October 22, 2012

Deep in the Heart of Hockey: Pock's veteran presence felt

By Kirk Luedeke


Texas Stars vs. Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) 
Oct. 21, 2012 | Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Cleveland-based Lake Erie Monsters traveled to the Texas capital of Austin after defeating the high-powered Oklahoma City Barons Saturday night by a 5-3 score. Goaltender Calvin Pickard made 25 saves to earn his second consecutive shutout (the first two of his professional career) and raise the Colorado Avalanche affiliate’s record to 4-1. The Stars, who weren’t able to generate much in the way of sustained offensive pressure throughout the game, dropped to 2-3 after starting the season with two consecutive wins.

The Stars resume their schedule with a Wednesday night game against the Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators’ farm club.

New England connections:

STARS

- Jamie Oleksiak, D: Spent one season at Northeastern University before the Dallas Stars made him their top pick in 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Oleksiak (pictured right) played the 2011-12 season in the OHL with the Saginaw Spirit and Niagara Ice Dogs (where he was Dougie Hamilton’s teammate) before turning pro with the Stars. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound native of Ontario had two assists in four games entering this one.

Game observations: Fluid skater for such a big man. Did not do much to stand out in the first few periods, and got burned on Bryan Lerg’s third period goal when he left him alone in front of Jack Campbell to chase the puck carrier behind the Texas net.

- Alex Chiasson, RW: Quebec native spent the last three seasons at Boston University after being the Stars’ second choice, 38th overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. After 15 goals and 46 points in 38 games for the Terriers last season, Chiasson signed with Dallas. He played nine AHL games with the Texas Stars in 2011-12, posting a 1-4-5 line.

Game observations: Did not play. Coach Willie Desjardins said it was due to a case of the flu and Chiasson is expected back in the lineup for Wednesday’s home tilt vs. Milwaukee.

- Antoine Roussel, LW: Former Chicoutimi Sagueneens standout was born in France. The Boston Bruins brought the undrafted free agent into their 2010 rookie and veteran training camps on an invitational basis and signed him to an AHL deal. He spent much of the 2010-11 season with the Providence Bruins, scoring one goal and eight points in 42 games. Roussel played for the Chicago Wolves in 2011-12, racking up 177 penalty minutes.

Game observations: Roussel had a spirited fight at the end of the contest with rookie Mitchell Heard, Colorado’s first choice in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft out of the Plymouth Whalers. Roussel had the early edge, while Heard finished strong in what looked to be a draw for the combatants. 

MONSTERS

- Paul Carey, LW (Weymouth, Mass.): Two-time NCAA champion with Boston College is in his first full AHL season. As a senior at BC, scored 18 goals and 30 points for Eagles, capturing second title in four years with the Eagles (2010, 2012). Former Salisbury School captain also led Crimson Knights to prep title in 2007. Scored 34 goals, 66 points for USHL’s Indiana Ice in 2007-08. Drafted by Colorado in 5th round,135th overall in 2007.

Game observations: Quiet game from Carey, with no points and playing a bottom-six role in his first full AHL season. He’s an average skater who lacks explosive burst, but handles the puck well and should work his way into bigger minutes as he gains experience at this level.

- David van der Gulik, LW: British Columbia native spent four years at Boston University from 2002-06 after being a seventh-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. In 37 NHL games between the Flames and Colorado Avalanche, Van Der Gulik has two goals and 11 points.

Game observations: Although it did not translate on the score sheet, van der Gulik was involved and active as one of Lake Erie’s veteran forwards. He has a long, fluid stride and attacked Texas with speed, registering two shots on the night.

- Bryan Lerg, LW: Former Michigan State star spent two full seasons with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Edmonton Oilers at the end of the 2007-08 season.

Game observations: Scored a veteran’s goal against Campbell in the third period after being left alone in front of the net. He got the 10th overall choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to bite on a fake and when Campbell was down and out, lifted the puck into the yawning cage to put the game out of reach.

- Thomas Pock, D: Former UMass Minuteman and NHLer with the NY Rangers and Islanders is back in North America after spending a season in the Swedish Elite League with MoDo.

Game observations: Pock (pictured right) assisted on Brad Malone’s second period power play snipe to make it 3-0. His veteran presence and savvy showed throughout the game as he moved the puck smartly and did not make many mistakes at either end of the ice.

-  Sean Sullivan, D (Boston, Mass.): Former St. Sebastian’s and Boston University star  was drafted in the ninth round by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2003. After having spent most of his AHL career with the San Antonio Rampage, Sullivan is in his first season with Lake Erie.

Game observations: Injured- did not play.

- Dean Chynoweth, head coach: The first-round selection of the New York Islanders (13th overall) in 1987 played for the Boston Bruins from 1996-98. The rugged, hard-nosed defender coached the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and Swift Current Broncos (also serving as GM) before moving to the NHL as an assistant with the New York Islanders from 2009-12. He was hired to coach Colorado’s AHL affiliate in the off-season.

The first-year AHL bench boss was upbeat after the game and had one of Cody Eakin’s Washington Capitals jerseys, a gift from Chynoweth’s former player when he was GM and coach at Swift Current. Chynoweth said that he told his team to key on Eakin during the game. The tactic worked, as the Stars’ leading scorer had little time and space to operate during the game.

The post-mortem:

Head coach Willie Desjardins

On the Stars’ perceived lack of quality scoring chances:

“We had some good quality chances, too. You know, I think there isn’t an awful lot in any game where you get that many quality chances. We’ve got some skill players and we’ve just got to keep working at it. We’ve got to be quick, we’ve got to move the puck and right now, we’re just not as quick as we need to be.”

On whether the Monsters did a good job of taking away speed/transition in the neutral zone:

“I think that Lake Erie has really good speed on their team. Their ‘D’ can really fly and join the rush—they did a good job on that tonight. I didn’t think it was so much that they took care of the neutral zone, but they had a great transition game.”

Defenseman Maxime Fortunus

On his team’s third loss in three nights:

“It’s not the weekend we were hoping for. After our first weekend, we wanted to keep going. I think we had trouble with our start (throughout the weekend)…you know, when you get down in a game it’s always hard to come back especially against a team like this.”

On whether the schedule was a factor in the loss:

“You know, fatigue is not really an excuse. We don’t try to find excuses or anything. It’s a group thing. Everybody’s got to be on the same page and it’s a game of mistakes, so any little mistake, a good thing will capitalize on.”

On Calvin Pickard’s shutout performance:

“He was really good. He was facing every puck and was great all night. So for us, we just got to make sure we get traffic in front of the net. For our d-men, we got to make sure we got our shots through to the net and not get blocked.”

Defenseman Jordie Benn

On the root causes of the offense’s struggles on the night:

“They’re a good team. They were pretty good at keeping us to the outside. We’ve got to battle to get to the shot lanes. Get our pucks through, get guys to the net and get that ‘greasy’ one, and then you never know what happens.”

Kirk Luedeke can be reached at kluedeke@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kluedeke29.