Thursday, February 18, 2010

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Green Bay


The Lincoln Stars will return to the comfy confines of the IceBox this weekend where they will face off against the Sioux City Musketeers on Friday night, and the Green Bay Gamblers on Saturday night.  The Lincoln Stars are currently in last place in the USHL West Division with a record of 12-25-7 (31 points).

First up for the Stars this weekend is the Sioux City Musketeers. SC has a record of 18-19-5 (41 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL West Division, battling for that last playoff spot. The Muskies and Stars have only faced each other two times this season, with each team winning one contest. On 10/3/09, the Stars and goaltender Jared Coreau shutout the Musketeers in Sioux City by a score of 2-0. On 1/12/10, the Muskies returned the favor at the IceBox with interest as SC stomped all over the Stars, 8-2. That’s the game that many Stars fans in attendance would love to forget. That game was plain ugly. Like the Stars, the Muskies have struggled this season on offense, having scored a total of 106 goals in 42 games (2.52 per game) this season. Unlike the Stars however, the Musketeers have done a good job keeping the puck out of their own net. Sioux City has surrendered a total of 128 goals against, which is tied for fourth-best in the USHL. SC is led by forward Stephan Vigier, who has scored 32 points (17g, 15a) in 41 games for the Muskies this season. Also like the Stars, the Muskies have found better luck on the road this season, compared to at home. The Muskies are 7-10-3 at home, but have a winning record of 11-9-2 on the road.

On Saturday night, the Stars will entertain the best team in the USHL right now (in my opinion), the Green Bay Gamblers. The Gamblers sport an impressive record of 33-7-3 (69 points), and are in first place in the USHL East Division. Bottom line, this team is scary good. When the Gamblers beat the Stars 5-2 in Lincoln back on 12/18/09, I was very impressed with how they played as a team. They have the guys who can put the puck in the net and play great defense, but they also have the guys who can intimidate and create mayhem on the ice. The Gamblers play a style of hockey that should be familiar to Stars fans. The Gamblers intimidate, play great team defense, have solid goaltending, and score goals by the boatload. If I had to pick one team right now to win the Andy and the Clark Cup, I’d pick the Gamblers without thinking twice. GB Head Coach Jon Cooper has turned the Gamblers franchise completely around in the few years he’s been there. Two seasons ago they were the worst team in the USHL. After his arrival, they’ve been competing for the Andy and Clark cups every season. On the ice, the Gamblers are led by forwards Anders Lee, Reed Seckel, and Ryan Furne. Reed Seckel is a guy who is very dangerous, due to his ability to beat you with his fists, or beat you with his offensive ability. Gamblers goaltender Steve Summerhays recently tied the USHL all-time record for consecutive wins with 18. Summerhays has an almost unhuman (dare I say, “Reekie-like”) record of 24-2-1, with a goals against average of 2.16, and a .911 save percentage. This team is stacked.

The game Saturday night against Green Bay will also mark the return of former Stars forward David Gerths. Gerths was traded from Lincoln to Green Bay earlier this month in exchange for Gambers forward Sam Alfieri, and a first round draft pick. Gerths played a total of 86 games for Lincoln the past two seasons, accumulating 52 points along the way. In four games with Green Bay this season, Gerths has been held scoreless, but he has put an impressive 15 shots on goal in those four games. Gerths was a fan favorite during his time in Lincoln, and I know the fans at the IceBox will give him a warm welcome. I hope the GB coaches insert Gerths into the starting lineup so that the Lincoln fans can give him a good round of applause.

On Friday night, the Stars will be without the services of forward Ryan Dzingel and defenseman Austin Handley due to a USHL sanctioned one-game suspension for their part in the Lincoln/Tri-City line brawl on 2/12. With forwards Brent Tate and Josh Berge on the injured reserve list, and with one spot still “open” on the roster (more on that later), the Stars will again be short-handed Friday night. Luckily, the Stars should have a healthy bench on Saturday night when they face the Gamblers. I’d be happy if the Stars could get two points out of these two weekend games, but it’s going to be tough….as it is every weekend. The Muskies are in the process of scratching and clawing their way back into that last playoff spot in the USHL West Division, while the Gamblers are simply the best team in the USHL. Despite their record, the Stars have shown that the term “quit” is not in their vocabulary. They’ll have to play at the top of their game, and play smart hockey, to beat these two teams. I hope we see a full IceBox this weekend, and show the rest of the league that despite our record, we are still the best fans in the USHL.

A reminder, the starting time for the Saturday night game against Green Bay has been moved to 8:05pm. The IceBox will still open its doors at 6:00pm, with limited concessions available, but the game won’t start until 8:05pm. The time change was due to the University of Nebraska men’s basketball game starting at 7:00pm at the Devaney Center. Hopefully the late start time will alleviate the traffic nightmare normally experienced when the two teams are playing at the same time.

Go Stars.

