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Stars Hockey on New Year’s Eve is Truly Special

by Steve Hunt / Dallas Stars

Having the Stars home on New Year’s Eve is something that’s been an annual tradition in Big D since 1997. Dallas is 7-3-2 all-time on the last day of the calendar year and has won their last two contests on January 31. Last year, they handed Anaheim a 5-3 loss thanks to a hat trick by Swedish-born winger Loui Eriksson.

This year, the Stars will face Vancouver to finish out the year but no matter the opponent, there is always a festive atmosphere in the American Airlines Center for this game as another capacity crowd is expected for Friday night’s game with the Canucks.

“I think it really is special,” Stars head coach Marc Crawford said. “I think playing on New Year’s Eve, the special nature of that game and it’s against a great opponent, Vancouver, it’ll be terrific for our guys. At this time of year, you’re looking for all the edges you can find and this is one that should spur us on.”

Eriksson has five goals in the last two New Year’s Eve games but it’s the hat trick he had at the Ducks’ expense in 2009 that he remembers most of all.

“Of course, it was a fun game, especially when you score a hat trick. We won the game too,” he said. “It’s nice to play at home when it’s New Year’s Eve. The game was fun. There was a big crowd too. To score a hat trick on one of those days, it’s pretty cool.”

But he isn’t the only current Star who has performed well on the final day of December. Dallas center Brad Richards has five assists in his last two games on New Year’s Eve. He too likes the atmosphere surrounding the game.

“Any time you have a good atmosphere, it’s a lot easier to play especially on home ice. That probably has a lot to do with it,” Richards said. “You feel bigger, stronger and faster when you’ve got a good crowd behind you.”

This tradition started back in 1997 when the Stars hosted the Kings on New Year’s Eve. That one ended in a 2-2 draw in overtime but after that tie, Dallas won the next five on December 31 before tying the Canadiens 1-1 in 2003.

Not only will this game be played on the last day of the year, but it will also be Dallas’ first game since losing 7-3 to Detroit on Wednesday night at the AAC. After a performance where the Wings had six unanswered goals, all parties involved agree the best thing is to get right back out there and put that disappointing loss behind them.

“I think it’s really positive that we get a chance to come back right away after the performance we had in the third period against the Red Wings. Our guys have got a lot to prove and we’re going to continue to have a lot to prove on a daily basis,” Crawford said. “They [these three games right after Christmas] are great challenges and they’re going to make us better.”

It’s a point Richards clearly agrees with.

“Yeah, that’s the good thing about the NHL,” he said. “It will be fun to get back out. It will be another good crowd.”

This will be the first time this season that the Stars and Canucks will face one another.

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