Friday, July 30, 2010

2010 USHL Fall Classic schedule released; Alfieri commits


We're getting spoiled by the USHL these last two days.  The 2010-11 regular season schedule was released yesterday, and just a few minutes ago the 2010 USHL Fall Classic schedule was unveiled.

Click here to see the full schedule and read more about the 2010 USHL Fall Classic, which will be held from September 22-25, 2010 in Sioux City Iowa.  The Stars will be play three games during the preseason tournament, details of which are posted below:


Game OneLincoln Stars vs. Cedar Rapids Roughriders
Date:  Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Time:  4:00pm
Rink:  Tyson Events Center

Game Two:  Lincoln Stars vs. Green Bay Gamblers
Date:  Thursday, September 23, 2010
Time:  6:00pm
Rink:  IBP Ice Center

Game Three:  Lincoln Stars vs. Muskegon Lumberjacks
Date:  Saturday, September 25, 2010
Time:  4:00pm
Rink:  Tyson Events Center

As you can see, the Fall Classic is now a four day event (Wed-Sat).  The Stars will not play a game on Friday, September 24th.  All three opponents are in the USHL Eastern Division.  The Muskegon Lumberjacks are one of the two expansion teams entering in the USHL next season.  Nice to see the Stars will be playing at the TEC two of the three games.  The Tyson is a much nicer rink (it's where the Musketeers play).  The IBP is a much smaller, and colder, rink.

Start calling those Sioux City hotels and scheduling your vacation time from work.  I doubt I'll be able to attend the first two games.  I was kind of hoping the Stars would play on Friday and Saturday, so I could take off one day of work and see two games.  I'm not sure if BT is going to attend any of these games, so we may need to enlist the help of blog readers once again for some game recaps.  We'll tackle that issue as we get closer to the tournament dates.

Your thoughts?  Are you planning on attending all, or some of these games?  What do you think of the three teams the Stars will face?

*****************



Lincoln Stars forward Sam Alfieri has committed to play collegiate hockey at Niagara University.  Click here for more details.  Congrats to Alfie!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

USHL releases 2010-11 schedule; New divisional alignment

After an brief exhausting delay, the USHL released the 2010-11 season schedule today, along with the highly anticipated new divisional setup.  First I want to touch on the new divisions, and then we'll talk about the highlights of the 2010-11 season schedule for the Lincoln Stars.


The 2010-11 USHL season will see the following 16 teams split into two conferences.

Western Conference:
Des Moines
Dubuque
Fargo
Lincoln
Omaha
Sioux City
Sioux Falls

Tri-City

Eastern Conference:
Cedar Rapids
Chicago
Green Bay
Indiana
Muskegon
Team USA
Waterloo
Youngstown


I'm not sure how Dubuque is in the Western Division, when geographically they are east of Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, but the USHL has their reasons I suppose.  Here is how the playoffs will break down according to the press release the USHL posted earlier today:
At the conclusion of the 480-game regular season schedule, the top six teams in each Conference will qualify for the Clark Cup Playoffs.  The first and second place teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences will earn a first-round playoff bye as the remaining four teams in each Conference will vie for the two remaining spots in the second round.  The winner of each playoff race in the respective conferences will meet in a best-of-five final series for the Clark Cup.
 Okay, now let's switch gears and talk about the Stars.

 Click here to see the 2010-11 season schedule for the Lincoln Stars.

The Lincoln Stars will open the 2010-11 season on the road against the Tri-City Storm on Friday, October 1st.  Start planning now for that one.  It's just a few hours away and I know the players would appreciate it if a lot of us turned out for that game.  The first home game for the Stars will be on Friday, October 8th against the Youngstown Phantoms.  Here are some highlights of the season schedule:
  • In the first half of the season (30 games), the Stars will play 17 games at home, and 13 games on the road.
  • In the second half of the season (30 games), the Stars will play 13 games at home and 17 games on the road.
  • No Halloween game in Lincoln this season.
  • The Stars will play at home game on Wednesday, November 24th (the day before Thanksgiving) against the Omaha Lancers.  The Stars will travel to Sioux City to take on the Musketeers on Thanksgiving day.
  • The Stars will play four weekday games at home:  Wednesday 11/24/10 against Omaha; Tuesday 1/18/11 against Sioux City; Wednesday 2/16/11 against Green Bay; and Tuesday 3/8/11 against Omaha.
  • Of the final 12 games in the regular season, the Stars only play 4 of those 12 at home.
  • The longest home-stand at the IceBox is only 4 games.
  • 7 of the first 10 games of the season will be played at the IceBox
  • The first and last games of the season will be played on the road against the Tri-City Storm.
I haven't had a chance yet to really study the schedule, but it appears that the Stars will play everyone in the West Division (except for Des Moines and Dubuque) eight times, and every other team in the USHL they will play two times.  This format is dead-nuts on to what Skip Berry (the TC radio announcer) speculated a few weeks ago on the Storm message board.

