Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
28-13-4-3, 63 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Houston Aeros
24-18-4-3, 55 pts
#6 Western Conference
February 12th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Texas added Bretton Cameron on a PTO today.

Despite an early season slump against the Aeros, Texas has come back against their perennial rivals to win the last four games in the series. Overall, Texas is 5-2-2-0 on the season against the Houston-based club.

The Aeros are kicking off an epic road trip. Over the next month, the Aeros will play at home just once, February 23rd against OKC. Otherwise, they will go on two separate road trips totalling 12 away games. After a rough start in Grand Rapids, a 2-0 loss, they won against Rockford and Milwaukee in back-to-back games to set their record at 2-1 on the trip and put themselves in sixth place.

Texas is also returning to Texas after a road trip. After losing in Hamilton, the Stars rebounded with a very solid performance against the Marlies. The key to the game was definitely the line of Alex Chiasson, Justin Dowling and Mike Hedden. That line has such an interesting origin. After spending much of the season on the third line, Chiasson was upgraded to the first line with Reilly Smith and Cody Eakin and instantly turned it on.

Mike Hedden was scratched quite often until the lockout was over. Hedden was a key surprise player in the 2011-12 season and it was tough to have a talent like him on the sidelines. Finally, Dowling seemingly came out of nowhere to impress in his time with Idaho. Just after being selected as a starter in the ECHL All-Star game, Dowling was picked up by Scott White and the center has been money since. He's collected six goals and three assists in just twelve games.

Starting the season, I do not think many would have decided that this was the line to be a night in and night out game changer. Then again, how many would have chosen Mike Hedden to be such an impact player last season? Or picked Greg Rallo and Travis Morin to not only make the 2009-10 team on PTOs out of training camp but both earn NHL contracts the next season after coming in #1 and #2 in team scoring? The AHL is all about finding unexpected gems and Texas may have done just that with their second line combination.

Stars injury/call up report:
Vincour, Oleksiak, Roussel, R. Smith (callup)
Glennie, Morin (injury)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (official): Pilot to Gunner
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros
Twitter: @aero_joe (play-by-play)
Twitter: @TheJoshFisher (PR)

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