Monday, March 14, 2011

B³ Pregame Report: Lincoln Stars vs. Tri-City Storm 3/15

The Lincoln Stars (25-20-5, 55 points, fifth place in the USHL Western Conference) will go on the road Tuesday night for a rare mid-week showdown against the Tri-City Storm at the Viaero Events Center in Kearney, NE.  The Stars have only 10 games remaining in the 2010-11 regular season, and 3 of those 10 games will be played against the TC Storm.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm Tuesday in Kearney.  Click here to listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye call the game on AM 1480 KLMS.  You can also watch the game via B2 Network by clicking here. If you want to follow the Pointstreak boxscore, click here.  

Before we talk about our purple neighbors to the west, a team the Stars haven't seen since 1/7/11, let's highlight the mind-boggling, and equally awesome, shutout streak the Stars currently have against the Storm.  Lincoln is 3-0 against TC in their last three meetings, and each one of those wins came by shutout.  The first win in this shutout streak came on 11/12/10 at the IceBox in Lincoln, with the Stars winning 3-0.  Second win in the shutout streak came on 11/16/10 in Kearney, with Lincoln laying the beatdown by a score of 8-0.  Third win in the shutout streak came on 1/7/11 at the IceBox, with the Stars winning again by a score of 3-0.  

The Tri-City Storm have not scored a goal against the Lincoln Stars since Storm forward Darik Angeli scored at the 19:53 mark of the second period in Tri-City's win against Lincoln waaaaaaaaay back on 10/22/10.  Let me repeat that.  The Storm have not scored on the Stars since October 22nd, 2010.  That's a streak going back 3+ games, and includes 200 minutes and 7 seconds of shutout hockey.  That my friends, is incredible.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock has back-stopped 187 minutes worth of shutout hockey, with Lukas Hafner responsible for 20 minutes of the 200 minute streak.  In five games against the Storm this season, Kevin Murdock has a record of 4-1, a goals against average of 1.47, and a save percentage of .953%.  Amazing.  

The Tri-City Storm (19-21-10, 48 points, last place in the USHL Western Conference) are a team on the outside looking in in regards to the playoff race in the west, but not by much.  The Storm are only three points away from sixth place Des Moines, and seventh points behind fifth place Lincoln.  The issue the Storm have battled with all season long is putting the biscuit in the basket, as evidenced by the current scoreless streak against the Stars.  Tri-City averages only 2.36 goals per game, which is 15th out of 16 USHL teams.  Although the Storm haven't played well against Lincoln since last October, they know they have three opportunities against the Stars in these last 10 games to make up some ground, so they will be dangerous.  The Stars cannot take this team lightly, no matter how long the current shutout streak is.  The Storm are well aware that they can climb right back into the playoff hunt with a big home win against the Stars.

As for Lincoln, the team is coming off a productive week in which they won 2 out of 3 games against western conference foes, but have not been able to make up any ground on the fourth place Fargo Force.  Stars defenseman Richie Coyne and forward Dominik Shine both suffered injuries during the weekend series in Fargo, and the extent of their injuries is unknown to me.  Stars trainer Corey Courtney said on the radio that Shine could return this week, but I don't have an update on Coyne.  Edit:  Per the Lincoln Journal Star, defenseman Richie Coyne will be out of the lineup Tuesday night with an ankle injury.  Forward Garrett Peterson could miss tonight due to a USHL sanctioned suspension from a incident this past weekend, but the Stars are appealing the ruling.

Unless the Stars go on a long winning streak and overtake the Force for that coveted fourth seed in the USHL western conference, the black and blue will more than likely play every first-round playoff match on the road.  The Stars have to qualify for the playoffs first, which is still up in the air.  A lot can happen in 10 games.  No time to get comfortable and complacent.  Each and every one of these last 10 games are huge.

I know a lot of Stars fans are making the trip out to Kearney Tuesday evening for the game, so let's hope those fans are treated to a Lincoln win and another two points in the standings.  We will be doing another live in-game chat for this game, so make sure you check back with us Tuesday night around 6:45pm to join in on fun.  Hope to see you all there.

Go Stars.

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