Thursday, January 6, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Tri-City and Omaha

The Lincoln Stars (11-13-2, 23 points, eighth place in the USHL Western Conference) will look to break out of their current six-game losing streak this weekend when the black and blue faceoff against two in-state rivals, and divisional foes.  On Friday night, the Stars will host the Tri-City Storm at the IceBox.  On Saturday evening, the Stars will take on the Omaha Lancers at the Civic Auditorium in Omaha.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm for both games.  If you can't make it to any of the games this weekend, you can listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye online at AM 1480 KLMS by clicking here. You can also pay to watch live video of the games via B2 Network by clicking here. You can also follow both games via Pointstreak by clicking here.

For the first time since in almost two months, the Stars will host the Tri-City Storm (12-7-5, 29 points, fifth place in the USHL Western Conference) at the IceBox in Lincoln, NE.  The Stars are 3-1 in four games against the Storm so far this season, with Lincoln outscoring Tri-City 18-7 in those four meetings.  The last time these two teams faced each other, on 11/16/10, the Stars unloaded on the Storm by an eye-popping score of 8-0.  However, since that blowout game at Kearney back in mid-November, both teams have gone in opposition directions.  Since that 8-0 drubbing by Lincoln, the Stars are 4-8-1, while the Storm are 8-3-1.  

Despite having given up 13 more goals than they have scored (58 goals for, 71 goals against), the Storm have a .604 winning percentage and playing very well together as a team.  The Storm are the second-lowest scoring team in the USHL, but that hasn't hurt them of late, as their record indicates.  They aren't flashy.  This is a lunch-pail group that finds ways to win games.  Their special teams play isn't spectacular either.  Just looking at the numbers, it's hard to believe this team isn't in last place, or at least near the bottom of the standings.  Despite having a losing record against Lincoln this season, you know the Storm are going to be looking for revenge come Friday night.  They won't have to be reminded of the 8-0 massacre on 11/16/10.  I have a feeling the Storm will play like their hair is on fire Friday night at the IceBox.  The Stars better be ready.

On Saturday night, the Stars will travel an hour north to battle their arch-rival, the Omaha Lancers (15-7-3, 33 points, third place in the USHL Western Conference).  This will be the fourth time these two teams will face each other this season, with Omaha leading 2-1 on the scoreboard.  Like the Storm, the Lancers are team on the rise as of late.  Since losing to the Stars 4-3 in OT at home on 12/5/10, the Lancers have a record of 5-1, with that lone loss coming against league-leading Cedar Rapids by only one goal (2-1).  The last time these two teams faced each other, it was 12/18/10 in Omaha, with Lincoln losing 4-2.  Despite outplaying the Lancers for the majority of the game, especially 5-on-5, the Stars could not stay out of the penalty box, which allowed Omaha to score two PP goals and skate to the 4-2 victory.

Even though they have been playing winning hockey as of late, the Lancers have been busy recently with moving old players out, and bringing new faces in.  Forwards Mitch Hughes and Thomas O'Regan were traded to Sioux Falls for forward Matt Tabrum (10g in 24 games played).  The Lancers also raided the college ranks, as forwards Anthony Hamburg (Colgate University) and Bryce Johnson (St. Cloud State University) were added to the roster last week when both players quit school.  Hamburg played 54 games for the Lancers last season, scoring 22 points (5g, 17a).  Johnson scored 54 points (19g, 35a) in 58 games last season for the Topeka Roadrunners of the NAHL. In the four games Hamburg and Johnson have suited up for Omaha, the pair have combined for 6 points (3g, 3a).  The Lancers were certainly proactive the past few weeks in terms of adding more offensive firepower to their lineup.  This was a good team before the recent player acquisitions, and now they are even better.

The game Saturday night in Omaha is being dubbed by the Lancers organization as a "White Out."  Lancer fans are being told to wear white for the game against Lincoln, and in response, a group of Stars fans have organized a "Black out the Lancers White Out Game" campaign which is urging Lincoln fans attending the game Saturday night to wear black.  Ahhhh...gotta love an in-state rivalry.  Omaha is trying to break their own attendance record of 7,178 which was set last year against the Lincoln Stars (big surprise!).  Funny how these attendance records occur with the help of Lincoln fans.   Dollar beer and dollar hotdogs doesn't hurt either.  Anyway, there is a Facebook group page devoted to the "Black out the Lancers White Out Game," so make sure you check them out if you're interested by clicking here.