Roster note:  According to Brent Wagner of the Lincoln Journal Star, the Stars have added defenseman Frank Misuraca to the roster, although he won't be in the lineup until early March.  Misuraca ('91) is 5'11", 190 pounds, and is playing prep hockey in CT.  According to the article linked above, Coach McGroarty has not seen Misuraca play in person.

Like a number of other Stars fans, I was really hoping the Stars would fill the last roster spot with affiliate defenseman Dakota Mermis, little brother of Stars forward Jarrod Mermis.  Dakota was very impressive at the Stars tryout camp last June, considering how young he was ('94).  The Stars brought Dakota up for two games this season last December, where he scored one assist and was +1, but he hasn't played for the Stars since.  It is my understanding that if the Stars didn't play Dakota in at least 10 games this season, Lincoln would then lose him to the 2010 USHL Entry Draft.  I hope I'm wrong, because I believe he could turn out to be a VERY good hockey player.  If anyone out there has any more information about this, please feel free to leave a comment.  Thanks.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great preview, Yeti. Very informative. Well done as always...

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to two exciting hockey games this weekend.

FYI...I thought I read on another message board that the young Mermis is a lock for next year's USNTDP team. But I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean that he accepts the invitation and would rather see the benefits of playing in Lincoln instead!

Yeti said...

I'd hate to lose a player like Dakota Mermis to the USNTDP (Team USA), but I can understand why he'd go there if they were interested in him. That program is a breeding ground of great home-grown talent. There would be more chances to be in the spotlight in that program, compared to Lincoln...or any other team in the USHL. You just get more attention from college and NHL scouts.

If that happens, then the Stars would have lost two young prospects to the USNTDP. Stars affiliate player Austin Wuthrich recently joined the U-17 Team USA squad. Wuthrich was drafted by the Stars in the third round of the 2009 USHL Futures Draft.

Losing both Mermis and Wuthrich to the USNTDP would really stink.

USHLProspectsBlog said...

Like I said before, Dakota Mermis WILL NOT be playing for the Stars this season. I know that for a fact. About him joining USNTDP, I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

Well yeah...we know that he won't play here this season, the roster freeze was last weekend.

Is there any rule against the USNTDP poaching players from USHL teams?

Yeti said...

Actually, the USHL roster freeze was back on 2/7.

I was under the impression that the USNTDP could not go after players already drafted by USHL teams (considering the USNTDP's partnership with the USHL), but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Just typical. We have an empty roster spot, we're shorthanded with players out for the SC game,BUT we have a 91 that the coach has never seen play that will join the team in march! What about now?? When will our coach get a clue?

Jofa said...

I read Petey actually turned down a spot with the NTDP last year. He was asked after his Lincoln tryout. I have to give the kid his props for giving his word to Lincoln and standing by it. I wonder if he kicks himself after seeing how development really works.

gostars said...

for all the people who are jumping on the comment that Coach had never seen Misuraca play, keep in mind he's a South Kent kid, same school as Rayner, Clement and Belinnio (sp) came from so I'm going to believe that While McGroarty might not have seen him other people have and recommended him. There's also this thing called scouts, Do you seriously believe that the Coaches has personally seen every single kid who has ever played in Lincoln? That would be near impossible. Yes, I would have rather Dakota have come in, but he's not. Misuraca is Captain of the S. Kent team so he must have some redeeming qualities.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's the problem there is no scouting just bringing them here and seeing how they do. Why do you think we have over 20 players come and go this year. Let's get someone that can recruit a player and keep him here.

Yeti said...

gostars,

Just wanted to clarify that Misuraca plays for "Kent Prep School," not "South Kent Prep School." Yes, there is a difference. I know that Rayner, Clement, and the old assistant coach all came from South Kent. However, Misuraca is from a different school altogether.

Yeti said...

Also, in regards to Dakota Mermis...he was never a draft pick of the Stars, so Lincoln doesn't have any "rights" to him playing in the USHL. If the USNTDP is interested in him, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up there next season. I certainly wouldn't blame him for going that route. In fact, it's a smart decision.

USHLProspectsBlog said...

Yes joining USNTDP would be the better career move for Dakota where scouts would be all over him. But, that being said, his brother loves Lincoln and that could factor in on his decision. Either way, we're just going to have to wait and see where he goes. I'm just excited for a good game (hopefully) tonight!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen any of the good things the Stars have done this season?
Starfish

USHLProspectsBlog said...

Good game tonight, Coreau stood on his head and is really starting to play to his ability. Not get all "scoutish" on you, but he is really proving himself and might get NHL looks for this summer's NHL draft.

Yeti said...

Great team win tonight. I'll write up a post game recap tomorrow morning. Great effort by all the players tonight, but Mermis and Coreau shined bright. Good crowd of over 4,000 tonight also. I hope the fans pack the IceBox again tomorrow night.

Anonymous said...

Okay, does nobody get as excited after a win as I do? WOOO-HOOOO!!! I have unfortunately missed the last few wins due to my kids schedule and I am STOKED!!! Team did great. Let me call out my faves for tonight. Dax had it going on! Hibby and Petey as always, Mermis WAY TO GO! And on superstition I will not say anything about the goalie.