Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Captains and Cuts

Thanks to a couple people paying close attention to the Lincoln Stars roster on Pointstreak, it is fairly safe to assume that Dominik Shine and Tyler Underhill will not be with the Stars this season. It is unclear whether Shine (a '93 birth date) will be on the affiliate list or not. With the addition of Ben Lynch from Cedar Rapids and the expected release of Matt White, the Stars are at the 23 player maximum. Don't be surprised if a thing or two happens this week.

Also, Coach McGroarty appeared on The Spread this afternoon on 1480, and revealed the 2009-10 captains. So without further adieu:
Captain - Matt Bruneteau (D)
Alternate - Garrett Peterson (F)
Alternate - David Gerths (F)

Many expected these three to wear a letter this year; it was just a matter of who gets what. Some felt Jimmy Siers and Cory Hibbeler would make good captains as well. Expect both of those guys to be strong leaders in the locker room even though they won't wear a letter. McGroarty often talked last year about guys like Kirt Hill and Ryan Kretzer who didn't wear letters but were instrumental leaders in the locker room. I think it's pretty dang cool to have a Nebraska boy be the captain of the Stars. Not too shabby.

So, Stars fans, were you correct on your captain prediction in the Black and Blue poll on the right? Also, check back to the Black and Blue blog Wednesday for an updated roster with stats and pictures.

Go Stars!

Stars acquire forward from Cedar Rapids

According to Poinstreak, the Lincoln Stars acquired forward Ben Lynch from the Cedar Rapids Roughriders today. No player went back to Cedar Rapids in this trade, so I am to assume a draft pick was sent to CR in return for Lynch.

Ben Lynch is a 5'10" 173 pound forward from Blaine, MN. He was born in 1989, so he is an overager, which will fill the last overager spot on the roster. He's played the past two seasons with Cedar Rapids.

You can check out his stats here.

I know nothing about Lynch, so I can't really go into specifics about what kind of player he is. Coach McGroarty picked up Garrett Vermeersch last season from Cedar Rapids, and Vermy turned out to be a very good player. Lynch has two seasons worth of USHL experience, which is always nice. Although his stats aren't mind-boggling, he put up solid numbers on some very good CR teams.

LJS Blueline Blog Update

I wanted to briefly talk about the Lincoln Journal Star’s Blueline Blog that is run by Brent Wagner. The LJS website recently experienced a complete overhaul, and the Blueline Blog was sort of lost in the transition. I’ve heard from a number or Stars fans that they cannot find the blog on the LJS website, nor do they like the new website design. Also, the blog hasn’t been updated in awhile, and with the regular season just about ready to take off, a number of Stars fans (including myself) were very anxious to read updates from Brent about the team.

I am a BIG fan of Brent and all the hard work he’s done with the Blueline Blog since he started it. No other USHL team has this kind of resource that the fans can get information from. Brent has worked extremely hard the past couple of years to build up that blog. I’ve never looked at his blog as competition, or anything like that. What we both provide is very different, I believe. Brent has the connections to give us the insider info that I might not have. He has access to the coaches and players, which allows for some terrific interviews, videos, and blog articles. We (BellTolls and myself) provide more of a common fan's perspective. We’re just a couple of “normal” guys who follow the Stars religiously, and enjoy ranting about their favorite hockey team.

Anyway, I sent Brent an email last night and asked if he was ok, and was just curious about the state of the Blueline Blog. As always, Brent was quick to respond and was very helpful. I can tell you that the folks at the Lincoln Journal Star sports department are working right now to build a new Blueline Blog that is just as user-friendly as the old blog was. Brent was not sure when the new blog would be online, but said that it was a high priority for the sports editor at the LJS. It’s up to the computer geeks at the LJS to get the blog online, and running. Patience, grasshoppers. Brent’s blog will be back online soon, and I’m certain, better than ever. In the meantime, enjoy our long-winded ramblings on the best hockey team in the USHL.

