Friday, December 19, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars at Utica Comets

Texas Stars
10-8-7-0, 27 pts
#11 Western Conference
atUtica Comets
17-5-5-0, 39 pts
#1 Western Conference
December 19th at 6:00 PM
Utica Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY

Did you know the Texas Stars also play hockey? Among all the other news going on in the American League this week, including OKC leaving and the Dallas Stars buying the Texas Stars, there's hockey to be played this weekend.

Texas embarks on a road-only 3-in-3 this weekend against Utica, Toronto and Hamilton. Those three teams run the gamut of possible season outcomes. Utica, tonight's opponent, leads the Western Conference and is just a tick behind the Manchester Monarchs for the best record in the conference. Hamilton is on the playoff bubble, and Toronto appears to be on their way to being out of the running.

Cal O'Reilly boasts one of the best stat lines in the AHL with 3-23=26 and former Star Dustin Jeffrey is 6-14=20. In net, things are quite good with former San Antonio Rampage goalie Jacob Markstrom taking names and Joacim Eriksson doing the same. Eriksson has the 'worst' GAA on the team with a 2.30 average. Markstrom is down at 1.77. Markstrom is currently out with an injury and Joe Cannata is backing up. He's only got one AHL game this season and spend most of the year with ECHL Ontario where he has an impressive .934 SV% and 1.77 GAA.

It seems like Texas has something in their team DNA that gives them something over the Comets. The Stars lost in OT in their most recent matchup and beat them 1-0 in a tight goalie duel in the early season. While Utica is beating up on other teams, the Stars appear to be able to find points against them.

After last week's debacle against Charlotte, the Stars will look to get more out of those depth guys, as Coach Laxdal alluded to, and get more finish and effort from their top guys, as Laxdal explicitly called out.

Mind the early start.

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie, Rynnas, Jokipakka, Morin (callup)
Troock (questionable, missed last two periods of last game)
Henderson (questionable, should return from hand injury tonight)
Valentine (questionable, practiced this week, should return this week)

Website: uticacomets.com
Blog (official): Comet Tales
Newspaper: Utica Observer-Dispatch
Twitter: @UticaComets

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