Thursday, March 31, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Muskegon Lumberjacks - Sioux City Musketeers

With only five games remaining in the 2010-11 regular season, the Stars will open this weekend at home on Friday night against the Muskegon Lumberjacks, and then finish off the weekend on the road against the Sioux City Musketeers on Saturday evening.  Puck drops at 7:05pm on Friday night at the IceBox, and at 7:00pm Saturday night in Sioux City.  Lincoln is currently 30-20-5 (65 points), and in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  At the time of this article, the Stars were only 3 points out of fourth place, 4 points out of third place, and 5 points out of second place in the wild, wild west.  Click here to see the current USHL standings.  Click here to listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye call the games on AM 1480 KLMS.  You can also watch the games via B2 Network by clicking here. If you want to follow the Pointstreak boxscores, click here.

The Stars will play their second to last regular season home game this Friday night against the expansion Muskegon Lumberjacks (23-25-8, 54 points, fifth place in the USHL Eastern Conference).  This will be the second, and final time these two teams will face each other, and it will be the only time the Lumberjacks visit the IceBox this season.  In their lone previous encounter on in Muskegon on 2/9/11, the Stars were victorious by a score of 5-2.  In that game, Lincoln scored two shorthanded goals, and out-shot the 'Jacks, 30-19. 

Speaking of shorthanded goals, the Stars and Lumberjacks are tied for first in the USHL for shorthanded goals scored.  Both teams have scored 10 shorties on the season, although the 'Jack have given up a whopping 19 shorthanded goals against, while Lincoln has only given up 5 SH goals.  The Stars are traditionally the most penalized team in the USHL over the last few years, but the Lumberjacks have taken over that top spot with a total of 1,475 penalty minutes, compared to Lincoln's 1,231 minutes.  The top two penalized teams in the league will meet this Friday, so you never know if fireworks will fly.  It could turn out to be a very exciting game.

On Saturday evening, the Stars will travel to Sioux City, Iowa to begin a mini two game series against the Musketeers.  The two teams will face each other again in Sioux City next Tuesday night, on 4/5/11.  The Muskies are currently 27-22-6 (60 points), and are right behind the Stars in sixth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The game Saturday night will be the seventh time the Stars and Muskies meet this season.  In their previous six head-to-head contests, the Stars have a record of 4-2-0.  In their last meeting at the Tyson Event Center in Sioux City just a few weeks ago on 3/5/11, the Stars were beaten badly by a score of 6-3.

If the Stars are one the hottest teams in the USHL right now, having won five in a row and seven of their last eight coming into this weekend, the Muskies aren't that far behind.  Like the Stars, Sioux City is riding a five-game winning streak at the time of this article, and have also won seven of their last eight games.  After a slow start, and an inconsistent season, the Muskies have really turned it on as of late, and they are firmly established in the western conference playoff race.  Both teams are playing their best hockey of the season right now.

Remember, Friday night at the IceBox is the Stars' "White Out Against Cancer" night to benefit the American Cancer Society, so make sure you wear something white if you don't already own one of the white out t-shirts the Stars were selling the past couple of weeks.  Don't forget to contribute to the "Buzz-Cut Competition," and stick around after the game to bid on the special game-worn jerseys.  Bring your checkbook, plastic, and/or cash and donate what you can for a great cause.  Also, don't forget that the Blueline Booster Club is still selling "LIVEHOCKEY" bracelets, hats, and car magnets to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society .  You can buy those items in the BLBC booth located in the south concourse area of the IceBox.  I have been told that once this season is over, the BLBC will not have any more "LIVEHOCKEY" items to sell, so get them now.

Should be a great night!  It's already a sellout, so I hope you have your tickets!  See you all there.

Go Stars.

Andrew Schmit on USHL Radio

Stars forward Andrew Schmit was recently featured on the "This Week in the USHL" online radio show.  Click play below to listen to Andrew talk about his time with the Stars, and his future plans with the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.

Stars on 104.1 KIBZ radio

Click play below to listen to Lincoln forward John McCarron, goaltender Lukas Hafner, and Stars Director of Corporate Sales & Marketing Jen Morand as they talk to the "Tim and the Animal" radio show about the upcoming "White Out Against Cancer" night this Friday against the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stars White Out Againt Cancer; Linkorama

As a reminder for anyone living in a cave, the Lincoln Stars will hold a "White Out Against Cancer" this Friday night at the IceBox to benefit the American Cancer Society.  The Stars will be taking on the expansion Muskegon Lumberjacks.  Stars fans are encouraged to wear white to the game and participate in the "Jerseys Off Our Backs" auction which will be held at the conclusion of the game.  Click here to learn more.

This is a great cause, and the "Jerseys Off Our Backs" auction is one of the highlights of the home season each year.  I always enjoy watching the bidding, and jotting down how much each jersey was auctioned off for.  So make sure you bring your checkbook this Friday night and donate to a great cause.  The past two seasons, the Stars have raised over $60,000 for the American Cancer Society (2010) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (2009).  Click here to see the results from the 2010 ACS auction, and click here to see the results from the 2009 MDA auction. 

