Sunday, February 27, 2011

Former Star Erik Condra has milestone night in the NHL

Photo courtesy of Sean Kilpatrick - AP
Congrats to former Lincoln Stars forward Erik Condra for scoring his first two goals of his NHL career last night in the Ottawa Senators 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.  Click here to read more.  Condra's first goal of the night turned out to be the game-winning goal.  Condra has now scored 4 points (2g, 2a) in six NHL games with the Ottawa Senators since being called up from the AHL Binghamton Senators.

Condra played 60 games for the Lincoln Stars in the 2004-05 season, accumulating 60 points (30g, 30a) in those sixty games.  After playing one season with the Stars, Condra went on to play four years at the University of Notre Dame.  Condra was a 7th round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Here are some highlights from the Senators 4-1 victory last night.  Condra's first goal comes at the 2:09 mark of the video, and his second goal comes at the 4:20 mark. 

B³ Live Chat - Lincoln Stars vs. Sioux Falls Stampede 2/27

Welcome to the B³ live in-game chat!  The puck will drop at 6:05pm CST this evening, so we should have this chat application up and running around 5:45pm.  Click here for the Pointstreak boxscore.  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. Layla will be running the chat tonight, so make sure you thank her for helping out.  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.

B³ Postgame Recap 2/26: Lincoln 3, Fargo 6

I was unable to listen to, or watch any of this game last night, so this recap is going to be very, very short.

The Lincoln Stars had their three-game winning streak snapped Saturday night by the Fargo Force, losing big late in the game by a score of 6-3.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The Stars had a 2-1 lead going into the third period, but fell apart in the last twenty minutes as the Force outscored Lincoln 5-1 in the third to win the game 6-3.  With the loss the Stars dropped to 22-17-4 (48 points), and are still in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.

Stars forward Austin Hervey continued his hot streak early on in this game with a goal at the 10:54 mark of the first period to give Lincoln the 1-0 lead.  Eric Scheid and Jared Hanson collected the assists on Hervey's third goal in his last four games.  The Force would respond five minutes after the Stars goal when Fargo forward Jimmy Mullin scored to even the game up at 1-1 going into the first intermission.

In the second period, Stars forward John McCarron scored at the 11:57 mark to give Lincoln its second lead of the game, this time at 2-1.  Rasmus Juell and Garrett Peterson earned the assists on McCarron's 14th goal of the season.  Unfortunately for the Stars, it would be the last time they would have the lead in the game.

In the third period, it was all Fargo as the Force scored four unanswered goals in the period, and five overall, to cruise to the victory.  Force had goals from Jimmy Mullin, Nate Arentz, Nick Oliver, and Austin Farley to start the third before Stars forward Garrett Peterson scored at the 15:58 mark to interrupt the Fargo scoring barrage.  Rasmus Juell earned the lone assist on Petey's 17th goal of the season.  The Force would add one more goal with less than a minute remaining to complete the scoring.  Fargo outshot the Stars 32-26, while both teams went scoreless on the powerplay (Lincoln 0-for-4, Fargo 0-for-3).  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock stopped 26 of 32 shots on net in the loss. 

I really hope to hear from some of the blog readers out there who listened to the game on the radio, or may have watched the game on B2.  I'm in the dark since I wasn't able to follow the game at all, so I have no idea what happened in that third period.  Ugly, ugly period.  We haven't seen anything like that from the Stars since November or October of last year. 

Lets hope the players can put it behind them and get back to winning hockey games with their matchup against the Sioux Falls Stampede tonight.  Puck drops at 6:05pm tonight, and we will be doing a live chat during the game.  In a odd scheduling quirk, the next three games the Stars will play will all be against the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Sunday night in Sioux Falls, Wednesday night in Sioux Falls, and then Friday night at the IceBox.  The Stampede are seven points ahead of the Stars in the standings, so this would be a great opportunity for Lincoln to roll off three straight wins and climb up closer to fourth or third place in the western conference.

Go Stars.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

B³ Live Chat - Lincoln Stars vs. Fargo Force 2/26

Welcome to the B³ live in-game chat!  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST this evening, and we should have this chat application up and running around 6:45pm.  Click here for the Pointstreak boxscore.  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. Layla will be running the chat tonight, so make sure you thank her for helping out.  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, February 25, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Fargo and Sioux Falls


The Lincoln Stars (22-16-4, 48 points, fifth place in the USHL Western Conference) will have a rare Friday night off this weekend, but will then go on the road on Saturday and Sunday evening to face two western conference foes ahead of them in the standings.  The Stars are riding a three-game winning streak, and are 11-3-3 since January 1st, 2011.  On Saturday evening, the Stars will travel to Fargo, ND to take on the Force.  On Sunday night, the Stars will wrap up their weekend road trip against the Sioux Falls Stampede in Sioux Falls, SD.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm for the Saturday night game against the Force, and at 6:05pm for the Sunday night game against the Stampede.  Click here to listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye call the games on AM 1480 KLMS.  If you have money to burn, you can also watch the games via B2 Network by clicking here.  If you want to follow the Pointstreak boxscore, click here.

