Friday, December 14, 2012

Gameday Preview: Stars at Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
12-8-2-1, 27 pts
#6 Western Conference
atAbbotsford Heat
14-4-3-3, 34 pts
#1 Western Conference
December 14th at 9:00 PM
Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, Abbotsford, BC

The Stars take their only trip to British Columbia this weekend for a two-game set against former division rivals, the Abbotsford Heat. Texas and the Heat have only played once this season, a 1-0 OT loss for Texas on November 23rd. Currently Abbotsford is #1 in the American Hockey League on the whole. Given the way Texas has played of late, if they can keep it up, the Stars have a chance for two big statement games.

The big story for the Heat continues to be their fantastic goaltending trio. Barry Brust had his AHL-record shutout streak broken up the night after Texas played the Heat in San Antonio on the 24th. Since then, he's 1-1-1. Overall he has a 7-1-1 record with a filthy 1.20 GAA and .949 SV%. Danny Taylor, who saved the Heat's season last year, has gotten into 11 games this season. He is 5-4-1 with a 1.69 GAA and .933 SV%. Finally, Leland Irving, who is supposed to be the undisputed #1 for the Heat and could have ended up in Calgary this season, has a pedestrian 3.33 GAA and .884 SV% while managing a 2-2-1 record.

Texas, on the other hand, is a one-man shop in net. Cristopher Nilstorp has emerged as the undisputed #1 in net. He is 8-7 overall, but more importantly, is 7-4 in his last 11. His play has been a key part of the Texas turnaround. Once he grabbed the reins, he hasn't let go. Texas went back to Jack Campbell just twice over that span (minus the 20 minutes he played due to Nilstorp's food poisoning). Goaltending coach Mike Valley is OK with taking that slower approach with Campbell though.

Due to some nicely timed losses by other clubs, Texas retains their #6 spot in the standings. It is pretty remarkable to think that the Stars were in last place on the 11th of November. The 5-1 roadtrip was a solidifying moment for this club. Perhaps Texas should lobby for a long, out-of-state road trip earlier on in the 2013-14 season. It really seemed to bring the group together and make them play with and for each other better.

Abbotsford is 4-3-2-1 in their last ten and lost their last game in overtime on Tuesday at Rochester.

Stars injury/call up report:
Glennie (hand)

Website: abbotsfordheat.com
Blog (unofficial): BC Local News: Abby News
Newspaper: Abbotsford Times
Twitter: @abbotsfordheat
Twitter (play-by-play): @RyanPinder

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