Sunday, April 25, 2010

Clark Cup Finals set; various Stars links

The Green Bay Gamblers and the Fargo Force will begin play next Friday night for the right to take home the 2010 USHL Clark Cup.  The Force will return to the finals for the second straight season, which is impressive considering they've only been in the USHL for two seasons.  Even more impressive is that they've done it with two different head coaches.  The Gamblers have marched through these playoffs pretty much untouched, so I'm sure it will be a very exciting series.  Both of these teams play a VERY physical style of hockey, similar to what we've seen in Lincoln the last three seasons.

We have a new poll question related to the finals, but I thought I'd blog about the battle for the Clark Cup and allow the fans out there to voice their opinions.  Who are you rooting for in the finals, and why?  Are you happy that future Stars head coach Chad Johnson will have another opportunity to win a Clark Cup, or would you have rather seen Fargo lose to Omaha so Chad can begin helping the Stars full-time as soon as possible?  I know it's been quiet here as of late, but I want to hear from the fans out there.

A few Stars related links:

An article from a suburban Chicago newspaper about Stars forward Ryan Dzingel and his two-sport prowess.  Click here to read the article.

KLKN Channel 8 in Lincoln has a brief interview with Chad Johnson on their website.  Click here to watch the video.

An article from a Bismark, ND newspaper about Chad Johnson joining the Stars.  Click here to read the article.  There's also an video interview with Chad linked on the page.

In less than a month, the Stars will participate in the 2010 USHL Prospect and Entry Drafts, so although it will still be a little quiet around here in the meantime, BT and I plan to post some very informative articles leading up to the two draft days.  The prospects draft will be held May 18th, while the entry draft will be held May 19th.

Click here to read an FAQ about the Futures Draft.
Click here to read an FAQ about the Entry Draft.

Also, although it has not been stated yet on the USHL website, the USHL will also hold an expansion draft in May for the two new teams entering the league next season, the Muskegon Lumberjacks and the Dubuque Fighting Saints.  If the expansion draft is run similar to what was done last year for the Youngstown Phantoms, the Stars could lose up to two players from their roster to the two new teams.  As more information pops up about this draft, I will post it here.

4/27 EDIT:  According to this blog article, former Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock has decided to leave Minnesota State-Mankato University and spend the next season in juniors.  I'm not sure if "Doc" will have to be drafted again by the Stars to play in Lincoln, or if the Stars still own his USHL rights.  It would be great to see him in a Stars uniform next season.  We'll have to wait and see how this story plays out.  Click here for another blog article regarding Murdock's move to juniors, and click here for a Mankato newspaper article about Doc's departure.

5/4 EDIT:  More information about Murdock coming back to Lincoln here in this blog article.  It sounds more and more like Doc will be wearing a Stars uniform next season.  Thanks to "chubby13" for the heads up.

Final Round - B³ USHL Playoff Prediction Contest

The second round of the USHL Clark Cup Playoffs are complete, so I will now update the scoring and allow folks to begin predicting the final round.

Once again, the rules:
-Pick the team you think will win the particular playoff series.
-Pick the amount of games you think the winning team will win in.
-Predict the total amount of goals scored in each series
-No anonymous names.  You don't have to use your real name, just pick something and stick with it.


Series results from the second round:
Green Bay defeated Indiana in four games, 3-1 (28 goals scored in the series)
Fargo defeated Omaha in five games, 3-2 (30 goals scored in the series)

USHL Clark Cup Finals
#1 Green Bay Gamblers vs. #2 Fargo Force
-Games 1, 2, and 5 will be held in Green Bay.  Games 3 and 4 will be held in Fargo.
-Green Bay won the regular season series against Fargo, going 3-1 in four games played.  Green Bay outscored Fargo 14-9 in those four games.

Updated scoring:
15 points - Yeti
14 points - lincolnfan
14 points - starstruck
11 points - lmadragon
11 points - nutz4puckz
11 points - Shawn
10 points - BellTolls
10 points - StarsFan
9 points - Ice Pucks
9 points - MacAttack
8 points - Hey Hey Whadda Ya Say
8 points - Layla
7 points - Bud
6 points - Ghost
6 points - Jofa
6 points - Sam I Am
3 points - Cold Bud

For each correct team that you predict will win the series, you will receive one point.  If you can also correctly predict the amount of games the winning team will win in, you will receive two points.  For example, if you predict the Fargo Force to win the series in 3 games, and Fargo does go on to win in 3 games, you would receive 3 points (1 point for picking Fargo, 2 points for picking the correct amount of games).  If you picked Green Bay to win in 3 games, you would receive 0 points.  You must predict the winning team to earn the games played points.

