Friday, September 30, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 9/30: Sioux Falls 0, Lincoln 2

Courtesy of Brandon Anderson
A home opener shutout win!  Ride that train!!



The Lincoln Stars used a very strong second, and third period to shutout the visiting Sioux Falls Stampede by a score of 2-0 at the IceBox on Friday night.   Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The win was Lincoln's first of the season, and at 1-0-0, the Stars are in a three-way tie for first place in the USHL Western Conference.

In the first 20 minutes of the game, both teams exchanged scoring opportunities but neither squad cold find the back of the net.  Shots on goal were even at 9-9 in the first, but I thought the Stars were the better team.  Stampede goaltender Stephon Williams made a number of highlight-reel saves in that period, otherwise the score could have been 2-0.

The Stars came out for the second period with their hair on fire, and took it right to the Stampede.  Lincoln dominated the period, out-shooting the Stampede 21-6.  However, goaltender Stephon Williams continued to blank the Stars until about halfway through the period.  With a Sioux Falls player sitting in the sin bin, Stars defenseman Colton Saucerman collected a pass at the blue line and ripped a shot glove-high on Williams to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.  The IceBox went nuts.  First Stars goal of the 2011-12 goes to the defenseman from Colorado Springs, CO, Colten Saucerman.  After the goal, Saucerman saluted the crowd, which I'm sure is a homage to the NFL Denver Broncos and their "Mile High Salute."  Assisting on Saucerman's powerplay goal was Luke Johnson and Brent Tate.

Less than three minutes after Lincoln's first goal of the game, the Stars would quickly get on the scoreboard again when rookie forward Logan Smith scored at the 12:14 mark to increase the black and blue lead to 2-0.  Earning the assists on Smith's even-strength goal were defensemen Richard Coyne and Mike McKee.  If the crowd wasn't bananas before, it was certainly loud at this point in the game.  Through two periods, the Stars doubled up the Stampede with shots on goal, 30-15.

Although there was no scoring in the third period, there was plenty of action and drama on the ice.  Despite playing nearly half of the third period a man down due to penalties, the Stars' penalty kill unit rose to the occasion and thwarted every Sioux Falls scoring chance.  After defenseman Richard Coyne was sent to the dressing room after a "grabbing face mask" major and misconduct penalty, the Stars were forced to kill a five minute 'Pede powerplay.  Although the score was 2-0 Stars at the time, the Stampede could have gotten right back into the game with a goal or two on that PP, but Williams and the PK unit closed the door.  This game was won due to outstanding special teams play by the Stars.

Lincoln outshot the 'Pede 44-25 overall, and 14-10 in the third period despite playing shorthanded nearly half the period.  Stars went 1-2 on the powerplay, while the Stampede went 0-5 with the man-advantage.  In the battle of the "Williams," Stephon Williams stopped 42 of 44 shots on goal in the loss, while Charles Williams stopped all 25 shots his faced in the win.

Great effort tonight!  If it wasn't for the Sioux Falls goaltender (Stephon Williams), the score could have easily been 6-0 Stars.  Dominating second period by Lincoln, and winning the special teams war was how the Stars won this game.  After some undisciplined penalties in the third period, the Stars' PK unit was put to the task, especially after Coyne's five minute major.  I was really impressed with how the PK unit played last night.  Although the Stars only had two PP opportunities, I thought they did a great job passing the puck with the man-advantage, and keeping pressure on Stephon Williams.

I raved about goaltender Charles Williams way back in June during the Stars' tryout camp in Minneapolis, and he continues to impress me.  Someone brought this up on the B³ Facebook page, and I agree completely, but Williams did a fantastic job last night staying square to the puck.  You very rarely saw him out of position, and never saw him have to dive across the crease to make a save.  Cool, calm, collected.  He made it look easy last night.  There were some times in the game, especially in the second period, when Williams hardly saw any shots on goal at all.  And as a goaltender, that can sometimes be an issue because you get a little "cold," and it's hard to find that groove.  Williams, however, kept his head in the game and made the big saves when needed.  Very excited to see what he can do for the Stars this season.

Felt great to be at the IceBox once again, watching live hockey, and talking to all of my hockey friends.  A sellout crowd of 4,101 rabid fans were treated to a fantastic atmosphere, and a big home opener win.  Great night.  I thought the opening video was very well done, and can't wait until it's uploaded to youtube so I can watch it again.  What did everyone think of the new uniforms?  Looked pretty nice from where I was sitting.  I'll be posting some pictures of those uni's soon, so stay tuned for that.

Stars will take the rest of this weekend off and return to action next Friday night (10/7) at the IceBox against the Waterloo Blackhawks.  The B'hawks were in Omaha last night, and beat the Lancers 3-1 on their home ice.  From what I have read about Waterloo, they have a very explosive group of forwards, and many hockey pundits expect them to finish near the top of the USHL Western Conference.  Should be a heck of a game.  More on that matchup later next week.

Go Stars.

Tate, Lauwers, Shine, and Tiitinen on 104.1 FM The Blaze

Stars co-captains Brent Tate and Daw Lauwers joined alternate captains Dominik Shine and Teemu Tiitinen on the "Tim and the Animal" 104.1 FM The Blaze radio show this morning.  The players talked about the home opener tonight and the upcoming 2011-12 USHL season.  Click the play button below to watch and listen.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

B³ Pregame Report: Sioux Falls Stampede vs. Lincoln Stars 9/30

The Lincoln Stars will open the 2011-12 USHL regular season schedule this Friday night at the IceBox against the visiting Sioux Falls Stampede.  Faceoff is at 7:05pm.   If you're not lucky enough to be one of the 4,000+ screaming lunatics in attendance Friday evening, you can follow the boxscore online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on KLMS 1480 AM, or watch the game live on FASTHockey for a fee.  The Stars will only play the lone Friday night game on this opening USHL weekend.

