Friday, December 5, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars at Adirondack Flames

Texas Stars
7-6-7-0, 21 pts
#9 Western Conference
atAdirondack Flames
12-9-1-0, 25 pts
#7 Western Conference
December 5th at 6:00 PM
Glens Falls Civic Center, Glens Falls, NY

The Texas Stars make their first ever trip to the Glens Falls Civic Center to play the Adirondack Flames for the first time. It will be Texas' only trip this season to Glens Falls. The Flames relocated this summer from Abbotsford, where they were known as the Heat. The team was on an island geographically and was drowning financially when the city decided to buy out the contract and send them packing.

Adirondack is no stranger to AHL hockey. They have had multiple different teams over the past decades. The most notable was the Adirondack Red Wings, who played there from 1979 to 1999 and won four Calder Cups in the process. The team went dormant in 1999, and Glens Falls did not see AHL hockey return until the Phantoms relocated from Philadelphia in 2009. They moved to Allentown last summer, and the Flames slid right in. (The dormant franchise license from 1999 later became the San Antonio Rampage in 2002.)

The club made headlines twice in rapid succession early in the season. First, they released an ill-fated mascot, which was considered broadly in poor taste. Then, Trevor Gillies was suspended 12 games by the AHL for slamming an opponent's head into the ice after a fight. Rather quietly since then, the Flames have built a steady record. After hitting a 3-6-1-0 low on November 1st, the club rattled off nine straight wins and moved into playoff position. They've lost three straight since though and are looking to break that streak tonight.

One thing to absolutely notice is that Adirondack is more an Eastern Conference team than Western. They play a lot of Eastern Conference teams and have a lot of those tendencies when it comes to penalties. Adirondack is 3rd in the West in penalties, one of only three teams to reach 400 PIMs so far. Out East, three teams are already in the 500s.

Adirondack is benefit from a lot of young scoring. Emile Poirier, Bill Arnold and Garnet Hathaway, all rookies, rank second through fourth in team scoring. David Wolf and Ryan Culkin, also rookies, are sixth and seventh. A few familiar faces are still around from the Abbotsford days, including Ben Hanowski, Corban Knight, and Max Reinhart.

Other names to watch for include two former Stars. Taylor Vause, who started the season in Colorado of the ECHL, has 1-3=4 in 7 games for Adirondack. Mathieu Tousignant is 3-3=6 in 21 games with 38 PIMs. Former Rampage captain Nolan Yonkman has three assists for the club and one-time NHL standout Devin Setoguchi has two points in just two games played.

In net, it's been Joni Ortio getting most of the starts and the wins. He's 9-5-1 despite having a lower save percentage (.896) than his counterpart, Brad Thiessen (.919).

On special teams, Adirondack has a mid-pack penalty kill but one of the league's best power plays.

One final note: Texas signed defenseman Connor Hardowa on a PTO last night. Hardowa is a rookie who played four year in college with New Hampshire. He has 2-5=7 in 19 GP for ECHL Utah this season.

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie, Rynnas, Jokipakka (callup)
Henderson (out, hand infection)

Website: adirondackflames.com
Blog (official): Comet Tales
Newspaper: Post Star
Twitter: @AHLFlames
Team play by play Twitter: Cameron Close (@cclose19)
Beat writer: Diana Nearhos (@dianacnearhos)

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