IceHogs vs Texas Stars Preview/GDT

photo courtesy of http://www.texasstarshockey.com/

The Rockford IceHogs look to win their 4th straight game as they host the Texas Stars tonight at the BMO Harris Bank Center, starting at 7:05

Tonight the IceHogs and the Texas Stars will meet for the first time this season. Texas comes in with 16 points (7-7-1-1) which puts them in 4th place in the South Division and 12th overall in the Western Conference. Rockford's three game winning streak has them up to 19 points (9-8-0-1) which is good for 3rd in the Midwest Division and 10th in the West. They trail the 1st place Grand Rapid Griffons by just 3 points. Just imagine where the Hogs could be if they could only win inside their division.

Hopefully the IceHogs are not looking ahead to tomorrow night's game with the Chicago Wolves, who also have 19 points in the standings. Goalie Alec Richards has started all 3 games of this recent hot streak. He has stopped 82 of 88 shots for a 2.20 GAA and .931 save %. He has put himself in the #1 slot, at least for now. The IceHogs goalies are doing their best Blackhawks impressions by swapping the starting roles much like Cory Crawford and Ray Emery did last season.

Ben Smith has been hot of late, as well. He has 7 points (3 G, 4 A) in his last six games. Defenseman Adam Clendening is starting to show he belongs in the AHL as he has put up 6 points (2 G, 4 A) in his last four games. Jeremy Morin has taken over the team lead in goals with 7 and Martin St Pierre leads the team in points (15) and assists (11).

The Stars have struggled to score goals through the first 16 games of their season. They have averaged just 2.37 goals per game and have only one player, Cody Eakin with 11, to reach double digits in points so far. Eakin's 6 goals is tops for Texas. Franics Wathier leads the Stars with 8 assists. To show how bad their offensive woes are this season, Cam Barker has the most shots on goal with 53. I am not making that up!

Christopher Nilstrop has seen the majority of time in goal for the Stars and is 4-6-0-2 with a 2.60 GAA and a .896 save %. Top goalie prospect Jack Campbell, who was the first goalie taken in the 2010 entry draft, has struggled a bit this season. He is 3-2-1-0 with a 3.28 GAA and only a .873 in his first full season at the AHL level.

Tonight's game is a "Dollar Day" as fans can get $1 hot dogs, soft drinks, beers and companion tickets. Also, starting with tonight's game, the IceHogs are holding a youth sporting equipment drive. Fans are encouraged to bring in new or gently used sports equipment to receive a buy one ticket, get one free offer for any IceHogs home game through January 11th. Additionally, all fans who donate will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win 4 club lounge tickets and a complimentary dinner buffet for the game on December 27 against the Chicago Wolves. Got to love minor league promotions!

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