First up for the Stars this weekend will be the Fargo Force (25-16-4, 54 points, third place in the USHL Western Conference), the team the Stars beat 4-1 less than a week ago at the IceBox in Lincoln, NE.  This will be sixth time these two teams will face each other this season, with the Stars going 2-2-1 in the previous five games against the Force.  After losing to the Stars in Lincoln last Friday, the Force beat the Tri-City Storm in Kearney by a score of 2-0.  Force goaltender Ryan Massa, who struggled against the Stars, rebounded with a strong effort against the Storm and recorded the shutout.  The Force will play this Friday night at home against the Sioux City Musketeers, so let's hope the Muskies wear the Force down so the Stars can take advantage of a tired Force team on Saturday night.

Last up for the Stars will be a Sunday evening matchup against the Sioux Falls Stampede at the Sioux Falls Arena.  This will be also be the sixth time these two teams will have faced each other this season, with the Stars holding an impressive record of 4-1-0 in the five previous meetings with the Stampede.  The last time the Stars and 'Pede knocked heads, it was just a few weeks ago when Lincoln swept back-to-back games on 2/4 and 2/5 at the IceBox.  Like the Stars, the 'Pede are one of the hottest teams in the USHL right now.  Sioux Falls is riding a four-game winning streak overall, and have a seven-game winning streak at home.  The Stars and Stampede are also similar in that they both have the luxury of a deep scoring bench.  The Stampede have 9 players on their roster with 20 or more points scored, while the Stars have 10 players with 20 or more points.  No other team in the western conference can come close to either Sioux Falls or Lincoln in terms of scoring depth.  Both clubs rely on more than just one or two lines to put up points.

The Stars couldn't be playing better right now, but you have to figure the Force and the Stampede will both be looking for some revenge this weekend.  Lincoln is coming off the biggest week of the season in which they defeated three of the top teams in the league convincingly.  However, the Stars cannot rest on their laurels.  Lincoln can again improve its spot in the western conference standings with two big road wins, and four points, this weekend.  It's cliche, but the Stars have to go into every matchup at this point in the season with the mentality that it's a playoff game.  Apart from a few bumps and bruises, the Stars are relatively healthy, and have had a full week to heal up and reload for another important weekend.  Can the black and blue continue their hot streak with another four point weekend?  We'll soon find out!

Go Stars.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday to the B³!

I'm one day late with this, but I wanted to quickly mention that the "Black and Blue Lincoln Stars Blog" turned two years old yesterday! Happy belated birthday to the B³!  It's hard to believe I started this blog two years ago.  At the time, I figured it would be a spot where I could talk about my favorite USHL hockey team, and I never expected it would grow to where it is today.  It's a lot of work, but I'm very proud of what we have built here.


Thanks to all of you who frequent this blog, and of course those of you who leave comments and participate in our live game chats.  I appreciate your patronage!  Without you, I'd still be talking to myself. :)

Go Stars.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's a clean sweep!

What a week for the Lincoln Stars!  

Congrats to Austin Hervey (F), Chris Casto (D), and Kevin Murdock (G) of the Lincoln Stars for sweeping all of the USHL Player of the Week awards today!  Hervey won the CCM Offensive Player of the Week, Casto the CCM Defensive Player of the Week, and Murdock the Reebok Goaltender of the Week.  Click here to read the press release from the USHL.  Here are some excerpts from the USHL article:

Hervey scored three points (2g, 1a) and posted a plus-three rating to help the Stars win three games in four nights. His third-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Stars knocked off League-leading Green Bay 4-3 on Wednesday. It was the first goal of the season for the 18-year-old native of Brighton, Michigan. Hervey dished out an assist in Friday's 4-1 win against Fargo and then tallied the game-winning goal in Saturday's 2-0 win to knock off first-place Omaha in a Western Conference matchup. Hervey has appeared in 29 games during his second USHL season after competing in 11 USHL contests in 2009-10 with Team USA.



Casto recorded three points (1g, 2a) and a plus-three rating in three victories for the Stars. The defenseman tallied a goal and one assist in Wednesday's victory against Green Bay. The 19-year-old also fired a game high five shots on goal. Casto dished out an assist in Friday's 4-1 win as the Stars earned their fourth straight home win and then helped Lincoln earn a 2-0 shutout on Saturday. The native of Stillwater, Minnesota is playing in his first USHL season and has collected 20 points (4g, 16a) in 40 games while tying for the team lead with a plus-16 rating. It is the second time in a span of three weeks that he has earned the weekly USHL award.