We will again be predicting the total amount of goals scored in the series.  If by chance you happen to correctly guess the total amount of goals scored in the series, you will be awarded 4 points.  If there is a tie for first place at the end of this contest, the tie-breaker will be the total goals scored category.  Closest guess to the total amount of goals scored in the series wins the contest.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Update - B³ USHL Playoff Prediction Contest

The first round of the USHL playoffs is complete, so I will post the second round match-ups and update the prediction scores for our contest.

Once again, the rules:
-Pick the team you think will win the particular playoff series.
-Pick the amount of games you think the winning team will win in.
-Predict the total amount of goals scored in each series
-No anonymous names.  You don't have to use your real name, just pick something and stick with it.

Series results from the first round:  Omaha over Tri-City, 3-0.  Fargo over Sioux Falls, 3-0.  Green Bay over Waterloo, 3-0.  Indiana over Cedar Rapids, 3-2.

Here are the second round match-ups.  All second round match-ups are "best of 5" series.  The first team to win 3 games wins the series.

USHL West Division:
#1 Omaha Lancers vs. #2 Fargo Force
-Games 1, 2, and 5 will be held in Omaha.  Games 3 and 4 will be held in Fargo.
-Fargo won the regular season series against Omaha, going 5-0 in five games played.  Fargo outscored Omaha 22-15 in those five games.

USHL East Division:
#1 Green Bay Gamblers vs. #3 Indiana Ice
-Games 1, 2, and 5 will be held in Green Bay.  Games 3 and 4 will be held in Indianapolis.
-Green Bay won the regular season series against Indiana, going 4-0-1 in five games played.  Green Bay outscored Indiana 15-8 in those five games.

Updated scoring:
10 points - Shawn
8 points - Force Blogger
8 points - Ice Pucks
8 points - lincolnfan
8 points - nutz4puckz
8 points - starstruck
7 points - Hey Hey Whadda Ya Say
7 points - lmadragon
7 points - Yeti
6 points - StarsFan
5 points - Ghost
5 points - Layla
5 points - MacAttack
5 points - USHLProspectsBlog
4 points - Bud
3 points - BellTolls
3 points - Sam I Am
2 points - Cold Bud
2 points - Jofa

For each correct team that you predict will win the series, you will receive one point.  If you can also correctly predict the amount of games the winning team will win in, you will receive two points.  For example, if you predict the Omaha Lancers to win their series in 3 games, and Omaha does go on to win in 3 games, you would receive 3 points (1 point for picking Omaha, 2 points for picking the correct amount of games).  If you picked Fargo to win in 3 games, you would receive 0 points.  You must predict the winning team to earn the games played points.

To make it a little more interesting this second round, we will be predicting the total amount of goals scored in each series.  If by chance you happen to correctly guess the total amount of goals scored in a series, you will be awarded 4 points.

All entries must be posted before 7:00pm on Friday, April 16th.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Congrats to Cory Hibbeler!

Thanks to the blog reader who brought this to my attention.

Stars defenseman Cory Hibbeler earned a scholarship to play hockey at Quinnipiac University starting this Fall, according to Chris Heisenberg's 2010 NCAA Hockey Recruit Page.  Former Stars defenseman Mike Dalhuisen just finished up his freshman season on the Quinnipiac Bobcats hockey team.  Quinnipiac is a private university located in Hamden, Connecticut.  Cory played a total of 106 games for the Lincoln Stars the past two seasons, scoring 25 points and adding 169 penalty minutes in those 106 games.  Cory was arguably one of the top defensemen on the Stars this past season, and he was frequently used as a forward where he performed very well also.  In fact, I often remarked during games that it is a lot of fun to watch Hibbs play forward because of how physical he is.  There's no quit in his game, and he played his position better than most in the USHL.  He's in the mold of a guy like Ross Henry.  Not flashy, but solid in his own end and strong as a bull.

