Thursday, February 10, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Indiana and Youngstown

The Lincoln Stars (19-15-3, 41 points, sixth place in the USHL Western Conference) will look to improve upon their current three-game winning streak this weekend when they take on the Indiana Ice on Friday night, and then the Youngstown Phantoms on Saturday night.  Faceoff for the Indiana game will take place at 6:05pm CST.   Faceoff for the Youngstown game will take place at 6:30pm CST.  Click here to listen to Mike Melbye call the games on AM 1480 KLMS.  If you have money to burn, you can also watch the games via B2 Network by clicking here.  If you want to follow the Pointstreak boxscore, click here.

On Friday night at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Stars will face the Indiana Ice (24-12-3, 51 points, third place in the USHL Eastern Conference) for the second and final time in the 2010-11 regular season.  In their previous matchup just a few weeks ago on 1/28/11, the Ice beat the Stars at the IceBox by a score of 3-1.  Since that meeting, the Ice are 2-1-1 and are just five points out of first place in the east.  The Ice sport the top offense in the USHL, clicking at an average of 3.74 goals scored per game.  Forward Blake Coleman leads the Ice on offense, as the native of Plano, TX is the runaway leading scorer of the USHL this season with 59 points (20g, 39a) in only 39 games played.  The next closest point-getter is 13 points behind Coleman with 46 points (Ryan Misiak of Muskegon).  This is a very dangerous team, especially on the powerplay.  The Stars have the top-ranked PP unit in the USHL, scoring 21.64% of the time with the man-advantage.  The Ice are right behind the Stars with a PP percentage of 21.31%.  

The Stars will travel to the Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday evening to battle the Youngstown Phantoms (14-22-4, 32 points, sixth place in the USHL Eastern Conference).  This also will be the second and final time these two teams will face each other this season.  Way back on 10/8/10, the Phantoms ruined the Stars' 2010-11 home opener at the IceBox with a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the black and blue.  The second-year Phantoms have struggled again this season in the USHL.  Only two teams (Muskegon, Chicago) give up more goals per game than Youngstown, and their specials teams play is abysmal.  The Phantoms rank in the bottom three in both PP (11.01%-14th overall) and PK (80.47%-15th overall) percentages.  This should be an easier game for the Stars compared to Friday night's game against the Ice, but Lincoln shouldn't look past the Phantoms.  They've already shown this season they can beat the Stars.

The Stars are playing some of their best hockey as of late, as their three-game winning streak indicates.  Since January 1st, the Stars have a very impressive record of 8-2-2 and are inching their way up the standings in the uber-competitive western conference.  Getting at least 2-3 points out of this weekend is a must to keep teams such as Tri-City and Sioux City from overtaking Lincoln in the standings.  Obviously, the Stars will have their hands full Friday night against the Indiana Ice, but the Phantoms can't be overlooked.  Stars assistant head coach Andy Schneider stated on the radio this past Wednesday that goaltender Lukas Hafner will get a start this weekend, so hopefully Hafner will get a rare chance to shine in net.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock has started 14 straight games for Lincoln and is due for a night off.  Rookie defenseman Zach Frye should make his USHL debut Friday night against the Ice.  Frye will be wearing #20 for the black and blue.

We'll be chatting live during the Indiana game Friday night, so check back here around 6pm that night to join in.  Good luck to the Stars this weekend.  Let's get four points!

Go Stars.

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