Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Congrats to Kevin Murdock!

Congrats to Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock for his recent commitment to play collegiate hockey for Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste Marie, MI.  This news was released today on the official Lincoln Stars website and on the USHL website.

This past season for the Stars, Doc finished with an impressive 29-15-4 record, a 2.91 goals against average, and a .907 save percentage.  His 29 regular season wins was second most in the entire USHL.  In my opinion, he was the team MVP this season, and was a big reason why the Stars were able to rebound from where they were in 2009-10.

In over three seasons with Lincoln, Murdock accumulated a record of 54-31-9, a goals against average of 2.69, and a save percentage of .910.  His 54 regular season wins is third most in the history of the Stars franchise, behind Wayne Russell and Jean-Philippe Lamoureux.  Murdock appeared in 102 games over three seasons with Lincoln, which is second most all-time behind JP Lamoureux.

Congrats to Kevin!  In my mind, one of the best goaltenders to ever play in Lincoln.  He will be missed.

B³ USHL Clark Cup Playoff Prediction Contest: Updated

The second round of the 2011 USHL Clark Cup playoffs is complete.  Click here to see the playoff bracket from the USHL.com website:  The results are listed below:

Western Conference:
(3) Sioux Falls swept (2) Omaha 3-0
(1) Dubuque swept (4) Fargo 3-0

Eastern Conference:
(2) Green Bay swept (3) Indiana 3-0
(1) Cedar Rapids defeated (5) Muskegon 3-1

Here are the updated prediction standings after round two:

tzweeb:  13 points
lincolnfan:  10 points
starstruck:  10 points
imadragon:  9 points
Yeti:  9 points
Kyle:  8 points
StarsNutz:  8 points
nutz4puckz:  7 points
Hey Hey Whadda Say:  6 points
MacAttack:  5 points
BellTolls:  4 points
Crazy Carl:  1 point

Here are the next rounds of games to predict.  This semi-final round will be a best-of-five series, meaning the first team to win three games wins the series.  The deadline for predictions is this Friday, April 29th at 7:00pm CST.

To make it a little more interesting this semifinal round, we will also be predicting the total amount of goals scored in each series.  If by chance you happen to correctly guess the total amount of goals scored in a series, you will be awarded 4 points.

Western Conference:
(1) Dubuque vs. (3) Sioux Falls 

Click here to read more about the two teams in the Western Conference Final.

Eastern Conference:
(1) Cedar Rapids vs. (2) Green Bay

Click here to read more about the two teams in the Eastern Conference final.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Looking ahead to next season: Part two

Yesterday in part one, I reviewed some of the players from this past season who could return to play for the Stars in 2011-12.  What I would like to do now is talk about some of the players that have previously been drafted by Lincoln who could be in the mix for a roster spot next season.  Some of the players I will be highlighting were at the Stars' tryout camp last June in Omaha, and some were not.  

Also, there will 15+ players the Stars will select in the 2011 USHL Entry draft, held in May, who could also be at the camp in June.  Don't forget the players not drafted but invited to the camp also  That's a LOT of competition for less than 20 roster spots on the Stars next season.  As always, if you have any information about any of the players listed below, please leave a comment or shoot me an email at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com.

This article turned out to be longer than I originally intended, and I don't want to hog up the main page of the blog with it, so click the "Read more" link below to read the entire article.  Thanks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Looking ahead to next season: Part one

With the 2010-11 season in the rear view-mirror, let's take a moment and talk about some of the players who could be wearing the Lincoln Stars jersey next season.  The Stars just drafted six players this past week in the 2011 USHL Futures draft, and they will draft 15+ players next month in the 2011 USHL Entry draft.  Then in June, the Stars will hold their tryout camp at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  Players returning from last season, draft picks, and camp invites will all compete against each other at the tryout camp to see who has what it takes to earn a roster spot.  Before we get to the players who we could see in Lincoln next season, lets review the players from last season who will be moving on:


Goaltenders:
Kevin Murdock ('90) - Aged out of the USHL; will be making a college decision soon

Defensemen:
Nick Cecere ('90) - Michigan Tech University
Chris Casto ('91) - University of Minnesota-Duluth
Ben Oskroba ('90) - Northeastern University
Matt Prapavessis ('91) - Bemidji State University

