Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rochester Americans

Texas Stars
23-10-2-3, 51 pts
#2 Western Conference
v.Rochester Americans
15-14-3-3, 36 pts
#10 Western Conference
January 15th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars look to extend their franchise-record home winning streak to ten games with a victory tonight against the Rochester Americans. Despite being a Western Conference foe, the Americans rarely visit the Cedar Park Center. In fact, it took until the Stars' third season for Rochester to even visit the CPC once.

In those four total games, Texas is 3-1 overall the Amerks. They did not lose the Rochester last season in two games and have not lost to them at home either.

Despite the distance, the Americans will likely be led onto the ice by a familiar face, Matt Hackett. The former Houston Aero was traded to the Buffalo Sabres organization last year as part of the return in the Jason Pominville trade. Forward Johan Larsson was also sent to Buffalo in the transaction. Hackett has taken most of the work load between he and rookie Nathan Lieuwen. He's 9-12-2 with a .904SV% and 2.89 GAA. Lieuwen is slightly better at .918 and 2.63 with a 6-5-1 record.

Up front, the Americans are led by a trio of centers: Phil Varone, Luke Adam and Mike Zigomanis. Adam, who has spent some time with Buffalo this season, leads the team in goals and is at better than a point per game. High draft picks Joel Armia and Rasmus Ristolainen are players to watch for the Sabres. Both are rookies this season. Unrelated to the Pominville trade, another Houston Aero, Drew Bagnall, joined the Americans this season on a two-year contract to the Sabres.

Rochester is in an interesting situation. Similar to the SHL club Farjestad jumping the pond play in the AHL All-Star Game, the Americans ventured to Switzerland to play in the Spengler Cup over the holiday break. The Americans were the last US-based club to participate as well, back in 1996. The tournament features teams from all over the world with a focus on Europe. Canada and Russia both send teams. It usually gives players who would not otherwise have a chance to don their national colors (in the Olympics) a chance to do so. For example, Allen York was one of the Canadian goaltenders this year. The Americans lost all three games they played, including contests against the eventual champion and the runner-up, as well as Team Canada.

It's a tradeoff that the team made to make the trip. It's not something that the Stars would probably ever do, but the Americans have a strong tradition of hockey in Rochester and were the first American club to play in the tournament 18 years ago. For more on the Spengler Cup trip, read about it in the Democrat and Chronicle. And if you aren't following Amerks beat writer Kevin Oklobzija (@kevinoDandC) on Twitter, you should probably get on that.

Stars injury/call up report:
Nemeth, Glennie, Campbell, Petersen, Vause (injury)

Website: amerks.com
Americans Social Media: Social Media
Blog (beat): Democrat and Chronicle
Blog (amateur): Let's Go Amerks
Twitter: @AmerksHockey
Twitter (beat): @kevinoDandC
Twitter (amateur): @LetsGoAmerks

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