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.

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