Forwards:
Sam Alfieri ('91) - Niagara University
Ryan Dzingel ('92) - Ohio State University
Rasmus Juell ('91) - moving back to Norway
John McCarron ('92) - Cornell University
Garrett Peterson ('91) - University of Notre Dame
Eric Scheid ('92) - University of Alaska-Anchorage
Andrew Schmit ('91) - University of Nebraska-Omaha

Going into next season, the Stars will be missing their top seven point-scorers from last season. Players born in the year 1991 will be considered "overagers" next season, and the Stars will only be able to roster four players born in '91 in 2011-12.  Let's now list the players from last season who should return to Lincoln next season:

Goaltenders:
Lukas Hafner ('92) - Played in 15 games last season.  Will look to be the starter next year.  Click here for stats.

Defensemen:
Richie Coyne ('91) - Overager.  Played in 50 games last season.  Fast and physical.  Click here for stats.
Zach Frye ('94) - Promising youngster played in 15 games last season.  Click here for stats.
Cole Martin ('94) - Despite being so young, Cole will be a veteran next year.  Click here for stats.
Frank Misuraca ('91) - Overager.  Plays a quiet, but steady game on defense.  Click here for stats.

Forwards:
Zach Aston-Reese ('94) - Brought up halfway through the season.  Played in 25 games.  Click here for stats.
Jared Hanson ('93) - Can grind, can score.  Total package.  Played 53 games last season.  Click here for stats.
Austin Hervey ('92) - Big and physical.  Has scholarship to Western Michigan University.  Click here for stats.
Dominik Shine ('93) - Will be his 3rd season in the USHL.  Will be a leader next season.  Click here for stats.
Brent Tate ('91) - Overager.  Team captain who leads by example.  Fearless.  Click here for stats.
Teemu Tiitinen ('92) - Motor that won't quit.  One of the hardest working players on team.  Click here for stats.

Just like every season, the returning players I listed above will have to participate in the tryout camp and earn a spot on the roster for next season.  Nothing is guaranteed, as we've seen in previous seasons when returning players were let go at the conclusion of the tryout camp.  

In my next blog article which will be part two, I will highlight some of the past draft picks made by Lincoln who should be right in the mix for a roster spot next season.  I'll post that article sometime tomorrow (Sunday).

Thoughts on the players returning next season?  Do you like what you see?  Personally, I think it's a great mix of "young" and "old."  You have grizzled vets like Tate, Shine, Misuraca, and Coyne, but you also have the young guns like Jared Hanson, Austin, Hervey, Zach Aston-Reese, Cole Martin, and Zach Frye.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lincoln Stars announce 2011 tryout camp

Ridder Arena - Minneapolis, MN
The Lincoln Stars today announced the date and location of the 2011 tryout camp.  After holding the camp in Omaha the past three seasons, the 2011 camp will be held at Ridder Arena, on the campus of the University of Minnesota in the city of Minneapolis.  The dates of the camp are June 9th-12th, and the exact times of the scrimmages will be announced at a later date.  Click here to read the official announcement from the Stars website.  Here's a quote from Stars President Jim Pflug, regarding why the camp was moved to Minnesota this year:


"On one hand, we're frustrated that we were unable to schedule our camp in Omaha, as we've done in the past," said Stars President Jim Pflug.  "We started the process in February, and thought we had reserved the dates and times that we needed, but then learned that the facility had other commitments and other issues that they were unwilling to negotiate on that would have greatly impacted the quality of the camp.  The result is that most fans now won't be able to watch the tryout, and that's disappointing."

"On the other hand, we feel fortunate to have found a highly recognized facility in Ridder Arena, that, because of its location and the dates, ensures that the top-end players will be in attendance, and will allow our coaching staff to make good decisions on players in this competitive environment."

Click here to read some background information about Ridder Arena, which is where the University of Minnesota womens hockey team plays their home games.  Mariucci Arena, where the mens University of Minnesota team plays, is located right next to Ridder Arena, in downtown Minneapolis.  Click here to view a Google maps view of the area.  Minneapolis is about a 7 hour drive from Lincoln, NE.

This news is something I've been sitting on for awhile but waited until the Stars made it official before blogging about it.  Yeah, it's disappointing that the camp won't be in Omaha this season, but from what I have heard, the management at Tranquility IcePlex in Omaha really jerked the Stars organization around when it came to negotiating dates and times for the camp.  Tranquility is under new management, and I have heard they are very hard to work with.  Those are my opinions. 

Being that the tryout camp is my favorite offseason event of the year, and something I've watched the last three seasons, I am planning on making the trip up to Ridder Arena for the entire camp.  I get a kick out of watching all of the future Stars players, so there's no way I could not attend this event.  I'm really looking forward to it, and I'll of course be providing up to date reports from the camp as the days transpire.

I'd like to hear from all the fans out there now.  Anyone else planning on attending?  Thoughts on the camp being held in Minnesota?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

B³ Draft Coverage - 2011 USHL Futures Draft Results

The Lincoln Stars selected six players in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft today.  Thanks to BellTolls for following along during the draft and posting the results.  The Lincoln Stars official website has a story up which covers the six players picked, so click here to check that out.  I'm going to try to go a little more in depth with the six players picked today from what I could find online about them.  Keep in mind, all of the six players picked today were born in 1995, so they are very young and could be a year or two away from joining the Stars.  However, Dominik Shine, Cole Martin, and Zach Frye are examples of players who jumped from the Futures Draft to the Stars' lineup the same season.  Here we go!

Round 1:  Alex Schoenborn - Forward - 6'0", 180 pounds
The native of Minot, ND just completed his freshman season with the Minot High School Magicians where he was his teams' leading scorer (45 points in 27 games played).  Click here to read an article from the Minot Daily news website about Schoenborn and his high scoring linemates at Minot H.S.  As BT mentioned earlier, Schoenborn also participated on the North Dakota Starz U-16 select team which won the Tier II national hockey tournament a few weeks ago.  Schoenborn was also one of only 45 players invited to the most recent USNTDP U-17 evaluation camp. Good size for a kid that young, and he's proven he can put up points.  Edit:  Click here to read an article about Schoenborn that was published after he was drafted by the Stars.    

Round 2:  Stuart Pomeroy - Defenseman - 6'2", 185 pounds
The native of Glenview, Il  played this past season for the Chicago Young Americans U-16 team where he racked up 6 points and 27 penalty minutes in 33 games played.  Click here to see his stats.  Like Schoenborn, Pomeroy was also selected by Team USA to participate in the USNTDP U-17 evaluation camp which was held a few weeks ago.  Looks like a big, physical, shut-down defenseman to me.  Also, what are they feeding kids these days?  15 years old, and he's 6'2", 185 pounds?  Wow.

Round 3:  Vinni Lettieri - Forward - 5'9", 150 pounds
Lettieri just completed his sophomore season with the Minnetonka High School Skippers hockey team where he was the teams' leader scorer (37 points in 25 games played).  Click here to view his stats.  What's interesting about this pick is that the second and third leading scorers on the Minnetonka High School  team are also former draft picks of the Lincoln Stars.  Second leading scorer Thomas Schutt is a 2010 USHL Entry draft pick of the Stars, while third leading scorer Max Coatta is a 2010 USHL Futures draft pick of the Stars.  It appears the coaches on the Stars have a pipeline to the Minnetonka High School hockey program.  There's a good possibility that Lettieri, Schutt, and Coatta could all be teammates next season in Lincoln.  Lettieri has some famous family members who have participated at the NHL and World Cup (soccer) level.  Click here to read more about that.

Round 4:  Sean Malone - Forward - 5'10", 160 pounds
Malone hails from Nichols Prep School located in Buffalo, NY.  Malone just completed his sophomore season for the Nichols Varsity Boys Prep A team where he accumulated 12 points in 14 regular season games played, and 6 points in 4 playoff games played.  Click here to view his stats.  According to the Stars website, Malone played very well at the USHL Scouting Combine which was held this past weekend in Orland Park, Illinois.

Round 5:  Parker Reno - Defense - 6'1", 180 pounds
Reno just completed his sophomore season at Edina High School in Edina, Minnesota where spent the majority of the season out of the lineup due to a knee injury.  As a freshman, he racked up 9 points in 31 games played as Edina won the Minnesota state championship.  Click here to view his stats.  Like Stuart Pomeroy who was drafted in the second round, Reno is big kid for his age.  Nice to see the Stars looking for size on the blueline.  I have been told that Reno has recovered from his knee injury, and will be at the Stars' tryout camp in June.