Along with the jersey auction, the Stars are also holding a "Buzz Cut Competition" to also benefit the ACS.  Click here to read more about that.  Stars forward John McCarron has a slight lead on rookie d-man Zach Frye and goaltender Lukas Hafner, so it appears it will come down to the very end to see which player will get "buzzed."  All in all, it's shaping up to be a fun game this Friday night, and it all benefits the ACS.  You can't beat that!

And now for some random Stars related info....

Former Stars forward Jimmy Hayes has signed an "amateur tryout agreement" with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.  The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks, and it is the same time that former Star fan-favorite Brandon Bollig currently plays for.  Hayes, who just completed his junior season at Boston College University, is a former second round NHL draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs.    The Leafs traded the rights to Hayes last June to the Chicago Blackhawks.  Click here to read more from the IceHogs official website.  Congrats to Jimmy!

No link here, but I received an email earlier this week from a blog reader who told me the Stars have installed a net on the south end of the IceBox, similar to the net on the north end, to protect the fans in that south area from errant pucks.  As the reader who sent me the email mentioned, this move was probably inevitable.  Over the years, I've seen some people get hurt badly from pucks, so this is good news.  Some mind not like having to look through the net, but in my experience, after awhile you will forget it's there.  In the end, fan safety is priority.  In my opinion, I'm surprised it took this long to see a net on the south end.

Former Lincoln Stars radio announcer Gary Sharp is returning to Lincoln to be a part of the newly created KNTK 93.7 FM sports radio station.  Click here to read more.  I know a lot of hockey fans in this town have many fond recollections of Sharp calling Stars games, so I figured this would be a good story to pass along.

Another no-linker, the "little" brother of Stars forward John McCarron was recently picked to play for the U-17 Team USA squad next season.  Mike McCarron, who as a 15 year old is 6'5" and 220 pounds, will play next season in the USHL as a member of the U-17's.  There were some rumors earlier this season that Mike might suit up for a game or two for the Stars, but that never came to fruition.  Mike recently attended the USNTDP U-17 camp, and was subsequently named to the roster for next season.  I wish we could have seen him in a Stars uniform, but I'm happy that he'll be playing for Team USA.  What an honor to play for the red, white, and blue.  Congrats to Mike and the McCarron family.

Former Star, and current NHL all-star with the St. Louis Blues, David Backes and his wife Kelly in this video for  Gotta love a guy who sticks up for animals who need a home.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 3/26: Lincoln 6, Chicago 0

Fifth win in a row!  The train rolls on.  w00t!

The Lincoln Stars continued their hot streak on Saturday night by spanking the Chicago Steel on the road by the score of 6-0.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the win, the Stars improved to 30-20-5 (65 points) and are currently in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Stars are only two points out of fourth place (68 points-Fargo Force), four points out of third place (69 points-Omaha Lancers), and five points out of second place (70 points-Sioux Falls Stampede).

The Stars came out very strong and scored a whopping four goals in the first period.  Goal scorers for Lincoln in the first was Eric Scheid, Richie Coyne, Andrew Schmit, and Chris Casto (shorthanded).  The Stars dominated play in the first twenty minutes, and out-shot the Steel 15-4 in the period.

In the second period, the Stars scored the final two goals of the game when defenseman Matt Prapavessis scored on the powerplay, and Jared Hanson scored at even strength.  The Stars would out-shoot the Steel in the second period, 14-6.  

In the third, the Stars would put the game in auto-pilot mode and completed the shutout by a score of 6-0.  Lincoln goaltender Lukas Hafner stopped all 18 Chicago shots on goal to record his first USHL shutout of his career.  Top point-getter for the Stars was Matt Prapavessis who finished with 3 points (1g, 2a), and was +3 on the night.  Lincoln finished 1-for-8 on the powerplay for the game.

Another two points in the standings!  Stars got a little help Saturday tonight from the Sioux City Musketeers, who beat the Sioux Falls Stampede 2-0.  Another big weekend for the Stars!  Enjoy the win!

B³ Live In-Game Chat: Lincoln Stars vs. Chicago Steel 3/26

Welcome to the B³ live in-game chat!  The puck will drop at 7:30pm CST this evening in Chicago, so I should have this chat application up and running around 7:15pm.  For those who are new to our live game chats, you do not have to register to talk with other Stars fans during the game. Just type in a user name, and chat away. This is a great way to interact with other Lincoln fans during road games. Hope to see you all there!

Click here to listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye call the game on AM 1480 KLMS (online feed).  Click here to listen to the Stars B2 audio feed.

Friday, March 25, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 3/25: Lincoln 4, Team USA 2

Another big win, and two more points in the standings!  We're movin' on up!