Murdock posted a 1.33 goals-against-average and a .948 save percentage while earning all three wins for the Lincoln Stars. He made 24 saves on Wednesday as the Stars defeated Green Bay and then stopped 25 shots in Friday's 4-1 win over Fargo. Murdock, 20, completed the week by stopping all 24 shots he faced in the 2-0 victory against Omaha. It was the fourth shutout of the season for the native of Bradenton, Florida which ties for first among all USHL goaltenders. It was also his 20th win of the season - the second most in the League. It is the fourth time this season he has won the weekly USHL goaltending award.




Congrats again to all three players!  Way to represent the Lincoln Stars!!  Very well deserved.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln vs. Omaha 2/19

Thanks to Brandon Anderson and Carl Kacvinsky for letting me post some of their great photos from the Omaha-Lincoln game last night.  If you want to purchase any of Brandon's photos, you can reach him at bapics@live.com.  If you would like to contact Carl, you can reach him at ckacvinsky@gmail.com.

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

Pregame at the Civic Auditorium in Omaha, NE

Saturday, February 19, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 2/19: Lincoln 2, Omaha 0

It's a 6 point weekend!!



In what was the 100th regular season meeting between the Stars and the Lancers, Lincoln goaltender Kevin Murdock recorded his fourth shutout of the season as the black and blue blanked the Omaha Lancers by a score of 2-0.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  It was Lincoln's third straight win overall, and the third straight against the Lancers this season.  With the victory over Omaha, the Stars improved to 22-16-4 (48 points) and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is now only 7 points out of second place, and 9 points out of first place in the west.

This is going to be a very brief recap.  I wasn't able to attend the game, nor was I able to listen to very much of the game on the radio, so I'm counting on all of you who were in attendance or watching on B2 to help me out.  Please leave a comment and give us your recap!!  I'm going to recap the game the best I can really quick using the Pointstreak boxscore.

After a scoreless first period which saw the Lancers outshoot the Stars 8-5, Lincoln would get on the scoreboard first early in the second period.  Stars forward Austin Hervey would score at the 5:23 mark of the second period, his second goal of the season, to give Lincoln the 1-0 lead.  John McCarron earned the lone assist on the first goal of the game.  Hervey's even-strength goal would also turn out to be the game winning goal.  After a bit of a slow start, Hervey now has scored two goals (both game winning goals) in the last three games.  The Stars would outshoot the Lancers 16-12 in the second period, but Hervey's tally would be the only goal scored.

In the third period, the Stars got some timely saves by Kevin Murdock, and the eventual insurance goal by Sam Alfieri to increase the Lincoln lead to 2-0.  Assisting on Alfieri's seventh goal of the season was Ryan Dzingel and Matt Prapavessis.  A few minutes before Alfieri's goal, Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock came up huge with a big breakaway save against Omaha forward Byrce Johnson to keep the Lancers scoreless.  Doc made the save, and then Alfieri's goal a few minutes later proved to be all the Stars would need to seal the victory.  Lincoln would finish 0-for-1 on the powerplay, while the Lancers went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock earned his 20th win of the season as he stopped all 24 Omaha shots he faced.  Doc is now 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, and has stopped 174 of 188 shots against in those seven games.

HUGE weekend for the Stars as they earn a big six points against three of the top teams in the USHL.  Lincoln outscored the Green Bay Gamblers, Fargo Force, and the Omaha Lancers, 10-4 overall.  The Stars penalty-kill unit was very impressive this week, as they killed 11 of 12 penalties over the past three games.  

Really looking forward to hearing from all of the Stars fans in attendance tonight!  From the little bit of the game I got to listen to on the radio, it sounded like there were a ton of Stars fans in the building.  

Enjoy the big win tonight, everyone!  Go Stars.

Snapshots of the Game: Fargo vs. Lincoln 2/18

Thanks to Jeff White and  Carl Kacvinsky for allowing me to use some of their pictures from the Fargo game last night.  If you would like to contact Carl, you can reach him at ckacvinsky@gmail.com.  Thanks to both!  

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

Andrew Schmit celebrates after one of his two goals on the night

B³ Postgame Recap 2/18: Fargo 1, Lincoln 4

To quote "The Jeffersons":  "We're movin' on up!"



The Lincoln Stars continued moving on up the western conference standings with a 4-1 victory Friday night at the IceBox over the Fargo Force.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The win was Lincoln's second in a row overall, and fourth in a row at home.  With the big "W" and the two points, the Stars are now 21-16-4 (46 points) and are all alone in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is now only six points out of third place, and nine points out of first place in the west.  

The 4,314 in attendance watched both teams feel each other out in the first twenty minutes of the game, as Lincoln and Fargo went scoreless and combined for only seven shots on goal.  To me, it seemed like both teams put the neutral zone on lock-down, making it difficult for either team to generate any scoring chances.  The Force outshot the Stars 4-3 in the period.