Very happy to see Hibbs get a scholarship to play hockey at the next level.  He's a player with a lot of heart and I know he'll impress at Quinnipiac University.

Congrats to Cory!  Go Bobcats!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chad Johnson Named Stars Head Coach, McGroarty To Stay On Staff

Wow, so much for a boring end to the week. Brent Wagner posted late Thursday night that the Lincoln Stars will have a new head coach next season, Chad Johnson, younger brother of former Stars Head Coach Steve Johnson and current associate head coach with the Fargo Force.

Johnson was an assistant in Lincoln in the first three years' of the Stars existence. Johnson will also serve as general manager.

The even more interesting part is that Jimmy McGroarty will remain on Lincoln's staff as associate head coach. Nick Fouts will continue to coach in Lincoln as well. Johnson and McGroarty have coached together before, and Johnson had no reservations about keeping McGroarty on staff.

Here is the official announcement made by Stars President Jim Pflug.  Click here to read it.

New head coach Chad Johnson did a radio interview today with "Tim" and "The Animal" at 104.1 The Blaze.  Click here to listen.

VERY interesting.


4/18 Update:  This is an interview Chad did with the local 10/11 news station.  Click here to watch the video.  Sounds like Chad will be very busy this Spring and Summer.  Nice to see he's actually coming down to Lincoln to do some work in between his Fargo Force games.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Linkorama - New blog header

I'm going to briefly blog on a number of stories I've wanted to mention the past couple of days.  Thanks to the readers who either brought these to my attention through the blog, or by email.

Former Stars forward Brandon Bollig recently signed a two year entry level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL.  Last week, it was originally reported that Bollig signed an amateur tryout contract with the AHL Rockford IceHogs (AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks).  Bollig's two year contract with the Blackhawks begins starting with the 2010-11 season.  Click here to read the article.  Congrats to Brandon!

Former Stars forward Chris Vande Velde recently signed a two year entry level contract with the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL.  Vande Velde was drafted by the Oilers in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.  Vande Velde just completed his senior season at the University of North Dakota, where he served as team captain, and was the team's leading scorer.  Click here to read the article.  Congrats to Chris!

Former Stars defenseman Colby Cohen recently signed an entry level contract with the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL.  Cohen was drafted by the Avalanche in the second round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  Cohen just completed his junior season at Boston University where he scored 30 points (14g, 16a) in 36 games for the Terriers.  Cohen will play with Colorado's American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.  Click here to read the article.  Congrats to Colby!

Very interesting article from NHL.com about the NTDP and the USHL.  Click here to read the article.  According to the article, the NHL is very happy with the NTDP's move to the USHL.

Don't forget to join in on our USHL playoff prediction contest.  The deadline for the first round entry is Wednesday, April 7th and 7:00pm (central).  Click here to learn more about the contest.

Edit:  Formers Stars forward Jared Boll was recently nominated by the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL for the 2010 Bill Masterson Trophy.  The trophy "is given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."  Click here to read the article.  Congrats to Jared!  Great to see him get some publicity, other than what he receives from fighting.  Thanks to the blog reader who emailed me with this story.

Also, as you can see we have a new graphics header for the Black and Blue Blog.  A blog reader contacted me recently was was gracious enough to volunteer his time (and elite photoshop skills) to help me create a new header.  This was something I had wanted to do for awhile now, but just never got around to it.  Specifically, I just don't have the photoshop skills to do it.  So thanks to this volunteer, we now have a "rough draft" graphics header.  This is going to be a work in progress, so you might see the header change in the future.  Thanks again to the blog reader who helped with this.  I very much appreciate his hard work.  Also, a big thanks to Brandon Anderson for letting me use some of his fantastic photos for the header.  Without his assistance, we wouldn't have been able to start with much at all.  So thanks, BA.

In the meantime, what do you think of the current header?  Likes, dislikes?  We want to hear from you, so please give us your opinions.  We're going to work on creating some kind of a smaller "logo" graphic for the blog also, and maybe incorporate that into a t-shirt or something.  That's all in the future, so we'll have to see how it goes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

B³ USHL Playoff Prediction Contest

Okay, so the Stars aren't in the playoffs this season.  That doesn't mean we can't have a little fun during the post-season.  What I'd like to do is give the fans here the opportunity to post their predictions for the USHL playoffs, and have a little contest while we do it.  Now, I don't have any kind of "prize" for the winner of this contest, other than just bragging rights.  This is just for fun, and a great way to follow the playoffs even if the Stars aren't involved.  Here we go.