The Stars won their fourth game in a row with a 4-2 road victory tonight over Team USA U-18.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The Stars had never won a game in Ann Arbor, MI (the home of Team USA) in their previous six attempts, until tonight.  With the win, the Stars improved to 29-20-5 (63 points) and are now only three points behind the fourth-place team in the western conference, the Fargo Force, and only four points behind the third-place team, the Omaha Lancers.

The Stars struck first early in this game, which is the seventh straight game in which Lincoln has scored first, when forward Eric Scheid scored at the 1:36 mark of the opening period to give the black and blue the 1-0 lead.  Jared Hanson and John McCarron collected the assists on Scheid's 14th goal of the season.  Scheid has now scored a goal in three straight games.  The U-18's would answer quickly after Scheid's goal when less than two minutes later, Team USA's Connor Murphy scored to even the game at 1-1.

The Stars would respond later in the period when forward John McCarron scored at the 13:41 mark of the first period to give Lincoln its second lead of the game, this time at 2-1.  Stars defenseman Nick Cecere would pick up the lone assist on McCarron's goal.  Just like before, Team USA would respond with a goal of their own, this time from forward Austin Wuthrich (a former Stars draft pick) at the 16:21 mark of the first.  At the end of the opening period, the game was knotted up at 2-2.  Stars outshot the U-18's 16-13 in the first twenty minutes.

In the second period, the Stars would get on the scoreboard again when forward Andrew Schmit scored at the 10:34 mark to give Lincoln its third lead of the game, this time at 3-2.  Lincoln forward Eric Scheid would earn the only assist on the goal.  Schmit's second period tally would turn out to be the game-winning goal.  Andrew Schmit has now scored a goal in four straight games.  The Stars would take a 3-2 into the second intermission.  Both clubs had five shots on goal in the second.

In the final twenty minutes, the Stars would again shut the U-18's down, and score a goal of their own.  Just four minutes into the third period, Stars forward Teemu Tiitinen scored a powerplay goal to give Lincoln the 4-2 lead.  Andrew Schmit collected the lone assist on Teemu's seventh goal of the season.  Team USA would out-shoot the Stars 10-9 in the third period, but Lincoln goaltender Kevin Murdock would stop all of them.  Stars win 4-2.  Lincoln went 1-for-4 on the PP, while the U-18's finished 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.  Kevin Murdock stopped 26 of 28 shots to record his 26th win of the season, which is second most in the entire USHL.

With two of their captains out of the lineup (Brent Tate and Garrett Peterson), the Stars came up big tonight against a VERY good Team USA squad.  This U-18 team has consistently beaten division one collegiate teams this season, so for the Stars to get such a quality win against this team is very, very impressive.  Even more impressive is the fact that the U-18 squad had a record of 9-1-1 at home coming into this game with the Stars tonight.  The boys are certainly clicking, and what better time that now.  The playoffs are just around the corner, so let's keep that train rollin'.

Lincoln is back in action tomorrow (Saturday) night when they will travel to Chicago to face the Steel.  Puck drops at 7:35pm CST for that game, and we will again be doing another live in-game chat for that matchup.  Make sure you check us out for that.  I should have the chat up and running around 7:15pm.

Go Stars.

B³ Live In-Game Chat: Lincoln Stars vs. Team USA U-18 3/25

Welcome to the B³ live in-game chat!  The puck will drop at 6:00pm CST this evening in Ann Arbor, MI, so I should have this chat application up and running around 5:45pm.  For those who are new to our live game chats, you do not have to register to talk with other Stars fans during the game. Just type in a user name, and chat away. This is a great way to interact with other Lincoln fans during road games. Hope to see you all there!

Click here to listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye call the game on AM 1480 KLMS (online feed).  Click here to listen to the Stars B2 audio feed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Team USA - Chicago Steel

The Lincoln Stars (28-20-5, 61 points, fifth place in the USHL Western Conference) will take their last long road-trip of the season this weekend when they will take on Team USA U-18 on Friday night, and the Chicago Steel on Saturday night.  Faceoff for the game against Team USA will take place at 6:00pm CST.  Faceoff for the game against the Steel will take place at 7:30pm CST.   Click here to listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye call the games on AM 1480 KLMS.  You can also watch the games via B2 Network by clicking here. If you want to follow the Pointstreak boxscores, click here.

First up this weekend for the Stars will be the youngsters of Team USA U-18.  This team has some of the best home-grown talent under the age of 18 years old on its roster.  These kids were hand-picked at the beginning of the season by the Team USA coaches, and many will go on to play in the NHL.  Unlike the U-17 squad, the U-18 team also plays games against NCAA  teams along with their schedule of USHL opponents.  If my calculations are correct, the Team USA U-18 squad has a 12-8-3 record against USHL competition this season.  Click here to see the U-18's 2010-11 schedule, which includes the results of their games.