The visiting 'Pede are a team much like the Stars insofar that they enter the 2011-12 season having lost a lot of their top-end offensive players from the year before.  The Stampede are missing their top six scorers from last season, while the Stars are missing their top seven point-getters from 2010-11.  Considering the roster turnaround each USHL team faces every season, losing some of your top players from the year before is expected.

What Sioux Falls returns in Stephon Williams, is one of the better goaltenders in the USHL Western Conference and in my opinion one of the top young netminders in the whole league.  The '93 native of Fairbanks, AK went 20-7-6 last season with a 2.59 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.  Gaudy numbers for such a young player.  However, in four starts against the Stars last season Williams was only 1-3-1, and winless in three starts at the IceBox.  Williams has committed to play for the University of Minnesota-Mankato after his USHL career.  There's no doubt in my mind we'll see Williams between the pipes Friday night at the IceBox for the 'Pede.

While the Stars start the new season with a lot of there top scorers and vets gone, there is a lot to be excited about in the capital city.  On offense, Lincoln will be led by grizzled veterans such as Brent Tate, Dominik Shine, Teemu Tiitinen, and Jared Hanson.  Right behind those four are a group of talented youngsters ready to be the next "Stars" in black and blue.  Maybe it's just me, but looking at the roster and watching these guys in the preseason (and even way back at tryouts), I think the Stars are a little smaller up front, but much more skilled and faster than we've seen in Lincoln in the last 3-4 years.  This is a FUN group to watch, and I think they have the skill to score more goals this season than we've seen in many years.

On defense, the Stars are big, mean, and extremely talented.  Did I mention "big"?  Of the eight defensemen protected by Lincoln going into the home opener, six of the eight are 6'1 or taller.  Those group of eight have an average weight of 200lbs.  The Lincoln d-corps is a 1600 pound, ass-kicking gorilla.  It's a group that has plenty of USHL and NAHL experience also.  Five of the eight have USHL game experience, while seven of the eight have at least NAHL experience.  I'm really, really excited to see what this group can do.  I haven't been this excited about a group of defensemen since the fantastic four of Dalhuisen, Sdao, Newton, and Henry in 2008-09.  I expect d-men like Ralfs Freibergs and Colton Saucerman to be the two main PP quarterbacks, while Mike McKee (6'5", 235 pounds) is used as a screen in front of the opposing goaltender on the PP.

While Jackson Teichroeb gets healthy after his offseason foot surgery, goaltender Charles Williams is more than capable of standing on his head and winning many games for the Stars.  Williams was by far the best goaltender at the Stars' tryout camp this past June, and his play at that camp really won me over.  He's not a big guy, but he's very quick and moves well post to post.  He'll be wearing #1, and will start for the Stars tomorrow night.  Make sure you check out his mask.  Very cool design.  I have no doubt that he'll quickly become a fan favorite.

In non-Stars related news, click here to read an article (no copy and paste job here) released by the USHL today about the start of the 2011-12 season, and what new rules the fans will see.  Interesting stuff.  I liked the five shooters in OT as opposed to the new rule of three shooters, but the USHL is aligning more and more to the NHL (where three shooters are also used).

Are there two better words in the lexicon of Lincoln Stars hockey than "home opener"?  I'm not sure how much work I'll get done at my job tomorrow because I'll be thinking of the game all damn day long.  7:05pm, Friday night can't get here soon enough.  

Before I end this rambling mess, take a minute and think about how hard these young men have worked to get to this point in their hockey "careers".  Over 100+ players tried out for the Stars way back in June at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, MN.  The players in uniform tomorrow night have worked their asses off to earn a spot on this roster.  So cheer a little louder tomorrow night in honor of these young men who are here to play for your entertainment.  

Let's get crazy.  Go Stars.

Daily Nebraskan Video

The UNL Daily Nebraskan online newspaper posted a really interesting video today highlighting the Lincoln Stars team.  I'm not sure the DN has ever done this before, and considering the lackluster support the team gets from the local paper, I hope the DN has more of these videos planned throughout the season.

Click play below to watch the video.  Thanks to the blog reader who brought this to my attention.


Lincoln Stars Hockey from Daily Nebraskan on Vimeo.

B³ "Meet the Stars" 2011-12 Edition

We've done this here at the B³ for the past couple of seasons, so I thought we'd do it again for the fans out there who might not know a lot about this team and want to learn a little more.  It's also nice to put a face to the names and numbers the fans see on the backs of jerseys.  Here we go!

Goaltenders:

#1 Charles Williams
6'0", 175 pounds
DOB:  3/12/92
Hometown:  Canton, MI
Previous team: Owatonna Express (NAHL)
2010-11 stats:  27-10-6 record, 2.72 GAA, .921 S%


#35 Jackson Teichroeb
6'2", 192 pounds
DOB:  10/5/92
Hometown:  London, Ontario, Canada
Previous team:  Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  14-6-5 record, 2.49 GAA, .905 S%






Defensemen:

#3 Richie Coyne
6'2", 190 pounds
DOB:  7/22/91
Hometown:  Cave Creek, AZ
Previous team:  Lincoln Stars (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  5 points (2g, 3a), 64 PIM's in 50 games



#4 Brandon Carlson
6'2", 210 pounds
DOB:  6/15/92
Hometown:  Huntington Beach, CA
Previous team:  Fargo Force (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  4 points (2g, 2a), 59 PIM's in 32 games


#5 Dax Lauwers (C)
6'3", 220 pounds
DOB:  9/27/91
Hometown:  Anchorage, AK 
Previous team:  Army Black Knights (AHA)
2010-11 stats:  3 points (1g, 2a), 53 PIM's in 33 games


