Gameday Preview: Stars v. Manitoba Moose

Texas Stars
13-8-1-1, 28 pts
#6 West Division
v.Manitoba Moose
12-8-0-3, 27 pts
#4 North Division
December 7th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars meet the Manitoba Moose for the first time on the season this evening in Cedar Park. It will be the first of four meetings for the two playoff clubs from a year ago. Each team took their two home games in the series last year, which featured back-to-back games in both locations.

Manitoba was knocked out of the 2010 Calder Cup race by the Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round. This year, they are on track to be a contender in the North.

Like Texas, the Moose have mostly played intradivision matchups. They have ventured out of their division but only against the West so far. Against the West, the Moose hold a 3-5-0-1 record with two of their three wins coming against last-place Rockford. They come into tonight's game having been shutout against Oklahoma City in Cox Convention Center on Saturday night.

Leading the Moose on offense is Sergei Shirokov, the highly touted Canucks draft pick, with 5-11-16 through 23 games. Cody Hodgson leads in goal scoring with 9-6-15. A number of other, including Shirokov, are tied with 5 goals. One time Dallas/Iowa Star Nolan Baumgartner continues to be a steady veteran presence for the club as well with 1-7-8 but a disappointing minus-6 rating.

In nets, the Moose return precisely zero of the same netminders from last year. Former Monster Tyler Weiman and rookie Eddie Lack are between the pipes for Manitoba this year. Last year's number one, Cory Schneider, is now the backup in Vancouver while Darren Machesney is in Victoria (ECHL). The AHL veteran Weiman has a 5-3-1 record with a 2.75 GAA and .894 SV%. Rookie Lack, who came over from the Swedish Elite League, is playing his first amateur or pro North American season and doing quite well. Lack is 7-5-2 with a 2.04 GAA and .925 SV%.

As far as special teams, Manitoba ranks near the bottom of the league in road power play (#24 at 12.7%) and #11 on road PK (84.4%).

Texas will have to play solidly as a team with some of their larger contributors out of town with the parent club. Gagnon, Wathier and Larsen make room for some other folks to step in, including Tristan King, who was called up from Idaho yesterday. Manitoba has also been hit with callups, if it eases your mind at all. Coach Claude Noel commented on it on the "Moose Hockey Show" on the Winnipeg local sports station.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (day-to-day lower body)
McCulloch (unspecified)
Gagnon, Wathier, Larsen (call up)

Twitter: @ManitobaMoose
Newspaper: Winnipeg Free Press