Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
0-0-0-0, 0 pts
#-- West Division
v.Oklahoma City Barons
0-0-0-0, 0 pts
#-- West Division
October 9th at 5:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Hockey returns to the Cedar Park Center for a third season as the Texas Stars open up the 2011-12 season with a home matchup against the Oklahoma City Barons. This afternoon's matchup is the first game for both teams.

For the Barons, there has been much upheaval from last season to this one. After making the playoffs in their first season, crossing over to the North Division to face and lose to the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Barons are a new-look squad. The men in the pipes are the first big difference. Last year, Martin Gerber, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers and Bryan Pitton all took starts for OKC. This year's opening roster contains none of those players; instead former NHL backups David LeNeveu and Yann Denis will protect the net for the Barons.

Some of those feared scorers from last year's team are also gone. Alexandre Giroux is now in the Blue Jackets organization and Colin McDonald accepted a deal with the Penguins org. Liam Reddox and Brad Moran both departed for Europe while Jeff Petry and Linus Omark moved on to the Oilers squad in Alberta. The only remaining top 6 scorer from last year's club is Teemu Hartikainen, who split time with the Oilers last year and will likely do the same again this season.

Back on defense is veteran Bryan Helmer, who held out on signing anywhere last year before committing to the Barons mid-season. Helmer, who has been up and down between the AHL and NHL since 1993, will be a calming veteran presence among a young and new locker room.

Last season, the Stars held a 6-3-0-1 record against the Barons and look to continue the trend this season. Among the Stars' leading scorers in games against the Barons, both Greg Rallo (3-3-6 in 9 GP) and Aaron Gagnon (2-3-5 in 8 GP) have departed. However, Colton Sceviour (3-2-5 in 8 GP) remains and Texas hopes that newcomers, such as Matt Fraser and Tyler Arnason can pick up that slack.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Glennie (callup)

Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Oil Field Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey