Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
24-16-3-3, 54 pts, 0.587%
#2 Pacific Division
atLake Erie Monsters
21-15-4-3, 49 pts, 0.570%
#5 Central Division
January 29th at 6:00 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

Texas rolls into Cleveland tonight to play an opponent they've yet to face this season. The Lake Erie Monsters play Texas just four times this season, and the games in Ohio are both this weekend.

Former Star Toby Petersen is now a coach for the Lake Erie Monsters.
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Lake Erie changed affiliates this past summer as the Colorado Avalanche moved their crew to San Antonio and the local Columbus Blue Jackets made the easy decision to head to Cleveland. The drive is just over two hours and it really makes sense given the success teams like Dallas, Detroit, Chicago and others have had with NHL-AHL proximity.

You'd really have to strain your memory banks to remember the last time Texas played a CBJ-affiliated team. That would be February 17, 2010, when the Stars topped the Syracuse Crunch 3-1. Goal scorers in that game were Mathieu Beaudoin, Aaron Gagnon and Greg Rallo. Among the highlights in my game summary at the time was a bout between Luke Gazdic and Jon Mirasty. So yeah, it was a while ago.

Lake Erie is part of that knot of teams in the Central Division all competing for the cross-over spot to the Pacific. At .570, they would be 3rd in the Pacific but rank 5th in the Central thanks to the fact that all four teams ahead of them are playing unreal hockey, posting .600 or better percentages.

The Monsters are three games into a five-game homestand to close out the week before the All-Star game. They're 1-1-1 so far.

Texas comes in on a three-game winning streak and looking to tie their season-high of four (twice achieved) with a win.

Players to watch for in home jerseys include T.J. Tynan (3-23-26), Daniel Zaar (10-9-19) and Dillon Heatherington (2-6-8, but a second round pick). Lake Erie doesn't score as much as Texas. Their success is based on keeping pucks out of the net, ranking top in the league for goals against. They also have a top 4 PK.

One last note: If you're watching the broadcast, keep an eye out for former Star Toby Petersen, who is an assistant coach for the Monsters.

Stars injury/call up report:
Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)

Blog (unofficial): Cleveland Plain Dealer
Twitter: @monstershockey