Round 6:  Max Humitz - Forward - 5'6", 135 pounds
Not a lot of info out there about Humitz, but he did play for Stevenson High School in Livonia, Michigan last season.  Before that, Humitz played two seasons for the Victory Honda club team.  Click here to view his stats with Victory Honda.  The Stars website describes Humitz as a fast, shifty forward who sees the ice well.

If anyone out there has more information about any of the above players, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com.  A reminder, the 2011 USHL Entry Draft will be held next month on May 16th.

Hopefully we will see all of the above six players at the Stars' tryout camp this June.  The location/dates/times of the tryout camp should be announced by the Stars in the near future.

B³ Draft Coverage - 2011 USHL Futures Draft

Starting this morning at 10:00am CST, the Lincoln Stars will participate in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft. You can follow the draft online here. The USHL Futures Draft consists of six rounds, as each USHL team will select six players from the 1995 birth year age group.  Some recent players on the Stars roster that were originally drafted in the futures draft are Dominik Shine, Cole Martin, and Zach Frye.  USHL teams use this particular draft to pick some of the best young players in hopes that in the future they will develop into full-time players.

Click here to read a FAQ from the USHL website about the Futures Draft.  Great information in that article if you want to learn more.  Click here for another article from the USHL website about the Futures draft.  According the article I linked in the previous sentence, the Stars will pick 12th overall in the first round.  Click here to see the players picked by the Stars last season in the 2010 Futures Draft.

Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to follow the draft live as it happens, but I will update this blog article later today with all of the futures draft picks made by the Lincoln Stars.  Stay tuned for that.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stay tuned to the B³ in the offseason!

Even though the 2010-11 season is over for the Lincoln Stars, the coaches will be very busy the next couple of months scouting and drafting players, as well as running the tryout camp.  Here at the B³, we're not going to disappear just because the season is over, so we'll be covering everything that happens regarding the Stars in the offseason.  Here are a few important dates coming up:

April 19th, 2011:  USHL Futures Draft
May 16th, 2011:  USHL Entry Draft
June 9th-12th, 2011:  Lincoln Stars tryout camp

I recently listened to some statements made by head coach Chad Johnson at the most recent Blueline Booster Club meeting that the Stars' tryout camp might not be held in Omaha this year.  The past three years the tryout camp has been held at the Moylan Tranquility IcePlex in Omaha, NE.  The Stars organization haven't come out and said anything official as of yet regarding the place/dates/times of the tryout camp, so we'll just have to be patient until they make that announcement.  The tryout camp is my favorite event of the season, and I've been able to attend it the past three years.  Hopefully I will be able to cover it again this season and provide reports from the camp for all of those who want to follow along.

I'm also going to be doing a complete overhaul of the blog sometime in the next few months.  I will be moving the blog from the Blogger format to WordPress, which is much more user friendly and provides many more options to make the B³ even better.  I'd like to get rid of the black background, and clean up the main page a bit.  The WordPress engine will also allow people to leave comments without registering, which is something I've been looking to get away from.  I miss all the comments I used to get (well, not the trollish comments), so I'm excited to change over to WordPress.  I'll still moderate all comments left, but it's just much more user friendly for people wanting to participate on the blog.

If you have any comments, feedback, or concerns about any of the upcoming offseason events, I'd love to hear from you.  You can leave a comment or send me an email at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com.

B³ USHL Clark Cup Playoff Prediction Contest: Updated

The first round of the 2011 USHL Clark Cup playoffs are complete.  Click here to see the playoff bracket from the USHL.com website:  The results are listed below:

Western Conference:
(3) Sioux Falls defeated (6) Sioux City 2-1
(4)Fargo defeated (5) Lincoln 2-0

Eastern Conference:
(3) Indiana defeated (6) Waterloo 2-0
(4) Muskegon defeated (5) Team USA 2-0

Here are the updated prediction standings after round one:

lincolnfan:  6 points
tzweeb:  6 points
Yeti:  6 points
Hey Hey Whadda Say:  5 points
Kyle:  5 points
imadragon:  4 points
nutz4puckz:  4 points
starstruck:  4 points
StarsNutz:  4 points
BellTolls:  3 points
MacAttack:  3 points

Here are the next round of games to predict.  This quarterfinal round will be a best-of-five series, meaning the first team to win three games wins the series.  Click here to view the playoff schedule for the second round games.  The deadline for predictions is this Wednesday, April 20th at 7:00pm CST.