Rules:
-Pick the team you think will win the particular playoff series.
-Pick the amount of games you think the winning team will win in.
-No anonymous names.  You don't have to use your real name, just pick something and stick with it.
    Here are the first round match-ups.  All first round match-ups are "best of 5" series.  The first team to win 3 games wins the series:

    USHL West Division:
    #1 Omaha Lancers vs. #4 Tri-City Storm
    -Games 1, 3, and 5 will be held in Omaha.  Games 2 and 4 will be held in Kearney.
    -Omaha won the regular season series against Tri-City, going 4-1 in five games played.  Omaha outscored Tri-City 22-10 in those five games.

    #2 Fargo Force vs. #3 Sioux Falls Stampede
    -Games 2, 3, and 5 will be held in Fargo.  Games 1 and 4 will be held in Sioux Falls.
    -Sioux Falls won the regular season series against Fargo, going 4-3 in seven games played.  Sioux Falls outscored Fargo 25-20 in those seven games.

    USHL East Division:
    #1 Green Bay Gamblers vs. #4 Waterloo Black Hawks
    -Games 1, 2, and 5 will be held in Green Bay.  Games 3 and 4 will be held in Waterloo
    -Green Bay won the regular season series against Waterloo, going 4-1 in five games played.  Green Bay outscored Waterloo 23-15 in those five games.

    #2 Cedar Rapids Roughriders vs. #3 Indiana Ice
    -Games 1, 2, and 5 will be held in Cedar Rapids.  Games 3 and 4 will be held in Indianapolis.
    -Indiana won the regular season series against the Cedar Rapids, going 3-2 in five games played.  Cedar Rapids outscored Indiana 14-11 in those five games.

    For each correct team that you predict will win the series, you will receive one point.  If you can also correctly predict the amount of games the winning team will win in, you will receive two points.  For example, if you predict the Omaha Lancers to win their series in 3 games, and Omaha does go on to win in 3 games, you would receive 3 points (1 point for picking Omaha, 2 points for picking the correct amount of games).  If you picked Tri-City to win in 3 games, you would receive 0 points.  You must predict the winning team to earn the games played points, if that makes sense.

    If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.  I hope we have a good turnout for this.  Again, this is all for fun.  It's just a way for all of us to follow the USHL playoffs a little more than maybe we would have before.  Once the first round is complete, we'll move onto the second round and continue on after that.

    All entries must be posted before 7:00pm on Wednesday, April 7th.

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    B³ Lincoln Stars 2009-10 Season Recap

    Well, here we are at the end of the 2009-10 season.  If you would have told me back in October that this Stars team would finish dead last in the USHL, I'd probably laugh in your face.  I had a feeling this team might struggle early on, especially since they lost so many good defensemen and two battle-tested goaltenders, but I did not think this team would finish the way they did.  A lot contributed to the worst season ever in Stars history, and we'll talk about that here in a bit.  I'm a bit of a statistic junkie, so I first want to review some numbers from this past season.  I'm not trying to be negative here, but these numbers are certainly not fun to look at.

    2009-10 overall record:  16-36-8 (franchise low)
    Winning percentage:  .333 (franchise low)
    Home record:  8-18-4 (least amount of home wins in a season ever)
    Road record:  8-18-4 (least amount of road wins in a season ever)
    Goals scored this season:  143 (2.38 average goals per game - lowest total in franchise history)
    Goals against this season:  220 (3.67 average goals against per game - highest total in franchise history)
    Penalty minutes:  1,775 total minutes (most in franchise history)
    Power play percentage:  14% (12th place out of 14 teams this season)
    Power play goals scored:  42 (11th place out of 14 teams this season)
    Penalty kill percentage:  79.46% (11th place out of 14 teams this season)
    Shorthanded goals scored:  5 (12th place out of 14 teams this season)
    Shorthanded goals against:  11 (7th place out of 14 teams this season)
    Average attendance:  4,146 (first place overall-fourth straight season the Stars led the USHL in attendance)

