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Provenzano Blog: So Long Traverse City

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

Stars Assistant GM Frank Provenzano spent the week in Traverse City, Mich., with the Stars' team competing once again in the annual prospects tournament. Frank checked in with after every game to give fans an update on what he saw and his take on the Stars' efforts in Traverse City.

Frank Provenzano

It's been a busy couple of days to round out our 2009 Traverse City experience.

Wednesday started off the day with meetings with our scouting staff. We reviewed evaluation principles, reviewed coverage assignments and set goals for the upcoming season. Then it was off to the rink to try to get one in the win column. We knew going in that game it was impossible to finish first in our division, and therefore our hopes of defending our Traverse City crown were gone, but we could still finish second if we won (and we could finish last if we lost). The boys came out, played a spirited affair, and got in the win column with a 4-3 victory over Columbus. Tomas Vincour continues to impress. Scott Glennie is showing some of the attributes that made him the 8th overall pick this past June. Sergei Korostin scored his third goal of the tournament, and shows marked improvement over the previous year. Mathieu Tousignant, a player on an AHL contract with the Texas Stars, continues to be noticeable with his gritty, two-way play. We went to the local brewpub with the chance of playing in either the third place game or the fifth place game. A St. Louis shootout win over Minnesota meant we were playing Detroit for all the 5th place marbles.

On Thursday we played Detroit in the fifth place game. We started strong and seemed to run out of gas, eventually losing, 4-1. As is common with this tournament, the better players start to separate themselves as the games go on, and this tournament was no different. Jamie Benn was around the puck all game, and goalie Tyler Beskorowany played another strong game, turning aside 36 of 40 shots. As they say in Latvia, "We're number six!"

I'll close out with some general thoughts about the week here in Traverse City:

- There is a limit to the number of chicken wings a human being can eat in a five-day period. That limit is 7,435.

- Oberon is a very underrated Michigan micro-brew.

- If you walked down to the Lake Michigan shoreline, forgot where you were, closed your eyes and opened them again, you might think you were somewhere with a much lower southern latitude. It is that nice here when the sun shines.

- Never trust a guy who played almost 20 years in the NHL who says that he is "about a bogey golfer."

Provenzano Blog: Off Day In Traverse City

Posted Wednesday, 09.09.2009 / 9:15 AM

Yesterday was an off day here at the tournament, which means it was time for the annual Dallas Stars Golf Challenge. We use Traverse City not only as a chance to evaluate our young players, but also as an opportunity to get our hockey staff together, plan for the upcoming year and, not-as-importantly, grab the golf bragging rights for the year.

We had four foursomes tee off in a shamble, 2 score total. USGA rules apparently didn't apply, since there were some 'questionable' rulings on the course with respect to lies, ground-under-repair, man-made objects (apparently trees are engineered by humans here in Traverse City) and putts 'in the leather' (six foot putters are quite helpful in this regard).

As the groups went through, the tee locations seemed to change, to the point where the last group on the 18th hole had to tee off from the cart path. At the end of the day, the group with the new boss (Joe Nieuwendyk's team) had the lowest score - go figure.

The day was capped off with a team/staff meal, which is usually hosted at one of the many fine lodge/inn style restaurants here in the area. Past dinners have featured choice cuts of steak, free-range chicken and locally caught fish.

Unfortunately, the start of the NHL season has been pushed back a week because of the Olympics this year. That means that the rookie tournament is pushed back a week, making the team dinner on the Tuesday after Labor Day, when most of the better eating establishments were closed. We ended up at Giovanni's Roadhouse. If you are thinking, 'Hmmmmm..... an Italian roadhouse-style restaurant…not sure how that concept would work'.... It doesn't.

Provenzano Blog: Second Game was Better Overall

Posted Monday, 09.07.2009 / 9:15 PM

Hello once again from beautiful Traverse City.

Overall, things were better today -- better ice and better overall team play from both sides. There was more structure, with less 'dog chases stick' type of play out there.

We lost 2-1 in a shootout to Minnesota. There was only one goal scored total in shootout. We were outshot in regulation, 29-26.

One of the nice things about this tournament is it provides an opportunity to both look at the players you have drafted or are in your system, and it gives an opportunity to look at players that your scouts have had/have on their radar screens. In our case, it also gives us a chance to look at some players who might be call-up players for the AHL Texas Stars in Cedar Park, since this will be our first season down there. Sometimes these non-drafted 'invites' impress to the point where they earn themselves a contract (like defenseman Guillaume Monast last year).

Some of the invites that have been noticeable to date are:

Forward Tristan King- smooth skater
Forward Mathieu Tousignant- gives it his all each shift

Some notable performances from game two:

Forward Tomas Vincour- continues to impress in second game
Goaltender Tyler Beskorowany- solid effort. He's a big man that covers quite a bit of ground.
Forward Jamie Benn- starting to show some of his offensive capabilities

Travel advisory: today was an absolutely gorgeous day here on the shore of Lake Michigan. I am going to put my Traverse City visitors' bureau hat on and tell the people of Dallas to consider Northern Michigan as an August option to beat the Texas heat. Good stuff.

Provenzano Blog: Game One in Traverse City

Posted Sunday, 09.06.2009 / 9:25 PM

Greetings from Traverse City, Michigan.

I flew in with most of the team Friday to Traverse City before taking Mark Janko (our Manager of Hockey Administration) up to Sault Ste. Marie (Marty Turco’s hometown, as well as mine) to see my family and get some homemade Italian food. We spent a couple of days there, and then drove back to Traverse City this afternoon to get ready for the game. Michigan is experiencing some unseasonably warm weather, and the ice here is a reflection of that. After our game tonight, the rink looked like it was ready for a swim meet.

The team held practice yesterday and played in their first game today. Typically the start of the Traverse City tournament is a little sloppy and frenetic, and this year was no different. We lost our opening game to the St. Louis Blues’ prospects by a score of 9-6, despite outshooting them by a 38-36 margin. Generally speaking, the style of play takes on more structure as the tournament goes on, and the better players start to stand out as well.

Tomas Vincour stepped up tonight. He is about 6’2” and made some nice plays going to the net. We have some other players who have benefitted from a year of playing pro hockey as well, like defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy. He was poised with the puck and was a leader here, which is no surprise, because this is his third Traverse City tournament. Trevor Ludwig has also matured from playing Minor League hockey for a year. Luke Gazdic looks like he has really added some size and weight to his frame. He was playing physically and scored one of our goals.

The important thing is we got to see a lot of players who are new to the organization. We also get to size up some guys who we drafted a few years ago, like goaltender Richard Bachman. We drafted him in 2006, but he has been at Colorado College for the last couple of years, so he hasn’t gotten the opportunity to play in this tournament until now.

We have a morning practice before our next game, at 2:30 pm Monday against the Minnesota Wild prospects before an off-day Tuesday. I am looking forward to seeing our young players mature throughout the three remaining games of this tournament.

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