Western Conference:

(1) Dubuque vs. (4) Fargo 
(2) Omaha vs. Sioux Falls (3)

Eastern Conference:

(1) Cedar Rapids vs. (4) Muskegon
(2) Green Bay vs. (3) Indiana

Saturday, April 16, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 4/16: Lincoln 2, Fargo 4

The 2010-11 season ended tonight for the Lincoln Stars as the Fargo Force beat the Stars by a score of 4-2, and swept the best-of-three series against Lincoln, winning 2-0.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the loss to the Force, the Stars are now winless in five straight playoff games against Fargo dating back two seasons.  The Force broke a 2-2 tie with less than nine minutes remaining in the third period to pull ahead, and added an empty-net goal with 8 seconds remaining to finish the scoring at 4-2.

It's hard to believe it's over.  Very tough way to end the season, but we are all very proud of our Stars here in Lincoln.  I thought the Stars deserved a better fate that what was dealt to them, but that's how it goes sometimes.  I want to thank each and every player on the roster for busting their ass and sacrificing so much for our entertainment this season.  Their effort will not be forgotten.  I also would like to thank all of the player parents for sending their sons to Lincoln.  It was a pleasure watching them this season, and they will always be a part of our extended Stars family.  

Go Stars.  

B³ Live In-Game Chat: Lincoln Stars vs. Fargo Force 4/16

Welcome to the B³ live in-game chat, playoff edition!  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST this evening in Fargo, so I should have this chat application up and running around 6:45pm.  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.

Lincoln Stars Playoff Watch Party?

Sounds like a great idea, right?  Being able to get together with a bunch of other Stars fans at a local establishment, kick back with some some beverages and food, and root on the Stars as they take on a team in the playoffs.  Sounds like heaven.   

I've beat this horse before on the blog, and on the B³ Facebook page, but I think it's worth repeating.  I'm not sure why the Stars organization isn't keen on this idea, but it seems like a win-win to me.  Find a bar that would be ok with hosting the event.  The bar would have to spend some money to be able to broadcast the B2-America One video, which from what I have heard is somewhere around 200-300 bucks.  Charge a cover to get some of that money back.  I'm sure Stars fans would be more than happy to spend some cash on drinks and food.  If I'm a bar owner, this proposal seems like a big win to me.  Great opportunity to feed off the hockey fans in this town and bring in some good money on a Friday or Saturday night.

When you look around the USHL, just about every other team is doing something like this for their fans.  Some teams even do watch parties for regular season games, not just playoff games.   Let's look at the three other teams in the playoffs right now that are playing all of their first round games on the road, just like the Stars.  

Sioux City Musketeers:
Click here to view the information about the watch party they organized for their fans.

Waterloo Blackhawks:
Click here to view the information about the watch party they organized for their fans.

Muskegon Lumberjacks:  
Click here to view the information about a get-together they organized for their fans.

Why can't this work in Lincoln?  Or maybe I should ask, why doesn't it happen?  Our fan base is rabid!  I guarantee this would be a success.  It's a little late in the game obviously for this season, but I really hope this is something the Stars think about for next season.  Our fans deserve it, and I know they would appreciate the opportunity to come together and support the team while they are playing on the road.  

What say you?  If such an event was ever held, would you attend?  I know I sure as heck would.

B³ Postgame Recap 4/15: Lincoln 0, Fargo 2

Fargo d-man Brian Cooper's third period goal with only 3:55 remaining was all the Force would need Friday night to beat the visiting Lincoln Stars in game one of their best-of-three opening round USHL playoff series.  Fargo would add an empty net goal with 49 seconds left in the game to complete the shutout at 2-0.  Click here to view the Poinstreak boxscore.  With the loss, the Stars must now win the last two games in this series otherwise the season will be over for the black and blue.



