Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
27-12-2-3, 59 pts
#2 Western Conference
v.San Antonio Rampage
16-21-2-4, 38 pts
#13 Western Conference
January 29th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After the disappointment of dropping Saturday's game against the Griffins, Texas has a chance to get right back on the horse at home against the San Antonio Rampage this evening. If they win, they'll pass Grand Rapids for first place in the conference, at least for now, and setup what will surely continue to be a back and forth between the two clubs for the rest of the season. Grand Rapids plays again Friday, and Texas plays Saturday and Sunday. GRG and Texas don't play again this season, so it will be a battle by proxy. It starts tonight against the Rampage.

The Stars will look to return two players off injury tonight. Brett Ritchie and Jyrki Jokipakka have been practicing this week full contact. Unfortunately, those two will be the only players heading back onto the ice tonight. Cristopher Nilstorp is close, but instead it will be Robinson and Nagle for Texas. The expectation is that Nilstorp could go this weekend against Toronto. He has been practicing this week and getting treatment from the training staff as well. With only one game in six days here this week, they have the luxury of caution. Jack Campbell is still nursing his knee injury, according to goalie coach Mike Valley. Valley said that the young Star is obviously eager to get back on the ice but the club wants to make sure the injury doesn't affect his long-term health and development.

The Rampage have been gutting it out in extra time of late. The team has needed OT or a shootout in six of their last seven, winning three of those. The points have helped vault them ahead of the Barons and keep them ahead of the Comets in the standings. There is still a lot of ground to be made up for the Rampage if they hope to play hockey in May in the Alamo City. In a promising sign though, they defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins in a come-from-behind victory on Sunday. Albeit the third game of a three-in-three for GRG, it was a good win for San Antonio. After trailing 5-2 in the second, they scored all the remaining goals and won 6-5 in OT. John McFarland was the OT hero. Jacob Markstrom stopped 35 of 40.

Nate Mallett wonders openly whether Texas will see Houser or Markstrom in net on Twitter:

We will see tonight at the CPC...

Stars injury/call up report:
Peters, Petersen, Dowling, Nilstorp, Nemeth, Campbell, Vause (injury)
Ritchie, Jokipakka (probable)

Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Blog (unofficial): Runnin' With The Herd
Twitter: @SARampage
Twitter: @DanWeissPBP (play-by-play for SA)