Your thoughts on this schedule?  It's nice to finally have the Stars play more home games in the first half of the season.  Which road games are you most excited to see in person?  October can't come soon enough!

Official Stars website comments on schedule; USHL to release schedule this evening

Edit:  It appears the USHL is going to release the 2010-11 schedule this evening.  Click here to read the latest press release from the USHL.  The Stars will open the season at home on Friday, October 8th against the Youngstown Phantoms.  Once the full schedule is released, we will post it here.

We're getting closer to the weekend, and still no new news regarding the release of the 2010-11 USHL schedule.  However, I noticed this morning on the official Lincoln Stars website that they have updated their page with the following note:

The official 2010-11 USHL schedule is expected to be out within the next week, prompting the Stars to extend the deadline for renewing season tickets to Friday, August 6th. "In past years, the USHL schedule has been available much sooner, allowing Season Ticket Holders a chance to review it prior to the renewal deadline," said Stars Ticket Manager Micki Buhrmann. "This year, with the scheduling process being complicated by the addition of two new teams--Dubuque and Muskegon--and the re-alignment of the USHL divisions, we may not have a final schedule by this Friday (July 30th), the initial deadline for season ticket renewal. Therefore, as an accommodation to our Season Ticket Holders, we will extend the renewal deadline to Friday, August 6th."

So it appears that we might not hear anything from the USHL this week also.  As I commented a few days ago, I was told that the delay was due to two USHL teams who did not approve the schedule because of too many weeknight games at home.  The USHL presented what they thought was a schedule that would work for all of the teams, and two specific teams didn't agree with it.  So it's back to the drawing board for the USHL. 

This has dragged out much longer than many thought it would.  I understand that two new teams are entering in the USHL next season, and with those additions there is potential for even more schedule conflicts.  However, the USHL has had months to prepare for this.  Dubuque and Muskegon weren't just accepted into the USHL a few weeks ago.  I'm on the outside looking in as a fan, but it just seems like they could have been a little more proactive and started to tackle this issue  earlier than normal because of the proposed changes.

Last season, two new teams (Youngstown, Team USA) entered the USHL also.  The 2009-10 schedule was released on 7/9/09.  To be fair, the USHL one year ago wasn't considering a total realignment of the divisions.  It certainly appears it is going to be August before we see the 2010-11 schedule.  The other thing to look for (hopefully this week) is the schedule for the 2010 Fall Classic.  The schedule for the 2009 Fall Classic was released on 6/29/09, so I'm hopeful we can at least get the 2010 Fall Classic schedule this week still.  I know a lot of folks (including myself) are waiting to put in for vacation time from work until we see the Fall Classic schedule.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New USHL division/playoff format leaked?

On the Tri-City Storm message board, Storm radio announcer Skip Berry posted something very interesting today related to the new USHL game schedule, along with the new divisional setup and playoff seeding.  You can view the message board thread here (you have to register to read the material posted).

I'm going to quote the post made by "tcstormradio" from the Storm message board below:

FYI... the USHL is still finalizing the schedule and should be out soon... they have taken longer than usual due to expansion and scheduling conflicts.

The teams will be scheduled in three divisions, however everything will show as conferences...

Western Conference:
Tri-City
Des Moines
Dubuque
Fargo
Lincoln
Omaha
Sioux City
Sioux Falls

Eastern Conference:
Cedar Rapids
Chicago
Green Bay
Indiana
Muskegon
Team USA
Waterloo
Youngstown

Des Moines and Dubuque will only play twice against each team in the Western Conference (outside of themselves 10 times head-to-head) due to divisional scheduling, which means they will only play a total of 22 games against the Western Conference and play the Eastern Conference 38 times this season.

The Storm will play 8 games each against Fargo, Lincoln, Omaha, Sioux City, and Sioux Falls and only 2 games each against the rest of the teams in the league. So the Storm will play a total of 44 games against the Western Conference and only 16 against the Eastern Conference.