The Stars will be without the services of forward Dominik Shine this weekend as he was suspended two games by the USHL for his actions last weekend against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  In that game on 12/31/10, Shine collected a fighting instigator minor, a fighting major, a fighting game misconduct, and an abuse of officials misconduct during a scrum late in the third period.  Head coach Chad Johnson didn't sound too happy with Shine during the post-game interview with Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if the two-game suspension is increased by the team.  Captain Josh Berge will be out of the lineup until later this month or early February due a concussion.  Since Berge was injured on 12/4/10 against the Des Moines Bucs, the Stars have a record of 1-6-0.  Coincidence?

Okay, that's enough babbling from me.  I want to hear from you now.  Can the Stars get back on track this weekend with a couple of much needed wins?  Will you be attending the game in Omaha Saturday night?  Will you be wearing black?  What say you, black and blue nation?

Go Stars.


Yeti said...

Per the Lincoln Journal Star, there will be a new player in the lineup for the Stars this weekend. His name is Zach Aston-Reese, and he is a 6'1", 185 pound forward from Staten Island, NY. In 24 games this season with the New Jersey Rockets of the AJHL, Aston-Reese has scored 29 points (9g, 20a). From the sounds of the LJS article, this could be a weekend audition for Zach, who previously played two games earlier this season with the Des Moines Buccaneers.

Yeti said...

Another good bio link below for Aston-Reese:

Yeti said...

Forgot to mention this in the body of the article, but 9 out of the next 11 games the Stars will play will be at the IceBox. Stating the obvious here, but if the Stars want to pull themselves out of last place and back into the playoff hunt, they'll need to figure out very quickly how to win at home. So far this season, they've struggled at the IceBox.

nutz4puckz said...

To say that we need a win is an understatement. Hopefully tonight is the start of a winning streak. Point well made about the playoffs. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd like to be able to see some spring time hockey this year. It was in the 80's for the first game of the season, so why not the same temp when we finish up :-)

Go stars!!

Brian said...

I think the Stars have a great opportunity to get their season back on track. While they are in last place, a nice winning streak can completely change things. I have not been impressed with Tri-City this year and think the Stars should be able to pick up a win against them. Omaha on the other hand will be a tough game, but it’s definitely a game the Stars are capable of winning. The pick ups of Anthony Hamburg and Bryce Johnson are going to make Omaha a true contender in my opinion. The Lancers have had to rely on Seth Ambroz, Nick Oddo and a few others to carry their team, and these two additions give them a lot more fire power. I’ve had the opportunity to play with and against Bryce Johnson and the kid has a knack for scoring goals. Not sure if I will make it to the game in Omaha or not. Weather will probably be a big factor.

Yeti said...

To put things in perspective about how competitive the USHL Western Conference is, if the Lincoln Stars were placed in the USHL Eastern Conference, they would be in fifth place (playoff contention), and ahead of four different teams (Waterloo, Youngstown, Team USA, Chicago).

There is only one team in the Western Conference below .500, and that is Lincoln at .460. Although the Eastern Conference has some very good teams at the top of the standings, overall, they just aren't as deep in talent as the Western Conference is.

nopuckluck said...

Hope the STARS skate with a little urgency out of the gate tonight and just keep pouring it on.

In Omaha tomorrow night they are trying to break an attendance record I believe, should be a very cool atmosphere, I'll be there!!!

nutz4puckz said...

I think Yeti said it best and take the attempt at the attendance record with a grain of salt, 1. its against Lincoln (we always travel well), 2. Dollar beer and dogs is a draw and 3. They also were advertising some 8 dollar tickets which should bring more people in as well. It might just be me, but I'd put more stock in an attendance record minus the incentives and just based on the game itself. I've always thought that setting records for attendance should be done without the perks and incentives, but that is just me.

Go stars!!

tzweeb said...

way to go doc!! 200 minutes and 7 seconds of straight shut outs vs tri city.. its a new record for any goalie for the stars!! sorry reeke, but you just got passed... great work to doc and the team!!