    Other than the attendance numbers, those are some pretty nasty statistics.  Again, I don't think anyone associated with the Stars ever dreamed this could happen.  I often refer to this past season as the "perfect storm."  Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.  Right from the bat, the Stars lost a ton of quality players from last season.  The key, in my opinion, was losing the "big four" defensemen:  Ross Henry, Jake Newton, Mike Dalhuisen, and Michael Sdao.  You can't replace those guys with new faces and not expect a drop-off in skill.  Stars lost two goaltenders with USHL experience in Murdock and Borelli.  So you have two goaltenders with no USHL experience, with a defensive corps in front of them with limited USHL experience.

    The injuries that plagued this team the entire season certainly did not help matters.  Without a healthy lineup, players were brought in and sent out throughout the season.  I very much doubt the players on the team really had an opportunity to gel with their teammates on the ice.  Also, the players that were on the roster on opening night really didn't a chance to practice a lot with each other because of the State Fair delaying the first practice date for the Stars.  With the State Fair moving to Grand Island, I really hope that next season the Stars players are allowed to practice more with one another before the USHL Fall Classic in September.

    Special teams was an issue the entire season, unfortunately.  The Stars never got into a groove this season with the man-advantage.  We've discussed this previously, but according to Coach McGroarty, the team does not practice any specific power play techniques.  I'm not sure why, but the Stars have not done well on the power play for years it seems like.  Uncharacteristically, the Stars penalty-kill unit this season was just as disappointing.  The past few seasons, the Stars have been one of the top penalty killing teams in the USHL.  Not this season.  The penalty kill unit, along with the Stars power play, never improved during the season, in my opinion.  In fact, I'd argue that it got worse as the season transpired.

    I'd like to take a moment and thank each and every one of the players who suited for the Lincoln Stars this season.  This season was not what we expected, but the players on this team never quit.  We appreciate all that you sacrificed this season for our entertainment.  All of your hard work and determination will not be forgotten.  For the players who are moving on to college, good luck and remember us here back in Lincoln as you continue your hockey careers.  Also, I know there are a number of player parents who read this blog, and I'd like to thank each and every one of them for sending their sons to Lincoln to play for the Stars.  It was a pleasure watching them this season.

    I've mentioned this previously, but BT and I will still be posting articles here throughout the Spring and Summer months.  I'm planning on posting some kind of a USHL playoff prediction contest, so stay tuned for that.  The USHL "Entry" and "Prospects" drafts are next month, and the Stars tryout camp in Omaha will be held the month after that.  Things will slow down here a bit, but we'll still post fresh material when we can.  Thanks for reading.

    Go Stars.

    List of eligible players to return next season


    Before I post an end of season recap, I wanted to briefly list the players from this years squad who are eligible to return next season. It's never too early to start thinking about next season, right? This list is obviously very preliminary, as a lot can happen between now and next October. Most of the information I have gathered has come from Chris Heisenberg's 2010 Hockey Recruits website. If you have never checked it out, I would recommend doing so. Tons of great information on his site.


    So here is the list. Player birth years follow their names on the list. If any blog readers have more information regarding players returning, or any other issues, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com

    Forwards:

    Dominik Shine - 1993
    Ryan Dzingel - 1992
    Tyler Deresky - 1992
    John McCarron - 1992
    Kyle Gibbons - 1991
    Brent Tate - 1991
    Sam Alfieri - 1991
    Chris DelMauro - 1991 
    Garrett Peterson - 1991 (Notre Dame commit for 2010 or 2011)
    Josh Berge - 1990

    Defensemen:
    Frank Misuraca - 1991
    Matt Bruneteau - 1990

    Goaltenders:
    Matt Green - 1990

    The big question mark will be if Garrett Peterson returns next season or not.  From what I've heard, it's up in the air right now whether or not Petey will be back.  Looking at the group of forwards who could return next season, there is obviously a lot to be excited about.  Despite being two of the youngest players on the team this season, Shine and Dzingel were arguably the two best forwards.  Defense will be an issue again, as the Stars lost a good group of d-men.  Having a goaltender (Green) return next season with USHL experience will be a big plus.

