CEDAR PARK — After playing on opening night the Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage went nearly a month without clashing.
Tonight they’ll kick off a stretch where four of Texas’ next five games are against its Interstate 35 rival.
And both teams are entering tonight’s clash playing their best hockey of the young season.
Texas used that opening night victory to spark a 7-2-1 start, the best 10-game start in franchise history.
San Antonio has been just as good, and have yet to lose in regulation this season. The Rampage are 5-0-3 after a 4-3 overtime loss against the Chicago Wolves on Friday.
San Antonio has been led by reigning AHL goalie of the month Calvin Pickard. Pickard has a .935 save percentage and 2.18 goals against average, and he’s been under constant siege behind a defense that’s willing to trade chances.
The Stars crease will also be in the spotlight tonight.
Jack Campbell was activated from the NHL injured reserve list and officially sent down to Texas on Saturday. He’ll back-up Maxime Lagace, who will make his third straight start, while John Muse will be a healthy scratch.
It should be a crisper start for Texas after last weekend’s first-period performance against the Bakersfield Condors. In those games Texas started slow, but battled back and won both contests.
Stars coach Derek Laxdal attributed that to Texas lack of practice, which can lead to a team “losing it’s game” early. The Stars had four days of practice before this game, plus a morning skate, so there isn’t an excuse for a slow start.
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Cole Ully-Jason Dickinson-Matej Stransky
Cory Kane-Gemel Smith-Branden Troock
Esa Lindell-Stephen Johns
Mattias Backman-Julius Honka
Brennan Evans-Jesse Blacker