Friday, December 31, 2010

B³ Pregame Report: Lincoln Stars vs. Cedar Rapids Roughriders 12/31

New Years Eve edition!

The Lincoln Stars will wrap up 2010 and ring in the new year tonight with a road game against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Puck drops at 7:05pm tonight.  Lincoln is currently 11-12-1 (23 points) on the season, and are in last place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Stars are in the middle of a slump right now, having lost five straight games. You can listen to Mike Melbye call the game on AM 1480 KLMAS by clicking here. You can also watch the game via B2 Network by clicking here. If you want to follow the Pointstreak boxscore, click here.

With an outstanding record of 18-4-2 (38 points), the Cedar Rapids Roughriders have the top winning percentage (.792) in the entire USHL, and are tied for first place in the eastern conference with the Green Bay Gamblers, the team the Stars lost to this past Wednesday.  Through 24 games played, the 'Riders have scored more goals (84) than any other team in the league.  On the other side of the ice, the 'Riders have only given up 52 goals in those 24 games played, which is also tops in the league.  So statistically, the Roughriders have the top offense, and defense, in the USHL.  This is a team that very rarely loses at home, and normally get a lot of calls to go their way because of how they play.  They are a small, skilled, fast team that isn't afraid to dive to draw a penalty.  Love it or loathe it, that's how they play.

To beat Cedar Rapids on their home ice, the Stars first of all have to play smart hockey and stay out of the penalty box.  That's easier said than done, especially with certain referee's this season.  It's not an impossible task, as the Stars have shown the past couple of seasons.  Last season, the Stars only won 16 games, but one of those wins came against the Roughriders in Cedar Rapids on 10/25/09 by a score of 3-1.  The season before, the Stars beat CR by a score of 3-2 on 3/15/09.  It can be done.  Winning the special teams battle is important also.  The Stars' PP unit has struggled lately, and have dropped from first to second place in overall PP percentage.  

In an article posted today on the Lincoln Journal Star, head coach Chad Johnson hinted at some personnel changes if things don't get turned around quickly.  Click here to read the article.  Johnson isn't happy with how "cute" the Stars are playing, and certain players could be moved if need be.  Chad has made it a point to keep the players he started with, and not turn the team into a revolving door of players.  However, if the coaches aren't happy with what they see, and certain players aren't buying in, I would assume trades could be made.  We'll have to wait and see.

We will not be chatting tonight for the game, but I want to wish everyone out there a safe and happy new year!  Thanks for being a part of the B³ this last year.  Hoping for good things in 2011!

Go Stars.

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