Gameday Preview: Stars v. Abbotsford Heat

Texas Stars
32-20-4-5, 73 pts
#3 West Division
v.Abbotsford Heat
28-24-3-5, 64 pts
#5 North Division
March 1st at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas closes out another season series this evening at the Cedar Park Center, this time against the Abbotsford Heat. Texas is 2-0-0-1 against the Heat this year, winning both games in British Columbia around New Year's but falling in Cedar Park in the shootout.

For the Abbotsford Heat, the North Division playoff race has also tightened up. Hamilton and Manitoba are locks for the playoffs while Lake Erie, Toronto and the Heat fight for the likely lone remaining spot. Given the projections today, it looks like the 4th place team in the North will not be going to the playoffs, with their spot taken by the 5th place team from the West. The Heat look to be on the outside looking in and a loss tonight against Texas could put the playoffs just out of reach.

Abbotsford comes into tonight's game after playing a rare cross-conference matchup with the Providence Bruins. The Bruins shellacked the Heat 4-0 on Friday, but the Heat roared back to win Saturday's game 6-2. It will not be an easy road for Abbotsford the rest of the way as the Heat battle through a 5 game road stand against the West Division, starting with Texas tonight. Future games include 2 against league leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, six against Hamilton and two against Manitoba.

Texas meanwhile continues their five game homestand hoping to get some players back into their lineup from injury. Leading scorer at the time of his injury, Travis Morin, missed the entire road trip and has not played since February 8th against Houston. Philip Larsen has also been out for the same amount of time. The injury has given Jordie Benn a chance to play point on the power play at times, but Texas still sorely misses the young defenseman, who had 16 points in 40 games before injury.

In the record watching department, Texas Stars goalie Richard Bachman is still stalled on 21 wins, tied with Matt Climie for most regular season wins in a season. His next win will set the franchise record for wins.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn, Morin, Larsen (lower body)
Vincour (call up)

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