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.

Taylor Stefishen welcomes second chance with Texas Stars

Taylor Stefishen in one of his four games with Texas last season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Taylor Stefishen in one of his four games with Texas last season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

From the Austin American-Statesman, you can read the full story by clicking here.

CEDAR PARK — Taylor Stefishen’s first impression on the Texas Stars was brief, cut short by an injury he suffered last season.

A left winger, Stefishen played in four games and had an assist for Texas last season, but an upper-body injury hindered his progress, and he ended up being sent back to the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL.

This fall, he’s getting a second chance to impress Stars coach Derek Laxdal. A free agent in Texas’ training camp, Stefishen will play Friday when the Stars face the San Antonio Rampage in a preseason game.

Age just a number for Idaho Steelheads youthful head coach

Neil Graham on the bench last season with Idaho. (Photo courtesy of Idaho Steelheads).

Neil Graham on the bench last season with Idaho. (Photo courtesy of Idaho Steelheads).

CEDAR PARK — At first glance Neil Graham could be mistaken for a player during Texas Stars training camp.

He’s built like a hockey player and Graham could easily pass as a player in his mid twenties, even though he celebrated his 30th birthday this past April.

But, Graham isn’t in Cedar Park to play hockey this week. Instead, he’s here to coach and evaluate AHL camp before embarking on his first season as the head coach of the affiliated Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL.

He’s also aware of some outside perceptions surrounding his age, which makes him the youngest coach in team history and the youngest current coach in the ECHL — the average age of an ECHL coach hovers around 40.

“I’ve felt a few questions about my age,” Graham said. “And to be honest, if you command that respect from the players and you know where to draw the line on professionalism, I don’t think age matters.

“I was ready for the opportunity,” Graham continued. “Age is a number, and we’re going to have a good year.”

Graham was a quick study as an assistant under former Steelheads coach Brad Ralph, who left to coach the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. He joined Ralph’s staff as a player/coach during the 2012-13 season, before making the full transition to coaching in 2013.

As an assistant, Graham managed Idaho’s penalty kill and defensive responsibilities the past two seasons. Last season, Idaho killed off 86-percent of penalties and only allowed 2.6 goals per game — statistically putting the Steelheads in the ECHL’s top-five defenses.

There are more responsibilities and pressure as the head coach, but Graham said he learned from Ralph on how to manage those.

He’s also used training camp to exchange ideas and learn from Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal, who coached Idaho from 2005 to 2010.

“It’s been great getting to hang out with those guys the past couple weeks,” Graham said. “Both Karl Taylor, and Laxdal, and (Texas general manager) Scott White have open with me in bringing me in and going over systems that we run that are very similar… It’s been great to pick their brains and talk hockey. Hopefully we take some of the good stuff they have going and take it to Idaho with us.”

Morning Skate: Jack Campbell starting for Texas Stars in return to AHL

CEDAR PARK — Jack Campbell is back with the Texas Stars and he’ll start tonight against the Rockford IceHogs.

“It’s nice, I’m excited to get in there,” Campbell said. “Especially coming off a good win on Wednesday. I’m just trying to help this team win now and that’s my focus.”

Campbell had spent two weeks with Texas’ ECHL affiliate the Idaho Steelheads and started seven straight games. He played very well during that stretch with a .945 save percentage, 1.73 goals against average, and a 5-2 record.

It was a move the organization made to get the 23-year-old goalie playing time after he had struggled in the AHL, and he responded well to the assignment.

“It was nice, first time in a while for me to play that many games in a row,” Campbell said. “Just stringing together some confidence. We got some wins and I’m just trying to carry that back here.”

Campbell attributed his ECHL success to a relaxed approach in the crease. With that in mind, he’s approaching tonight’s game the same way he’d prepare for an ECHL, AHL, or NHL game.

“Exactly, I’m just trying to keep the same mindset I had in Boise,” Campbell said. “Just try to have a little bit of fun.”

While Campbell will focus on his game, the rest of the Stars are preparing for a physical Rockford team that’s currently fifth in the Western Conference with 66 points. With a weekend sweep in regulation, Texas (62 points) could catch the IceHogs and potentially move as high as fourth in the Western Conference standings.

“They’re a team that plays with real high-energy, in-your-face stuff,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “They can grind out a win physically. We have to be ready for the pressure tonight, not only 5-on-5, but 5-on-4 as well.”

Rockford will be a bit shorthanded on the blue line, which has gone from one of the AHL’s best defensive corps to a question mark after Adam Clendening was traded on Jan. 29 and T.J. Brennan — the AHL’s reigning defenseman of the year — was shipped back to Toronto on Thursday.

Brennan was traded for Toronto’s Spencer Abbott. Abbott hadn’t joined the IceHogs yet on Friday and is unlikely to play in either game this weekend for Rockford.

Projected lineup:
Ranford-Morin-Rallo
Glennie-Dowling-Smith
Stransky-Faille-Henderson
Hulak-Root-Mangene/Peters

Meech-Nemeth
Valentine-Honka
Oleksiak-Gaunce

Campbell