Friday, February 27, 2009

Postgame Report - Lincoln @ Green Bay 2/27


Final Score: Lincoln 1, Green Bay 3

In what was dubbed by myself as a "Clash of the Titans," turned out to be just a plain ole butt whuppin'.

Lincoln opened the scoring in the first period, when Garrett Vermeersch scored four minutes into game. Unfortunately for Lincoln, it was all Green Bay after that. The Gamblers scored three straight goals, two in the second period and one in the third, to beat the Stars 3-1.

The Stars fell apart completly in the second period, as the Gamblers outshot the Stars by the tune of 23-10. On the night, Green Bay outshot the Stars overall 42-31. Without going back and looking at the boxscore of every game, I think this could be the first time any team has had more than 40 shots against the Stars. Lincoln has made it known this season that defense comes first, and the season stats reflect that. However, that all went out the window Friday night. The Stars gave up numerous odd-man rushes, and their special teams just didn't show up.

Credit Green Bay on a well played game. They took it to Lincoln all night long, and never let up. Yet another prediction I made fell thru the cracks last night, as GB defenseman Robert Shea didn't drop the mitts with any Lincoln players. Maybe next time, Youtuber's.

The one bright spot on the Stars was the play of netminder Kevin Murdock. The score of this game could have been a lot worse, but Doc stood on his head. The native of Bradenton, Florida stopped 39 of 42 shots in the loss. Lincoln Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye said after the game that in his opinion, it could have been Doc's best game as a Lincoln Stars player.

1ST STAR: Merrifield, Michael (GB)
2ND STAR: Lee, CJ (GB)
3RD STAR: Ellingson, Reid (GB)

Lincoln travels to Chicago to play the Steel on Saturday night. The Steel are coming off an impressive 3-2 shootout victory over the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Chicago has won eight games in a row.

Pregame Report - Lincoln @ Green Bay 2/27


The Green Bay Gamblers will play host to the Lincoln Stars tonight, as both teams are in first place in their respective divisions (GB is tied with Cedar Rapids, but has one game in hand). The Stars have played the Gamblers twice this season, losing one and winning one. The win came on 12/12/08 when the Stars beat the Gamblers 1-0, in Green Bay. Anthony Borelli recorded the shutout in that one. The loss came way back on 10/18/08 in Lincoln, when the Gamblers dusted the Stars by a score of 8-3. For those of us who attended that loss, it will not be easily forgotten.

In the first four seconds of the game, there were THREE separate fights. It was unbelievable. It's something I have not seen happen in any hockey game, at any level. Supposedly there was is some bad blood between the teams which dates back to when they played each other in the preseason Fall Classic tournament. So anyway, back to the madhouse that was the Ice Box on the evening of 10/18/08. Three fights in the first four seconds of the game, and six total fights in that game. Unfortunately for the Stars, they really didn't show up to play hockey that night...as the Gamblers rolled all over Lincoln, 8-3.

Goaltender Anthony Borelli has started the last three games for the Stars, so I would expect Kevin Murdock in net tonight. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Coach McGroarty goes with Borelli instead, considering how well Borelli has been playing lately. One thing is for certain, if Green Bay defenseman Robert Shea does play tonight for the Gamblers, he will drop the mitts. He's not a big kid, but he's fearless...and will duke it out with anyone. Think of him as GB's version of Jimmy Siers. Boy, wouldn't that be a fight? Siers vs. Shea? Youtube, please...thank you. Anyway, I don't expect tonight's game to dissolve into the gongshow that occurred in Lincoln back in October, but I do think it could get chippy.

If you are thinking of buying this game on B2, I'd recommend it. It should be a very good, physical game pitting two teams who are leading the pack in the USHL. You hear the term, "playoff type atmosphere" thrown around a lot these days in regards to big hockey games, but this is one of those games. Two titans, slugging it out. Can I be any more dramatic?

Faceoff is at 7:05pm.

Predictions? Can the Stars beat the Gamblers twice in a row on their home ice? Who fights who tonight? Does Borelli or Doc get the start? Why am I asking so many questions? Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NTDP to join the USHL next season


Okay, so it's not 100% Stars related...but it's big news.

Team USA to join USHL.

"The United States Hockey League in conjunction with USA Hockey is pleased to announce that the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) will become full-time members of America's Tier I league, effective the 2009-10 season. This will mark the second foray for Team USA into the United States' top league as a full-time member. They were previously a part of the USHL in the 1998-99 and 1999-00 seasons."

Rumor is that the NAHL team currently in Youngstown, OH (Mahoning Valley Phantoms) will join the USHL also next season. My guess is that Youngstown and the NTDP will join the Eastern Division, while the Des Moines Buccaneers will once again play in the Western Division.

If anything, it's more exposure for the USHL. More long road trips, also.

Another article here.

Edit: There is some great discussion going on about this topic over on the "Finish Your Check" message board. Check it out here.

Playoffs Loom....


As Lincoln heads into a very important weekend on the road, the Stars are down to their final 15 regular season games. To be honest, the final 15 games read like "Murderer's Row."

Green Bay: 2/27 (away), 3/20 (home)
Chicago: 2/28 (away), 3/14 (away)
Waterloo: 3/6 (home)
Sioux City: 3/7 (home), 3/28 (away)
Omaha: 3/10 (home), 3/17 (away)
Indiana: 3/13 (away)
Cedar Rapids: 3/15 (away), 3/27 (home)
Fargo: 3/21 (home), 4/4 (away)
Sioux Falls: 4/3 (away)

The cumulative win-loss record of those teams is 223-182. Overtime losses are included in the loss total.

