot.

Texas picked up an important point on Wednesday night, but they failed to come home with a win after 3-2 shootout loss to the IceHogs.

Justin Dowling, who is with the Stars on a conditioning stint, set up Joel L’Esperance’s opening power-play goal in the first period. Rockford evened the score about four minutes later before breaking the tie early in the second period.

L’Esperance forced overtime with another play-play strike with seven minutes to play. Dowling picked up another helper with the secondary assist on the rebound goal off of Gavin Bayreuther’s shot from the point.

Justin Dowling Dallas Stars
Dowling made the most of his AHL conditioning stint. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a four-round shootout to decide the winner. Jake Oettinger allowed a lone goal in the fourth round while Jason Robertson, Dowling, L’Esperance and former IceHog Anthony Louis all failed to convert their chances.

The Stars gave everything they had to make an epic comeback in Friday night’s rematch, but they fell short in a 5-4 loss to the IceHogs.

The IceHogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with a pair of goals about five minutes apart. Reece Scarlett cut that lead in half before the end of the frame by getting a wrist shot through heavy traffic for his fourth goal of the season.

Rockford built up a big 5-1 lead with the next three goals; two in the second period and another eight minutes into the third period. Starting goaltender Landon Bow was pulled after the fourth goal and replaced by Oettinger.

Louis began the comeback effort with his 10th goal of the season, just 45 seconds after the IceHogs’ fifth goal. Two minutes later, Rhett Gardner scored a shorthanded goal off a rebound to cut the deficit to 5-3.

Rhett Gardner Dallas Stars
Gardner had two goals and four points last week. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

L’Esperance got the Stars to within a goal, while on a power play, with just over two minutes to go. Robertson made a quick pass across the ice the All-Star forward teed up a one-timer for his 21st goal of the season.

They would get one more power-play chance with 41 seconds left in the game but were unable to score the equalizer.

The Stars got back in the win column with a come-from-behind 4-2 win over the Griffins on Saturday night.

Grand Rapids built up a 2-0 lead with power-play goals in the first and second periods. The Stars began their comeback shortly after the second Griffins’ tally. Riley Tufte got to a loose puck in the slot and swept it home to get Texas on the board.

Six minutes later, Robertson sent a pass across the ice to Ondrej Vala who fired the puck into the top corner of the net for the first goal of his AHL career.

Midway through the third period, the Stars scored a pair of goals just 44 seconds apart to complete the comeback. Gardner fought to get to a loose puck and sneak it over the goal line for the eventual game-winner. Tye Felhaber took on two defenders to set up Robertson’s 22nd goal of the season to give the Stars some insurance.

Jason Robertson Texas Stars
Roberson has had a fantastic rookie season. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Oettinger settled down after the two power-play goals allowed and only needed 18 saves to pick up the victory.

On Sunday, Dowling was recalled by the Dallas Stars. He picked up three assists in his three-game AHL conditioning stint.

The Toronto Marlies were in town Monday night to make up the game that was originally scheduled for Jan. 10. The Stars took a 2-0 lead into the third period, but could not make it stick in a 3-2 loss.

Nick Caamano scored the only goal of the first period as his backhand shot found some space in between netminder Joseph Woll and the post. L’Esperance doubled the lead late in the second period with a wraparound goal.

Garrett Wilson cut the lead in half, eight minutes into the third period when he stuffed home a rebound. The Marlies struck on a pair of late power plays to take the lead. Pontus Aberg tied the game before Kenny Agostino scored the game-winning goal less than three minutes later.

Player of the Week

L’Esperance scored four goals in four games last week to lead the way. He is now tied with Robertson for the team lead with 22 goals on the season. He has 19 games left on the regular-season schedule to try to score 30 goals for the second straight season.

Joel L'Esperance Texas Stars
L’Esperance keeps getting it done for Texas. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, March 4 vs Admirals; Friday, March 6 @ Rampage; Saturday, March 7 vs Admirals

Moose Sweep Weekend Series

The Moose (26-32-1-0) need to go on a major hot streak if they want to sneak into the Calder Cup playoffs. They laid the foundation for such a run by sweeping a weekend series on home ice. They are in last place and six points out of the final playoff spot, so there is a lot of work ahead of them and not much time to do it.

There were plenty of roster moves made before the team returned to action over the weekend. The Winnipeg Jets recalled Nelson Nogier on Thursday and C.J. Suess the following morning. They also traded forward Alexis D’Aoust to the Charlotte Checkers in exchange for future considerations.

The Moose got back in the win column with a 3-2 overtime victory over the visiting Wolves on Saturday afternoon.

They found themselves trailing 1-0 heading into the third period despite outshooting Chicago 25-14. It took all of eight seconds in the final frame for the red-hot Kristian Reichel to even up the score by finishing off a 2-on-1 rush off the opening draw. The goal was his 11th of the season and third in as many games.

Less than five minutes later, Seth Griffith set up JC Lipon’s 13th goal of the season to give the Moose a 2-1 lead.

JC Lipon Manitoba Moose
Lipon continues to provide secondary scoring. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Wolves forced overtime when Mikhail Berdin lost track of a rebound and accidentally kicked the puck over the goal line. Defenseman Leon Gawanke won the game just 50 seconds into the extra time by firing a wrist shot into the Chicago net. Rookie David Gustafsson picked up assists on the first and third Manitoba goals, the first two of his AHL career.

The Moose pulled off the weekend sweep with a 4-3 victory in overtime, on Sunday afternoon, after erasing a two-goal deficit.

Griffith started his big afternoon by getting his team on the board with his team-high 21st goal of the season. He would go one to pick up an assist on the rest of Manitoba’s goals on the day.

Seth Griffith, Manitoba Moose
Griffith had a huge weekend for the Moose. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Chicago tied the game in the final minute of the opening frame before striking for two shorthanded goals, just 35 seconds apart, midway through the second period.

Kristian Vesalainen started the comeback with his 11th goal of the season, just six seconds after the power play that surrendered the pair of shorthanded goals expired.

Gawanke continued his big weekend by tying the game just under nine minutes into the third period. While on the power play, Griffith set him up at the left dot for a one-timer and his fourth goal of the season.

Suess, who was back from the Jets, finished off a nice passing play 92 seconds into overtime to earn the extra point. Griffith picked off a clearing pass, sent the puck to Cameron Schilling at the point who made a slap-pass to Suess at the backdoor for an easy tap-in goal.

Player of the Week

Griffith wrapped up this honor with his four-point outburst on Sunday to go along with his assist on Saturday. The veteran forward leads the Moose with 21 goals and 41 points. He is second among active players with 20 assists, one behind Gawanke. Jansen Harkins leads the Moose with 24 assists, but he has been in the NHL since mid-December.

The Week Ahead

Saturday, March 7 vs Wild; Sunday, March 8 vs Wild

The post AHL Central News: A San Antonio Surge appeared first on The Hockey Writers.


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