Go Stars.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

USHL Fall Classic: 9/26 Lincoln vs. Cedar Rapids

Final Score: Cedar Rapids 5, Lincoln 1

The 2009 USHL Fall Classic in Sioux City, Iowa was not kind to the Lincoln Stars.

The Stars lost their third straight Fall Classic game, as the Cedar Rapids Roughriders pounded the Lincoln Stars by a score of 5-1. The green weenies Roughriders used 4 first period goals to propel themselves to victory. The lone Stars goal came from forward Andrew Ammon, with assists from Lincoln youngsters Dominik Shine, and Jared Hanson. The Stars out shot the Roughriders in the game, 24-20. Stars goaltender Steven Racine played the entire game between the pipes, stopping 15 of 20 shots in the loss. A concerning trend, in their past four exhibition games, the Stars are scoreless in the third period.

Not sure what happened early on in this game, but the Stars really must have come out flat. Amazingly, Lincoln stayed out of the penalty box for most of the game. In fact, they played the first half of the game without a penalty against. That's incredible considering the Stars recent issues with undisciplined play. I try not to get too concerned with these exhibition games. They are more for the coaches in terms of evaluating the talent they have on the bench. Last season, the Des Moines Buccaneers went 3-0 in the Fall Classic...and then they went on to post one of the worst records in the USHL regular season. Conversely, the Fargo Force went 0-3 in the Fall Classic last year, but went on to finish the regular season very strong and play for the Clark Cup. It is a little disheartening that the Stars couldn't win one game in Sioux City, but I'm not worried. It's way too early to tell what kind of team the Stars will field this season.

If I recall correctly, the Lincoln coaches will now have until Monday (9/28) to cut the roster down to 23 players. This is when the roster can really turn upside down. The Stars could pick up players cut from other USHL teams, or Coach McGroarty could look to one of the three Canadian major junior leagues to fill the one overager spot that is still open on the roster. McGroarty did that the past two seasons with David Reekie, and Kirt Hill (both played in the WHL before coming to Lincoln). If I hear anything thing on my end in regards to roster changes, I'll report them here as soon as possible.

Go Stars.

Friday, September 25, 2009

USHL Fall Classic: 9/25 Lincoln vs. Green Bay

Final Score: Green Bay 3, Lincoln 2 OT Shootout

The Lincoln Stars lost their second straight Fall Classic game in an overtime shootout, as the Stars fell to the Green Bay Gamblers, 3-2. The Stars got out to an early 2-1 lead when forwards David Gerths and Brett Chartier both scored in the first period , but Lincoln could not hold on to the lead. Green Bay scored in the third period on a 5-on-3 powerplay goal to tie the game at 2-2. In the overtime shootout, all five Lincoln players were unable to score, while one GB player scored to seal the Green Bay victory. In the three exhibition games the Stars have played so far, Lincoln has scored zero goals in the third period.

The Stars will conclude their stay in Sioux City tomorrow (9/26) when they play the Cedar Rapids Roughriders at 5:30pm. You can follow the game via Pointstreak. Because this game will be played at the IBP Ice Center, it will NOT be shown on the B2 Network.

Note: I'm still not certain, but Matt White #12 might have played in this game. White was rumored earlier to have quit hockey. Pointstreak lists him as having played in this game, but there are some folks here, and on the Stargazing message board that are saying it wasn't White. Supposedly, Chris Delmauro (on Stars affiliate list) was also in the lineup today. Also, some folks have said that Ryan Dzingel (Stars futures draft pick) was playing today as well. It's hard to believe Pointstreak at this point. I'm getting all kinds of mixed up info.

Edit: According to a UND beat writer, Matt White was probably not in uniform for the Stars today:

"I was unsuccessful in my attempts to reach Matt White or his father, but USHL people say that he's planning to play high school hockey in his hometown near Pittsburgh this season. Lincoln is keeping him on its protected player list, but he is no longer considered a Sioux commit."