The story of this game was the play of the two starting goaltenders:  Ryan Massa of the Force, and Kevin Murdock of the Stars.  Both teams came out very strong in the first period, and both netminders were up to the task.  Massa stopped 14 shots on goal in the first, while Murdock stopped 15 shots on net in the first.  Both goaltenders made some huge saves in the first twenty minutes, and throughout the game, but it was a fluke third-period goal by Force defenseman Brian Cooper which got past Murdock to give Fargo the game one victory.  Fargo out-shot the Stars overall, 31-23.  Stars went 0-for-3 on the powerplay, while Fargo went 0-4 with the man advantage.  Murdock stopped 29 of 30 shots in the loss, while Massa stopped all 24 shots in the win.

Give credit to the Force for clamping down in the second and third periods, limiting the amount of Lincoln scoring chances, and playing sound defensive hockey.  As I stated above, the Stars were able to put 14 shots on goal in the first period.  However, Lincoln was only able to put 9 shots on goal in the second and third period combined.  9 shots on goal in 40 minutes of play isn't going to win you any hockey games.  Also a little concerning is the play of the Stars' powerplay unit.  After going most of the regular season with the top PP unit in the whole USHL, the Stars are 0-for-18 on the PP going back the last five games.  Not a good time for the PP success to dry up.

Time to bring out all the tired, worn-out sports cliches.  It's do or die time.  Their backs are against the wall.  Take it one game at a time.  They have to find a way to put the puck in the net.  They're on the ropes.  Time to circle the wagons.  However you say it, the Stars know what they must do to get to the second round.  Win tonight, and win tomorrow night.  Simple as that.

We will be doing another live in-game chat for the game tonight, so make sure you drop by and check us out. We had a good turnout last night, and I hope to see even more tonight.  Hope to see you all there.

Go Stars.

Friday, April 15, 2011

B³ Live In-Game Chat: Lincoln Stars vs. Fargo Force 4/15

Welcome to the B³ live in-game chat, playoff edition!  The puck will drop at 7:35pm CST this evening in Fargo, so I should have this chat application up and running around 7:15pm.  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.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

B³ USHL Playoff Preview: Fargo Force

The Lincoln Stars will open the 2011 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs on the road this Friday night when they will face off against the hometown Fargo Force in Game 1 of their best-of-three series.  The puck will drop at 7:35pm on Friday night, and at 7:05pm on Saturday night.  If there is a need to play a game three, that game will occur on Sunday evening at 5:05pm.  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 Stars and Force finished the regular season with the exact same records, 33-22-5 (71 points), but since Fargo won the regular season series against Lincoln, going 5-2-1, the Force therefore earned the right to host every first round playoff series at home.  This new playoff setup isn't making a lot a friends with hockey fans in Lincoln as a result.  For there to be more hockey at the IceBox this season, the Stars will have to win two games in Fargo this weekend.  Like I stated above, the Stars did not fare so well against the Force in the regular season.  In fact, the Stars had a winning regular season record against every western conference team except the Fargo Force.  The Stars finished 0-1-1 against the Dubuque Fighting Saints, but I refuse to recognize the Saints as a true western conference opponent.  In four regular season games at the Scheels Arena in Fargo, the Stars finished with a 1-3-0 record, the only win being a 3-0 shutout by Kevin Murdock on 3/11/11.  Strangely enough, the Force are the only western conference playoff team with a losing home record in the regular season (14-12-4).  In those four games in Fargo in which the Force went 3-1-0 against Lincoln, they out-scored the Stars 19-12.

On offense, the Force are led by a couple of very good forwards in Jimmy Mullin (23g, 37a) and Chad Demers (18g, 32a).  Although they are not as deep offensively as the Stars, the Force still have a number of forwards who can put the biscuit in the basket.  While the Force have four players who scored 30+ points in the regular season, the Stars had seven players who scored 30+ points.  The two big names on the Stars' roster in terms of point scorers is Ryan Dzingel (23g, 44a) and John McCarron (24g, 33a).  However, the Stars have shown all season that they do not rely on one or two lines to score goals.  Lincoln sports a very deep bench, and all four offensive lines are capable of scoring.

On defense, both Lincoln and Fargo both have a very good offensive defenseman who quarterbacks their powerplay.  Brian Cooper of the Force is a young ('93) d-man who has already committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  Cooper racked up 33 regular season points (11g, 12a), and 15 of those 33 points came on the powerplay.  For the Stars, defenseman Matt Prapavessis has been a rock on the Lincoln blueline, scoring 34 points (10g, 24a) in only 48 games played.  16 of the 34 points Prapavessis accumulated in the regular season came on the powerplay.  