Six teams from each conference will make the playoffs with the top two teams getting a first round bye.... the first rd will look like this... 3 seed vs. 6 seed and 4 seed vs. 5 seed... each series is a best of three in the first round and all three games to be played at the higher seeded teams arena.

After that, the teams winning in the first round will be reseeded and play the four teams who all had a first round bye...

It is my understanding that each series post the first round will continue to be a best of five, but the league may consider a best of seven for the Clark Cup Finals.

Hope this helps until they officially come out with something!

Very, very interesting.  If valid, I'm assuming the Stars would play TC, Omaha, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Fargo eight times next season, and play each other team in the USHL twice.  12 teams make the playoffs?  The entire first round of playoffs would be played at the higher seeded team's rink.  Big disadvantage for the #5 and #6 playoff seeded teams in both conferences.

Your thoughts?  It's tough to know if this is just speculation, or if it's fact.  Hopefully we'll hear something official from the USHL very soon.  By the way, thanks to the blog reader who brought this to my attention.  Much appreciated.

Which of our bloggers can claim this?

I was driving in north Lincoln today and followed this yellow Jeep. Its tire cover had the dropdown Star with three hockey players skating under it and it said, "Lincoln Stars Hockey" at the bottom.

I've seen a lot of Stars logos, bumper stickers and license plates over the years, but this was by far the coolest thing I've seen yet. Is it self designed, or can it be bought somewhere?

I was hoping one of our bloggers is the proud owner of this and will step forward...surely someone that creative and dedicated posts on the Black and Blue Blog?! :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Mailbag

Some of these articles have been sitting in my email inbox for awhile now.  It's a little slow right now, so I thought I'd post them.  Some good offseason reading for sure.  Thanks to the folks to brought the articles to my attention.  I appreciate it.

Looking forward to future articles, hopefully we'll hear from the USHL this week in regards to the 2010-11 game schedule, and how the playoffs will work with three divisions.  As soon as that information is made public, we will post it here.

    As always, if you run across any articles online related to the Stars, feel free to send the links to me so I can throw them up on the blog.  Email:  lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com

    Thanks.

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    NY Islanders invite former Star Schultz to prospect camp

    This news recently found its way to my email inbox. Thanks to the folks who emailed it to me. I appreciate the heads up.

    Former Stars forward Stephen Schultz was recently invited by the NHL's New York Islanders to participate in their 2010 prospect camp. The camp is currently in progress, and you can click here to read updates.

    Schultz was a proud member of the 2006-07 Lincoln Stars. The native of Westbury, NY accumulated 63 points (31g, 32a) in 57 games for the Black and Blue that season. Schultz was the top scoring USHL rookie in '06-07. After one season in the USHL, Schultz accepted a scholarship to play for the Colorado College Tigers. Schultz just completed his junior season for the Tigers, where he scored 20 points (5g, 15a) in 28 games.

    Congrats to Stephen!

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Stars release player protected roster

    I guess I should start posting my predictions right away on 7/1.  :)

    A few hours after I posted my roster predictions, the Lincoln Stars released their list of protected players for the upcoming season.  Click here to read the official press release from the Stars.  I'm going to comment on some of the additions/subtractions later in the article.  Enough of my rambling, here's the list:


    25-player roster:
    1. (G) Kevin Murdock ('90)
    2. (G) Luke Hafner ('92)

    3. (F) Ryan Dzingel ('92)
    4. (F) Dominik Shine ('93)
    5. (F) Garrett Peterson ('91)
    6. (F) Sam Alfieri ('91)
    7. (F) John McCarron ('92)
    8. (F) Josh Berge ('90)
    9. (F) Brent Tate ('91)
    10. (F) Jake Lynes ('91)
    11. (F) Austin Hervey ('92)
    12. (F) Jeff McMinimy ('92)
    13. (F) Andrew Schmit ('91)
    14. (F) Jared Hanson ('93)
    15. (F) Brad Wilhelm ('92)
    16. (F) Mark MacMillan ('92)
    17. (F) Eric Scheid ('92)
    18. (F) Kacper Guzik ('93)

    19. (D) Ben Oskroba ('90)
    20. (D) Matt Prapavessis ('91)
    21. (D) Chris Casto ('91)
    22. (D) Richie Coyne ('91)
    23. (D) Frank Misuraca ('91)
    24. (D) Kyle Quick ('91)
    25. (D) Nick Cecere ('90)