In the second period, the Force got on the scoreboard first when forward Colton Hargrove one-timed the puck past Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock at the 8:36 mark to give Fargo the 1-0 lead.  It would be the only puck the Force would get past Murdock in the entire game.  The Stars would answer a little over minute later when forward Andrew Schmit scored to tie the game up at 1-1.  Brent Tate and Ryan Dzingel collected the assists on Schmit's goal.  Andrew Schmit wasn't done, as he scored at the 16:01 mark of the second period to make it 2-1 Stars.  Brent Tate and Ryan Dzingel again earned the assists on Schmit's second goal of the game, his third overall in the past two games.  The Force outshot the Stars 14-7 in the period, but the Stars held the 2-1 lead.

In the third period, it was all Stars as the black and blue added two more goals.  Jared Hanson would score first in the third when he wristed it past Force goaltender Ryan Massa at the 6:46 mark to give Lincoln a 3-1 lead.  Hanson's sixth goal of the season was assisted by defenseman Chris Casto and forward Austin Hervey.  Lincoln would wrap up the scoring ten minutes later in the period when forward Garrett Peterson scored on the powerplay from a nice feed from Eric Scheid to give the Stars the 4-1 lead.  Matt Prapavessis would earn the other assist on Petey's 16th goal of the season.  Lincoln would outshoot the Force 10-8 in the third, but Fargo outshot the Stars 26-20 overall.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock stopped 25 of 26 shots on net to record his 19th win of the season, second-most in the USHL.  Doc has now won five out of the last six games he has started in net for the Stars.  The Force were blanked on the powerplay, going 0-for-6, while the Stars finished 1-for-5 with the man advantage.

Wow....what another great team effort by the Stars tonight.  It may not have been as pretty as the win over the Green Bay Gamblers this past Wednesday night, but the Stars certainly fought hard and deserved the two points.  To me, it seemed like Force goaltender Ryan Massa never looked comfortable, and it showed when he lashed out more than a few times towards players on the Stars roster.  I'm not sure if the crowd or the Stars players got under his skin, but it was certainly entertaining to watch Massa implode.  The Force had a number of powerplay opportunities tonight, including a 5-on-3 PP, but the Stars' PK unit performed very well in killing every Fargo man-advantage.  The Stars' powerplay unit gets a lot of attention for being first overall in the USHL, but the PK unit is getting better and better.

Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye made a very good point after the game when interviewing head coach Chad Johnson about how this team is finding ways to win games in the second and third periods when earlier this season, they weren't.  Go back to the first few months of the season, and the Stars probably would have lost one or both of the games this week in the third period.  The Stars are playing with a killer instinct that just wasn't there earlier on in the season.  They are growing together as a team, and that's fun to watch as a fan.  Confidence is growing, and it's infectious.  

Saturday night on the road, the Stars will take on their arch-rival to the north, the Omaha Lancers.  The Lancers were surprisingly shutout at home Friday night by the Green Bay Gamblers, by a score of 3-0.  You have to figure that the Lancers will come out with a lot more energy and jam tomorrow night against the Stars.  Regardless of records, these games are always a war, so it will be interesting to see if the Stars can continue their recent good play against a team they are 2-0 against in their last two meetings.  I know a lot of Stars fans will be in attendance, so cheer loud for the black and blue and bring another two points back to Lincoln!

Go Stars.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Prapavessis, Dzingel, McCarron named USHL All-Stars

This bit of news was just posted by the USHL this afternoon, so I thought I'd get it up on the blog really quick. Even though the USHL won't be holding an all-star game this season, they still named their midseason all-stars today in a press release. Click here to read more and see all of the players selected by the USHL.


Stars defenseman Matt Prapavessis, and forwards Ryan Dzingel and John McCarron were included in the list of 44 USHL players named to the all-star roster.

Congrats to all three Lincoln players!  Well deserved!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

B³ Weekend Preview: Fargo and Omaha

The Lincoln Stars (20-16-4, 44 points, tied for fifth place in the USHL Western Conference) are back in action this weekend with two very important games against western conference divisional foes.  On Friday night at the IceBox, the Stars will host the Fargo Force.  On Saturday evening at the Civic Auditorium in Omaha, the Stars will do battle against the the Omaha Lancers.  Faceoff for both games will take place at 7:05pm.   Click here to listen to Mike Melbye call the games on AM 1480 KLMS.  If you have money to burn, you can also watch the games via B2 Network by clicking here.  If you want to follow the Pointstreak boxscore, click here.

The Stars will look to win their fourth straight home Friday night at the IceBox when they play host to the Fargo Force (24-25-4, 53 points, third place in the USHL Western Conference).  It will be the fifth time these two teams will have faced each other this season, with Fargo holding a 3-0-1 record in the previous four meetings.  The Force have outscored the Stars 14-7 in those four games.  Like the Green Bay Gamblers, the Force have two quality young goaltenders who share duties in net.  Ryan Massa (who is a UNO recruit) has a record of 13-4-3, a 2.10 goals against average, and a .912 save percentage.  Zane Gothberg sports a record of 11-6-0, a 2.18 goals against average, and a .909 save percentage.  Massa is 2-0 against the Stars this season, with an eye-popping 0.99 goals against average and an impressive .946 save percentage in those two games.  Don't be surprised if you see Massa starting Friday night, considering his impressive play against Lincoln this season.  The Force are riding a three-game winning streak, and have won four in a row on the road.