The Stars are catching the U-18's at the wrong point of the season.  Earlier on in the 2010-11 campaign, the U-18's struggled a bit at times against USHL competition.  In their first eleven games against USHL teams, the U-18's had a record of 4-6-1, including a loss against the Chicago Steel, a team that has only won 9 games all season.  However, this team has gelled and are playing some of their best hockey of the season right now.  The U-18's are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games against USHL foes, including wins over heavyweights like the Green Bay Gamblers and the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  This will definitely be a big test for the Lincoln Stars.

On Saturday evening, the Stars will travel to the "Windy City" to take on the struggling Chicago Steel.  To say that the Steel are struggling this season is an understatement.  The Steel currently are dead last in the USHL with a record of 9-37-8 (26 points), and a winning percentage of .241%.  The next closest point total to the Steel's 26 points is Youngstown and Waterloo, who each have 47 points.  As bad of a season as the Stars had last season, it pales in comparison to what the Steel are having to deal with this season.  Through 54 games, the Steel have only scored 92 goals (last in the USHL), and have given up 213 goals (second to last in the USHL).

You almost have to feel bad for the Steel fans out there, especially after the season the Stars had last year.  We've been there.  We know how it feels.  Mostly I feel sorry for the kids on the Steel roster.  Chicago has been hit hard by the injury bug this season, much like the Stars last season.  They fired their head coach a month ago, and the team hasn't responded at all to new head coach Scott McConnell.  The Steel haven't won a game since February 13th, and have only won two games since January 1st, 2011.  In their last 13 games, the Steel are winless with a record 0-12-1.  They've been shutout 9 times this season, which is by far the most by any team in the USHL this season.  Those are some ugly stats, folks.  Regardless, this is NOT a team the Stars can overlook.  Chicago is coming off a 10-1 loss to the Waterloo Blackhawks this past Wednesday night, so you have to figure they'll play a lot better in their next game, which comes Saturday night against the Stars.

The Stars are coming off a big week in which they went 3-0 with wins against the Tri-City Storm, the Omaha Lancers, and the Des Moines Buccaneers.  With 61 points, the Stars are only 5 points behind the Fargo Force, who are sitting in fourth place in the western conference with 66 points.  The Stars also have one game in hand over the Force.  As we've talked previously on the blog, it's important the Stars finish the season strong and jump up to that 4th spot in the west so they can host the all of the first round playoff games at the IceBox.  Getting at least 3 out of 4 points this weekend is a must to keep pace with teams like Fargo and Omaha ahead of the Stars in the standings.  Only 7 games remaining in the regular season for the Stars!  It's do or die time.

We will be doing our live in-game chats for both games this weekend, so make sure you check back here both evenings to join in on the fun.  Hope to see you all there.

Go Stars.

Channel 10/11 video on Lincoln Stars

Thanks to the blog reader who sent me this video.

KOLN-KGIN channel 10/11 here in Lincoln aired a quick piece on the Stars' push towards the playoffs, which you can view below.  

I should have a weekend preview article up on the blog sometime tonight. Stars are on the road this weekend to face Team USA U-18 on Friday night in Ann Arbor, MI. Saturday night they'll travel to Chicago to face the Steel.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

USHL 2010-11 Playoff Primer

With the 2010-11 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to go in-depth and discuss this new format the USHL is trying this season.  Also, I've had a number of blog readers email me and ask where the Stars will end up.  I have been hesitant to write this article because I'm really superstitious and I don't like talking about the playoffs and the Stars unless I'm pretty certain they'll make it.  Although nothing is set in stone, Lincoln has only 7 regular season games remaining, and the Stars are playing some of their best hockey of the season right now.  A lot can happen in these last few weeks of the season,  and there are no guarantees.  Let's talk about this new playoff format, and how it could affect the Stars.

The top 6 teams in each conference (eastern and western) earn the right to play post-season hockey.  The top two teams in each conference earn a first round bye, so those four teams get to sit back and relax while the remaining 8 teams beat each other up.  #3 seed vs. #6 seed, and #4 seed vs. #5 seed.  The first round of playoffs, called the "qualifying round," are a best of three format (first team to win two games wins the series).  The catch here is that the higher seeded team in each series will host ALL first round series games.  Each round after the first round will be a best of 5 format (first team to win three games wins the series).   

Was that confusing enough?  Well, here's a quote from a recent USHL article in which they talk about this "new and improved" playoff format:

With 16 teams competing in the USHL this season, the most in League history, the Clark Cup Playoff format has expanded to allow for an even more competitive and exciting postseason in 2011.  The top six teams in each conference (Eastern and Western) based on standings points will qualify for the playoffs.  The top two teams in each conference will automatically advance to the second round.  The remaining four teams (#3 vs. #6 and #4 vs. #5) in each conference will participate in a best-of-three series to fill the next two spots in the second round.  All three games (if necessary) will be played in the home arena of the higher seed (#3 and #4).  All remaining series in the playoffs will follow a best-of-five format.  The winner of the Eastern and Western brackets will meet in the Clark Cup Final.  Three teams in the Eastern Conference have already locked in a berth to the postseason – Green Bay Gamblers, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, and Indiana Ice.

So there you have it.  Clear as mud.

