Friday, April 3, 2009

Pregame Report - Lincoln at Sioux Falls 4/3

The Lincoln Stars will travel to Sioux Falls, SD to knock heads with the Sioux Falls Stampede Friday night at the Sioux Falls Arena. The game will be a preview of the first round of the USHL playoffs, as the Stampede will play the Stars in Game 1 of their best of 5 series a week from today (Friday) at the Ice Box in Lincoln. This will be the seventh and final time the Stars and 'Pede have played each other this season, with the Stars holding the 4-2 advantage in the six games. Lincoln is in first place in the USHL west division with 78 points, while Sioux Falls has 56 points and are in fourth place in the west division.

This could end up being a VERY interesting game. The 'Pede have had a less than spectacular season, and really have had trouble playing consistent hockey. The knock on the 'Pede yet again is that they are a soft team. The play with more grit than most USHL east division teams, but that's not saying a lot. However, the 'Pede have recently shown that they are not afraid to get their collective hands dirty. This past Saturday night in Omaha, the Stampede and Lancers combined for a total of 113 penalty minutes and five fighting majors. Sure, the 'Pede lost the game 6-1, but they let the Lancers know they weren't going to be pushed around. The new tough guy in Sioux Falls is forward Marcus Perrier (not to be confused with the Frenchy water). Perrier has a total of 126 PIM's in 46 games this season, and hails from Thunder Bay, Ontario. You know you're a badass when you're from a town called Thunder Bay. Anyway, 'Pede defenseman Max Grover used to be the resident tough guy for SF, but since being KO'd by Stars forward Jimmy Siers, Grover has not dropped the gloves once. From what I've heard, he has been instructed by the team doctor NOT to drop the mitts any more.

I really think this game could end up as a gongshow. Lincoln has the top spot wrapped up in the West, and really has nothing to lose (except 2 points in the Anderson Cup race). Sioux Falls might come out with a chip on their shoulders, wanting to mix it up with the Stars all night. I'm sure the Stars would be happy to oblige the 'Pede if that's what they want. The point I'm taking way too long to make is that I believe both teams are going to want to send a message in this game, with their playoff series starting a week from now. The 'Pede will want to let the Stars know that they won't just roll over and die, while the Stars will want to give the Stampede something to think about all next week.

Of the two Lincoln netminders, Anthony Borelli has posted the better numbers against Sioux Falls this season. Borelli is 2-0 against the 'Pede, with a .926 save percentage and a 1.94 goals against average in those two games. 'Pede goaltender Eric "I act like a child and throw fits on the ice, but I'm protected by my Coach" Hartzell has played in all six games against the Stars this season, accumulating a 2-4 record with .919 save percentage and a 2.85 goals against average. It's tough to predict which Stars goaltender will get the nod in this game. With the way the team as played as of late, I'm not sure it matters. Both are playing extremely well.

Finally..separated at birth! 'Pede Head Coach Kevin Hartzell and Borat!

Faceoff is at 7:05pm

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