On Saturday night, the Stars will travel north to face their long-time rival, the Omaha Lancers (.  Tthe Lancers are also riding a three-game winning streak, and have won six in a row at home.  The Stars and Lancers have knocked heads a total of five times this season, with Lincoln holding 3-2-0 record in those five meetings.  The last time these two teams faced each other at the Civic Auditorium, the Stars won by a score of 4-3 in front of 7,764 fans on 1/8/11.  Less than a week after that game, the Stars beat the Lancers yet again, this time at the IceBox, by a score of 5-2.  After losing two straight to the Stars, the Lancers have been one of the hottest teams in the USHL.  Since losing to the Stars on 1/14/11, the Lancers are 9-1-1 and have rocketed up to the top of the standings in the western conference.  Lancers goaltender Todd Mathews will be out of the lineup this weekend due to a team violation, so John Keeney will likely start in net against the Stars on Saturday night.  Surprisingly, Keeney has never faced the Stars in 35 USHL games played the past two seasons.  Keeney is also the only player I'm aware of in the USHL who has his own website, which you can view here.  As hilarious as his website his, Keeney is putting up some good numbers this season for the Lancers.  Keeney is 14-4-2 with a 2.11 goals against average, and a .925 save percentage.

The Stars of course are coming off one of their best games of the season, a 4-3 thumping of the league-leading Green Bay Gamblers.  Considering how well Lincoln looked Wednesday night, there's no reason why the Stars can't come out this weekend and get four points against two teams ahead of them in the western conference standings.  The Stars are getting contributions from different players every game, which is encouraging to see.  They've shown that they can roll four lines and each line can hurt you.  They're playing as deep as they have all season.

Sorry for the abbreviated weekend preview article....just ran out of time tonight.  If you're at the IceBox on Friday night, make sure you stop by the north concourse area to bid on the autographed sports memorabilia up for auction which supports the LIHA.  Click here to read more about the LIHA auction.

Go Stars.

LIHA Lincoln Legends Auction

On Friday night at the IceBox, the Lincoln Ice Hockey Association (LIHA) will be holding a "Lincoln Legends Auction" to benefit the LIHA and their "One Goal" program.  The money raised will go towards the purchase of new hockey equipment that local youngsters are able to borrow during their first year of playing ice hockey.  Click here to visit the LIHA website to learn more and see more pictures of the items listed below.  This silent auction will be held in the north concourse area of the IceBox this Friday night during the Fargo Force-Lincoln Stars game.

The sports memorabilia items up for auction are really, really cool.  Tons of autographed jerseys from various athletes tied to Lincoln, NE.  Here's a list of all the items up for auction:  


-autographed St. Louis Blues hockey jersey from David Backes (pictured above)
-autographed Team USA hockey jersey from David Backes. Click here to see picture.
-autographed NHL All-Star Game hat from David Backes.  Click here to see picture.
-autographed University of Minnesota hockey jersey from Grant Potulny.  Click here to see picture.
-autographed Chicago Blackhawks fleece jacket and shirt from Brandon Bollig.  Click here to see picture.
-autographed University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks hockey stick.  Click here to see picture.
-autographed World Series NY Yankees baseball jersey from Joba Chamberlin.  Click here to see picture.
-autographed University of Nebraska hockey jersey from Bo and Carl Pelini.  Click here to see picture.
-autographed Detroit Lions football jersey from Ndamukong Suh.  Click here to see picture.  

So when you're at the game Friday night, make sure you stop by the north concourse area of the IceBox and check out all of the items up for auction and make some bids!  This is a great way to show your support for LIHA and their grass-roots campaign to make hockey accessible for every youngster wanting to play ice hockey in the Lincoln area.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snapshots of the Game: Green Bay vs. Lincoln 2/16

Thanks to Jeff White for letting me share some of his photos from the game tonight!  Much appreciated!

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

Stars win!

B³ Postgame Recap 2/16: Green Bay 3, Lincoln 4

w00t!  Home win #300! 



The Lincoln Stars used a total team effort tonight over 60 minutes to beat the league-leading Green Bay Gamblers by a score of 4-3 at the IceBox.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  It was the third straight home win for the Stars.  The victory was also home win #300 at the IceBox.  With the "W" and two points, the Stars improved to 20-16-4 (44 points) and are tied for fifth place in the USHL Western Conference with the Des Moines Buccaneers.  