After I posted the Poinstreak boxscore on the above author's website, he changed his quote. It now reads:

"I was unsuccessful in my attempts to reach Matt White or his father, but apparently he is no longer a Sioux commit. I originally heard he was going back to play in his hometown, but he was in the lineup for Lincoln tonight. So I have no idea what's going on."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

USHL Fall Classic: 9/24 Lincoln vs. Indiana

Final Score: Indiana 4, Lincoln 3 OT Shootout

The Lincoln Stars lost their first game of the 2009 USHL Fall Classic tournament Thursday morning in Sioux City, as they fell to the Indiana Ice in overtime shootout, 4-3. The Stars came back from an early 3-1 deficit to tie the game at 3-3 late in the second period with goals by Stars forwards Kyle Gibbons, and Tucker Brockett. After a scoreless third and overtime period, the Stars scored one goal in the OT shootout, while the Ice scored two goals and secured the victory.

Scoring regulation goals for Lincoln were forwards David Gerths, Kyle Gibbons, and Tucker Brockett. All three of the previously mentioned players ended the game with two points (1g, 1a). Lincoln was outshot by the Ice in the game, 35-26. Stars goaltender Steven Racine surrended 3 goals on 22 shots, while Jared Coreau stopped all 18 shots he faced in regulation. Coreau stopped 3 of 5 shots he faced in the overtime shootout.

Good effort by the Stars to come back in this game after being down early on. Lincoln had some issues in the first period staying out of the penalty box, but they seemed to play more disciplined after that. I didn't get to watch this game on B2 or in person, so if any of my readers would like to add anything more in regards to how the team looked, please feel free to comment.

The Stars will faceoff against the Green Bay Gamblers tomorrow (9/25) morning at 10am. You can follow the game on Pointstreak, or purchase the game to watch on B2 Networks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lincoln Stars USHL Fall Classic Preview

The 2009-10 Lincoln Stars will continue their exhibition season this week, as they travel to the wonderfully scenic town of Sioux City, Iowa to participate in the 2009 USHL Fall Classic. The Stars will play three games total, all against USHL Eastern Division teams. All three teams the Stars will face made the playoffs last season, but with player turnover, it's still way too early to tell how good these teams will be this season. Regardless, this should be a very good test for the Stars, as all three teams the Stars will face traditionally field very good hockey teams.

The USHL Fall Classic games played at the Tyson Events Center will all be broadcast on B2 Networks. Games played at the IBP Ice Center will NOT be broadcast on B2 Networks. That means that the 9/24, and the 9/25 Stars games will be available for purchase. The 9/26 game will not be available to watch, due to that game being played at the IBP Ice Center. Click here for more info on watching these games on B2 Networks. The cost of each game is $7. You can also follow the games online via Poinstreak. I do not believe these game will be available on the radio.

10:00am Thursday, 9/24: Lincoln Stars vs. Indiana Ice
The Indiana Ice are the defending Clark Cup Champions, but one look at their current roster will tell you that they starting over with a number of new players. I took a quick glance at their roster today, and I did not recognize many names. The Ice will look to reload without players like Stanislav Galiev, Mike Cichy, Brandon Richardson, and Brett Bennett on the roster. I believe the Ice might struggle a bit during the first part of the season because of the heavy player turnover. The Ice are 0-2 in the exhibition season, with losses to Chicago (3-6), and Green Bay (1-2).

10:00am Friday, 9/25: Lincoln Stars vs. Green Bay Gamblers
The Green Bay Gamblers are coming off a very impressive "worst to first" season. Two years ago, the Gamblers were the worst team in the USHL. New GB coach Jon Cooper took control last season, and guided the Gamblers to the best regular season record in the USHL, and the Anderson Cup. Cooper likes to play a similar style of hockey that the Stars employ; defensively sound, physical, in-your-face hockey. The Gamblers are 2-0 in the exhibition season, with wins against Indiana (2-1), and Chicago (3-1). Whenever these two teams play each other, the possibility of fireworks is always present.

