Gameday Preview: Stars at Utica Comets

Texas Stars
8-5-2-0, 18 pts
#4 Western Conference
atUtica Comets
2-9-1-1, 6 pts
#15 Western Conference
November 16th at 6:00 PM
Utica Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY

Coming off a 7-3 loss, you definitely want to and need to win your next game. When you look at the schedule and find that your next game is against the worst team in the league, that becomes a must-win game. That's the case for Texas tonight.

The Comets are the newest and also worst club in the American Hockey League. As a refresher, remember that the Comets are on the former Peoria Rivermen's franchise license. Vancouver bought that license with the intent to start a team in Seattle. Unable to do so, they started a team (rumored for just one season) in Utica, NY. I covered it more on the blog when it happened.

Utica had a pretty rough start to the season. The club was winless it its first ten games, including a six-game homestand that saw them pick up just two extra time points. The overall mix of their schedule hasn't been too kind either. They've played division leaders Syracuse, Abbotsford and Rochester a total of six times already on the season. The Comets finally put together two wins on the road in Lake Erie and Hamilton last weekend. They have yet to win at home as a franchise.

Their roster is dotted with a few rookies. Alexandre Grenier has made the most noise, potting 3-6-9 in 12 games with a plus-2 rating. Grenier was a third round pick out of the QMJHL for Vancouver. He is an AHL rookie, but it's not his first professional season. He spent most of last season with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL where he was nearly a point per game player.

Other notables on the roster include leading scorer Pascal Pelletier, a long-time minor leaguer and former AHL All-Star who the Stars saw with Peoria back in 2009-10 before he went to Europe; and Benn Ferriero, an up-and-down winger who many Dallas fans will know from his time in San Jose.

In net, the Comets have been using two rookies with Eddie Lack now backing up Roberto Luongo in Vancouver. Joacim Eriksson has taken most of the load. He is 2-7-1 in ten games played with a 3.33 GAA and .890 SV%. Joe Cannata has four games and is 0-3 with a 3.50 GAA and .871 SV%. Eriksson started last night but was pulled for Cannata.

The Comets are mid pack on the power play and bottom ten on the penalty kill. That is a place where Texas can make some hay in the game tonight.

The Stars set out on the road yesterday morning with just two goaltenders. Allen York made an impression and continues his PTO with Texas after a 2-0 record in his games with the Stars. Josh Robinson headed back to Idaho.

That's not all on the injury front for Texas as Patrik Nemeth is out for what could be a few weeks with a hand injury sustained in last weekend's games against Milwaukee. Maxime Fortunus was a late scratch on Wednesday and could be back in the lineup tonight. Don't read anything into the fact that Toby Petersen was given the "C" on Wednesday in lieu of Fortunus. Coach Desjardins simply believes that if his captain is scratched someone else wears the "C". It wasn't a comment on his injury status or leadership.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin (call up)
Campbell, Nemeth, (injured, out)
Fortunus (injured, questionable)

Blog (official): Comet Tales
Newspaper: Utica Observer-Dispatch
Twitter: @UticaComets