Thursday, April 7, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Tri-City Storm

The Lincoln Stars will wrap up the 2010-11 regular season this weekend with a home-at-home series against the Tri-City Storm.  On Friday night, the Stars will host the Storm at the IceBox in what will be Lincoln's final regular season home game.  On Saturday evening, the Stars will travel to the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, NE to take on the Storm once again.  The puck will drop at 7:05m on both nights.  Lincoln is currently 31-22-5 (67 points), and in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  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 opponent for the Stars this weekend is a team that has struggled these last few months.  The Storm have a record of 19-28-11 (49 points), and are in last place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Storm are riding a five-game losing streak, and are 0-9-1 in the last ten games played.  Despite losing their last three straight games at home, the Storm have a respectable 13-10-6 home record this season.  The Storm have only scored 132 goals in 58 games this season, which is an average of 2.28 goals per game, second-worst in the entire USHL.

To say that the Stars have dominated the season series against the Storm this season is an understatement.  In their six previous head-to-head contests, the Stars have a record of 5-1-0, and have out-scored the Storm 25-8.  By now, we all are aware of the 3+ game shutout streak the Stars have against Tri-City this season in which they recorded three wins and held the Storm scoreless for 256 minutes and 5 seconds.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock has stopped 114 of the last 115 Storm shots on net.  The only win the Storm have against the Stars came way back on 10/22/10 at the IceBox when Tri-City beat Lincoln by a score of 4-3.  That game also marked the last time a Storm player has scored a goal at the IceBox this season.

Despite having already clinched a spot in the USHL Clark Cup playoffs, the Stars have a lot to play for this weekend against the last-place Storm.  Lincoln is still in striking distance of fourth place in the USHL Western Conference, but they will need some help.  First of all, the Stars must win both games this weekend.  Also, the Stars have to hope either the Omaha Lancers, or the Fargo Force lose both of their two games this weekend in regulation time.  The Force host the Lancers this Friday night in Fargo, so the Stars have to hope that the loser of that game also loses their Saturday night contest.  Fargo finishes the regular season with two home games this weekend:  Omaha on Friday night, and Sioux City on Saturday night.  Omaha finishes the regular season with two road games:  Fargo on Friday night, and Sioux Falls on Saturday night.  If the Stars can secure fourth place in the west, they will host every first round playoff game at the IceBox.  If they stay in fifth place, or fall to sixth place, they will play every first round playoff game on the road.

I'm sure the Storm are well aware of this scenario, and they'll try to play the role of spoiler this weekend against the Stars.  Their season is just about over, but they have something to play for this weekend.  It's a cliche I hate to use, but the Storm have nothing to lose in these last two games.  They are on a big losing streak, they've missed out on the playoffs, and they've been beat up by the Stars all season.  You think they might play with a chip on their shoulders this weekend?  I guarantee you they will.  The important thing for the Stars this weekend is to take care of business, and not worry about what is happening elsewhere in the USHL.  Don't take the Storm for granted, play 60 minutes of hockey both nights, and get those four points. 

As for the Stars, they are coming off two straight road losses to the red-hot Sioux City Musketeers.  The Stars didn't play particularly bad either night, but the Muskies obviously wanted it more, which is why they are riding an eight game winning streak.  The Stars were without the services of their two captains (Brent Tate, Garrett Peterson) the last three games, but the hope is that at least one or both will be back in the lineup this weekend.  Both players are recovering from injuries, so we'll have to wait and see if they are healthy enough to suit up in these two very important games against the Storm.

It certainly sounds like the game at the IceBox this Friday night will be a sell-out, and believe it or not, but I was told recently that the game at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney on Saturday night could be a sell-out also.  I know a LOT of Stars fans (myself included) will be in Kearney for the game on Saturday, so be extra loud if you plan on being in attendance for that game.  

Go Stars.


Yeti said...

According to the LJS, both Brent Tate and Garrett Peterson will be in the lineup this weekend for the two games against the Tri-City Storm.

Great news!

starstruck said...

Very good to hear that Tate & Petey will be back on the ice this weekend! Best of luck to the team for a strong finish to the regular season - Go Stars!!

MacAttack said...

great news about Brent and Garrett. will be nice having them both back in the lineup.
looking forward to both games this weekend. will be sitting on the glass in Kearney in section E to cheer on the guys. LET'S GO STARS!!!!!