I have mentioned previously on this blog how important it is for the Stars to get to that 4th or 3rd spot in the western conference so they don't have to play every first round game on the road.  It's tough to guess who the Stars will matchup against in the first round, but it appears it could be one of three teams:  the Omaha Lancers, the Fargo Force, or the Sioux Falls Stampede.  With most teams still having 7 or less regular season games remaining, we can expect a lot of movement in the western conference standings.  Time will only tell where the Stars will land after the regular season is complete, and who they will play.

The Stars are on a bit of a hot streak, having won 5 of their last 6 games, so if this streak can continue, and we get a little help from the teams above us (ie losing), there is still hope the Stars can earn that #3 or #4 seed and host every first round game at the IceBox.  

Click here to view the most recent USHL standings and see where the Stars are at in relation to the other  teams in the western conference.

Click here to view the USHL Playoff Bracket on Pointstreak.

Okay, I've babbled long enough and now I want to hear from all of you.  Thoughts on this new format?  Is the USHL including too many teams?  Are you a fan of the higher seed hosting every playoff game in their rink in the first round?  If you're like me, and you aren't a fan of this new playoff system, how would you improve on it?  I'd love to hear all of your opinions.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Former Star Carter Camper named Hobey Baker Award finalist

Thanks to the blog reader who brought this to my attention on the B³ Facebook page.

Former Stars forward Carter Camper has recently been named as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award which goes to the top National Collegiate Athletic Association men's ice hockey player.  Carter is a senior captain on the Miami of Ohio Redhawks hockey team.  In 38 games this season, Camper scored 56 points (19g, 37a) to lead the Redhawks in scoring.  The Redhawks finished the regular season as the #4 ranked team in the country, and they soon will be participating in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.  Camper was also recently named the CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Click here to view a terrific website devoted to getting the word out about Camper in his quest for the Hobey Baker.  Tons of great info and stats, and some cool highlight videos as well.

Click here to go to the official Hobey Baker Award website to vote for Carter.  He's a bit behind compared to some of the other players nominated, so he could use all of our help.  You can vote once per day.  

Click here to read a recent USHL article highlighting Camper, and two other former USHL 
players who are also nominated for the Hobey Baker.

Congrats to Carter on all of his accomplishments!  We can all be very proud of what he has done since playing here in Lincoln.  Now get out there, spread the word, and vote Carter Camper for Hobey Baker! Q & A with Stars forward Andrew Schmit

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

The website has a story up today about UNO recruit, and current Lincoln Stars forward Andrew Schmit.  Click here to read the story from the website.  Here's an excerpt from the article, which was written by Chad Purcell:

Q: Was football something you were into, too, or was it all hockey?
A: I did play football, but I wasn’t as good as my brother or my dad. I was the biggest guy on my team because we didn’t field a lot of players, so I played on the D-line and tight end. I was just kind of average.
Q: So is it right that UNO really was the only school that had shown interest in recruiting you?
A: Well, the first half of the year, the team that pursued me the most was Yale. I was pretty excited about that, but it ended up not working out. Then there wasn’t too much interest after that, just a couple of ECAC schools, but nothing really serious. Then all of a sudden, UNO saw me play one weekend, I visited within the next few days, and they offered me right there.
Q: That must have felt like a nice development, considering you weren’t sure what your next step would be.
A: It was definitely a relief. And it all happened so fast, it was just a crazy week. It was really flattering that they showed that interest in me, and it’s pretty intimidating sitting across from Coach Blais. It’s really humbling, just that whole experience of him wanting you to come to his school.
Q: Dean obviously has a history of recruiting guys with size and speed, so you must fit that mold of what UNO is looking for.
A: Yeah, but I think a lot of it just has to do with the way I work. I think the kind of player who fits their system are the guys who just are willing to work hard and buy in.
Q: And you have to be excited seeing the success UNO has had this year during this first season in the WCHA.
A: Exactly. All those freshmen who came in this year, they all have made an impact at UNO, and they were all leaders in the USHL before they got to college. Now we’re going to have a second wave of guys coming in as freshmen next year, and I think UNO is really becoming a hot spot for guys in the USHL.
Q: If UNO was still in the CCHA, you’d get that chance to play against your brother. But in the WCHA, I’m guessing you’re looking forward to playing the Badgers, right?
A: Playing at the Kohl Center will be a fun experience. I went to a couple games there as a little kid, and the place is bumping when you go there. It’s like one big student section. But I know UNO gets a lot of fans, too, so I’m definitely also looking forward to playing those home games.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Snapshots of the Game: Des Moines vs. Lincoln 3/19

Thanks to Brandon Anderson for letting me share some of his photos from the game last night here on the blog.  I appreciate it!  If you would like to contact Brandon, you can reach him at  Click here to view his website.

Click the "Read More" link underneath the photo below to see all of the pictures in this series.

Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock dives on the puck

B³ Postgame Recap 3/19: Des Moines 3, Lincoln 5

It's a four-point weekend, and a six-point week!  w00t!

