Thursday, November 4, 2010

B³ Lincoln Stars Weekend Preview: Sioux Falls and Fargo

It will be another full weekend of hockey at the IceBox this weekend as the Lincoln Stars play host on Friday and Saturday nights to the Sioux Falls Stampede, and the Fargo Force.  The Stars will play their next three games, and five out of the next seven, at home.  With a 2-5 (4 points) record, the Stars find themselves at the bottom of the pile in last place in the USHL Western Conference.  In four home games this season, Lincoln is 1-3.  Faceoff for both games this weekend will occur at 7:05pm.  You can listen to the games this weekend online via AM 1480 KLMS at this link, or you can watch the matchups online at B2 Networks.

First up for the black and blue Friday night will be a rematch against the Sioux Falls Stampede (6-2, 12 points, tied for first place in USHL Western Conference).  In their previous game this past Friday night in Sioux Falls, the Stampede rolled past the Stars by a score of 7-2.  That particular game saw the Stars on the wrong end of a badly officiated game in which the Stampede were awarded 12 powerplay opportunities, and the Stars only 2.  As frustration grew, the game last Friday night grew more physical and chippy.  I would not be surprised at all if the game Friday night at the IceBox has a few fights that carry over from their previous matchup.  After that game, Stampede head coach Kevin "Borat" Hartzell didn't have the nicest things to say about the Stars when he was quoted as saying, "Tonight was a good night, but frankly, we have a tougher opponent (in Fargo)," he said. "Our peer group is Fargo, Omaha and Sioux City. (Fargo) will be a hell of a challenge."  You have to wonder if the Stars used that quote for a little motivation this week during practice.   Don't blink Friday night, as you could miss some fireworks out on the ice.

Lincoln will finish up the weekend home-stand Saturday night when they knock heads with the Fargo Force (5-4-1, 11 points, tied for second place in the USHL Western Conference).  This will be the first time this season the Stars and the Force have played each other.  Also for the first time, Stars head coach Chad Johnson will face the team he coached as an assistant.  Johnson coached two seasons in Fargo before being selected as the new Stars head coach before this season.  This will be the first game against the Force that the Stars won't see one of the Johnson brothers (Steve, Chad) behind the bench for Fargo.  Former Stars head coach Steve Johnson is no longer the head coach of the Force, as he has moved on to an assistant position at St. Cloud State University.  The Force have already played six games on the road this season, and Fargo went 3-3 in those games.  The Force will be shorthanded five players for the game against the Stars, and I will go more in depth about that later in this article.  Despite their winning record, the Force have given up more goals (26) than they have scored (24) this season.  

As for the Stars, they will be without the services of their top gun on offense this weekend.  Forward Ryan Dzingel, who leads the USHL in scoring, will not be in the lineup this weekend (or next) as he will be representing Team USA in the 2010 World Junior A Challenge.  This tournament is held in Penticton, British Columbia, Canda from November 8th-14th.  Tough break for the Stars, but we should all be very proud of Ryan and his accomplishment.  Sioux Falls does not have any players on their roster participating in the World Junior A Challenge, but the Force have a whopping five players (Colten St. Clair, Garrett Allen, Jimmy Mullin, Brian Cooper, Zane Gothberg) on the Team USA roster.  Fargo will be shorthanded for sure, but the Force will not just roll over and die Saturday night.  The Stars will have to dig deep and find ways to score goals without the help of Dzingel this weekend, and next.  The good news will be that forward Garrett Peterson will return to the lineup (finally!) this weekend.  Petey has been out of the lineup since last season after recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.  Having Petey and his energy back in the lineup will hopefully bring a spark to the team and most importantly, bring some stability to the woeful penalty kill unit.  Well, according to Brent Wagner of the Lincoln Journal Star, Garrett Peterson will not be returning to the team this weekend as previously reported.  According to Brent, Peterson is still not healthy enough to return to the ice after his off-season shoulder surgery.  I was really hoping to see Petey back in the lineup this weekend.

Speaking of that penalty kill unit, the Stars are the USHL special teams Jekyll and Hyde this season.  Through 7 regular season games, the Stars have the worst PK percentage in the entire USHL (80.39%).  Conversely, Lincoln has the best powerplay percentage in the entire USHL (22.22%).  For the Stars to win this weekend, they must stay out of the box, play much better on the PK, and hope they don't run into a referee with an axe to grind.  

NotesPer the Lincoln Stars Facebook page, head coach Chad Johnson will be appearing on the "Tim and the Animal" radio show on 104.1 The Blaze" Friday morning around 8:00am.  Johnson will also appear on the 106.3 FM radio show tomorrow morning. 

Former Stars defenseman Dan Weissenhofer is now a member of the Fargo Force, and should be in the lineup this Saturday night.  Weissenhofer played 14 games for the Stars last season, and was drafted by the Force this past Spring.  Weissenhofer was one of those players I really wish the Stars would have hung on to.

Former Lincoln Stars forward Carter Camper was named the National College Hockey Player of the Month for the month of October.  Click here to read more.  Camper, a senior forward for the Miami (OH) University Redhawks, scored 22 points (9g, 13a) in eight October games for the Blackhawks.  Carter is the team captain of the #1 rated collegiate hockey team in the nation.  Congrats to Carter!


Yeti said...

I've updated this article a bit, but I thought I'd mention it here also. Brent Wagner of the Lincoln Journal Star is reporting that Garrett Peterson will not be back in the lineup this weekend as previously reported. Petey is still not healthy enough to return to the ice after the surgery he had to his shoulder in the offseason. Supposedly, it won't be until sometime in December before Petey is healthy enough to play. Not good news at all.

Good news is (again according to Brent Wagner of the LJS) that Josh Berge is healthy and will play this weekend after missing the last two games due to injury.

nutz4puckz said...

That's too bad, I was hoping to see #19 back out there tonight. Get well soon Petey!!

Looking forward to a good two nights at the box, is it game time yet!!