5:30pm Saturday, 9/26: Lincoln Stars vs. Cedar Rapids Roughriders
The Stars will conclude their stay in Sioux City with a Saturday afternoon game against the Roughriders from Cedar Rapids. The Roughriders always seem to field very disciplined, speedy teams. Cedar Rapids is 2-1 in the exhibition season, with two wins against the Waterloo Blackhawks (6-3, 4-2), and a shutout loss to the Sioux City Musketeers (0-2).

Once the Fall Classic concludes, the Lincoln coaches will have to cut down to 23 players for opening night on 10/2. A lot can happen to the roster from the time the Fall Classic ends, to the roster deadline date before opening night. I expect the Stars will go with seven defensemen to start the season, which means one defenseman currently on the roster will be cut after the Fall Classic. Like I said, a lot can happen to the roster in the next few weeks. I'd hate to even guess at who will, or won't be cut.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend any of these three games, so I am hoping some of my readers will be able to provide a postgame report(s). It would be appreciated. Go Stars.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Stars unveil big goalie - LJS Article

Saw this article posted on the Lincoln Journal Star website today. Great article by Brent Wagner on one of the Stars new goaltenders, Jared Coreau.

Click here to read the entire article.

Note: Brent Wagner had an interesting sidenote to the article above, in regards to Matt White. Here's what Brent said: "Matt White did report as part of the 25-man preseason roster as expected. Lincoln still has his rights and would welcome White at a later date, McGroarty said. White played for Des Moines for two seasons and committed to North Dakota."

Well, maybe Matt is just trying to figure out what he wants to do with his hockey career. A UND beat writer posted on his blog a few weeks ago that White was quitting hockey. He would be a welcome addition to the Stars, so I hope he eventually joins the team. We'll have to wait and see I suppose. I doubt he'll be in the lineup later this week when the Stars travel to Sioux City, Iowa to participate in the USHL Fall Classic.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Exhibition Postgame Report - Tri-City at Lincoln

Final Score: Tri-City 2, Lincoln 3 OT Shootout

The Lincoln Stars survived a late comeback by the Tri-City Storm to win their first exhibition game of the season, 3-2 in overtime shootout. The Stars got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from forwards Brodie Reid, and Kyle Gibbons. The goal by Gibbons was an incredible individual effort, and was one of the better goals I've seen scored at the Ice Box in a looooong time. It was that good. Gibbons also added one goal in the overtime shootout. Stars forward Tucker Brockett scored the game winning goal in the overtime shootout to seal the victory for the Stars.

Considering the Stars just started practicing together as a team a few days ago, I thought they played pretty well. It was sloppy, but I expected that. TC seemed to play the entire game on the powerplay, and I thought the PK unit for the Stars did very well to not allow a Storm PP goal. Goaltenders Jared Coreau and Steven Racine played very well for Lincoln. Coreau stopped all 17 shots he faced, while Racine stopped 17 of 19 shots in regulation and 4 of 5 shooters in the overtime shootout. Despite giving up the two goals, I thought Racine played very steady in net. Coreau didn't have to work as hard for his saves, but he also looked very calm and in control between the pipes.

I'm not going to go too in depth with this writeup. I've mentioned this previously, but these exhibition games are more for the coaches than they are the fans. I was just happy to get my Stars hockey fix. I thought newcomers like Brodie Reid, Kyle Gibbons, Tucker Brockett, Will Rayner, Steven Racine, and Jared Coreau all played very well in the their Stars debut.

1ST STAR: Gibbons, Kyle (LIN)
2ND STAR: Brockett, Tucker (LIN)
3RD STAR: Reid, Brodie (LIN)

The Stars will travel to Sioux City, Iowa later this week to play in the USHL Fall City Classic. The Stars will face the Indiana Ice on Thursday (9/24), the Green Bay Gamblers on Friday (9/25), and will finish up the tournament Saturday evening (9/26) against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.