The Lincoln Stars went 3-0 this week after completing the six-point sweep on Saturday night at the IceBox with a 5-3 victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the win, the Stars improved to 28-20-5 (61 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  With the Fargo Force and the Sioux Falls Stampede both winning their games on Saturday night, the Stars are still five points behind those two teams, and eight points ahead of sixth place Des Moines.

The Stars struck first in this game when Jared Hanson scored at the 13:13 mark of the first period to put Lincoln up 1-0.  Forwards Ryan Dzingel and Sam Alfieri collected the assists on Hanson's eighth goal of the season.  Hanson's first period tally marked the sixth straight game in which the Stars scored the first goal of the game.  Before the crowd of 4,212 at the IceBox could finish celebrating the first goal, Stars forward Eric Scheid scored his 13th goal of the season just 39 seconds after Hanson's goal to give Lincoln the quick 2-0 lead.  Teemu Tiitinen and Sam Alfieri earned the assists on Scheid's goal at the 13:52 mark.  Teemu's primary assist was one of the prettiest passes I've seen at the IceBox this season.  His backhand pass from along the boards to a streaking Scheid was a thing of beauty.  

The Bucs would answer a little over a minute later when Ray Pigozzi scored for Des Moines to bring his team to within one goal at 2-1.  Just when it looked like the Stars might take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, forward Austin Hervey snapped a quick shot off a faceoff past a screened Michael Shibrowski to give Lincoln a commanding 3-1 lead.  Hervey's goal, which came at the 18:13 mark of the first period, was assisted by Zach Aston-Reese and Zach Frye.  Stars out-shot the Bucs 11-8 in the first twenty minutes.

In the second period, the Stars got a PP goal late in stanza when forward Dominik Shine scored to give Lincoln the 4-1 lead.  Forwards Sam Alfieri and John McCarron earned the assists on Shine's 12th goal of the season.  The Bucs got a powerplay goal of their own from forward Mitch Cain, with only 23 seconds remaining in the second period, to give themselves some life at 4-2 heading into the second intermission.  The Buccaneers out-shot the Stars 15-12 in the second period.

In the final twenty minutes, the Stars and Bucs traded scoring chances until late in the period when Dajon Mingo of Des Moines scored a powerplay goal with less than seven minutes remaining to bring the Bucs within one goal at 4-3.  All of a sudden, the Bucs were right back in this hockey game.  However, the Stars and goaltender Kevin Murdock would stand tall and thwarted numerous scoring chances by Des Moines to keep the lead.  Stars forward Andrew Schmit would put the icing on the cake with an empty-net goal with eight seconds remaining to give Lincoln the eventual 5-3 final score.  Forwards Garrett Peterson and Teemu Tiitinen collected the assists on Schmit's 11th goal of the season.  Andrew Schmit has now scored a goal in three straight games.  The Bucs out-shot the Stars 14-8 in the third period, and 37-31 overall.

Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock came up huge once again for the third straight game, as he stopped 34 of 37 shots to record is 25th win of the season, which is second best in the entire USHL.  Bucs goaltender Michael Shibrowski stopped 26 of 30 shots in the loss.  Lincoln went 1-for-3 on the powerplay, while the Bucs went 2-for-4 with the man advantage.  The Stars won the season series against the Bucs with two wins, and zero losses.

For the second straight night at the IceBox, the Stars played a full 60 minutes and finished strong against a quality opponents.  Two or three months ago, the Stars might have found a way to lose both games in the third period, but not this weekend.  Kevin Murdock was once again unbelievable between the pipes, and he should be in consideration for another goaltender of the week award from the USHL for his efforts.  In the past three games, all wins, Murdock stopped 88 of 94 shots on net.  Great effort all-around this weekend.  The Stars seem to be clicking as a team, which is fun to watch from the stands.  Getting that first goal of the game has been huge, and it's something the Stars are improving on as the season goes along.

Lincoln has the week off, but will be back in action on the road against Team USA U-18 next Friday night, and then in Chicago on Saturday evening to face the Steel.  More on those games later in the week.

Go Stars.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Snapshots of the Game: Omaha vs. Lincoln 3/18

Thanks once again to Brandon Anderson and Jeff White for allowing me to share some of their photos from the Lancers-Stars game last night.  I appreciate it, fellas!  If you would like to contact Brandon, you can email him at  Make sure to check out BA's new website, also.

Click the "Read more" link underneath the photo below to see all of the pictures in this series.

Friday, March 18, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 3/18: Omaha 2, Lincoln 3

It's another Stars win over the Lancers at the Ice Box!!  Choooo Choooo!

I'll update this article tomorrow morning with a full recap, but I wanted to get something up tonight in case folks want to leave comments.  What another great night at the IceBox!  Stars win their FIFTH straight against the Omaha Lancers, beating them tonight by a score of 3-2.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore. 