#6 Paul Ladue
6'2", 185 pounds
DOB:  9/6/92
Hometown:  Grand Forks, ND
Previous team:  Alexandria Blizzard (NAHL)
2010-11 stats:  22 points (3g, 19a), 58 PIM's in 56 games


#12 Colton Saucerman
5'9", 185 pounds
DOB:  5/5/92
Hometown:  Colorado Springs, CO
Previous team:  Corpus Christi IceRays (NAHL)
2010-11 stats:  34 points (8g, 26a), 90 PIM's in 39 games


#21 Zach Frye
6'1", 195 pounds
DOB:  3/25/94
Hometown:  Spokane, WA
Previous team:  Lincoln Stars (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  3 points (0g, 3a), 17 PIM's in 15 games



#23 Mike McKee
6'5", 235 pounds
DOB:  8/17/93
Hometown:  Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
Previous team:  Kent Prep School (Connecticut)
2010-11 stats:  Unkown
College Commitment:  Northeastern University


#29 Ralfs Freibergs
5'11", 180 pounds
DOB:  5/17/91
Hometown:  Riga, Latvia
Previous team:  Texas Tornado (NAHL)
2010-11 stats:  55 points (7g, 48a), 45 PIM's in 53 games





Forwards:

#7 Ryan Cole
5'9", 175 pounds
DOB:  7/19/92
Hometown:  Anchorage, AK
Previous team:  Kimball Union Academy (New Hampshire)
2010-11 stats:  51 points (29g, 22a)
College commitment:  Yale University


#8 Tommy Schutt
6'0", 185 pounds
DOB:  4/28/93
Hometown:  Chanhassen, MN
Previous team:  Minnetonka High School (Minnesota)
2010-11 stats:  36 points (11g, 25a), 36 PIM's in 27 games



#9 Bob Kinne
6'0", 175 pounds
DOB:  5/15/92
Hometown:  St. Paul, MN
Previous team:  Cretin-Derham High School (Minnesota)
2010-11 stats:  53 points (22g, 31a), 10 PIM's in 27 games
College Commitment:  Bemidji State University



#10 Will Suter
5'10", 180 pounds
DOB:  1/22/92
Hometown:  Omaha, NE
Previous team:  Wichita Falls Wildcats (NAHL)
2010-11 stats:  18 points (2g, 16a), 22 PIM's in 30 games




#11 Zach Aston-Reese
6'1", 185 pounds
DOB:  8/10/94
Hometown:  Staten Island, NY
Previous team:  Lincoln Stars (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  5 points (2g, 3a), 4 PIM's in 25 games


#13 Brent Tate (C)
6'2", 180 pounds
DOB:  11/5/91
Hometown:  Canton, MI
Previous team:  Lincoln Stars (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  26 points (10g, 16a), 144 PIM's in 42 games
College Commitment:  Bowling Green University


#15 Kevin Roy
5'10", 170 pounds
DOB:  5/20/93
Hometown:  Lac Beauport, Quebec, Canada
Previous team:  Deerfield Academy (Massachusetts)
2010-11 stats:  34 points (19g, 15a)
College Commitment:  Brown University


#16 Dominik Shine (A)
5'11", 165 pounds
DOB:  4/18/93
Hometown:  Pinkney, MI
Previous team:  Lincoln Stars (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  28 points (12g, 16a), 158 PIM's in 52 games
College commitment:  Ohio State University


#17 Teemu Tiitinen (A)
5'11", 175 pounds
DOB:  3/21/92
Hometown:  Suwanee, GA
Previous team:  Lincoln Stars (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  25 points (7g, 18a), 32 PIM's in 60 games

#18 Jonathan Grebosky
5'11", 175 pounds
DOB:  10/20/93
Hometown:  Oakdale, PA
Previous team:  Pittsburgh Hornets MM (Tier 1 Elite Hockey)
2010-11 stats:  37 points (19g, 18a), 43 PIM's in 39 games


#19 Brad Hawkinson
5'11", 195 pounds
DOB:  9/4/94
Hometown:  Aurora, CO
Previous team:  Colorado Thunderbirds MM U-18 (Tier 1 Elite Hockey)
2010-11 stats:  32 points (20g, 12a), 14 PIM's in 40 games
College Commitment:  University of Denver

#20 Matt Friese
5'10", 179 pounds
DOB:  4/17/92
Hometown:  Wasilla, AK
Previous team:  Alaska Avalanche (NAHL)
2010-11 stats:  41 points (23g, 18a), 46 PIM's in 32 games

#22 Logan Smith
6'4", 205 pounds
DOB:  11/11/92
Hometown:  Littleton, CO
Previous team:  Colorado Thunderbirds MM U-18 (Tier 1 Elite Hockey)
2010-11 stats:  31 points (12g, 19a), 30 PIM's in 40 games

#24 Jared Hanson
6'0", 190 pounds
DOB:  1/24/93
Hometown:  Palmer, AK
Previous team:  Lincoln Stars (USHL)
2010-11 stats:  24 points (9g, 15a), 104 PIM's in 53 games

#27 Luke Johnson
5'11", 165 pounds
DOB:  9/19/94
Hometown:  Grand Forks, ND
Previous team:  Grand Forks Central High School (North Dakota)
2010-11 stats:  42 points (17g, 25a), 43 PIM's in 25 games
College commitment:  University of North Dakota


Monday, September 26, 2011

"Meet the Stars" event at Playmakers Bar and Grill

Just a reminder for all the fans out there, the BlueLine Booster Club's annual "Meet the Stars" event will be held this Wednesday, September 28th at Playmakers Bar and Grill in Lincoln, NE from 6-8pm.  Playmakers is located at 640 West Prospector Road (Hway 77 and Van Dorn).  Click here for a Google Maps image of Playmakers if you need directions.

