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Stars Prospects Defeat Carolina, but Lose Brett Ritchie

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars made it two straight wins at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at Centre Ice Arena.

The Stars, who had to rally to win game one of the tournament Friday night, built 2-0 and 3-1 leads in Saturday’s game and then held off a surge by the Hurricanes.

“I like the way our group played. We started out well, got the lead, and I thought we protected the lead well in the third period,” said Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal, who is coaching the Dallas prospects. “We got into some penalty trouble in the second period, but I think we did a good job of re-establishing the kind of game we wanted to play in the third period. We bent, but we didn’t break. “

Radek Faksa and Gemel Smith had one goal and one assist each. Jason Dickinson and Collin Shirley also tallied for the Stars. Finnish goaltender Henri Kiviaho, who was making his first North American appearance, turned in a solid performance by stopping 21 of 23 shots.

“I know he was nervous this morning and we had Julius Honka (Stars defenseman from Finland) talk to him,” Laxdal said. “I thought he was very solid.”

“If he was nervous I had no idea,” Dickinson said of Kiviaho. “He looked as steady as could be in there. That’s all you can ask from a goalie is to make those big saves. He’s got to make the saves that he can and we’ll do the rest.

The Stars gave Kiviaho offensive support early in the game. Dickinson tallied off the rush with the Stars on the power play at the 3:02 mark of the first period. Shirley scored off a backhand shot 2:32 later, and the Stars had a 2-0 lead.

“It’s big to get the lead early because these teams are so good,” said Dickinson.

The Hurricanes cashed in on their first power play chance of the night to make it a 2-1 game as Sergey Tolchinsky scored off a one-timer at the 8:03 mark.

The Stars got their two-goal lead back, scoring on a delayed penalty when Esa Lindell set up Smith, who scored from close range at 10:27 of the first.

Carolina made a strong push in the second period and cut the lead to 3-2 when Victor Rask scored at the 13:27 mark.

The Stars limited Carolina to five shots on goal in the third, but the Hurricanes got a late power play chance and pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker. Just 12 seconds into the power play, Faksa scored into the empty net to seal the win and push the Stars to 2-0-0 at the tournament.

Notes: Stars lose Ritchie to injury

*The Stars lost right wing Brett Ritchie to an injury during Saturday’s game. Stars GM Jim Nill said Ritchie injured his right pinky and will sit out the rest of the tournament as a precaution. Nill said the Stars will send Ritchie back to Dallas to have the injury examined.

With Ritchie out for most of the game, coach Derek Laxdal had to juggle his forward lines.

“There was a lot of line juggling,” Laxdal said. “There are a couple guys we can put in there Monday, but it was good to see some other guys get some quality ice time and put a little bit of pressure on them.”

*The Stars outshot Carolina 26-23.

*Gemel Smith led the Stars with four shots on goal. Jason Dickinson and Brett Pollock both had three shots.

*The Stars were 1-5 on the power play and 4-5 on the penalty kill.

*There are no tournament games scheduled for Sunday. The Stars play Buffalo at 2 p.m. (CST) on Monday.

Stars lineup

Brett PollockJason DickinsonBrett Ritchie
Remi ElieRadek FaksaBranden Troock
Gemel SmithTaylor PetersLudwig Karlsson
Mads Eller – Cole UllyCollin Shirley

Jyrki JokipakkaJulius Honka
Esa LindellLudwig Bystrom
Patrick SanvidoTroy Vance

Henri Kiviaho
Philippe Desrosiers

Prospect Snapshot: Branden Troock

Several of the Dallas Stars prospects playing in Traverse City will turn pro this season, and among that group is right wing Branden Troock.

The 20-year-old Alberta native is coming off a solid final season in the Western Hockey League, registering 58 points (24 goals, 34 assists) in 58 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds.

“I was happy with my year,” Troock said. “It was definitely my most successful year in juniors. I got better each year.”

Injury issues plagued Troock’s junior career. He played just 19 games in 2012-13 because of a shoulder issue that required surgery. He missed some time this past season with a shoulder injury, but the 58 games played were a career-high in the WHL.

“[Injuries] are part of the game,” Troock said. “Every time you get an injury you want to come back as quick as you can, but you’ve got to make sure you are healthy. This year I had some success staying healthy, and it worked out for the best.”

The Stars selected Troock in the fifth round (134th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. Stars scout Dennis Holland is someone who has watched Troock develop over the past few years.

“He’s a little bit of a later developer,” Holland said. “For a year-and-a-half he really struggled with injuries. Just to stay healthy was his biggest battle. He has taken nice steps in the last year-and-a-half. He’s a big guy who has decent hands and shoots the puck really well. He’s got to continue working on consistency. He has to gain more strength. He hasn’t had a chance to do much working out because of all the injuries. I like his game. After we drafted him his decisions with the puck weren’t always the best in the neutral zone and his own zone, but he’s developing more of a three-zone game. There is nothing wrong with getting pucks out, making smart plays and playing offense when the time comes.”

Troock got a look at the professional life late last season, joining the Texas Stars after his junior career with Seattle ended. He played in one regular season game and one in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Troock said he gained valuable experience during his time with Texas

“That was awesome. That was a really good experience,” said Troock. “Definitely a lot quicker game. It was good to see how their lifestyle is, all the things they do away from the rink, and it was a really good experience.

“You look at a guy like Curtis McKenzie – he went up for a couple of games (late in the season before turning pro) – and it lets you know what you’re going to be expected to do and gets you familiar with the league. Hopefully, that experience translates into this year and helps me move into that league.”

Troock is expected to play with Texas this season. There will probably be some ups and downs, as there is with any first-year pro, but the Stars like what they have in the 6-3, 210-pound forward.

“He’s a talented kid who is hungry to be a pro,” said Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “He’s big, he skates and he has all the attributes of an evolving pro. He’ll be in Austin [this] year, and I suspect there will be some challenges, but he has the skill set to move forward.”

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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