Gameday Preview: Stars v. Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
26-15-3-2, 57 pts
#5 West Division
v.Abbotsford Heat
21-20-2-5, 49 pts
#5 North Division
January 29th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Stars and Heat come into tonight's final matchup before the All-Star break on divergent paths. Texas is on a hot streak, winning their past 3 games and starting to make some headway in the West Division. Meanwhile, the Abbotsford Heat have lost their last three games and are in the middle of a season long 10 game road stretch. In four games so far, they are 1-2-0-1.

The Heat were resilient in their most recent game last night in Houston. Abbotsford came back from three separate one goal deficits and salvaged a point from the game. Unfortunately for the Heat, there was a bit of a scary moment in the game. Defenseman Josh Meyers collided with Matt Pelech as Pelech came out of the penalty box. Meyers was taken from the ice on a stretcher with his head immobilized and taken to a local Houston hospital, according to the Heat. Meyers is 2-7-9 in 35 games for the Heat with a minus-4 rating.

The last time these two teams met, it was goal scoring that haunted the Heat. Indeed, goal scoring remains an issue. In the two games Texas played in BC, Abbotsford managed just one goal. They rank last place in goal scoring with 2.19 per game. For comparison, Texas ranks seventeenth at 2.80.

Leland Irving has been a bright spot for the Heat this season, but the Abbotsford Mission Times points out that he can't do it all himself:
...Irving was beaten three times on just 20 shots [against Peoria], pulled for the second time in four games, and the Heat lost 5-1.

While Irving’s play has dipped of late, he’s not solely to blame.

The team in front of him had little, if any jump in its step.

The lack of energy led to bad turnovers, lazy penalties, missed passes and nothing that resembled an offensive attack.

“We had a lot of guys that let the team down tonight,” said Heat captain Quintin Laing after he emerged from a prolonged closed door meeting that succeeded the loss.

“It all comes down to the effort, and the effort wasn’t there so that was the rightful score tonight.”
The Heat shut out the Rivermen the next night and then defeated the Moose, but have since lost 3 straight.

J.P Lamoureux, up from the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies, is taking starts in the AHL after an injury to Matt Keetley. Coach Jim Playfair told the Abby Times of Lamoureux: "I think that Leland has played a lot of hockey, and it’s nice to have a goalie that comes in and gives him some relief and gets a win in the meantime."

Texas has a chance to win four straight for only the second time this season, having previously done it from November 10-20th. The game is expected to be a sellout at the Cedar Park Center. The Stars have a 3-1-1-0 record in regular season sellout games at home all-time.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn, McCulloch (lower body)
Chupp (upper body)
Fortunus (unspecified injury)

Blog (unofficial): BC Local News: Abby News
Newspaper: Abbotsford Times
Twitter: @abbotsfordheat