BlueLine Booster Club members are allowed in at 6:00pm, and will be given a free team poster for the players to sign.  Non-members will be allowed in at 6:30pm.  Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Hope to see you all there!  This is a great way to start the hockey season, and fun way for the fans to interact with all of the players.  For more info about how you can join the BlueLine Booster Club, please click here to visit their website.

Austin Hervey traded to Des Moines

I learned this morning that Stars forward Austin Hervey was traded to the Des Moines Buccaneers over the weekend.  It is my understanding that Hervey was traded for a draft pick, although I do not know at this time what round that draft pick is.

Hervey, a 6'2", 220 pound power forward and Western Michigan University commit, played 44 games for the Stars in 2010-11.  In those 44 games Hervey scored 7 points (4g, 3a) to go along with 53 penalty minutes and was +3.  Two of his four goals last season were game winning goals.  Austin was named USHL Offensive Player of the Week in late February of 2011 after scoring those two game winning goals over the course of a weekend against the Green Bay Gamblers and the Omaha Lancers.

We'd like to wish Austin the very best with his new team.  The Stars play the Bucs six times this season, so Austin will have plenty of opportunities to play against his former team.

Edit:  The Lincoln Stars website made it official late today.  Hervey traded to the Des Moines Bucs for a seventh round draft pick in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Snapshots of the Game: Youngstown vs. Lincoln 9/24

Once again, much thanks go out to blog reader Starstruck for letting me share some of their pictures from the Stars-Phantoms game at the USHL Fall Classic yesterday.  I appreciate it very much!

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

Stars' starting lineup (L-R): Colten Saucerman, Teemu Tiitinen, Jared Hanson, Kevin Roy, Mike McKee

B³ USHL Fall Classic Recap 9/24: Lincoln 6, Youngstown 4

The Lincoln Stars concluded the 2011 USHL Fall Classic on Saturday evening with a strong effort against the Youngstown Phantoms and an exciting 6-4 win.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the scored tied at 4-4 late in the third period, Stars forward Jared Hanson became the hero when he scored his second goal of the game with only 55 seconds remaining to give Lincoln the 5-4 lead, and eventual win.  Stars forward Matt Friese added an empty-net goal with 10 seconds to go to complete the scoring.  In their three games at the Fall Classic, the Stars finished with a 2-0-1 record.  In those three games, the Stars out-scored their opponents by a combined total of 12-8.  Here are my thoughts after watching the game via FASTHockey.

Like in their two other games at the Fall Classic, the Stars came out and played very strong in the first twenty minutes of this matchup.  It wasn't until late in the period before the Stars capitalized when forward Jared Hanson scored his first goal of the game from a nice pass from forward Logan Smith at the 17:09 mark.  Smith earned the only assist on Hanson's goal.  The Stars dominated the first period for the most part, and outshot the Phantoms 16-4.

The first period was a little chippy, as two fights and seven minors were called.  The first round of fisticuffs occurred when Teemu Tiitinen took exception to a Pat Conte charging penalty, and dropped the mitts immediately with Conte.  Unfortunately, Teemu took a couple of clean right hands to the head and did not return to the game.  From what I heard from Stars fans there, Teemu was cut underneath his eye and may have needed stitches.  The second round of fights saw Brent Tate trade punches with Michael Gunn of Youngstown.

In the second period, the game got a little less chippy and both teams had no issues finding the back of the net.  The Stars got on the board first in the second period when Logan Smith sniped a wrister glove high past Youngstown goaltender Matthew O'Connor at the 1:28 mark to give Lincoln a 2-0 lead.  Defenseman Colten Saucerman had the lone assist on Smith's second period goal, which came on the powerplay.  Less than a minute after Smith goal, Youngstown finally got on the score board when Alex Gacek scored on Stars goaltender Charles Williams to pull the Phantoms to within one goal at 2-1.  The Stars would answer about four minutes later when Matt Friese scored at even strength (Pointstreak is incorrect by showing it as a PP goal) at the 6:28 mark.  Stars forwards Brad Hawkinson and Ryan Cole earned the assists on Friese's goal.

Later in the period the Phantoms would get right back in the game with two goals roughly two minutes apart.  First at the 14:36 mark, Youngstown's Ryan Belonger used a nifty toe drag move to beat a Lincoln defender and roofed a shot past Williams.  Then at the 16:45 mark of the second period, Nolan Culver collected a rebound in the slot and slapped the puck past Charles Williams to even the score at 3-3.  Just when it looked like the Phantoms would take the tie score into the second intermission, the Stars struck back very quickly.  Just 10 seconds after Culver's game tying goal, Lincoln's Zach Aston-Reese snapped a bad angle shot past a surprised O'Connor to give the Stars a 4-3 lead.  Dominik Shine and Brent Tate earned the assists on Aston-Reese's first preseason goal.  At the end of two periods, the Stars had a 4-3 lead and had outshot the Phantoms by a whopping margin of 31-11.

In the final twenty minutes of the game, the Phantoms played a little more aggressive while the Stars played a bit more conservative and in a shell.  The Stars hung onto the 4-3 lead late into the third period until the Phantoms scored a late powerplay goal.  With Lincoln's Jared Hanson in the penalty box due to a kneeing minor, Youngstown's Mike Ambrosia scored on a goal mouth scramble to tie the game up at 4-4 with only 2:21 remaining in the third period.  However, Jared Hanson would redeem himself less than two minutes later.  With the Stars pressing in the Phantoms defensive zone, Lincoln defenseman Paul Ladue made a great play by gloving a Youngstown clearing attempt, and backhanded the puck to a wide open Hanson.  Jared skated in alone to the right of O'Connor and wristed a nasty short-side glove-high shot past the goaltender to give Lincoln the 5-4 lead with only 55 seconds remaining.  Although Hanson finished the play, it was Ladue who started it all with a great individual effort by keeping the puck in the zone and finding a wide open Hanson.

