The Dallas Stars hit the ice at Cedar Park Center Friday morning as they kicked off a two-day road trip at the home of the Texas Stars, their American Hockey League affiliate.
The Stars went through a spirited practice as they prepared for Saturday afternoon’s scrimmage that will involve players from the Texas Stars.
“We’re trying to put in a couple real hard practices. There are a lot of combative drills, a lot of drills where we are trying to create some physical intensity with the players,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ll get the scrimmage in and take something from that. Then we’ll be ready to start in on Monday, where we do a little more system work, a little more special teams and go into our regular routine before game one.”
The trip to Cedar Park also is an opportunity for the players to get on the road and do a little team bonding.
“Once you get through camp and you get down to what the team is going to be like, it is always nice to get away for a couple days and spend some time together,” said forward Shawn Horcoff. “There’s obviously a couple new guys. The start of the new year is always exciting, but when you get away, have a couple of dinners and have a few laughs, it is always good.”
“It’s nice,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “It’s much better than staying in Dallas for a week and banging out a bunch of practices. It’s nice to come here. We are going to go for a round of golf today and just keep team bonding.”
Dillon on his way
Defenseman Brenden Dillon, who signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract Thursday, is on his way to join the Stars in Cedar Park. He is expected to arrive late Friday and will skate with the Texas Stars Saturday morning and should be available for Saturdays’ scrimmage at Cedar Park Center.
“Getting this done is good for everybody. He’s an important part of our team now, and our future and he needs to get on the ice,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “It’s not good for young guys to miss training camp. This gives him a good week to be with the guys and to get ready for the start of the season.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff was glad that the Dillon deal was done and that all the pieces are in place with the season opener less than a week away.
“Once those issues are behind us it is a great thing. We have no distractions. All the players are signed,” Ruff said. “Jim has done an incredible job throughout the summer and now getting this last piece back in camp for us.”
Jamie Benn returns to Cedar Park
Stars captain Jamie Benn has fond memories of Cedar Park. After his first NHL season concluded, Benn headed to Cedar Park to join the Texas Stars for the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs. Texas, which was in its inaugural season, made it to the Calder Cup Finals that year, losing in six games to Hershey.
“I’ve got some good [memories],” Benn said. “My first year I got to come down here and play in the playoffs with a great group of guys. We were fortunate enough to make it to the Finals. It was cool to see Cedar Park and how well the fans supported this team.”
Benn tied for first in goal scoring in the Calder Cup playoffs and ranked third in points, registering 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in 24 games. Benn said he benefitted from the experience, and it paid dividends for the Dallas prospects who helped Texas win the Calder Cup last season.
“It can help your career out a lot. You can get some playoff experience, which is good for any player. It definitely helped me,” he said. “I think it helped all the guys that were at camp this year.”
Injury notes: Gonchar out 3-5 weeks
Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar is expected to miss 3-5 weeks with a fracture in his ankle, according to GM Jim Nill. Gonchar was hit with a puck late in Tuesday’s preseason game with Tampa Bay at American Airlines Center.
Here is how the Stars lined up in Friday’s practice at Cedar Park Center.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour/Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Patrick Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Kevin Connauton – Jamie Oleksiak
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.