Texas Stars recall Zach Kamrass from ECHL

With three games in three nights the Texas Stars have recalled defenseman Zach Kamrass from the Idaho Steelheads.

Stephen Johns is still out with a lower-body injury while Stars coach Derek Laxdal said the team has other “bumps and bruises” that need to be sorted out.

Kamrass is on an AHL contract with Texas, but didn’t appear in training camp with Texas. He has 16 points in 37 games with Idaho.

Here is the official release:

CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Thursday they have recalled rookie defenseman Zack Kamrass from their ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

Kamrass, 25, is on his first career AHL call-up after appearing in 37 games this season for Idaho with 16 points (3-13=16). The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Atlanta, Ga. is currently in his first full professional season after finishing a four-year career at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (NCAA) from 2011-2015. Kamrass (KAM-rihs) appeared in 147 career collegiate games and scored 64 points (13-51=64) over the four-year stretch.

The Stars begin a three-game road trip on Friday in Bakersfield at 9 p.m. CST.

Texas Stars send Maxime Lagace to ECHL in attempt to maximize playing time

Maxime Lagace has been sent down to the ECHL. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Maxime Lagace has been sent down to the ECHL. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars decided it’s better to have Maxime Lagace playing in the ECHL rather than sitting on a bench in the AHL.

Lagace was assigned to the Idaho Steelheads on Thursday. It’s a move Texas Stars general manager Scott White felt will get the 22-year-old goaltender playing more games as the AHL club turns to Jack Campbell, who made his season debut in a 6-3 win against the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday.

“This was always our plan,” White said. “He could stay in Texas and play 20 games. Or he could play 40 games in Idaho … it’s all about maximizing playing time.”

Campbell is a former first-round pick who missed the first month of the season with finger injury. Now that he’s healthy, the plan is for him to play as often as possible, while John Muse will serve as the back-up and play sparingly — a role he signed on for when he inked his AHL contract this summer.

Lagace will take a wealth of AHL experience with him to the ECHL. The rookie started seven of Texas’ first 11 games before Campbell returned and posted a .913 save percentage and 2.60 goals against average.

Idaho plays three games in three nights this weekend, meaning Lagace will probably start at least two of those games. Campbell will likely start both of Texas games this weekend against the Stockton Heat on Saturday and San Antonio on Sunday.

Here is the official release:

CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced on Thursday that rookie goaltender Maxime Lagace has been reassigned to the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.
 
Lagace (luh-GAH-say), 22, has appeared in seven games this season for Texas with a 4-3-0 record, a 2.60 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound native of Saint-Augustin, Quebec split 28 games last season at the ECHL level between the Bakersfield Condors and Missouri Mavericks with a combined 2.85 goals against average and .901 save percentage.

‘Finn twins’ Julius Honka and Esa Lindell to spearhead Texas Stars defense

Esa Lindell makes a pass during a preseason game. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Esa Lindell makes a pass during a preseason game. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

You can read the full story in the Austin American-Statesman.

The Texas Stars’ top defensive pair speak a different language from many of their teammates.

Instead of a puck, it’s a “kiekko.” When calling for a pass, Julius Honka yells “syöttö” to Esa Lindell, and “ammu” is the command to fire a shot.

In any language, talk about Finnish defensemen Honka and Lindell revolves around the high expectations the Stars hold for the duo. Both will be on the ice Saturday night, when Texas will open the American Hockey League season against San Antonio.

You can also read the Texas Stars positional breakdown in the Statesman.

As in past seasons, Travis Morin will be the focal point of the Texas Stars’ offense. The former AHL MVP totaled 63 points in 63 games last season, and he’ll once again center the top line and be the triggerman on Texas’ first power-play unit, where he’ll be joined by veteran Greg Rallo, who had a team-high 27 goals last season.

Morin and Rallo will be joined by a young corps of forwards, as rookies Jason Dickinson, Remi Elie and Devin Shore enter the 2015-16 season towing high expectations.

Texas Stars 2015-16 schedule revealed

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The American Hockey League unveiled the 2015 schedule Thursday and, as expected, the Texas Stars are going to get a heavy douse of the league’s new California teams.

Click here for a PDF of the full schedule: Texas Stars 2015-16 Schedule

Texas will play each of the new California teams six teams and, with the San Antonio Rampage, the Stars are the only team in the AHL to play every team in the Western Conference.

Texas and San Antonio, also as expected, will play each other 14 times. Including an opening-night meeting on Oct. 10 at the Cedar Park Center.

The home schedule is also heavy on Saturday dates. Of Texas 38 home games, 16 are on Saturdays. There will be eight Wednesday and Friday home games, while Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday make up the remaining dates.

Playoff pool a key factor in AHL-PHPA CBA negotiations

The American Hockey League plans to unveil the 2015-16 schedule sometime this month — potentially as soon as Aug. 26 — but, the league and the Professional Hockey Players Association still haven’t finalized a collective bargaining agreement.

According to Maxime Fortunus, a PHPA player representative, the discussions have “been really good and cordial.” But, “both sides know the playoff pool is something that has to be fixed in order to be fair for both sides.”

So, what does that mean?

Players contracts are based on the regular season, while pay during the Calder Cup playoffs comes from the prior mentioned “playoff pool.”

In the prior CBA, the AHL payed $325,000 into the playoff pool for the first round. That number was then dispersed to the players on each of the teams to qualify for the postseason.

The number varies for the second round and beyond. Here’s the direct text from the prior CBA.

Based upon regular season ticket prices, the AHL Member Clubs and the PHPA shall share in the proceeds of the playoffs for the benefit of the playoff pool. The AHL shall pay into the playoff pool $325,000 as full payment for first round games, a minimum of $700,000 or 32% of the net gate receipts (after tax) up to $2,500,000 of net gate receipt revenue from rounds two, three and four. In the event that the net gate receipt revenue from rounds two, three and four exceeds $2,500,000 the AHL shall pay into the playoff pool 32.5% of that revenue.

Essentially, AHL players received 32 percent of postseason revenue. Finding a fair share for the next CBA is important to the PHPA.

“I think the league is going to give us a proposal on different ideas soon,” Fortunus said in a text message.

It will also be interesting to see how the new playoff format, not just the payout pool, impacts the CBA.

During the 2015-16 season, five new California teams — all relocated from other AHL cities — will play 68 games, while the rest of the league will play 76. With that discrepancy in games played, the 2016 Calder Cup playoffs will be determined by points percentage — essentially points earned divided by total points available.

“It’s concerning, but not too concerning,” AHL president and CEO Dave Andrews said in an interview earlier this summer.

The good news is it isn’t too late in the process, and the CBA isn’t expected to disrupt any buildup to the season.

Consider the prior CBA, which expired this summer, was ratified on Oct. 8, 2010 — opening night of the 2010 season.