With O'Connor pulled for the extra attacker, Stars forward Matt Friese added the icing on the cake with an empty net goal to give Lincoln the final 6-4 score.  Lincoln finished the game 1-for-6 on the powerplay, while the Phantoms went 1-for-5 with the man advantage.  Stars goaltender Charles Williams stopped 20 of 24 shots for the win, while Phantoms goaltender Matthew O'Connor stopped 30 of 35 shots in the loss.

Another gutsy effort against a quality opponent.  Coming into this game, the Phantoms were riding a two game winning streak at the Fall Classic with convincing wins over the Cedar Rapids Roughriders and the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Lincoln played very smart once again, and didn't commit a lot of stupid penalties.  I thought Lincoln was the better team for the majority of the game, and it showed when it came to puck possession and shots on goal.  The Stars specifically did a great job with cycling the puck in the Youngstown defensive zone and keeping O'Connor on his toes.  Williams was hung out to dry by his teammates a few times, but there were also a couple of goals I'm sure he'd want back.  Overall I was really impressed with how the Stars played together as a team, and the fact that they never gave up.  I sound like a broken record, but I really think this team is going to be fun to watch.  The talent is there this season to score a LOT of goals.  The defense is big and nasty, and the goaltending is solid.

Lincoln will now take some time off to rest, practice, and make some roster moves.  The Stars currently have 26 players on their protected training camp roster, and that number will have to be cut down to 23 by opening night, which is Friday, September 30th.  The coaches have some very tough decisions to make in regards to the three players they have to release from the team.  I have a feeling it will be one defensemen and two forwards who get cut, but that's just my guess.  I don't envy the hard decisions the coaches will have to make in these next few days.

I hope to have some pictures from the Stars-Phantoms game posted on the blog sometime during the day on Sunday, so keep an eye out for those.  I'll also be posting an article soon about the upcoming "Meet the Stars" event at Playmakers Bar and Grill on Wednesday, September 28th, and our own "Meet the Stars" article profiling all of the players.  Opening night at the IceBox is just around the corner!

Go Stars.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln vs. Green Bay 9/22

Much thanks go out to blog reader "Starstruck" for allowing me to use some of their pictures from the Green Bay-Lincoln game yesterday at IBP Ice Center in Sioux City, Iowa.  It is very much appreciated!  I'm sure all of the other fans and family members of Stars players are thankful also.

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

Stars starting lineup L-R: Logan Smith, Jon Grebosky, Zach Frye, Richard Coyne, and Austin Hervey

Teemu Tiitinen and Colten Saucerman on 104.1 FM The Blaze

Lincoln Stars forward Teemu Tiitinen and defenseman Colten Saucerman stopped by the 104.1 FM "The Blaze" studio this morning to talk to Tim and The Animal. Click play below to listen to the interview.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

B³ USHL Fall Classic Recap 9/22: Green Bay 4, Lincoln 3 OT SO

The Lincoln Stars came up a bit short Thursday evening in Sioux City at the USHL Fall Classic as they fell 4-3 in an overtime shootout to the Green Bay Gamblers at the IBP Ice Center.  Click here for the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the overtime loss, the Stars fell to 1-1-2 in four preseason games so far this exhibition season.  The Stars will have Friday, September 23rd off, but will return to the ice on Saturday the 24th to face the Youngstown Phantoms at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.  I was able to watch the Stars-Gamblers game on FASTHockey, so here are my thoughts of the game.

Against the Gamblers, I thought the Stars came out and played very strong (and smart) in the first twenty minutes.  Lincoln took the play right to the Gamblers, and outskated them to the puck in most cases.  The Stars were rewarded for their early hard work in this game when Jared Hanson scored on a rebound tap-in to give Lincoln a 1-0 lead about halfway through the first period.  Teemu Tiitinen earned the lone assist on Hanson's first preseason goal.  At the end of the first period, the score remained 1-0 Lincoln, and the shots were 12-11 in favor of the Stars.

The Stars struggled a bit in the second period as the Gamblers came back to life and scored three unanswered goals before Lincoln could answer late in the second stanza.  Stars goaltender Charles Williams gave up second period goals to Nolan LaPorte, Sheldon Dries, and Alex Kile before shutting the door on the Gamblers in regulation.  The Stars seemed a bit more timid in the second period compared to the first, and it was the Gamblers who played a little more aggressive and forechecked much better than earlier.  Down 3-1, the Stars got right back into the game when forward Kevin Roy deflected a shot by Jared Hanson past Gamblers goaltender Ryan McKay to pull Lincoln to within one goal at 3-2.  Assisting on Roy's second period tally was Jared Hanson, and Teemu Tiitinen.  Green Bay outshot the Stars 16-10 in the second period.

In the third period the Stars play much better as a team, especially in their own defensive zone.  Down one goal with less than seven minutes remaining, Stars forward Dominik Shine knocked in a near goal-mouth rebound on a Lincoln 5-on-3 powerplay to knot the game at 3-3.  Shine's goal, his second in as many games, was unassisted.  At the end of regulation the scored remained 3-3.  Shots on goal in the third favored Lincoln 8-7.  Green Bay outshot Lincoln overall 34-30.

I'm not exactly sure why, but this game went directly to a shootout instead of a 4-on-4 five minute period.  I'd love to know why they did that because the game (Des Moines vs. Indiana) right before the Stars-Gamblers tilt at IBP Ice Center also went to overtime, and they did play 4-on-4 for five minutes.  Not sure if this was a decision both coaches made, or if the lead referee made the decision to skip the five minute OT and go right to the shootout.  Regardless, all three Lincoln shooters (Roy, Tiitinen, Shine) in the shootout were denied by goaltender McKay, while the Gamblers only needed Ville Jarvelainen's goal to get the 4-3 SO victory.