In net, the Stars are led by Kevin Murdock, whose 29 regular season wins was second best in the entire USHL.  In my opinion, Murdock was the regular season MVP for the Stars.  Doc single-handedly won games this season that the Stars otherwise should have lost.  In 8 regular season games against the Force, Doc finished with a 3-3-1 record, a 2.85 goals against average, and a .906 save percentage.  The Force are led by the two-head monster of goaltenders Ryan Massa and Zane Gothberg.   Massa played in 33 regular season games, while Gothberg played in 23 regular season games.  From what I have read online, it appears that Force head coach Jason Herter will go with Massa as the #1 goaltender in the first round.  Massa, who is also a University of Nebraska-Omaha recruit, went 3-2-0 with a 2.63 goals against average, and a .882 save percentage in five regular season games against the Stars.

Despite the losing record in Fargo this season, I think the Stars have a very good chance at beating the Force this weekend.  Without a doubt, game one will be key.  If the Stars can come out strong Friday night and get a win, they will be in the drivers seat.  Coming into the playoffs, the Stars were one of the hottest teams in the USHL, winning 8 of their last 10 regular season games.  The Force, however, were a bit stagnant going 5-5-1 in their last 11 regular season games.  We've seen the Stars handily beat the best of the USHL this season, so winning this series in Fargo certainly can be done.  I think the key in this series will be which team wins the special teams war.  The Stars have had one of the top PP units in the USHL this season, but they have struggled with the man-advantage as of late, going 0-14 in the last four regular season games.  

This should be one heck of a physical series.  The last time these two teams met in the post-season, it was 2009, and the Force swept the Stars 3-0 in their best-of-five series.  Stars head coach Chad Johnson stated this past week at the Lincoln Stars Blueline Booster Club meeting that forward Garrett Peterson would likely not play this weekend.  Petey injured his hand last weekend when he blocked a shot against the Tri-City Storm.  Coach Johnson also stated that Brent Tate would miss the Friday game against Fargo, but should be available for the Saturday night game.  Speaking of Stars head coach Chad Johnson, click here to read an article from Ryan S. Clark about Johnson returning to coach against the team he used to be an assistant for.

Whew!  I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready for playoff hockey!  It's a shame we won't see any in Lincoln for the first round, so we'll have to plan for it in the second round!  We will be doing a live in-game chat for all of the playoff games, so make sure you check us out.  I'll have the chat up and running around 7:15pm on Friday night.  If you can't be in Fargo, join us here on the B³!  Hope to see you all there.

Go Stars.

Monday, April 11, 2011

B³ USHL Clark Cup Playoff Prediction Contest

We did this last year and we got a really good turnout, and a lot of folks had fun with it, so I figured we'd give it another shot since the playoffs are upon us.  This is a great way to follow some of the other playoff matchups, and everybody likes a contest.  Now, I don't have any kind of prize for the winner of this contest, other than just bragging rights.  This will be just for fun.  Okay, so here are the very simple rules:

Rules:
-Pick the team you think will win the particular playoff series.
-Pick the amount of games you think the winning team will win in.

    Here are the first round match-ups.  All first round match-ups are a best-of-three format  The first team to win 2 games wins the series:

    USHL Clark Cup Playoffs – First Round

    Eastern Conference
    Indiana Ice (#3) vs. Waterloo Black Hawks (#6)

    Indiana won the season series against Waterloo, going 3-1-0 in four regular season games.  The Ice out-scored the Blackhawks 14-10 in those four games.
    Game 1: Thursday, April 14th, 7:05 PM – Waterloo @ Indiana
    Game 2: Friday, April 15th, 7:05 PM – Waterloo @ Indiana
    Game 3: Sunday, April 17th, 3:05 PM – Waterloo @ Indiana**
    All games played at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis, Indiana
    Team USA U-17 (#4) vs. Muskegon Lumberjacks (#5)

    Team USA U-17 won the season series against Muskegon, going 3-2-0 in five regular season games.  The Lumberjacks out-scored Team USA 12-10 in those five games.
    Game 1: Friday, April 15th, 7:00 PM – Muskegon @ Team USA U-17
    Game 2: Saturday, April 16th, 7:00 PM – Muskegon @ Team USA U-17
    Game 3: Sunday, April 17th, 3:00 PM – Muskegon @ Team USA U-17**
    All games played at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Western Conference
    Sioux Falls Stampede (#3) vs. Sioux City Musketeers (#6)