    Next season, the Stars will only be able to keep four players born in the year 1990 on the roster. Every team in the USHL can only keep four "overagers" in their lineup.  As of right now, Bruneteau, Green, and Berge are three players who would qualify as an "overager" next season.

    The Stars tryout camp will once again be held at the Tranquility IcePlex in Omaha, NE.  The dates of the camp are June 13th-16th.  Click here for more info on the tryouts.

    Thoughts?

    B³ Weekend Recap: Sioux Falls and Sioux City

    The 2009-10 Lincoln Stars season came to a close this weekend as the Stars finished 0-2 on their last weekend road trip of the season.  Friday night in Sioux Falls, SD, the Stars lost 4-2 to the Stampede.  On Saturday night in Sioux City, IA, the Stars were tore apart by the Musketeers by a score of 10-3.  The Lincoln Stars finished the season with a four game losing streak, and were outscored 21-8 in those four games.  With the two losses over the weekend, the Stars fell to 16-36-8 (40 points), which is last place overall in the entire USHL.  The expansion Youngstown Phantoms (44 points) finished second to last in the standings.

    Friday night, the Stars played well for two periods against the Stampede.  Stars forwards Andrew Ammon and Ben Lynch both scored for Lincoln in the second period of that game, and going into the second intermission it was tied 2-2.  Although they were being outshot by the Stampede 29-15 at that point in the game, the Stars were still in the game.  In the third period, like we've seen so often this season, the Stars just couldn't keep the puck out of their own net.  The Stampede scored two goals in the third, while holding the Stars without, and cruised to the 4-2 victory.  Stars goaltender Jared Coreau stopped 36 of 40 shots in the loss.

    On Saturday night, the Stars played their final game of the 2009-10 season against the Sioux City Musketeers.  For those of us who were in attendance Saturday night, this game will be known forever as the "Nightmare on Gordon Street."  Believe it or not, but the Stars were actually up 2-1 at one point in this game.  In the first period, the Stars got out to a quick 2-1 lead with goals by defenseman Steve West, and forward Dominik Shine.  After that, it was all Muskies.  The Muskies scored three times in the first period, two times in the second period, and a whopping five times in the third period to complete the 10-3 shellacking.  Defenseman Steve West scored the final Stars goal of the season, his second of the game, midway through the second period.  The Stars were still in the game, so to speak, going into the third period.  In the third, the nightmare began.  Sioux City scored at will, most often on the powerplay.  The Muskies dismantled the Stars penalty kill unit, scoring 5 powerplay goals in 8 opportunities.  The Stars only managed 2 shots on goal in the third period, and were outshot 35-17 overall.

    Needless to say, it was a looooong ride home back to Lincoln for the many Stars fans who were in attendance Saturday night.  To their credit, they stayed until the very end of the game.  I did not see any leave early.  Many of us just sat in our seats that third period and shook our heads.  We were all hoping the players could end this crappy season with a win, a positive note, but it turned out to be one of the most lopsided losses in a season filled with lopsided losses.  It sure would have been nice to see those players celebrate their last game together with a win, but it just didn't happen.  The players deserved a better fate than what they were dealt this season.

    I am going to try to type out a 2009-10 season recap sometime this afternoon.  Pretty much sum up the entire season, what to look for in the offseason, and which players from this year's team could return.  Stay tuned for that.

    As always, Go Stars.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    B³ Live Blog: Lincoln Stars vs. Sioux Falls Stampede 4/2

    Join us for the last live blog of the 2010-11 season, as we cheer on the Lincoln Stars against the Sioux Falls Stampede.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm, but we will be online and chatting around 6:45pm.  Hope to see a good turnout tonight.  You don't have to register to chat, just type in a name and post your comment.  It's that simple.  Go Stars!

    B³ Weekend Preview - Sioux Falls and Sioux City

    The Lincoln Stars will wrap up the 2010-11 season on the road this weekend when they travel north to face the Sioux Falls Stampede on Friday night, and the Sioux City Musketeers on Saturday night.  With only two games remaining, the Stars still find themselves in last place overall in the USHL with a record of 16-34-8 (40 points).  The Stars have a road record of 8-16-4, and a home record of 8-18-4.  With a win this weekend, the Stars could finish the season with a better record on the road than at home.