Stars goaltender Charles Williams again played very well in this game, stopping 31 of 34 shots on net in the loss.  In three preseason games, Williams has a 1.94 gaa, and a .932 save percentage.  I was a believer of Williams after watching him at the Lincoln tryouts this past June, and he is proving me right with his play.  He plays a very calm game between the pipes, but he is also very quick and nimble with his movements.

Overall, I was really impressed at how smart and disciplined the Stars played yesterday against a veteran-laden squad (Green Bay) that many are picking to be one of the top teams in the USHL next season.  After giving up 10 PP opportunities to the Chicago Steel the day before, Lincoln only surrendered 3 PP's to the Gamblers.  Lincoln finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage, while GB finished 0-3 on the PP.  I thought both teams yesterday played very well on the PK.  It seemed like Dominik Shine and Brent Tate played a lot together yesterday on the same line, and both really played well and generated a ton of offensive chances.  Same also with the line that Teemu Tiitinen and Jared Hanson were on.  Kevin Roy is another guy that the fans are really going to have a lot of fun watching live.  Very quick, and skilled forward.

That's about it for my recap.  Sorry for the length, and for waiting until today to get it done.  As I stated above, the Stars return to the ice at the USHL Fall Classic on Saturday, September 24th at 4:00pm CST to face the Youngstown Phantoms.  I plan on watching that game also via FASTHockey, so I hope to have a recap article up later that night after the game.  I also plan on posting some pictures from the Stars-Gamblers game later tonight on the blog, thanks to a faithful reader.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Snapshots of the Game: Chicago vs. Lincoln 9/21

Thanks to Brandon Anderson for allowing me to share some of his photos from the USHL Fall Classic game today between the Chicago Steel and the Lincoln Stars.  Click here to check out BA's website.  If you'd like to purchase any of Brandon's photos, send him an email at bapics@live.com.

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

Brad Hawkinson (L) celebrates his third period goal with Ryan Cole (middle) and Logan Smith (R)

B³ USHL Fall Classic Recap 9/21: Lincoln 3, Chicago 1

I know it's just a preseason win, but I just had to play the song!  It has been too long since we've last heard it!



The Lincoln Stars won their first matchup at the 2011 USHL Fall Classic with a convincing 3-1 victory over the Chicago Steel.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The win was Lincoln's first at the Fall Classic since 9/27/08 when the Stars beat the Waterloo Blackhawks by a score of 4-2.  Lincoln had gone winless at the USHL Fall Classic in 2009 (0-1-2) and 2010 (0-3) before today's big victory.  I wasn't in attendance this afternoon in Sioux City, but I did watch the game via FASTHockey.  Here are my thoughts after watching the game.

The Stars came out very strong in the first twenty minutes but were unable to put any pucks past Steel goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom.  Lincoln outshot Chicago 8-6 in the first 20 minutes.  From what I saw online, the Stars did a great job of forechecking and keeping the puck in Chicago's defensive zone.

In the second period, the Stars were rewarded very early for their efforts when Brent Tate passed the puck to an open Dominik Shine on a 2-on-1, and it was Shine who roofed the puck past Dahlstrom to give Lincoln the 1-0 lead.  Tate earned the only assist on Shine's first preseason goal.  Tate has scored 3 points (1g, 2a) in the last two preseason games for the Stars.  The Stars spent much of the second period (and for most of the game for that matter) on the penalty kill.  At the end of the second period, the Stars had been whistled for 7 straight minor penalties, and they killed each of those Chicago PP opportunities.  Thru two periods the Stars had outshot the Steel 27-15.

In the third period, Lincoln's Teemu Tiitinen gave the Stars that much needed insurance goal with his first gino of the preseason with an unassisted tally at the 7:25 mark.  Teemu used his world famous speed to beat the lone Chicago defender wide, and after his first shot was saved by Dahlstrom, Teemu drove hard to the net and knocked in his own rebound to give Lincoln the 2-0 lead.  Less than three minutes after Tiitinen's goal, Lincoln's Brad Hawkinson collected a beautiful saucer pass from Ryan Cole and wristed the puck past Dahlstrom to increase the lead to 3-0.  Cole collected the only assist on Hawkinson's first goal of the preseason.

Stars goaltender Charles Williams' shutout attempt was thwarted late in the third period when Steel forward Theo DiPauli collected a loose puck, drove hard to the net, and slipped a backhand shot past Williams to pull the Steel within two goals at 3-1.  The Steel would pull Dahlstrom with under a minute in the game, but neither team would score.  Charles Williams stopped 25 of 26 shots in the win, while Mathias Dahlstrom stopped 32 of 35 shots in the loss.

The story of this game was the fact that neither team could do much on the PP, especially the Steel.  Not a big surprise because we've seen it before, but the Stars played very undisciplined today and could have pitched a tent in the penalty box they were there so often.  The Steel had a whopping 10 powerplay opportunities, but the Stars' PK unit came up big and did not allow any PP goals.  Conversely, the Stars could not generate too many chances with their PP chances, and finished 0-for-5 on the powerplay.  In terms of special teams, it was a bit ugly, but give credit to the Stars PK unit for shutting the door on the Steel.  At even strength, Stars goaltender Charles Williams wasn't tested very often, but he came up big quite often while his team was a player down.

Lincoln scratches for this game were Bob Kinne, Zach Aston-Reese, Colten Saucerman, Kevin Roy, and Zach Frye.  The FASTHockey announcer stated that Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb is still recovering from offseason foot surgery, and would most likely miss all of the Fall Classic.  Not sure when Teichroeb will be healthy enough to play for the Stars.

Regarding FASTHockey, I was pleasantly surprised in the quality of the broadcast.  The resolution wasn't the greatest, but that's to be expected.  Sometimes it was a bit hard to see the players names and numbers on the back of the jerseys due to the fuzziness, but I thought the play-by-play was outstanding.  I was really impressed by the job radio announcer Jordan Berger did.  You could tell he did his homework on both teams, as he frequently brought up background history on every player.  I also thought it was nice that he wasn't constantly screaming and yelling like some other USHL radio announcers.  I believe Berger works as a radio announcer/media relations for the SC Musketeers.  The Muskies have a good one in Berger.

