The Texas Stars know what to expect when they play the San Antonio Rampage tonight at the Cedar Park Center.
San Antonio is a hard-skating, physical team, that likes to set the tone early and pushes the pace off the opening face-off.
“They’ve had some big games against us, they’re a strong team, and they throw their weight around and they get to the net,” Curtis McKenzie said. “We’ve got to be ready to counter that and be ready to push back. You know, play with our speed and skill and try and go around them.”
Texas is also going to beef up the lineup a bit for a more physical game.
Defenseman William Wrenn will play forward tonight on the fourth line with Matej Stransky and Gemel Smith, while Scott Valentine will be paired with Maxime Fortunus on the blue line. Matt Mangene will get the night off.
“We need a little bit more heaviness, again they’re a big strong team and they finish their checks,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “We have to try and match it and create more energy. I can’t ask guys like Travis Morin and Brendan Ranford to go out there and hit, but I can ask them to get in front of guys. We need to respond here against this team, they’re at 50 points. We’re at 45. We win and we’re only three back.”
Thursday’s morning skate was the first official team function after the AHL All-Star break. During that break most of the players stayed in Central Texas and golfed, while a couple took quick trips back home.
The break also allowed time for Scott Glennie to heal up after missing the past two games with the flu. Glennie skated Thursday morning, but he’ll be a healthy scratch this evening.
Jussi Rynnas will get the start in net, his third straight.
Tonight’s projected lineup: