With the NCAA field set, the Stars will be represented in the annual 16-team playoff by prospects Riley Tufte (Minnesota Duluth) and Rhett Gardner (North Dakota).
In 37 games, Gardner has seven goals and 13 assists for a North Dakota team that has largely underperformed after bringing home the hardware in 2015-16 but seems to be peaking at the right time. The sophomore, drafted by the Stars with the 116th pick in 2016, was held pointless in the final two rounds of the NCHC tournament, the title game of which came against Duluth and Tufte.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Tufte chipped in a goal in the Bulldogs’ 4-3 championship win over North Dakota to bring his total to eight for his freshman season. He’s also notched five assists in 33 games.
While neither prospect has had an outstanding season on the scoresheet, each should benefit from their time in the NCAA tournament. Both North Dakota and Duluth were assigned to the West Regional in Fargo, where many have each advancing to square off in the regional final after taking down Boston University and Ohio State, respectively.
Tufte, the 25th overall selection in last year’s draft, had a slow start to the 2016-17 campaign and his collegiate career, going without a point in his first 14 games. However, after a mid-January stretch that saw the forward collect six points in as many games, linemate Avery Peterson told Matt Wellens of the Duluth News Tribune Tufte’s game was starting to come around.
“His size, he’s a big player out there,” Peterson said. “He’s learning every game how to use that to his potential and to better himself. With his size, he’s scoring those gritty goals. That’s what we need out of him.”
North Dakota will face off with Boston University Friday at 3 p.m. inside Scheels Arena in Fargo, with Duluth meeting Ohio State immediately after. North Dakota and BU will be shown on ESPN2 and WatchESPN, while Duluth and Ohio State will match up on ESPNU and WatchESPN.
The West Regional title game is set for Saturday at 6 p.m., also on ESPNU and WatchESPN.
Texas Stars (AHL)
Season stats: 2 GP, 1 G, 0 A, +2
Bayreuther scored in his Texas Stars debut March 17, a 4-0 victory over Cleveland. He played with Julius Honka in the first defensive pairing for Texas. In his second matchup March 18, a 6-3 loss to Cleveland, he was one of only three Stars to finish with a positive plus-minus.
Ottawa 67s (OHL)
Season stats (With LDN): 27 GP, 1 G, 5 A, +10
Season stats (With OTT): 28 GP, 4 G, 6 A, +2
With five points in his last six games for Ottawa, Martenet enters the OHL playoffs with a little bit of momentum. The 67s will begin the postseason at Mississauga Friday.
Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Season stats: 67 GP, 35 G, 29 A, -6
At nearly a point per game, Caamano has had a strong season offensively. The 6-foot-2 forward notched eight points in seven games heading into the OHL playoffs, including a third-star, two-point effort in a 6-4 loss March 14. The postseason will kick off for Flint when it travels to Sault Ste. Marie to face the Greyhounds on Thursday.
Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Season stats: 60 GP, 10 G, 15 A, +11
Vala, pointless in his last two outings, and the Blazers will open the WHL playoffs with a series against the Kelowna Rockets. The matchup will get underway Friday at Kelowna’s Prospera Place.
Frolunda HC (SHL)
Season stats: 49 GP, 7 G, 8 A, +8
Nyberg and Frolunda have begun play in the quarterfinal round of the SHL playoffs against Skelleftea, where he is pointless through three games (one win, two losses).
Season stats: 44 GP, 19 G, 11 A, +10
HIFK advanced past Karpat in the first round of the Liiga playoffs with two straight 4-3 victories. Hintz had an assist in each. In the opener of HIFK’s second-round matchup with TPS, Hintz had the only tally in a 4-1 loss.
Season stats: 10 GP, .918 SV%, 2.45 GAA
Finding a Stars goaltending prospect that has had a positive season is a tall order, with Philippe Desrosiers, Landon Bow and Maxime Lagace all turning in goals against averages well over 3 for the struggling Texas Stars. However, Point, a 6-foot-4 freshman playing behind a junior, showed some promise in 10 games with Colgate this season.