In what was in my opinion one of the best opening periods at home for the Stars this season, Lincoln came out very strong and dominated play in the first twenty minutes.  They were rewarded early on when forward Andrew Schmit outworked three Gamblers for the puck and then sniped the puck past Gamblers goaltender Ryan McKay at the 2:27 mark to give Lincoln the early 1-0 lead.  John McCarron and Ryan Dzingel collected the assists on Schmit's sixth goal of the season.  The Stars would increase their lead exactly fifteen minutes after the first goal when defenseman Chris Casto collected the puck in the offensive zone and wristed it from just inside the circle to beat McKay and give Lincoln a 2-0 lead.  Earning assists on Casto's goal was Brent Tate and Sam Alfieri.  Stars outshot the Gamblers 15-9 in the first period, and while the score was 2-0, it could have been a lot worse for the Gamblers.  Green Bay was outplayed in every facet of the game.

The Gamblers would get on the board at the 8:57 mark of the second period when forward Ludwig Karlsson scored on the powerplay to bring his team within one goal at 2-1.  The Stars would answer at the 13:29 mark of the second period when forward Dominik Shine scored to give Lincoln back its two-goal lead at 3-1.  Teemu Tiitinen and Chris Casto collected the assists on Shine's ninth goal of the season.  At the end of the second period, the Stars had a 3-1 lead, and had outshot the Gamblers 26-17.

Four minutes into the third period, the Gamblers would again crawl back into the game when forward Alex Broadhurst scored to bring Green Bay back within one goal again, this time at 3-2.  However, just over a minute after the goal by Broadhurst, Stars forward Austin Hervey would come up huge with a wrap-around goal to give the Stars another two goal lead at 4-1.  Hervey's goal, which would prove to be the game-winning goal, was his first as a member of the Stars.  Assisting on Hervey's goal was Jared Hanson and Ryan Dzingel.  The Gamblers would play a little better in the third period, but the Stars proved to be the better team as they stopped wave after wave of Green Bay scoring attempts.  The Gamblers would get a late goal by forward Nolan Laporte, but it was too little, too late.  Stars outplayed, out-hustled, and outscored the league-leading Green Bay Gamblers to win big by a score of 4-3.  Lincoln outshot Green Bay 35-27 through the three periods.  The Stars finish 0-for-1 on the powerplay, while the Gamblers went 1-for-3 with the man advantage.

Wow....what a game!  Playoff atmosphere for sure tonight at the IceBox.  I said in my preview article that the Stars would have to play some of their best hockey of the season to beat the Gamblers, and they did just that tonight.  I'm not sure we saw the best from the Gamblers tonight, but give a lot of credit to the Stars defense tonight (both forwards and defenseman) for limiting the amount of Green Bay scoring chances.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock was stellar yet again between the pipes, as Doc stopped 24 of 27 shots to record his 18th win of the season.  Doc has dialed up wins in four of the last five games he has started for Lincoln.  On the other end of the rink, Gamblers goaltender Ryan McKay stopped 31 of 35 Lincoln shots in the losing effort.  McKay never looked comfortable tonight, and at times seemed very rattled in net.

Big win tonight!  The Stars proved once again that they can play with, and beat the top teams in the USHL.  It's very encouraging to see them playing this well at this point in the season.  No where to go but up in the standings.  The Stars return to action this Friday night at the IceBox against the Fargo Force.  I understand that there are only a few hundred tickets available for that game, so if you haven't bought your tickets yet for Friday, buy them soon!  It's going to be another sellout crowd at the IceBox!  Don't miss it.

Go Stars. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

B³ Linkorama

Jason Gregoire - Courtesy of WCHA.com
Just a few stories related to former Stars players I thought I'd share with all of you....

Congrats to former Stars forward Jason Gregoire for being named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week.  Gregoire is a junior forward on the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey club.  Gregs potted four points, and a +3 rating in a Fighting Sioux sweep of Alaska-Anchorage last weekend.  Click here to read more.

Former Lincoln forward Erik Condra, who played for the Stars in 2004-05, is making the most out of his opportunities with the NHL Ottawa Senators.  Click here to read more from NHL.com.  Condra, who was a 7th round draft pick (2006) of the Senators, will make his debut for the Sens tonight against the New York Islanders.

The famous Beanpot college hockey tournament, which is held over the first two Monday's in February, was completed last night in Boston, and it included a couple of former Stars players who performed very well.  In the championship game, which featured the Boston College Eagles vs. the Northeastern Huskies, Boston College won 7-6 in overtime thanks to forward Jimmy Hayes' game-winning OT goal.  Hayes, whose NHL rights are owned by the Chicago Blackhawks, played for the Stars in 2007-08.  Former Stars forward Brodie Reid scored two goals in the losing effort for Northeastern.  Garrett Vermeersch, who played for the Stars in 2008-09, also plays for Northeastern.  Another familiar name is BC forward Chris Kreider, who is a first-round NHL draft pick of the New York Rangers.  Kreider (who was named MVP of the Beanpot tourney) was drafted by the Lincoln Stars in 2008, but never played for the black and blue.  Here's a video of some of the highlights from last night's championship game:



Don't forget to check out our preview article for the Gamblers-Stars game on Wednesday night.  The USHL's top team comes to Lincoln!

Go Stars.