    First up for the Stars Friday night will be the Sioux Falls Stampede.  The Stampede sport a record of 32-14-12 (76 points) and are in third place in the USHL West Division.  This will be the fifth and final time these two teams face each other, with the 'Pede winning three of the previous four games.  In their last meeting on 2/9/10, the Stars surprised many with a complete 5-2 blowout win against the Stampede at the IceBox.  In that particular game, Stars forward Dominick Shine recorded a hat-trick, and goaltender Jared Coreau stopped 36 of 38 shots to record the win.  Up until that 2/9/10 game, the 'Pede had pretty much dominated the Stars.  In those three previous games, the Stampede were 3-0 against the Stars, and had outscored them 8-0.  Faceoff for the game Friday night will be at 7:05pm.

    The Stampede have already clinched a playoff spot, so it will be interesting to see how well they play in this game.  They are still only four points behind second place Fargo in the USHL West Division, so there is a possibility the 'Pede could jump up into that second place spot with two wins this weekend, and two Fargo losses.  Sioux Falls went 4-3 against the Fargo Force this season, so if both teams end up tied in points, the 'Pede would get the second seed in the West.  There is still a lot for the 'Pede to play for these final two games, regardless if they have a playoff spot wrapped up already.

    On Saturday night, the Stars will take on the Sioux City Musketeers for the final time this season.  The Muskies have a record of 25-24-9 (59 points) and are in fifth place (one point behind fourth place Tri-City) in the USHL West Division.  This will be the fifth time this season the Muskies and Stars battle each other, with each team winning two of the previous four games.  The last time the Muskies and Stars knocked heads, it was Sioux City who proved victorious with a 2-1 win at the IceBox on 3/9/10.  The Stars haven't played at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City since way back on 10/3/09 (second game of the season for Lincoln), when Jared Coreau and the Stars shutout the Muskies, 2-0.  The puck will drop at 7:00pm Saturday night.

    This could end up being a very interesting game.  Like I mentioned, the Muskies are only one point behind the Tri-City Storm for the last playoff spot in the USHL West Division.  Both teams (Storm and Muskies) have two games remaining, all at home.  Friday night, the Storm host the Des Moines Buccaneers, while the Muskies host the Waterloo Blackhawks.  On Saturday night, the Storm host the Sioux Falls Stampede, while the Muskies host the Stars.  The Stars can certainly play the role of spoiler this weekend with a win against Sioux City.  Personally, I'd like to see Tri-City lose both games, and then have Sioux City win their Friday night game against Waterloo.  That way, the Stars could beat the Muskies Saturday night and Sioux City would still jump Tri-City for that final playoff spot.

    Well folks, it's hard to believe this season is just about over.  To quote the Grateful Dead, "what long strange trip it's been."  Despite the Stars record this season, I am encouraged to hear that so many Stars fans will be traveling north this weekend to root on the "Black and Blue" these final two road games.  I'll be up in Sioux City for the Saturday night game, and I am very much looking forward to that.  I hope to see a lot of Stars fans there.  Let's do what we can to let the boys know we appreciate all their hard work this season.

    Go Stars.

    News and Notes:  

    Article in the Lincoln Journal Star yesterday about the future of the IceBox.  Brent Wagner of the LJS interviews Stars president Jim Pflug.  Pretty good read.  Click here for the article.

    Neat little "get to know" article on Stars forward John McCarron on the USHL website.  Click here to read the article

     Article today in the Lincoln Journal Star about Stars forward Ryan Dzingel and his other passion (baseball).  Click here to read the article.

    Former Stars forward Brandon Bollig recently signed an amateur tryout contract with the Rockford (IL) IceHogs of the American Hockey League.  The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate for the NHL Chicago Blackhawks.  Click here to read the article.  Thanks to blog reader "Kayleigh" for the tip.

    Former Stars forward Trevor Frischmon was recently called up from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) to the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL.  Frischmon has played three games so far with the Blue Jackets.  Click here to read the article.

    I hope to have a live chat/blog going tonight for the Sioux Falls game.  If I am able to run it tonight, check back here around 6:45pm and we should be chatting then.  This will probably be the last time we'll blog live this season, as a number of us from the blog will be in Sioux City Saturday night.  Thanks.