Texas is 45-17-9 on the season and leads Grand Rapids by three points for the best overall record in the Western Conference, and Manchester by one point for the best record in the American Hockey League.
Brett Ritchie had a big week, scoring five goals in two games, including a franchise-record four in a 5-1 win over Erie Friday night.
And Dallas prospects John Klingberg, Radek Faksa and Alex Guptill all saw action for Texas this past week.
Here’s the latest on Dallas’ AHL affiliate.
Friday, April 4: Texas 5, Lake Erie 1
The Texas Stars honored Mike Modano prior to Friday’s game at Cedar Park Center, but the night belonged to Brett Ritchie, who scored a franchise-record four goals in a game as Texas defeated Lake Erie, 5-1, for their eighth straight win.
“Everybody has those games where you have a little more time out there,” Ritchie said. “The game opened up a bit and when I scored that second one I started feeling really good. Our line was flying all night, so you knew something good was going to happen.”
Ritchie scored on the power play 5:04 into the game to stake Texas to a 1-0 lead when his centering pass bounced off a Lake Erie defender and into the net. He put Texas up 2-1 at 12:19 into the second, busting down the left wing, cutting towards the goal and then slipping the puck into the net. Five minutes into the third he scored off a backhand shot on the rush to give Texas a 4-1 lead. He scored nine minutes into the third, banging home a centering pass from Mike Hedden.
“Two of those goals he came flying in off the wing,” said Hedden. “I didn’t know the big man could move like that.”
Justin Dowling also scored for Texas. Jack Campbell stopped 29 of 30 shots.
Sunday, April 6: Texas 4, Lake Erie 1
The Stars ran their franchise-record winning streak to nine games with a 4-1 win over Lake Erie Sunday at Cedar Park Center. Ritchie, Dowling, Jyrki Jokipakka and Scott Glennie scored for Texas. Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 30 of 31 shots.
“We have a great feeling in the locker room,” said Nilstorp, who is 8-0-1 over his last nine starts. “We’ve been playing good, which feels good. It was a good win tonight. It was a tough game, but good teams find a way to win.”
The week ahead
Friday April 11, San Antonio at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday April 12, Texas at San Antonio, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday April 13, Texas at San Antonio, 4:00 p.m.
Ritchie on a roll
Stars rookie right wing Brett Ritchie had five goals and one assist in two games last week, extending his points streak to seven games (seven goals, six assists, 13 points).
After scoring just four goals in his first 31 games this season, Ritchie has tallied 18 goals over the last 34 games. He has 22 goals in 65 games, and is tied for eighth in goal scoring among AHL rookies.
Prospects make debuts
Dallas prospects Radek Faksa and Alex Guptill joined the Texas Stars last week and played in Friday’s 5-1 win over Lake Erie.
Guptill just wrapped his playing career at the University of Michigan. The third round pick in 2010 played right wing on the Stars’ top line with left wing Curtis McKenzie and center Travis Morin.
Faksa, a first round pick in 2012 who just wrapped up his junior career in the Ontario Hockey League, centered a line with Matej Stransky and Kevin Henderson.
Neither Faksa nor Guptill registered a point in the game.
“It was good,” Texas coach Willie Desjardins said of Guptill and Faksa. “First game is always tough. We demand a lot, we want a lot. Guys don’t have a lot of time to get ready, but I thought both guys showed real well.”
Guptill and Faksa played again on Sunday, skating together on a line along with Stransky.
Defenseman John Klingberg, who also joined the team last week, played in Sunday’s game against Lake Erie. Klingberg, an offensive defenseman out of Sweden, skated with Jyrki Jokipakka in the game. The fifth round pick in 2010 had no points and four penalty minutes in the game.
“I thought he was good,” Desjardins said of Klingberg. “He skated really well and I thought he got better as the game went on. I think it will take him a little time to adjust to the league. You come in and you don’t think it’s going to be that good of a league, but it’s a real good league and you have to be prepared that way.”
Here is the lineup Texas rolled out in its last game.
Curtis McKenzie – Travis Morin – Derek Hulak
Mike Hedden – Justin Dowling – Brett Ritchie
Brendan Ranford – Taylor Vause – Scott Glennie
Alex Guptill – Radek Faksa – Matej Stransky
Jamie Oleksiak –Cameron Gaunce
Jyrki Jokipakka – John Klingberg
Hubert Labrie –Derek Meech
Scratched: Taylor Peters, Maxime Fortunus, Chris Mueller, William Wrenn, Kevin Henderson
Injured: Toby Petersen
4/6: C Chris Mueller assigned to Texas (AHL) from Dallas (NHL)
4/6: C Chris Mueller recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas (AHL)
4/5: C Chris Mueller assigned to Texas (AHL) from Dallas (NHL)
4/4: C Chris Mueller recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas (AHL)
4/4: D John Klingberg assigned to Texas (AHL) by Dallas (NHL)
4/2: C Radek Faksa assigned to Texas (AHL) by Dallas (NHL)
The Idaho Steelheads, Dallas ECHL affiliate, went 2-0-0 over the past week to run their winning streak to five games. The Steelheads are 38-25-7, and rank second in the Mountain Division and third in the Western Conference.
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.