The Afternoon Shift – Dec. 10

Jan Mursak (r) and Raymond Sawada/Photo by Mark Newman

A lot went right for the Texas Stars during their first AHL season in 2009-10. After finishing second in the West Division with a 46-27-3-4 mark and boasting the league’s second-stingiest defense, they forged seven-game upsets of division winners Chicago and Hamilton in the playoffs en route to a berth in the Calder Cup Finals, where they lost to Hershey in six. Outside of losing their final game, about the only disappointment they endured was their record against the Griffins.

Grand Rapids missed the playoffs last spring but proved to be a thorn in the side of the Stars all season long, finishing 4-1-0-1 overall and 2-0-0-1 at home against its Western Conference rival. In fact, the Griffins were the only opponent against which Texas did not finish with at least a 0.500 record.

After losing their inaugural meeting with the Stars last season, the Griffins rattled off four straight series wins in regulation, a first for them against any opponent since their spectacular 2005-06 campaign.

But while the Stars and their solid 14-9-1-1 record return to Van Andel Arena tonight for the season’s first clash against Grand Rapids at 7 p.m., much of their roster from their storied debut season has moved on, including:

  • Top scorer – and former Griffin – Aaron Gagnon (currently recalled to Dallas);
  • Their playoff hero between the pipes, Matt Climie (now with San Antonio);
  • Their top five scoring defensemen: Andrew Hutchinson (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), former Griffin Garrett Stafford (San Antonio), Ivan Vishnevskiy (Rockford), Maxime Fortunus (recalled to Dallas) and Dan Jancevski (Adirondack).

Moreover, given a league-worst road power play (7.7%), a 28th-ranked road penalty kill (75.5%), and the recall of the AHL’s sixth-ranked goalie (Richard Bachman) to Dallas, it’s a testament to Texas coaches Glen Gulutzan and Paul Jerrard that the sixth-place Stars own a 0.600 winning percentage and sit just two points out of third in the West Division.

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent link:

Alumni news and notes:

Video – NHL alumni goals:

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