I will be posting some pictures from the game courtesy of Brandon Anderson very soon, so keep an eye out for those.  The Stars will be back on the ice tomorrow evening at 6:00pm CST when they take on the Green Bay Gamblers at IBP Ice Center.  The Gamblers will be a much tougher foe for the Stars than what they faced today.

I hope to hear from some of the Stars fans who were in attendance today!  Please leave a comment below, or send me an email at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com if you'd rather stay anonymous.  I've love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

B³ Lincoln Stars 2011 Fall Classic Preview

The 2011-12 Lincoln Stars will continue their exhibition schedule this week when they travel to Sioux City, Iowa to participate in the 2011 USHL Fall Classic tournament.  The Stars will play a total of three games over the course of four days, all against USHL Eastern Conference competition.  Lincoln will face off against the Chicago Steel on Wednesday, September 21st, the Green Bay Gamblers on Thursday, September 22nd, and the Youngstown Phantoms on Saturday September 24th.  The Stars will not play a game on Friday, September 23rd.  These three exhibition contests will be the final preseason games the Stars will play before they start the USHL regular season on Friday, September 30th at the IceBox in Lincoln against the Sioux Falls Stampede.

For those who are unaware, the USHL Fall Classic tournament is held at two different ice rinks in Sioux City:  the Tyson Events Center (TEC), and the IBP Ice Center.  All games, including those at the IBP Ice Center, will be broadcast on FASTHockey. Unlike in the past when B2/America One was used by the USHL, only games played at the TEC were broadcast.  I've never used FASTHockey before, but I think it's great that ALL games at the Fall Classic will be available to view.  I believe the cost of each game is roughly $7, and I also think you can purchase games ahead of time and watch them later with FASTHockey.  For example, you can purchase one of the games the Stars will play ahead of time, and if you can't watch it live, you can log into your FASTHockey account and watch it later (on-demand).  I believe that's how FASTHockey can work, but don't quote me on that.  FASTHockey is very new to me also.  Click here to learn how to use FASTHockey.  Click here to read the USHL's press release regarding FASTHockey, which was just posted yesterday.

If you don't want to spend the cash on FASTHockey, you can also follow the boxscores of each game online via Pointstreak.   I do not believe any of the Fall Classic games will be available on the radio.  Okay, enough of that.  Let's get to the individual matchups.  All times listed below are CST.

                                            4:00pm Wednesday, 9/21: Lincoln Stars vs. Chicago Steel
The Chicago Steel are coming off an abysmal season which saw them finish dead last in the USHL with a 9-43-8 record.  What could go wrong last season with the Steel inevitably went wrong.  Injuries caused a revolving door of players who came and went.  Things didn't get a lot better over the summer as most of their draft picks either went to college early, or decided they'd rather play elsewhere.  The Steel are 1-3 in four preseason game thus far, and they have surrendered 17 goals in those four games.  This game will be played at the Tyson Events Center.

                                            6:00pm Thursday, 9/22:  Lincoln Stars vs. Green Bay Gamblers
The Gamblers are coming off yet another strong season in 2010-11 when they finished with a 41-15-4 record, and a Clark Cup finals appearance where they lost to the Dubuque Fighting Saints.  The Gamblers return two of the better goaltenders in the league last season in Ryan McKay and Adam Wilcox.  In addition to the two goaltenders, the Gamblers will go into the 2011-12 season with 15 players on their roster with USHL experience.  This should be the toughest test the Stars have during the Fall Classic.  This game will be played at the IBP Ice Center.

                                            4:00pm Saturday, 9/24: Lincoln Stars vs. Youngstown Phantoms
The Phantoms are coming off a 23-30-7 season last year that saw them narrowly miss a spot in the Clark Cup Playoffs.  I know very little about this team, so I'm not sure what to expect.  The Phantoms are 1-1 in two preseason games so far in this exhibition season.  Like the Steel, I think the Phantoms will be a little better in 2011-12, but considering how stacked the USHL Eastern Conference is, I believe the Phantoms will still fall short of the playoffs.  This game will be played at the TEC.  

Like all preseason games, you really never know what to expect.  Most of these teams will not play some of their better players, and will instead roster some of the younger, borderline players whom the coaches want to watch live during a game environment.  As I've said before, these exhibition games are more for the coaches than they are for the fans.  The coaches of every USHL team have to cut down their respective rosters down to 23 players immediately after the Fall Classic.  So it's really important that they get as many players as possible into these games so they can better evaluate them.  The veterans like Tate, Shine, Teemu, Hanson, Dax, Carlson, and Coyne might not get the amount of playing time compared to some of the younger, less experienced players on the Stars' roster.

I really wish I could attend this event, but as I've mentioned before I'm on the IR due to a recent knee injury.  However, I do know that a lot of Lincoln Stars fans will be in Sioux City this week, and I will be leaning on them a bit in terms of their opinions of the games, and hopefully some pictures as well.  I'm planning on watching all three games via FASTHockey, so I'll be able to provide thoughts and opinions as well.  I'll be posting frequent recap articles this week after each game, so stay tuned for those.  Looking forward to it!  It's starting to feel more and more like hockey season!  Wishing safe travels to all hockey fans going to Sioux City this week.  Go Stars!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln vs. Omaha 9/18

Much thanks to blog readers Starstruck and Layla for allowing me to use some of their photos from the Stars-Lancers game on Sunday, September 18th.  I appreciate it!