B³ Pregame Report: Green Bay Gamblers vs. Lincoln Stars 2/16

The league leading Green Bay Gamblers will invade the IceBox this Wednesday night when they will take on the the Lincoln Stars for the final time this season.  The Stars are coming off a long road trip in which they went 1-1-1 against three eastern conference teams (Muskegon, Indiana, Youngstown).  The Gamblers are riding a five-game winning streak, although they are winless in their last two road games. If you're not lucky enough to be in attendance Wednesday evening, you can follow the game online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on KLMS 1480 AM, or watch the game live on B2 Networks for $7. 

The visiting Green Bay Gamblers (30-9-2, 62 points, first place in the USHL Eastern Conference) are considered by many (including myself) to be the best team in the USHL right now.  Their 62 points are five more than second place Cedar Rapids, and seven more than the Omaha Lancers, who are in first place in the western conference with 55 points.  They have the best defense in the league also, allowing a miniscule 2.19 goals per game (the Stars are allowing an average of 3.10 goals against per game).  The Green Bay penalty kill unit is also #1 in the league, killing off 92.47% of all penalties against them. 

When you look at the numbers, it's very hard to find a weakness with the Gamblers.  They are that good.  In their previous matchup on 12/29/10, the Stars were blasted by the hometown Gamblers by a score of 7-4.  It was the first game back for both teams after the X-Mas break, so you have to wonder if the Stars were still on break mentally in that game.  Green Bay sports a two-headed monster in net, with goaltenders Ryan McKay and Adam Wilcox sharing duties between the pipes.  McKay is 17-5-1 with a 2.02 goals against average, and a .926 save percentage.  Wilcox is 13-4-1 with a 2.25 goals against average, and a .921 save percentage.  Gaudy numbers from those two young ('92) netminders. 

The Gamblers have an incredible home record of 18-1-1, but are *only* 12-8-1 on the road.  That's not a lot to get excited about, but it shows that this team is beatable.  Over the years, we've seen some very good teams come into the IceBox and lay an egg, so that certainly could happen Wednesday night.  Regardless, the Stars will have to play a full 60 minutes worth of mistake-free,  disciplined hockey if they want to earn two points from the Gamblers.  The Stars have demonstrated in the last few weeks that they can play with any USHL team, regardless of how good their record is.  It's just a matter of making it happen and being consistent over a full 60 minutes. 

Since January 1st, 2011, the Lincoln Stars (19-16-4, 42 points, sixth place in the USHL Western Conference) have been a team on the rise.  Since the new year, the Stars have an impressive record of 8-3-3, and are currently fighting for a playoff spot in the cutthroat western conference.  The Stars have a tough task ahead of them this week with three games against very formidable foes.  First up is Green Bay at home on Wednesday, then the Fargo Force at home on Friday, then the Omaha Lancers on the road on Saturday.  The combined record of those three teams is 79-34-11, and all three teams are playing some of their best hockey right now.

Realistically, I believe getting between 3-4 points from these upcoming three games is vital in terms of keeping the Stars in the mix for a spot in the playoffs.  A bad stretch of games can send a team right into last place in the west, but a good winning streak can propel a team like Lincoln all the way up near 4th or 3rd place in the west.  With points being so important in the western conference, it's crucial the Stars come out strong and play their best hockey against all three teams this week.  

For Stars season ticket holders, Wednesday night is "Unused Ticket Night" and $1 beers from 6-7pm.  See the Lincoln Stars website for more info.  Hope to see you all at the IceBox!

Go Stars.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 2/12: Lincoln 3, Youngstown 4 OT Shootout

For the second straight night, the Lincoln Stars lost a heartbreaker to an eastern conference team, as the Youngstown Phantoms beat the Stars 4-3 in an overtime shootout.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the overtime loss, the Stars did pick up one point and now have a record of 19-16-4 (42 points), good enough for sixth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Out of a possible six points attainable in this recent three-game road trip, the Stars earned three points.


In the first period, the Stars dominated play but could only get one shot past Phantoms goaltender Matthew O'Connor.  Lincoln put a total of 19 shots on goal in the first, but only John McCarron's goal at the 17:03 mark found the back of the net.  McCarron's goal, his third in as many games, came on the powerplay with the lone assist going to Ryan Dzingel.  Stars had a 1-0 lead going into the first period, and had outshot the Phantoms 19-8 in the first twenty minutes.


The Phantoms came alive in the second period, as Youngstown scored a total of three goals in the second stanza to get right back into the game.  However, the Stars scored two goals of their own to keep the game close.  Lincoln goals from Garrett Peterson (assist to John McCarron) and Brent Tate (unassisted) kept the Stars from falling too far behind.  At the second intermission, the score was knotted up at 3-3.  Youngstown outshot the Stars 16-12 in the second period.

