Morning Skate: Texas Stars ready for another physical meeting with San Antonio

The Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage don’t like each other.

That intensity has been ratcheted up for tonight’s game at the Cedar Park Center, the third meeting in seven days.

“We played them a lot this year, so the games have been getting pretty emotional,” Curtis McKenzie said. “You’re starting to remember things and things start to carry over a little bit.”

There are a couple things that could carry over from last week. Last Tuesday, San Antonio’s Shane O’Brien tried to draw Maxime Fortunus and Cameron Gaunce into a fight at the end of overtime, swinging wildly at both players.

Two nights later the teams squared off in a pair of fights and the benches came together when Stars coach Derek Laxdal and San Antonio coach Tom Rowe exchanged words, with Laxdal adding a physical element as he pushed the dividing pane of glass toward Rowe, cutting his own hand.

Don’t expect a bench-shoving incident, but fisticuffs could be on the schedule in this edition of the Interstate 35 rivalry.

The Stars have an AHL-low 16 fights this season, but five of those fights have come against the Rampage.

“Every game is getting more and more physical and it’s getting down to the wire,” Gemel Smith, who squared off with Blake Parlett last week, said. “I’ve been getting in it with a couple players over there. I definitely sense the rivalry and we’ve just got to go hard and take it to them.”

Texas will have to adjust the lineup due to injury. Scott Glennie didn’t practice this morning and he’s out. Justin Dowling is doubtful and practiced in a red-no contact jersey.

Kevin Henderson could return to the lineup and is a game-time decision after practicing in red no-contact jersey. Henderson hasn’t played since Jan. 16 with an upper-body injury.

“He’s skated the past couple days and he feels pretty good,” Laxdal said. “It’s just kind of getting back into game shape and getting you’re confidence out there and putting yourself in a position to battle … skating is one part, but when you get into a one-on-one battle in the corner that really zaps your energy. That’s what he’s got to be ready for tonight.”

The fourth line might not be sorted out until pre-game warmups with Henderson’s status. Taylor Peters will likely center the line, while a combination of Matt Magnene, William Wrenn or Henderson could make up the rest of the line.

Projected lineup:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hulak-Smith-Rallo
Stransky-Faille-Troock
Mangene-Peters-Henderson or Wrenn

Oleksiak-Fortunus
Valentine-Honka
Meech-Gaunce

Rynnas

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