Thursday, June 14, 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Toronto Marlies, Game 7

Texas Stars
38-24-8-6, 90 pts, 0.592
#2 Pacific Division
atToronto Marlies
40-28-4-4, 90 pts, 0.579
#1 North Division
June 14th at 6:00 PM
Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, ON

Series tied 3-3

Playing hockey on June 14th... what else is there left to say? It's game seven of a finals series. Most had Texas bouncing out of the playoffs in round two, but here they sit on the precipice of earning their second championship in five years.

The last time the Calder Cup went to a seventh game, the series also featured a team from Texas and one from Ontario. In that 2003 battle, the Houston Aeros beat the Hamilton Bulldogs for the championship. Neither team exists anymore, if that gives you a sense of how long ago that was in the league's terms.

(Credit: Toronto Marlies)

Any number of storylines could emerge tonight.

Will Mike McKenna turn in another sterling performance to earn his first AHL championship? If so, it couldn't happen to a better guy. His rebound game in Game 6 kept Texas alive through period one and gave them the chance to breakaway in period two.

Will Texas get depth scoring like Game 6, rely on their top line like all the other games or get nothing at all? Any of those feels possible right now as the game approaches.

Will Garret Sparks have a rebound game of his own for Toronto after being chased on Tuesday? Would Sheldon Keefe consider calling on backup Calvin Pickard to start game 7? Sparks has looked shaky at times in the series, but he's generally gotten it done. It's hard to argue with the results generally even if one game was less than ideal.

Texas has a 3-0 record in Game 7s all-time including a 6-2 come-from-behind victory against this same Marlies team in the Western Conference Finals in 2014. Toronto is 3-2 all-time in Game 7s.

Thousands of words could be written about all the things that tonight's game is and will be, but in the end, the teams will decide the AHL's championship in a winner-take-all best-of-1 series tonight in Ontario to close the entirety of the North American professional hockey season.

And it doesn't get much better than that.

Stars Injury Report
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