With all the excitement of the NHL conference finals we can’t forget about the American Hockey League playoffs as well. After falling short of the post-season for the second straight year, the Dallas Stars have hope for the future as their minor league affiliate, the Texas Stars, push towards the Calder Cup.
Currently the Stars are doing battle with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Western Conference final. After falling behind 2-0 in the series, Texas has battled back by winning the next two games in overtime evening the series at two games a piece.
After playing 82 games in the NHL this season Jamie Benn joined Texas for their playoff run. He had the game tying goal in the third period and the winner in overtime Friday night to help level the series with the Bulldogs at 2. Benn had a strong rookie NHL campaign but this playoff experience will only further his development at the pro level next season. For Texas he is asked to take on more of leadership role while playing in key situations throughout the game. By showing his dominance in these playoffs it has ended any debate if Benn was ready for the NHL or not. Of course his 22 goals for Dallas this season helped to dispel those rumors as well. Now leading the AHL playoffs with 13 goals in 15 games, Benn has constantly looked like the best player on the ice throughout the post-season.
Benn is not the only bright spot for the Stars this off season. Last summers first round pick Scott Glennie had 2 assists to help lead the Brandon Wheat Kings to the Memorial Cup final. The Wheat Kings knocked off the Calgary Hitmen in an overtime thriller Friday night and will now play the Windsor Spitfires in Sundays final.
As much as Dallas themselves would like to still be playing hockey at this time of year, it is a comfort knowing that many of their prospects are developing by learning what it takes to win. The Memorial and Calder Cup are two storied championships, and to see players in your organization competing for them is a great honor.