Gameday Preview: Stars v. Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
21-12-2-2, 46 pts
#4 West Division
v.Lake Erie Monsters
15-17-3-4, 5 pts
#7 North Division
January 8th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas welcomes the Lake Erie Monsters into the Cedar Park Center for the first AHL hockey game the arena has hosted since December 20th. With all of that build-up, the Texas Stars are expecting a sellout with fewer than 100 tickets left as of 4:00 PM yesterday. There is a possibility of doing standing room only though.

Lake Erie hails from the North Division but is not one of the division's elite teams. The Monsters, who feed the Colorado Avalanche, are currently in last place in the North and last place overall in the conference. The Stars hold a 3-1-1-0 all time record against the Monsters, including a win this year in Cedar Park on October 22. In that game, Texas was down late in the third and came back on a penalty shot from Colton Sceviour and a Francis Wathier tally on a wraparound with 41 seconds left in the game to win it 3-2.

Lake Erie comes in having lost their last two and 3-6-1 in their last ten. The squad played last night in Houston and fell by a 3-0 decision. Jason Bacashihua took the loss. The Monsters will continue to Oklahoma City on Sunday so it is possible we could see either goaltender. Bacashihua (9-11-2, 2.51, .905) has played the majority of LE's games at 22. John Grahame (4-6-2, 2.41, .917) has played in 13 and ranks in the top 15 of goaltenders league wide.

A bright spot for the Monsters has been the play of rookie Mark Olver. Olver scored in their game against Texas and has racked up a total of 11 goals and 10 assists on the season to rank him 12th among rookie scorers in the league. Despite Hockey Future's assessment as a "fringe NHLer", the rookie has already played in 4 games for the Avs, collecting 2 assists and 2 PIMs.

Stars injury/call up report:
Blindenbacher (upper body)
Krahn, McCulloch (lower body)
Larsen (call up)

Blog (unofficial): Cleveland Plain Dealer
Twitter: @monstershockey