SAN ANTONIO, TX– The Texas Stars begin the push for the playoffs tonight when they return from the AHL All-Star break with a renewal of the I-35 Rivalry in San Antonio. The puck drops at 7:30 tonight inside the AT&T Center, and the action promises to be intense and entertaining right from the start of this weekend’s home-and-home battle. The Stars and Rampage each hold playoff aspirations, and each realizes that the time to lay claim to the limited postseason positions available has now come.
Thirty games are all that remains in the 2017-18 campaign, and the Stars will begin the stretch run from a good position. Texas exits the All-Star break with a record 24-16-4-2 for 54 points and a points percentage of .587, which leaves the Stars second behind only the Tuscon Roadrunners and their 23-13-2-1 mark (.628). San Antonio comes into the weekend set holding onto the fourth and final playoff spot in the Pacific by a slim margin of just .005%; the Rampage sits at 23-17-4-0 (.568), while the fifth place Stockton Heat are 20-15-2-3 (.563).
This two-game set becomes a massive eight-point opportunity for the two Lone Star squads, as Texas could acquire a cushion on their lead for second place, but could also begin to encroach on Tuscon. A Stars sweep would also push San Antonio out of a playoff spot. Should San Antonio sweep, meanwhile, the teams would flip-flop with Texas on the edge of the abyss and San Antonio in second staring down Tuscon. It promises to be an extremely exciting weekend as we watch to see which side can dictate their narrative.
There have been a few roster moves initiated by NHL Dallas over the break, with three players being recalled to the Dallas Stars. Dallas recalled two defensemen, Julius Honka and Dillon Heatherington, as well as forward Jason Dickinson from Texas.
The 22-year-old Honka has spent the majority of the year in Dallas, posting three points (1-2–3) and is a +2 plus/minus in 24 games for the Stars. In ten games for Texas during the current campaign, Honka has two assists, including a beautiful cross-ice pass on the game-winning goal on Saturday against Stockton.
Heatherington, 22, has played in 41 games for Texas thus far this year, acquiring three goals and ten assists in the process. He has played in four contests for NHL Dallas and returns to the Stars having posted 26 penalty minutes and a +2 plus/minus rating at the NHL level.
Dickinson, who is also 22, has appeared in 33 games with Texas this season and has tallied 16 goals, good for second on the squad behind Curtis McKenzie (21). Dickinson has played in nine games with NHL Dallas so far.
In response to the moves made by Dallas, Texas also made a move with ECHL Idaho to recall defenseman Shane Hanna. Hanna, 23, has been the go-to guy when the Stars have needed to call up a body from Idaho, having split his time between the AHL and ECHL level. In 28 games with the ECHL Steelheads Hanna has accumulated 15 points (4-11–15), while he has put up two assists in ten AHL games.
The Stars and Rampage will drop the puck at 7:30 CT tonight in the Alamo city, then after the game, the squads will head to Cedar Park for a rematch inside the H-E-B Center tomorrow at 7:00 CT. The critical games continue next weekend as well when the division-leading Roadrunners will be in Cedar Park for a pair.
You can follow all the action this weekend, and every weekend, by following @SinBinStars on Twitter. We tweet the most detailed updates for every game, home or away!