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Texas Stars shining bright halfway through season

Austin's only pro hockey team is currently in first place in the Central Division.

CEDAR PARK, Texas — The Texas Stars are at the halfway point of their 72-game regular season. 

Through their first 36 games, Austin's only professional hockey team currently sits in first place in the American Hockey League's (AHL) Central Division, six points ahead of second-place Milwaukee.

As of Wednesday, the Stars sport a 22-8-4-2 record, totaling 50 points.

"It's fun right now," said Neil Graham, head coach of the Stars. "Guys are winning. Guys are doing the little things that result in wins."

"Coach [Graham] has done a great job of getting everybody on the same page," Stars right winger Riley Barber said.

The Stars are looking to win their first Calder Cup – the trophy awarded to the AHL playoff championship team – since 2014.

"There are two things we think about every day," Graham said. "First one is developing future Dallas Stars and the other one is a Calder Cup."

Recently, the Stars have been terrific on their home ice. Out of the last 12 games played at the H-E-B Center, they've lost only one. To add to that, three out of the last four home games have been sold out. 

"We have goals, we have expectations, and we have a team that can make some noise here," Graham said after practice late Tuesday morning at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park.

When asked about why his team has been seeing so much success this season, Graham stated that the Stars have a lot of talented players on the ice. 

"It's the depth that our team possesses, really in every position," Graham said.

"Honestly, our depth is something that I haven't seen in a lot of years," Barber said.

The Stars lead the AHL in scoring, averaging nearly four goals a game. Barber has helped the team achieve that average this season with a total of 19 goals scored and 16 assists. 

"Being able to play with some great players always helps you score goals," Barber said.

Barber, a Pittsburgh native, signed as a free agent in the off-season and he is already making a huge impact.

"We coached against him and played against him last year in our division," Graham said. "You know, we were sick of him scoring against us, so we brought him on board."

The all-star leads the team with number of goals scored, a mark that ranks him Top 5 in the league.

"I've played a lot of years, scored a lot of goals in this league," Barber said. "But, this year, it just seems different. The goals mean more. And we have one of those teams where I think we're going to go pretty far. So, it's really cool."

The depth within the Dallas Stars organization is so deep that by Jan. 1, their ECHL team, AHL team and NHL teams were currently in first place in their respective divisions. This achievement means all three head coaches will get to lead their respective teams in the all-star games at all three levels. These games will take place in February. 

The Texas Stars are on the road this weekend but will return to Cedar Park for a 6-game homestand starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, against the Colorado Eagles.

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