It was a scoreless third period which again saw the visiting Stars completely dominate the Phantoms, but Lincoln could not get any puck luck.  The Stars outshot the Phantoms 13-4 in the third, but Youngstown goaltender Matthew O'Connor again came up huge for his team, stopping all 13 Lincoln shots.  At the end of regulation, the score was still 3-3, and the Stars had outshot the Phantoms 44-28.  After a scoreless five-minute overtime period, which saw Lincoln outshoot Youngstown 3-1, the game would go to a shootout.

In the shootout, the Stars would get goals from Sam Alfieri and Dominik Shine, but it was not enough.  The Phantoms would put three shootout goals past Stars goaltender Lukas Hafner to complete the win.  The Stars went 1-for-5 on the powerplay, while the Phantoms went 1-for-2.  Hafner stopped 26 of 29 shots in the loss; his first start in net for Lincoln since 12/18/10.

Three out of six points isn't bad at all, especially considering how much time the team spent in a bus the past few days, but the Stars must feel like they left some points on the road this past weekend.  A flu bug also hit the team during the road trip, so not every player was 100%.  The effort was definitely there, but the Stars just weren't rewarded for their hard work.  It's hockey....that happens.  Sometimes the team that deserves to win doesn't, and there's no reason to dwell on that.  Learn from it, and move on.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for Lincoln this week, as the Green Bay Gamblers come to the IceBox this Wednesday night for a rare mid-week home game.  The Gamblers are arguably the best team in the USHL this season, as their 29-9-2 record indicates.  I'll highlight that matchup in an article on Tuesday.

Go Stars.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

B³ Live Chat - Lincoln Stars vs. Youngstown Phantoms 2/12

Welcome to the B³ live in-game chat!  The puck will drop at 6:30pm CST this evening, and I should have this chat application up and running around 6:15pm.  Click here for the Pointstreak boxscore.  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.


B³ Postgame Recap 2/11: Lincoln 3, Indiana 5

Daniil Tarasov's tie-breaking, third period goal with only three minutes remaining in the game proved to be the game-winner, as the the Indiana Ice snapped Lincoln's three-game winning streak in route to a 5-3 victory Friday night at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis, IN.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the loss, the Stars fall to 19-16-3 (41 points), and are in seventh place in the USHL Western Conference.  Only three points separates five teams in the tightly contested western conference.


The Indiana Ice caught the Stars sleeping in the first four minutes of the game, as the hometown Ice got out to a quick 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Christian Hillbrich and Cody Bradley.  However, the Stars would wake up and answer with two goals of their own later in the first period.  Stars defenseman Chris Casto scored his third goal of the season at the 13:11 mark, with assists coming from Eric Scheid and Cole Martin.  Stars cut the Ice lead to 2-1.  Just a little over three minutes after Casto's goal. Stars defeneman Cole Martin (who was playing forward in this game), scored his third goal of the season to tie the game up at 2-2.  Defensemen Ben Oskroba and Chris Casto earned the assists on Martin's goal.  Just when it looked like the Stars would battle back and go into the first intermission all tied up, Ice forward Peter Schneider scored with 2:30 remaining in the third period to give the Ice the 3-2 lead going into the first intermission.  In a period which saw very little defense, the Ice outshot the Stars 16-15.

It was a scoreless second period which saw the Stars dominate the Ice, but Lincoln could not get any pucks past Ice goaltender Casey DeSmith.  The Stars outshot the Ice 10-7 in the second period.  Early in the third period, the Stars would get right back into the game when forward John McCarron scored on the powerplay at the 2:09 mark to knot the game up at 3-3.  Assisting on McCarron's twelfth goal of the season was Garrett Peterson and Matt Prapavessis.  Like in the second and most of the first period, the Stars would dominate the play in the third period, but were held scoreless after McCarron's goal.  When it looked like the Stars would be able to take the game into overtime and earn at least one point, Ice forward Daniiel Tarasov struck again.  The talented rookie from Moscow, Russia stepped out of the penalty box late in the period and scored on an odd-man rush to give the Ice a 4-3 lead.  The eventual game-winning goal from Tarasov came with only three minutes remaining in the third period.  Peter Schneider would add an empty net goal to seal the victory for the Ice.  Stars outshot the Ice 11-10 in the third period, and 36-33 overall.  Lincoln went 1-for-3 on the powerplay, while the Ice went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.

This loss was a heartbreaker for sure.  Like Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye said after the game, the Stars deserved a better fate last night.  They battled one of the better USHL teams in their rink, and outplayed them for the majority of the game.  Unfortunately, the Stars came out a little weak and the Ice were able to get out to 2-0 lead before the Stars knew what hit them.  However, the Stars showed a lot of moxie by getting right back into the game and continuing to fight.  Give credit to Daniil Tarasov for coming up huge late in the game.  He's a big reason why the Ice have the top offense in the USHL.

No reason to dwell on this loss.  Chin up, and take it to the Youngstown Phantoms tonight.  Faceoff for that game will take place at 6:30pm CST.  I am not sure if we'll be doing a live chat for the game tonight, so check back here later this afternoon for any updates.

Go Stars.