Lincoln will look to widen the gap between themselves and the Omaha Lancers as the Stars travel to Kearney on Tuesday to play the Tri-City Storm for the final time this season. The Storm and the Stars have played each other seven times, with the Stars going 5-2 in the season series. Lincoln has won five straight games against the Storm, after losing the first two games.
The Stars cannot take the Storm for granted in this game. Despite being the worst team in the USHL statistically, the Storm have played very well against the Stars all season long, save for a couple of games. Storm forward Radoslav Illo has scored goals in four straight games, and has accumulated four points in five games against the Stars. He doesn't have a lot of help, but Illo is a guy the Stars will have to watch closely. The Storm are coming off an impressive 4-3 upset win against the Omaha Lancers this past Saturday in which goaltender TJ Massie stopped 48 of 51 shots on goal in the win. I expect Massie to start again for the Storm against the Stars. He certainly has the ability to take over a game, having saved 47 of 51 shots on goal in a 4-3 loss to the Stars on 2/7.
Lincoln is coming off a tough 5-1 road loss against the Waterloo Blackhawks this past Saturday. Forwards Ryan Kretzer, Kirt Hill, Eric Alexander, and Garrett Vermeersch continue to lead the way on offense for the Stars. Guys like Garrett Peterson, Brett Chartier, and Corey Chakeen have been stepping up lately with timely goals and assists. Defenseman Jake Newton has been on a bit of a tear lately, with five points accumulated in the last three games. Goaltender Anthony Borelli has started the last three games in a row for the Stars, so I expect Kevin Murdock to get the nod in net tonight against the Storm. "Doc" is 3-1 against the Storm this season, and has given up eight goals in those four games.
I don't expect a lot of rough stuff in this game, as the Storm really don't have a lot of players who drop the mitts.
Predictions? Does Murdock get the start tonight, or does Coach McGroarty stay with Borelli? Could this possibly be the last time the Stars play the Storm? There has been talk that the Storm could fold in the offseason unless the current team owner can sell the team and the arena.