Tuesday, November 22, 2011

B³ Pregame Report: Tri-City Storm vs. Lincoln Stars 11/23

On Wednesday night at the IceBox, the Lincoln Stars will play host to the visiting Tri-City Storm in a Thanksgiving Eve tilt.  Faceoff for the game will take place at 7:05pm CST.  The Stars have a record of 10-5-0 (20 points), and are in first place in the USHL Western Conference.

If you can't make it to the IceBox tomorrow night, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on KLMS 1480 AM, or watch the games live on FASTHockey for a fee.

The Tri-City Storm enter this game with a record of 4-11-0 (8 points) and are in last place in the USHL Western Conference.  This will be the second time these two teams will face each other this season, with the third time coming up again this Saturday evening in Kearney when the Stars take on the Storm on 11/26.  It was just ten days ago that the Stars pulled off a miraculous comeback in Kearney against the Storm by scoring three straight goals very late in the game to beat Tri-City by a score of 6-5.  The game winning goal, scored by defenseman Paul Ladue, came with only 4 seconds remaining in the regulation.

Just a few days ago, the Storm made a splash in the world of junior hockey by acquiring goaltender Adam Wilcox from the Green Bay Gamblers for a first round draft pick.  Click here to read more about that trade.  Wilcox is a NHL draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has committed to play collegiate hockey for the University of Minnesota.  Despite having the lowest scoring offense in the USHL, the Storm felt that the addition of Wilcox will help them get out of the western conference cellar and be more competitive.  Having Wilcox in the lineup, who is a proven USHL winning goaltender, will definitely help the Storm, but they will have to address their woeful scoring (statistically last in the USHL).  

TC goaltender Pheonix Copley, who had played 13 games for the Storm and had been their workhorse before the Wilcox trade, actually put up some very decent numbers considering.  Although his record of 4-9-0 wasn't the best, his goals against average of 3.13 and save percentage of .903 was impressive again considering the Storm's lack of offensive punch.  Because of that, the addition of Wilcox seems a bit strange to me.  I thought the need of proven scorers would be more important to the Storm at this point in the season, but they felt differently. Time will tell if the acquisition of Wilcox helps the Storm rejuvenate their season.  I have a good feeling we'll be seeing him between the pipes in Lincoln on Wednesday night.  Wilcox has never faced the Stars in his two seasons in the USHL.

The Stars didn't get much rest this week after spending this past weekend on the road in Fargo with back to back games against the Force.  Going into the weekend series with Fargo, the Stars were riding a five-game winning streak.  That all came to a quick end Friday (11/18) with a  5-2 loss to the Force.  Lincoln bounced back the next next with an impressive 2-0 shutout win on 11/19.  Forward Jared Hanson, who had missed five straight games due to an injury he obtained on 11/5 against Fargo, returned to the lineup for the Saturday game and scored the game-winning goal against the Force.  Speaking of injuries, Stars head coach Chad Johnson mentioned last weekend that co-captain Brent Tate could be healthy enough to crack the lineup soon, and hinted that it could happen this week.  We'll have to wait and see if that happens tomorrow night.

The Stars made a roster move this week when they traded forward Ryan Cole to the Indiana Ice for a fifth round pick in the 2011 USHL Entry Draft.  Cole, who was a third round pick by the Stars in the 2010 USHL Entry Draft, scored two points (all assists) in 12 games with Lincoln this season.  We'd like to wish Ryan the best of luck in Indianapolis with his new team.

Well, that's about it for me.  Before I sign off, I like to point out that the BlueLine Booster Club (the best booster club in the USHL), will have 2011-12 Lincoln Stars team hockey cards available for the first time starting Wednesday night at the IceBox.  You can purchase the complete sets at the BLBC booth, which is located just inside the south entrance to the IceBox.  The sets (which includes all of the players on the team) will be sold each for $5 for non-BLBC members, and $4 for members.

What's really nice about this is that the first 150 sets will be in hard cases and each individual set will have an autographed card or a metal press plate that was actually used to make the cards.  This would be a great x-mas present for the Stars fan in your family.  Click here for an example of how each card will look like.  The BLBC also has a very limited number of high gloss sets of the cards that will also be available for $10.00 each.  So make sure you drop by the BLBC booth tomorrow, support the best fan club in the USHL, and pick up some hockey cards!  

See you all at the IceBox tomorrow night!

Go Stars.

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