Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
16-13-2-2, 36 pts
#4 Pacific Division
v.San Diego Gulls
15-11-0-1, 31 pts
#2 Pacific Division
December 31st at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas will ice a slightly different lineup from their last matchup as Maxime Lagace has been sidelined with an injury and Radek Faksa is headed to Dallas. Aside from that, the Stars hope to put together their first three-game winning streak since they started the season 4-0.

As noted in last night's game story, it's been the veterans stepping up recently. Travis Morin is tied for the scoring lead in the AHL with 34 points and Greg Rallo had the game winning goal in each of the last two contests. With the loss of Devin Shore, it's been important for someone to pick up the slack. Morin has been a top contributor in Shore's absence. Texas will also look to Brett Ritchie to continue his scoring ways. Ideally, Jason Dickinson would also put the puck in the net. He had 3 or 4 high quality chances on Tuesday and didn't cash in. It's only a matter of time before he has a nice breakout game.

(Credit: Mark Newman)
Speaking of veterans, how about the return of Chris Mueller to the Cedar Park Center? After a year in Hartford, the center makes his first trip back to the CPC since winning a cup here in 2014. Mueller still leads all Stars in regular season points per game (57 in 60 GP) in franchise history. He was a hired gun for a stellar season. He helped the Wolf Pack to great heights last season; they made it to the Eastern Finals. This year, Anaheim hopes he can do the same: provide tons of points in San Diego and act as a serviceable callup for the Ducks. After a point per game November, December has been cold for Mueller. No question he'll bring some extra effort for a game against his old team.

The Gulls are coming off a loss to Bako but had four straight wins before that.

In net, two familiar faces are returning to the CPC. Matt Hackett and Anton Khudobin, who both played so many games here for the Aeros, man the Gulls net. John Gibson has taken most of the time between the pipes for SD, but he is called up to the NHL at the moment.

Another interesting note: Nick Ritchie will face off against his brother, Brett, for the first time in pro hockey tonight. Ritchie was a first round pick of Anaheim in 2014.

Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa (callup)
Lagace, Troock, Shore (injury)

Gulls Web Resources:
Twitter: @SDGullsAHL
Twitter: @619sports (PBP)
Twitter: @danarelAHL