Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Rockford IceHogs, Game 4

Texas Stars
38-24-8-6, 90 pts, 0.592
#2 Pacific Division
atRockford IceHogs
40-28-4-4, 88 pts, 0.579
#4 Central Division
May 24th at 7:00 PM
BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, IL

Stars lead 3-0

UPDATE: Jeff Glass will make his postseason debut for the IceHogs tonight in net. Colin Delia allowed 6 goals on 27 shots on Tuesday and has lost three games in a row in net.

The trophy is in the building. Hands up if you made that prediction at the start of the series. OK, you're all lying.

The Robert Clarke Trophy, the AHL's award for the Western Conference's playoff champs, will be in Rockford tonight as Texas has a chance to advance to their third Finals appearance in their nine year history tonight. It's a historic opportunity for the franchise and one that clearly demonstrates they have the potential to be a dominate force in the AHL every single year.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Last game, the Stars got scoring from all over the lineup. When this team was inconsistent during the season, often the conversation postgame drifted to the top lines or the bottom lines not chipping in with offense. It never seemed like the entire team was all clicking at the same time. Until now, that is. Tuesday's game saw a pair of goals from Curtis McKenzie, the club's top-line winger, one from Justin Dowling,, McKenzie's linemate, a pair from Sheldon Dries, the solid third-line center, and a key marker from Austin Fyten, a fourth-liner who hadn't laced them up for game action in the entire playoffs until now. That combination is what put Texas over the top.

When the Stars won the Cup in 2014, it was a similar story. Opponents could never relax. Line four had just a lethal of opportunities as line one. In the postseason, Texas has scored 39 goals so far and five of those have come from fourth liners. Indeed, two were game-winners in overtime and Fyten's was a key game-tying goal.

When everything is clicking, you get magic. It doesn't hurt that the defense is activating well and Mike McKenna is playing some of the best hockey of his career.

Final note: The Rockford IceHogs and Texas Stars have always seen their series end in sweeps. 4-0 for Texas in 2010, 3-0 for Rockford in 2015.

Stars injury/call up report:
Nyberg, Elie (injury)

Website: icehogs.com
Twitter: @goicehogs

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