    Sioux City won the season series against Sioux Falls, going 5-2-1 in eight regular season games.  The Musketeers out-scored the Stampede 31-20 in those eight games.
    Game 1: Wednesday, April 13th, 7:05 PM – Sioux City @ Sioux Falls
    Game 2: Thursday, April 14th, 7:05 PM – Sioux City @ Sioux Falls
    Game 3: Sunday, April 17th, 6:05 PM – Sioux City @ Sioux Falls**
    All games played at the Sioux Falls Arena in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
    Fargo Force (#4) vs. Lincoln Stars (#5)

    Fargo won the season series against Lincoln, going 5-2-1 in eight regular season games.  The Force out-scored the Stars 28-21 in those eight games.
    Game 1: Friday, April 15th, 7:35 PM – Lincoln @ Fargo
    Game 2: Saturday, April 16th, 7:05 PM – Lincoln @ Fargo
    Game 3: Sunday, April 17th, 5:05 PM – Lincoln @ Fargo**
    All games played at the Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota
    ** if necessary

    For each correct team that you predict will win the series, you will receive one point.  If you can also correctly predict the amount of games the winning team will win in, you will receive two points.  For example, if you predict the Sioux Falls Stampede to win their series in 3 games, and Sioux Falls does go on to win in 3 games, you would receive 3 points (1 point for picking Sioux Falls, 2 points for picking the correct amount of games).  If you picked Sioux City to win in 3 games, you would receive 0 points.  You must predict the winning team to earn the games played points, if that makes sense.

    If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email.  I hope we have a good turnout for this.  Again, this is all for fun.  It's just a way for all of us to follow the USHL playoffs a little more than maybe we would have before.  Once the first round is complete, we'll move onto the second round and continue on after that.

    If you don't want to register to leave a comment and prediction, send them to me via email, and I will make sure they are entered:  lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com

    All entries must be posted before 7:05pm on Wednesday, April 13th.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Lincoln Stars lead the USHL in attendance.....again

    Lost in the excitement of the last few games and the playoff race is the fact that the Lincoln Stars finished the 2010-11 regular season in the #1 spot yet again in terms of total attendance in the USHL.  I think it's a statistic that a lot of folks forget about, and take for granted.  Good season, bad season, good economy, bad economy, we all show up at the IceBox and root on our favorite hockey team.  I'm positive that there aren't any other USHL teams that could lead the league in attendance year in and year out, despite their record.  It's no secret we have the most committed, hardcore fans in the league.

    Even after eliminating 350 seats when the north stage was removed, the Stars still brought in more fans than any other team for the fifth straight season.  Much thanks go to Lincoln Stars Director of Ticket Operations Micki Buhrmann and her staff for being an essential part of this attendance streak and always being helpful when called upon.  Micki and her staff work very hard, and they deserve the praise and attention.

    Historical attendance statistics for the Stars, courtesy of Pointstreak:

    2010-11:  113,727 total;  3,790 per game (first overall in the USHL)
    2009-10:  124,422 total;  4,147 per game (first overall in the USHL)
    2008-09:  129,428 total;  4,314 per game (first overall in the USHL)
    2007-08:  130,235 total;  4,341 per game (first overall in the USHL)
    2006-07:  130,134 total;  4,337 per game (first overall in the USHL)
    2005-06:  129,570 total;  4,319 per game (second overall in the USHL)
    2004-05:  132,768 total;  4,425 per game (first overall in the USHL)
    2003-04:  135,719 total;  4,523 per game (first overall in the USHL)
    2002-03:  138,240 total;  4,608 per game (second overall in the USHL)

    Here's to you, Stars Nation!  You should all be very proud of the fantastic atmosphere created at the IceBox, which is second to none in the USHL.

    Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln vs. Tri-City 4/9

    Thanks once again to Jeff White and Carl Kacvinsky for allowing me to share some of their photos from the game last night.  I really appreciate it, fellas!  If you would like to contact Carl, you can email him at ckacvinsky@gmail.com.

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

    John McCarron and company celebrate his third period, game-winning goal with only 32 seconds remaining