Great effort tonight, Stars!  A sellout crowd saw two good teams battle it out, but the good guys prevailed.  We wouldn't want it any other way.  Enjoy the big win tonight, everyone!  In Doc we trust!

Go Stars!

Former Star Jared Brown signs with CHL

Just ran across this article online about former Stars forward Jared Brown:

The Quad City Mallards of the “AA” Central Hockey League today announced they have signed forward Jared Brown and that forward Drew Akins has been granted leave by the CHL.

Brown, 25, finished his collegiate career at Northern Michigan earlier this month.  The Gardner, Kansas, native scored two goals and totaled ten points in 30 games this season.  Over four years as a Wildcat, the 5’ 10”, 195-pound Brown scored 32 times and recorded 83 points in 155 games.  Last season, Brown produced nine goals and 23 points in 41 games while helping NMU to the school’s first NCAA tournament bid in a decade.

Brown spent four seasons in the junior ranks- with the North American Hockey League is Lone Star Cavalry and Santa Fe Roadrunners and the United States Hockey League’s Lincoln Stars- before heading to Northern Michigan.

Congrats to Jared! Brownie will always be one of my all-time favorite Stars players.  He was very fun to watch, and despite his small stature, he had a huge heart.  One of those smaller guys who played a lot bigger than his size.  Good luck to him with Quad City.

Andy Schneider interview on 104.1 KIBZ

Lincoln Stars assistant coach Andy Schneider was on the "Tim and the Animal" radio show this morning on 104.1 KIBZ, "The Blaze."  Click play below to watch video of the interview.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Omaha Lancers - Des Moines Buccaneers

The Lincoln Stars (26-20-5, 57 points, fifth place in the USHL Western Conference) will host two games at the IceBox this weekend against long-time league rivals.  On Friday night, the Stars will play host to the Omaha Lancers for the final time in the regular season.  On Saturday night, the Stars will take play host to the Des Moines Buccaneers, also for the final time in the regular season.  The puck will drop at the IceBox at 7:05pm on both nights.  Click here to listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye call the games on AM 1480 KLMS.  You can also watch the games via B2 Network by clicking here. If you want to follow the Pointstreak boxscores, click here.

First up for the Stars this weekend will be the Omaha Lancers (29-15-7, 65 points, second place in the USHL Western Conference).  Despite their lofty record, the Lancers have had trouble playing well against and beating the Lincoln Stars this season.  As I mentioned above, this will be the eighth and final time the Stars and Lancers will face each other in the 2010-11 regular season.  The Stars are 5-2-0 against Omaha in those seven previous games, and haven't lost to the Lancers in four straight contests.  Also, the Lancers have beaten the Stars at the IceBox only once this season, and that was way back on 11/24/10.  

Unlike last season when Lincoln went 0-5 against the Lancers, the Stars this season have had very good showings against Omaha, and have dominated the season series thus far.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock is 5-1-0 against the Lancers this season, with a 2.65 goals against average, and a .922 save percentage.  Lincoln forward John McCarron has scored 8 points (3g, 5a) and is +9 in seven games against the Omaha Lancers this season.  

On Saturday night, the Stars will take on the visiting Des Moines Buccaneers (23-20-5, 51 points, fifth place in the USHL Western Conference).  The Bucs are currently six points behind the Stars in the standings, but Des Moines has three games in hand compared to the Stars.  The Bucs have played 48 games so far this season, while the Stars have played 51.  The Bucs play the Green Bay Gamblers on Thursday, March 17th (tonight), so hopefully the Gamblers win big.  With three games in hand and only six points behind the Stars, the Bucs are more than capable of getting back within striking distance of Lincoln.  

This will be the second, and last time the Stars and Bucs face off against each other in the regular season.  Seems a bit strange to only play the Buccaneers twice this season, despite the fact that both teams play in the same conference.  I guess we have to thank the USHL and their new and improved crappy regular season schedule for that.  In their lone previous meeting, the Stars beat the Bucs in Des Moines on 12/4/10 by a score of 3-2.  In that game, the Stars were down 1-0 heading into the third period, but roared back and scored three goals in the final twenty minutes to win the game.  

As for the Stars, they are coming off an impressive road win on Tuesday night over the Tri-City Storm.  Lincoln was without the services of three of their top forwards in Brent Tate (injury), Dominik Shine (injury), and Garrett Peterson (suspension) in that win against the Storm.  Garrett Peterson was originally suspended for three games after the incident last Saturday night in Fargo, but the Stars appealed the ruling, and his suspension was knocked back down to only one game, so Petey should be in the lineup for both games this weekend.  Brent Tate is out until early April due to an elbow injury he suffered in a fight against Oleg Yevenko of the Fargo Force on 2/26/11.  Dominik Shine suffered a head injury last weekend during the Fargo series, and for the first time the word "concussion" was mentioned on the radio this past Tuesday by Stars head coach Chad Johnson.  I haven't hear much else about the severity of Shine's injury, so we'll have to wait and see if he's in the lineup this weekend or not.

