The Texas Stars have moved on to the Western Conference semifinals after sweeping the Oklahoma City Barons in the first round of the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs.
Up next for the Stars will be the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings and the defending Calder Cup champions. The series opens Thursday night in Cedar Park.
Meanwhile, the Idaho Steelheads, Dallas’ ECHL affiliate, is down 2-1 in its second round playoff series against Alaska.
Here’s a look at the past week for the Dallas Stars’ AHL and ECHL affiliates.
Wednesday, April 30: Texas 4, Oklahoma City 2
The Stars completed their first round sweep of Oklahoma City Wednesday, defeating the Barons 4-2 at Cedar Park Center. Justin Dowling’s power play goal with 8:39 left in the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and held up as the game-winner.
All three games in the series were tight, with Texas winning the first two in overtime in Oklahoma City.
“Both games in Oklahoma City could have gone either way and it was close tonight, too. It was tied up in the third. You can’t get much closer than that,” said Stars coach Willie Desjardins. “It was good to win it tonight. Everybody gets beat up this time of year, so the more time you can get the better off you are.”
Brendan Ranford and Chris Mueller scored to stake the Stars to a 2-0 lead in the game. Scott Glennie sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 1:00 remaining in the game.
Cristopher Nilstorp got the start in goal and stopped 21 of 23 shots.
Western Conference Semifinals: Texas vs. Grand Rapids
The Stars open the Western Conference Semifinals against Grand Rapids on Thursday. Grand Rapids, the fourth seed in the West, defeated fifth-seeded Abbotsford, 3-1, in the first round.
Dallas GM Jim Nill served as general manager of Grand Rapids when he was assistant GM with the Detroit Red Wings, and was in charge when the Griffins won the AHL championship last season.
The series also features two of the AHL’s top coaches: Texas’ Willie Desjardins, the AHL’s Coach of the Year last season, and Grand Rapids’ Jeff Blashill, who won the honor this season.
The two teams met four times this season. Grand Rapids won three of the four meetings, including both in Grand Rapids.
It’s a best-of-seven series with a 2-3-2 format.
Here’s the series schedule. All times are Central.
Game 1: May 8, Grand Rapids at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: May 10, Grand Rapids at Texas, 7:00 p.m.
Game 3: May 13, Texas at Grand Rapids, 6:00 p.m.
Game 4: May 14, Texas at Grand Rapids, 6:00 p.m.
* Game 5: May 16, Texas at Grand Rapids, 6:00 p.m.
* Game 6: May 18, Grand Rapids at Texas, 7:00 p.m.
* Game 7: May 19, Grand Rapids at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
*Justin Dowling leads Texas in scoring with five points (one goal, four assists) in three playoff games.
*Travis Morin, Mike Hedden and Brendan Ranford are tied for the team lead in goal scoring with two each.
*Texas coach Willie Desjardins rotated goaltenders Cristopher Nilstorp and Jack Campbell during the first round series with Oklahoma City.
*Dallas assigned Chris Mueller, Dustin Jeffrey and Patrik Nemeth to Texas after being eliminated from the NHL playoffs. Mueller and Jeffrey played in Wednesday’s series clinching game against Oklahoma City. Nemeth, who was assigned to Texas just hours before Wednesday’s game, did not play.
*Dallas assigned defenseman Ludwig Bystrom to the Texas. Bystrom, a second round pick in the 2012 NHL draft, played this season in Sweden. With Texas having a lot of depth on the blue line, it appears unlikely Bystrom will see any playing time.
*Forward Brett Ritchie (lower body) did not play in the first round series against Oklahoma City.
Here was the lineup Texas rolled out in its last game:
Curtis McKenzie- Travis Morin – Brendan Ranford
Dustin Jeffrey – Chris Mueller – Toby Petersen
Mike Hedden- Justin Dowling – Scott Glennie
Kevin Henderson – Radek Faksa- Matej Stransky
Jamie Oleksiak – William Wrenn
Derek Meech – Jyrki Jokipakka
Cameron Gaunce – Maxime Fortunus
Idaho Steelheads down 2-1 in series
The Idaho Steelheads currently trail their Western Conference semifinal series against Alaska, 2-1. The Steelheads won the opening game of the series, 1-0, in overtime behind a 47-save shutout from goaltender Josh Robinson on Thursday. But the Aces took the second game in Alaska by a 6-4 score and then won 5-2 in Idaho Monday night. Game 4 of the series is Wednesday in Idaho.
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.