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Barracuda at Stars preview: Deep in the Heart of Texas

The Stars they might, just lose tonight, deep in the heart of Texas…

Annie Yoder | theyoder

Tonight, the San Jose Barracuda continue their Texas road trip in Cedar Point, just outside of Austin, to face the Texas Stars, the American Hockey League affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars. Formerly Pacific Division Rivals, the Stars currently play in the AHL’s Central Division, and the Barracuda will need to take particular care: the Texas Stars played a full seven-game series during the 2018 Calder Cup Final, ultimately losing the AHL’s ultimate prize to the Toronto Marlies. This is the second game in two nights for both teams, who will need to adjust their strategies accordingly.

Joel L’Esperance is a particular offensive threat for the Stars, and is in his first full professional season after playing four years with the Michigan Tech Huskies. The undrafted rookie is in the first season of his entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars, and is scoring at a point-per-game pace, registering 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists) over eight games.

Denis Gurianov is another Star to keep an eye out for. A first-round pick for the Stars in 2015, the Russian winger is scoring above a point-per game pace, having notched 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists) over eight games, including a goal last night. This is Gurianov’s third season with Texas and in the penultimate year of his entry-level contract with the Stars organization.

This is the second leg of a back-to-back for the Stars, starting tonight will likely be backup goaltender Colton Point, formerly of Colgate University. This is Point’s first professional season and he has posted a 3.02 goals against average and a .885 save percentage over three appearances. Regular starter Landon Bow will operate the bench door.

Francis Perron continues to have an exemplary season with the Barracuda, already exceeding his goal total from last season with Belleville. He currently has 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) over eight AHL contests with San Jose. He scored again last night against Los Chimuelos, showing a great deal of offensive upside on the Barracuda’s second line.

Antoine Bibeau likely starts tonight, as Josef Korenar started last night against Los Chimuelos. Bibeau currently boasts a 1.93 goals against average and a .938 save percentage across four games. Josef Korenar will likely operate the bench door, fresh off his win against San Antonio.

The Barracuda currently boast a 6-1-0-1 record, while the Stars currently hold a 4-2-1-1 record. The Barracuda are dominant within their own division, while the Stars are holding onto third place in the Central, closely followed by the Rockford Ice Hogs. The Stars and Barracuda will only meet twice in the regular season, but both may be playoff contenders and meet in the postseason.

The puck drops at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time/7:00 p.m. Central Time. California-based fans can follow along via AHLTV.