This will be the last full weekend of hockey at the IceBox, which is very sad.  It's hard to believe the regular season is almost over.  These are two HUGE games this weekend, so get your tickets now!  If you already have your tickets, invite your friends and/or family to the games this weekend so we can pack the IceBox and make it as loud as possible.  Let's make the home ice advantage of the IceBox count.  Loud and crazy.  I can't wait.  

Go Stars.

Former Star Chris Vande Velde to make NHL debut tonight

A quick note:

Former Lincoln Stars forward Chris Vande Velde is set to make his NHL debut tonight with the Edmonton Oilers when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes in Edmonton, Alberta.  Click here and here to read more.  Vande Velde was a 4th round draft pick of the Oilers in the 2005 NHL entry draft.  From the articles I have read, the Oilers have been hit hard by injuries, so Vande Velde and a couple of other players have been called up from the Oilers AHL farm team, the Oklahoma City Barons.

Vande Velde played 63 regular season games for the Lincoln Stars over two seasons (2004-2006).  Click here to view his USHL statistics.  After his time with the Stars, Vande Velde moved on to play collegiate hockey for the University of North Dakota.  In four seasons with the Fighting Sioux, Vande Velde scored 117 points (52 goals, 114 assists) in 166 games.

Congrats to Chris!  Always nice to see another Stars alumni in the NHL.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 3/15: Lincoln 4, Tri-City 1

Another two points closer to fourth place!  w00t!

The Lincoln Stars earned their fourth win in a row against the Tri-City Storm tonight with an impressive 4-1 road victory at the Vaiero Event Center in Kearney.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the win, the Stars improved to 26-20-5 (57 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is now five points behind two teams (Sioux Falls, Fargo) who are tied for fourth place with 62 points.  

Teemu Tiitinen got the Stars on the scoreboard early in this game when he scored his sixth goal of the season at the 1:47 mark of the first period to give Lincoln the 1-0 lead.  Forwards Austin Hervey and Rasmus Juell collected the assists on Tiitinen's goal.  Teemu's goal would turn out to be the only goal scored in the first twenty minutes despite the Storm out-shooting the Stars 10-4.

The Stars came out much stronger in the second period and they were rewarded when forward Ryan Dzingel scored at the 7:17 mark to give Lincoln the 2-0 lead.  Jared Hanson and John McCarron earned the assists on Dzingel's 20th goal of the season.  McCarron has now scored at least one point in each of the last seven games.  The Stars have shown as of late that they can be a very dangerous team while shorthanded, and defenseman Chris Casto proved that once again when he scored his fifth goal of the season, his first shorthanded, at the 9:32 mark of the second period to give Lincoln a commanding 3-0 lead.  Assisting on Casto's shorthanded goal was Teemu Tiitinen and Ryan Dzingel.  Stars out-shot the Storm 15-8 in the second period.

Just when it looked like the Stars would keep their shutout streak against the Storm alive, Tri-City forward Cole Gunner scored at the 15:58 mark of the third period to snap the streak and finally get the Storm on the scoreboard.  Gunner's goal was the first TC goal against the Stars since 10/22/10.  Going back to that Storm-Stars game on 10/22/10, the Stars held the Storm scoreless for 256 minutes and 5 seconds.  Goaltender Kevin Murdock was responsible for all but 20 minutes of that shutout streak, as Lukas Hafner played twenty minutes (the third period) of the game on 10/22/10.  Getting back to this game, Stars forward Andrew Schmit scored an empty-net goal with a little more than one minute remaining to complete the scoring.  Eric Scheid collected the lone assist on Schmit's ninth goal of the season.  Stars win 4-1.  Shots were even at 8-8 in the third period.  Stars out-shot the Storm overall 27-26.

Another big win tonight over a game Tri-City squad.  The Stars play the Storm two more times this season, so let's hope they can continue their winning streak in those two remaining games.  In the last four wins over the Storm, the Stars have outscored the Storm 18-1.  With Brent Tate (injury), Dominik Shine (injury), and Garrett Peterson (league-sanctioned one game suspension) all out of the lineup, it was nice to see the players step up and get the job done tonight.  The train rolls on.

Stars are back in action this weekend with two HUGE games at the IceBox.  Omaha Lancers on Friday night, and the Des Moines Buccaneers on Saturday night.  I'll highlight those games with a preview article on Thursday.  If you haven't bought your tickets for any of those two games, call Micki at the ticket office and buy them now!  Don't be left out.

Go Stars.

B³ Live In-Game Chat: Lincoln Stars vs. Tri-City Storm 3/15

Welcome to the B³ live in-game chat!  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST this evening in Kearney, so I should have this chat application up and running around 6:45pm.  For those who are new to our live game chats, you do not have to register to talk with other Stars fans during the game. Just type in a user name, and chat away. This is a great way to interact with other Lincoln fans during road games. Hope to see you all there!

Click here to listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye call the game on AM 1480 KLMS (online feed).  Click here to listen to the Stars B2 audio feed.