    Affiliate list:
    (D) Josh Bretner ('93)
    (D) Bryan Sinz ('92)
    (D) Paul Ladue ('92)
    (D) Cole Martin ('94)
    (D) Zach Frye ('94)
    (D) Michael McKee ('93)
    (D) Dylan Blujus ('94)
    (F) Thomas Schutt ('93)
    (F) Brad Hawkinson ('94)
    (F) Luke Johnson ('94)
    (F) Austin Wuthrich ('93)
    (F) Max Coatta ('94)
    (G) Trevor Gutierrez ('93)

    Two names on the 25-player protected list surprised me right off the bat:  forwards Mark MacMillan and Kacper Guzik.  MacMillan is a University of North Dakota recruit (2011), and he has stated in a newspaper article that he plans on returning to his BCHL team (Alberni Valley Bulldogs) to finish out his last year of junior hockey before going to UND.  Are the Stars hoping he'll change his mind and come to Lincoln instead?  Not sure on that one.  I'd guess that they are just protecting him because they have space available on the roster, but we'll see.  Kacper Guzik was a 2009 futures draft pick of the Lincoln Stars.  I have heard that Guzik injured himself (shoulder) playing for Detroit Little Caesars (U-18) this season, and went back to his native Poland to recover from shoulder surgery.  Again, I don't know why the Stars are protecting him, considering we haven't seen him at the Stars tryout camp either of the last two years.  Do they hope he heals up and wants to play for Lincoln?  If you look at his stats, he certainly plays with an edge (68 points, 306 penalty minutes in 77 games played the last three seasons).

    The only returning Stars player that did not make the roster was forward Tyler Deresky.  I don't know the circumstances behind him not being protected by the Stars.  Former Stars futures draft pick Austin Wuthrich is a name I'm glad to see on the list.  He decided to play for the NTDP U-17 Team USA squad last season, so I'm guessing he was released by that program....otherwise why would the Stars protect him.  Just a guess on my part. 

    As I've stated before, the Stars will likely bring more than 25 players to the USHL Fall Classic in Sioux City, Iowa this September.  So don't be surprised if you see some of the affiliate players listed above in a Stars uniform at the Fall Classic.  After the Fall Classic concludes, the Stars have to cut down to 23 players, not including the players protected on the affiliate list.  Those 23 players will start the regular season for the Stars.

    Okay....I want to hear from you guys now.  Your thoughts on the roster?

    Predicting the Stars 25-player protected roster

    I did this last season, so I figured I'd do it again since it looks like we're going to have to wait until next week to see the Stars protected roster.  When I posted my roster predictions last year, it was only a few hours after I posted them that the Stars released the official roster....so maybe that will happen this time also.  Wishful thinking on my part, I know. 

    Anyway, here are my predictions.  I'm just a fan who follows the team, so this is just my educated guess.  I have received some insider info on some of the players, and others are just wild guesses on my part.  The players listed below are in no particular order.

    1. (G) Kevin Murdock
    2. (G) Luke Hafner

    3. (F) Ryan Dzingel
    4. (F) Dominik Shine
    5. (F) Garrett Peterson
    6. (F) Sam Alfieri
    7. (F) John McCarron
    8. (F) Josh Berge
    9. (F) Tyler Deresky
    10. (F) Jake Lynes
    11. (F) Austin Hervey
    12. (F) Jeff McMinimy
    13. (F) Andrew Schmit
    14. (F) Jared Hanson
    15. (F) Brad Wilhelm
    16. (F) Kyle Lapenskie
    17. (F) Eric Scheid

    18. (D) Ben Oskroba
    19. (D) Matt Prapavessis
    20. (D) Chris Casto
    21. (D) Richie Coyne
    22. (D) Frank Misuraca
    23. (D) Cole Martin
    24. (D) Bryan Sinz
    25. (D) Josh Bretner

    Affiliates:
    (F) Gage Hough
    (F) Cam Bleck
    (F) Thomas Schutt
    (F) Filip Starzynski
    (D) Kyle Quick

    Futures:
    (F) Luke Johnson
    (F) Zack Frye
    (F) Brad Hawkinson
    (F) Max Coatta
    (F) Kevin Zugec

    Keep in mind that the Stars will likely take more than 25 players to the Fall Classic in September, after which they will have to cut down to 23 players.  They will still protect a number of players on their affiliate list, and those players can be called up during the season when needed.  The one thing I'm not sure about is if USHL teams can protect a player on their affiliate list if they did not draft them.  As soon as the real protected roster is released, we will post it here.
     
    Your thoughts?  Predictions?