Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
15-10-3-2, 35 pts
#7 Western Conference
v.Charlotte Checkers
18-9-1-3, 21 pts
#1 Western Conference
December 29th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas welcomes the first place team in the Western Conference to the Cedar Park Center this evening as the Stars are on a three game losing streak. Texas has actually had excellent luck against the Charlotte Checkers so far this season. Both games were won in extended shootouts at the CPC, nine rounds each.

Dan Ellis started both of those games against Texas but cooled off his hot start and currently has a 7-5-2 record. After not allowing either tender to start more than two straight until December 14th, Charlotte has started Justin Peters in five straight starting on December 15th against Houston. The Checkers have a 3-0-1-1 record in those five games. Overall, the Hurricanes farm club hasn't lost in regulation since December 9th, a point streak of seven games.

The Stars, of course, will be looking to break up that streak tonight but will have to do so without some of their top talent. Cody Eakin is questionable for the evening after missing the Stars game against Oklahoma City after a stick to the mouth in the Stars game against Houston. Tomas Vincour suffered a head injury and is likely to be held out of the game for a little while. In addition, vet Tyler Sloan and second-year forward Scott Glennie continue to be out with injuries.

As a result, Texas went to the farm and signed Gord Baldwin, a defenseman with AHL experience most recently in Abbotsford. They also called up Austin Smith, who played on the second line with Morin and Fraser on Thursday. The young forward recorded two shots but no other statistics. The Stars want him in a top six role, given his goal scoring prowess in college and at the ECHL level.

Reilly Smith's recent surge has to give Austin confidence. Reilly and Austin are roommates when in Cedar Park and seem to have developed a good relationship. All Reilly needed was the first goal to turn on the spigot full-force (10 goals and 5 assists in 14 games). Austin is still searching for his first AHL goal but has 16 in Idaho, which is tops on the team and ties him for first among all ECHL rookies. (Sidenote: Reilly is 13th among rookies in scoring.)

Texas is still with no extra forwards. Barring no more injuries tonight, Texas will probably be able to ride into next week on what they have. Leading scorer Cody Eakin can't get back in the lineup fast enough. However, you have to hand it to Colton Sceviour, who scored two goals on Thursday in that top-line center spot.

Stars injury/call up report:
Glennie (hand)
Sloan (unspecified)
Eakin (mouth)
Vincour (head)

Website: gocheckers.com
Checkers Social Media: Social Media
Blog (unofficial): Chasing Checkers
Twitter: @checkershockey
Twitter: @mikelappan (PR)

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