9 games on the road, 6 games at home. The only team out of that bunch that doesn't have a winning record is Sioux City. Sioux Falls is playing much better and have won six straight. Omaha seem to be regressing as of late, but I know they'll start playing better once Teglia gets back in net. The 8 games against the five Eastern division teams will be brutal. This will be a very good test to see if the Stars are playoff ready.

Thoughts? How many wins out of those 15 games is reasonable? In your opinion, do the Stars still have a shot at the Anderson Cup?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Postgame Report - Lincoln @ Tri-City 2/24


Final Score: Lincoln 3, Tri-City 1

Lincoln won their sixth straight against the Storm, as the Stars scored all three goals in the second period to beat Tri-City, 3-1. Scoring goals for the Stars was Garrett Vermeersch (PP), Kirt Hill (GW), and Corey Chakeen. Jake Newton had 3 assists on the night, while goaltender Kevin Murdock stopped 28 of 29 shots on goal for the win.

It sounded like the Stars came out flat in the first period, and Doc kept them in the game. After Coach McGroarty had a nice little chat chewed some ass in the locker room during the first intermission, the Stars came out and dominated the second period. Lincoln outshot the Storm 24-5 in that period, and scored all three goals. Tri-City managed to score one goal in the third period to ruin the shutout for Doc. Lincoln outshot Tri-City 43-29.

Quality road win against a team that isn't as bad as their record indicates. I was a little worried going into this game, as I wondered if the Stars might overlook the Storm knowing they had two very important games this weekend against the Gamblers and the Steel.

Jimmy Siers, Michael Sdao, and John McCarron were scratches for the game. I know Sdao is sick, but Siers apparently is injured. I really hope the injury to Siers isn't serious, as the Stars REALLY need his presence this weekend...especially against the Gamblers.

It was nice to see that Taylor Kuypers got some playing time last night, after being a healthy scratch for three straight games. I'm a big fan of Kuypers, and believe he is deserving of more ice time. He has improved a lot since last season, and will be looked upon next season (if he returns) to shoulder a much larger load on defense.

1ST STAR: Vermeersch, Garrett (LIN)
2ND STAR: Newton, Jake (LIN)
3RD STAR: Murdock, Kevin (LIN)

Quick Notes: Chris Forfar is still looking for a goal to break his streak. He has played 23 games now without scoring a goal. On the opposite end, Kirt Hill has scored at least one point in 19 of the last 21 games. Amazing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pregame Report - Lincoln @ Tri-City 2/24


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.

Face off is at 7:05pm.

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.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Penalties


I was thinking today of the amount of penalties called on the Stars this season. As previously mentioned, the Stars lead the USHL in penalty minutes with 1234 PIM's in 44 games played. That's roughly 28 penalty minutes per game by the Stars. Last season, after 60 regular season games, the Stars averaged 26.8 penalty minutes per game (again, first in the USHL).

I remember last season the team having problems with the "dumb penalty." Quite often you'd see players do something really undisciplined, sometime retaliatory, and get called for the penalty. As a fan, it drove me nuts. I don't mind a team racking up the PIM's in the course of a physical, bang-up game. It happens. This is hockey, not chess. However, the undisciplined penalties that plagued the Stars last season is what drove me nuts.

This season, despite the fact that the Stars lead the USHL in PIM's, I really believe that the coaches have done a fantastic job of teaching the guys to drastically cut down on the amount of dumb penalties. There's no mistaking that Coach McGroarty loves to play a physical style of hockey. That doesn't mean that the players are excused to commit stupid penalties. Sure, there have been games where undisciplined play might have caused a loss, but I believe those have been cut back dramatically from last season.

What say you? Do you believe that the Stars have cut back on the amount of dumb penalties? Do you think that the team could play better disciplined hockey?

Road Trip

Yes, that's the bus from the movie "Slapshot." :)

Well, the Stars have quite the test in front of them this week, as they have three straight road games. On Tuesday the 24th, the Stars travel to Kearney to face off against the Tri-City Storm. The Storm are coming off a very impressive 4-3 home victory over the Omaha Lancers. On Friday the 27th, the Stars will be in Green Bay, Wisconsin to battle the Gamblers. If you are considering watching this game via B2, I would very much recommend doing so. Both teams are in first place in their respective divisions, and both teams are not afraid to drop the mitts. Lincoln leads the USHL in penalty minutes with 1234, and Green Bay is in second place with 1077 penalty minutes. Needless to say, both of these teams do not like each other and have some history. Tune in on Friday night, if you can.

Finally on Saturday the 28th, the Stars will be in Chicago to play the Steel. The Steel have been playing very well as of late, and are fighting for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Division. Former Steel forward Eric Alexander will make his first appearance in the "Windy City" since his trade from Chicago to the Stars in early February.

As a fan, I'd really like to see the Stars come back from this road trip with four points, out of a possible six. The Stars can really separate themselves further from the Lancers if they can get all six points, and would improve their chances to win the Anderson Cup.

Welcome!

I just wanted to say a quick 'Thank You' for those who are visiting this blog for the first time.

I've been thinking of creating my own blog devoted to the Lincoln Stars for quite awhile now. I know there are a number of other resources for fans of the Stars to get great info from.  This is just another resource for fans of the Stars to visit, read about the team, and interact with other fans of the team.

I hope you enjoy your stay, and please feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions, criticisms, or opinions about this blog and its content. I would very much appreciate any input you could provide along the way.

Thanks! GO STARS!!

-Yeti