The Rochester Americans are heading west for a few games, as they prepare to take on the Texas Stars tonight in the first part of a three-game road trip. This trip will also see the Amerks face the Oklahoma City Barons and the San Antonio Rampage before games in Lake Erie and Binghamton; they won’t return to Rochester until January 29.
Tonight’s game is the first of two meetings between the Rochester Americans and the Texas Stars; they’ll meet in Rochester next month for a Sunday matinee game on the 16th.
The last time these two teams met was back on March 22. Despite being conference foes, they only meet twice each season, unlike some of the other teams that Rochester sees many, many more times.
Last season, the Stars took both meetings, beginning with a 5-1 victory in Rochester and ending with a 2-1 win on home ice. The first meeting of the season came on February 20 and saw Alex Biega score the lone goal for the Amerks. David Leggio allowed five goals on 38 shots in the loss. For the Stars, Jack Campbell stopped 21 shots in net, while Texas goals came from Mathieu Tousignant, Mike Hedden, Colton Sceviour and Tomas Vincour (2). The Stars badly outshot the Amerks, 38-22, and went 1/4 on the power play.
Things were slightly more closely matched in the second meeting between the teams in March. Mark Mancari scored for Rochester, while Scott Glennie and Luke Gazdic tallied for Texas. The goaltending matchup was Leggio (39 saves) vs. Richard Bachman (29 saves), and Texas went 0/7 on the power play.
Texas will not be an easy team to beat; the Stars sit second in the Western Conference with a record of 23-10-2-3 and 51 points on the season. Compare that to Rochester’s 36 points and record of 15-14-3-3. Texas is on a two-game winning streak and is 7-2-0-1 in their last 10. games. The Amerks are coming off a win in Hamilton on Saturday night and are overall 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games. If there’s one thing the Stars know how to do right, it’s score; their 138 goals-for is the most in the league, so goaltending and defense will be even more important tonight than they usually are.
Three Texas Stars players are in the top 10 in the league in points scoring, including Travis Morin, whose 50 points leads the AHL. Colton Sceviour is just below him with 40 points, while Chris Mueller (34) and rookie Curtis McKenzie (33) also rank among the top 10. Sceviour and Morin are tied for the AHL lead in goals (23 each) while Mueller is tied for 7th in that category (15).
Morin is on a six-game point streak, scoring 14 points since December 28.
Of course, the Amerks have some of their own scorers, too. Luke Adam is tied with Chris Mueller, T.J. Brennan, Mitch Callahan and Anders Lee for 7th in goals-scoring in the AHL. Center Phil Varone leads the team with 30 points (7-23) in 35 games; he’s 6th in the AHL in assists, while Mike Zigomanis has 20 points on the season.
Puck drop tonight between the Rochester Americans and the Texas Stars is set for 8:30 p.m. EST.