Matt White was not in uniform for the Stars, and it appears the rumors of him quitting hockey could be true. It's a shame, because I really thought Matt had a bright future with the Stars this upcoming season.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

9/20 Exhibition: Tri-City at Lincoln

The 2009-10 Lincoln Stars will begin their exhibition season Sunday night, when the Tri-City Storm come to town to battle the Stars at the Ice Box. The Storm will have a distinct advantage against the Stars, as they have been practicing for weeks now, and have already played two exhibition games, both against the Omaha Lancers. On the other hand, the Stars just began practice this past Thursday (9/17), due to the State Fair occupying the Ice Box well into September. With an ice surface now installed, the Stars will have three days to practice as a team before their first exhibition game.

As previously mentioned, the Storm have played two exhibition games already, both home losses against the Omaha Lancers. On 9/11/09, the Storm gave up three third period goals, and lost 6-3 to the Lancers. On 9/18/09, the Storm were blown out by a score of 10-3. In those two games, the Storm put an impressive 76 shots on goal. However, they appear to still have issues on defense and in net, as the Storm surrendered 16 goals in those two games. It is still way too early to tell how improved this Tri-City team will be compared to last season. It's hard to believe that the Storm will be as bad, or worse, than they were last season.

The Stars are returning seven players from last years team:
Forwards Garrett Peterson, David Gerths, Brett Charter, Jimmy Siers, John McCarron and defensemen Matt Bruneteau and Cory Hibbeler. The Stars will rely on two newcomers between the pipes: goaltenders Steven Racine, and Jared Coreau. Personally, I believe Racine and Coreau will exceed expectations, and the goaltending position will be an early strong point on this Stars team. With the lack of defensemen returning, Racine and Coreau will be tasked with keeping the Stars in games that maybe they shouldn't be in. I expect both netminders to get playing time in this exhibition game.

This game will be a good, early test for the Stars. However, considering how little the Stars have practiced together as a team, I don't expect a well executed game from either squad. It's early, and these types of games are more for the coaches to evaluate the talent they have, than it is for the fans. Regardless, it's Lincoln Stars hockey at the Ice box...and that's all that matters. I'm looking forward to watching all of the players, but I will be paying close attention to the new players suiting up for the Stars for the first time. It will be interesting if players like Matt White, Brodie Reid, and Steve West are actually in uniform for the Stars. There were some rumors that White was quitting hockey, while Reid and West were no-shows at the Stars tryout camp.

Faceoff is at 5pm.

Go Stars.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Matt White

I noticed this bit of news posted on the Lincoln Stargazing message board today. Apparently, a University of North Dakota beat writer is reporting on his Twitter site that two sources have told him forward Matt White ('10 UND recruit) will not play for the Lincoln Stars next season, and that White is "contemplating hanging up the skates."

White ('91) played 53 games last season for the Des Moines Buccaneers, and was traded to Lincoln this past May for a futures draft pick. Personally, I thought Matt had a very good camp, and I was looking forward to watching him this season in Lincoln. At the tryouts in Omaha, he really played with a chip on his shoulder and was not afraid to throw his body around. That certainly got the attention of some of the Stars vets at camp. This news comes at a very odd time, in my opinion. White had a scholarship lined up to play hockey at UND, considered one of the best college hockey programs in the USA. He played pretty well for a very bad Des Moines team last season, and was on tap to be a contributing team member on a solid Stars team this season. It just seems weird that a kid with everything in front of him would suddenly quit hockey.

If this report is true, coach McGroarty will have to replace White with another player on the 25-player protected roster. Does coach pluck yet another overager gem from the WHL? A lot can happen to the roster between now and October 2nd. Until then, I'll keep an ear to the ground and report any roster movements I become aware of.