Thursday, January 7, 2010

Weekend Preview: There's No Place Like Home?

The Lincoln Stars will return to the comfy confines of the IceBox this weekend when the Stars host the Omaha Lancers on Friday night (1/8), and the Cedar Rapids Roughriders on Saturday night (1/9).  Entering the Friday night game against rival Omaha, the Stars are riding a franchise record six game losing streak (three of those six losses came in overtime-shootout).  Lincoln currently has a record of 9-16-3 (21 points), and their winning percentage (.375) is last in the USHL.  Through 28 games this season, the Stars have scored a meager 65 goals (2.32 goals per game), which is also last overall in the USHL.  The Stars will play 21 of their final 32 games at home at the IceBox.  Lincoln has 3 wins against 6 losses at home this season.

Up first for the Stars will be the Omaha Lancers, regarded by many as the top team in the USHL this season.  Plain and simple, this team is scary.  Tons of scoring to go along with very good goaltending, the Lancers are the real deal.  Omaha is currently 23-6-1 (47 points) and are in first place in the USHL West Division, as well has first place overall in the USHL.  The Lancers sport the top offense in the USHL, having scored an incredible 128 goals in 30 games played (4.27 goals per game).  Forwards Matt White and Erik Haula lead the Lancers on offense, and have scored 93 points (36 goals, 57 assists) between the two.  These two are arguably the top two offensive forwards in the entire USHL this season, and when they are clicking...look out.  Goaltender Jeff Teglia has been solid in net for the Lancers this season, sporting a 17-5-1 record along with a 2.41 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.  There are very few, if any, weak spots in this squad.

Saturday night, the Stars will face yet another top team in the USHL, the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  Always sound fundamentally, the Riders play a very disciplined game which emphasizes team defense.  The 'Riders are currently 15-13-2 (32 points), and are in third place in the USHL East Division.  Cedar Rapids are led by forwards Jeff Costello (24 points), Zach Lehrke (27 points), and defenseman Bryce Aneloski (29 points).  Anelsoski is the USHL's top scoring defenseman so far this season.  Between the pipes, goaltender Troy Grosenick has played the majority of games for CR, but was recently injured (concussion) in a game against Des Moines, so there is a possibility Grosenick might not play this weekend.  Grosenick is the league leader in minutes played and saves for all USHL goaltenders.

Well, if the Lincoln Stars want to get back into the playoff hunt and start this home stretch on the right note, they'll have to play their best hockey against two teams who have already proven they can win on the road.  The Lancers sport a 11-2-1 away record, while the Roughriders are 8-5-1 on the road.  Omaha has the top powerplay unit in the USHL, so the Stars must stay out of the box and play smart hockey if they want to have a chance in either game this weekend.  So far this season, we haven't seen the Stars play their best hockey at home.  Instead, the Stars have played much better on the road.  For this team to even sniff at the playoffs, they'll have to figure out fast how to win at home.  Will that happen this weekend?  We'll soon find out.

Note:  Per Brent Wagner at the LJS Blueline Blog, Jarrod Mermis, Will Rayner, and Garrett Clement are all out with injuries.  Brent gave the fans a little bit to think about with this quote:  "The Stars have an open roster spot, but have somebody in mind to fill it if the player can get some issues with school taken care of."  Hmmmm...interesting.  I wonder who this player is?  An affiliate player?  A player leaving college?

I hope to see two sellout crowds this weekend.  More than ever, we need to support these players as they try to turn this season around.  Be Loud!  Be Proud!

Go Stars.


tzweeb said...

i hate to say it, but i have a hard time reading about how bad we are doing this year.
i am even giving my tickets away for the lancer game friday. atleast someone will be in my seats!
see you all on saturday night.

tzweeb said...

also i will be spending friday night with brents fiancee, maybe i can get some insider information from her!!! no really we have a lock in at our church so get your minds back on hockey. lol

nutz4puckz said...

No where to go but up, lets go Stars!! Make tonight the start of a good run.

OmahaHockeyTalk said...

I'm hoping to make it down to the game tonight; I've got tickets. Does anybody know how the roads in Lincoln and, in particular, around the Ice Box are?

Yeti said...


The roads in Lincoln aren't that bad, in my opinion. I don't have a 4x4 or anything, and I can get around just fine. There are some slick spots of course, but nothing out of the ordinary. There are some areas of the interstate that have some blowing and drifting snow, but again...nothing you shouldn't be able to navigate in. The roads around the IceBox will be snow-packed, but again...manageable.

Just give yourself plenty of time getting down here. I'd say leave at lease 40 minutes to an hour earlier than you normally would.

OmahaHockeyTalk said...

Thanks Yeti. The interstate system in Omaha has been pretty slick so hopefully I won't have any problems getting down to Lincoln.

Yeti said...

Well, I have to say...I'm really proud of the Stars tonight. Despite the loss, they never gave up. Give credit to Omaha. Their powerplay is really, really good (4 PP goals tonight). However, I think the Stars outplayed the Lancers 5-on-5 tonight. I thought Jared Coreau played his best game at home this season, even though he got the loss. He kept the Stars in this game, and was hung out to dry on those PP goals.

Nothing to hang your head about after this one. Lincoln definitely showed that they can play with the top teams in the USHL, despite their place in the standings. Omaha is good, but they are beatable.

I'll write up a post-game report sometime tomorrow. Go Stars.

starstruck said...

Well-said Yeti. Our Stars can be very proud of the effort they gave tonight - they were in that game until the very last second. Many forward steps have been taken since the last time we were at the Ice Box. Keep working hard guys, things will start going your way! Go Stars!

And once again Stars show class that other organizations (& we know who they are) seem unable to achieve - two of the 3 stars went to the visiting team. Congrats to Ryan Dzingel for earning the first star at his first game at the Ice Box!

Crazy Carl said...

I have to say this is one of the best home games I've seen in quite awhile. To keep the game close against a team like Omaha is pretty impressive. Jared played great, he made some great saves, and I have to say the our offense really made some good efforts tonight. I'm looking forward to the game against Cedar Rapids tomorrow.

OmahaHockeyTalk said...

It was a pretty fun game last night. Ironically, I talked to Ryan Dzingel's family in the will call line before the game. Despite his performance against my team, I was pretty happy for him. I love when players in this league have big games in front of their parents.

Yeti said...

Glad you made it to the game last night, OmahaHockeyTalk. Dzingel had a great game, so I'm sure his parents were very proud. See you at the Civic on the 16th!