New local hockey team

Michael McNally

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Austin just got a little bit brighter with the birth of the Texas Stars, the city’s new minor league hockey team.

The Texas Stars are a few steps up from the Austin Ice Bats, which was disbanded in June 2008, and have a home in the brand new Cedar Park Center.

The facility, located on New Hope Drive and the U.S Highway 183-A toll way, was completed in September.

The $55 million project is the third largest mixed-use indoor location in central Texas and boasts a capacity of 6,800 for hockey and 8,700 for other events in its 181,640 square-foot area.

The venue also has high definition screens on a center scoreboard and 24 luxury suites. Along with hosting Texas Stars games, the venue will also hold music concerts, circuses and other theatrical events.

Although only time will tell if the variety of events will be a success, hockey games already hold promise to be well attended. In the match between the Texas Stars and their parent team, the Dallas Stars, Sept. 30, 6,623 seats were filled.

Although the Texas Stars lost to the Dallas Stars 5-1, pre-season matches against the San Antonio Rampage Sept. 27 and the Houston Aeros Sept. 28 were extremely close, with the Texas Stars losing by one goal in both cases.

Despite not yet going to a game, St. Edward’s University senior Matt Moore is already a big fan of the fledgling hockey team.

“The Texas Stars are a step below the Dallas Stars, so when you are at a game, you are watching the NHL’s potential stars of tomorrow,” Moore said.

The Texas Stars are a part of the American Hockey League (AHL), the minor league version of the National Hockey League (NHL).

NHL franchises typically foster the growth of a little brother AHL team in order to obtain new, talented players.

As much as 84 percent of current NHL players originally played in the AHL, according to the Texas Stars Web site.

Moore urges students to attend a game for the fast pace and high contact.

“It’s 100 miles an hour for the entire game, so you are at the edge of your seat constantly,” Moore said.

For those who like to see players get rough, Moore assures them that “fighting is a staple of the sport as well.”

With tickets starting at a cheap $9, check out www.texasstarshockey.com for the Texas Stars’ schedule.