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

L-R: Bob Kinne, Colten Saucerman, and Matt Fiese share a laugh

Sunday, September 18, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 9/18: Lincoln 2, Omaha 3 OT SO

The Lincoln Stars came up a little bit short Sunday evening at Tranquility IcePlex in Omaha with a 3-2 overtime shootout loss to the Omaha Lancers.  I did not attend this game, so this recap is going to be very, very short.  Click here for the Poinstreak boxscore.  Pointstreak did not update this game at all yesterday, and they posted the boxscore statistics much later.  I'm not sure how accurate the boxscore stats are anyway.  The information I have below was obtained by following the Omaha Lancers twitter page, which thankfully gave frequent updates throughout the game.


The Stars struck first when Brent Tate redirected a shot past Omaha goaltender John Keeney to give Lincoln an early 1-0 lead in the first period.  Tate's goal was the only one scored in the period, as Lincoln outshot the Lancers 13-8 in the first twenty minutes.  There was one fight in the first period which saw Lincoln's Brandon Carlson drop the mitts with Omaha's Casey Bailey.  From what I was told from a friend who was there, the tilt between Carlson and Bailey was pretty good with both players landing bombs.

In the second period, Omaha knotted the game at 1-1 when Kenny Gillespie scored for the Lancers on Lincoln goaltender Sean Healy.  I'm not 100% sure, but I believe goaltender Sean Healy played the entire game for the Stars.  Because goaltender Jackson Teichroeb is not in Lincoln yet, the Stars invited Healy to come to Lincoln and play some preseason games for the Stars.  Healy is a product of the Seattle Junior Hockey Association, and was referred to the Stars by former Lincoln assistant coach and player Nick Fouts.  I believe Healy is a '95.  After looking at some pictures taken by a few Lincoln fans at the game yesterday, I'm not certain who was in goal for Lincoln.  I know it wasn't Charles Williams, but I cannot tell if it was Sean Healy, Jackson Teichroeb, or someone different.  It appears that it was someone new, but I don't know who he is.  The Pointstreak boxscore is incorrect as having Charles Williams playing the whole game for Lincoln.  Williams did not play at all yesterday.

The Lancers weren't done scoring in the second as shortly after their first goal, Omaha's Ken Babinski scored to give the hometown team a 2-1 lead.  The Stars would answer later in the second period when Brent Tate potted his second goal of the game, tying it up at 2-2.  There is some confusion here as the Omaha Lancers twitter page said Brent Tate scored the second Lincoln goal, while the Pointstreak boxscore said Kevin Roy scored the second goal.  There were two fights in the second period.  Lincoln's Mike McKee fought Omaha's Eli Lichtentald, and then Lincoln's Logan Smith fought Omaha's Anthony Hamburg.

After a scoreless third period, the game went directly to a shootout.  For some reason (or maybe for no reason), they did not play a five-minute overtime period after regulation, even though other USHL preseason games this month have played an extra five minutes.  In the shootout, two players scored for Omaha, while Stars defenseman Brandon Carlson was the only player to score for Lincoln.  The other three shooters for Lincoln were Zach Aston-Reese, Mike McKee, and Bob Kinne.  Omaha outshot Lincoln overall in this game, 31-28.

I have been told that defensemen Richard Coyne, forwards Dominik Shine, Jared Hanson, and Austin Hervey were the healthy scratches today.

Not a bad effort at all, again considering that the Lancers have been practicing together for a good three weeks, while the Stars have only had a handful of practices.  Sounded like your typical Lincoln-Omaha battle.  Very physical, and back-and-forth scoring.  Next up for the Stars will be the USHL Fall Classic, which is being held in Sioux City, IA from September 21st-24th.  I will be posting a Fall Classic preview article here on the blog in the next couple of days.  Stay tuned for that.

I'd really love to hear from some of the fans out there who were able to attend the game today!  Please leave a comment, or send me an email at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Stars assistant coach Andy Schneider moves on

Lost in the recent excitement of the start of the Lincoln Stars' 2011-12 season was the news that assistant coach Andy Schneider has left the team.  A few blog readers and myself noticed a few weeks ago that Andy's bio was missing from the Lincoln Stars website.  According to a recent Lincoln Journal Star article (which I'm not going to link because they do a inferior job at covering the Stars and don't deserve the recognition), Andy decided to move back to Grand Forks, ND to work for his family's business.

Per the article, the Stars will not hire a replacement.  What I find odd is that the Stars removed his bio from the website, yet have not put out any kind of official release about it.  From what I was told, the decision Andy made happened months ago.  Schneider will still help the Lincoln Stars by scouting hockey players in his area.

In my opinion, this is a big loss to the team and it was my feeling that Andy deserved to be recognized.  Schneider had a ton of great experience from his playing time here in Lincoln, at the University of North Dakota, and in the pros as a defenseman.  That experience I'm sure was valuable in his teachings to the Lincoln players last season, specifically the defenseman.  I thought it was great that we had an assistant coach last season who could concentrate on defense.

Good luck to Andy with all of his future endeavors.  He will be missed.

B³ Pregame Report - Lincoln Stars vs. Omaha Lancers 9/18

The Lincoln Stars will play their second preseason game in four days on Sunday afternoon when they faceoff against the Omaha Lancers at the Tranquility Moylan IcePlex in Omaha, NE.  The puck will drop at 4:05pm.  Both teams have played one preseason game so far in September, each against the same team.  On 9/16/11, the Lancers lost to the Tri-City Storm in Kearney by a score of 2-1.  On  9/15/11 against the Storm, the Stars were shutout by a score of 2-0.  Exactly one year ago on this very same date, the Stars and Lancers played an exhibition game at the very same rink, and it was the Stars who won that one, 4-3 in OT.  

Unlike this past Thursday, there will not be a video, or audio broadcast of this game at Tranquility IcePlex.   As far as I know, the only way to follow this game if you can't be there is to follow along with the Pointstreak boxscore.  If I'm incorrect with there not being a video or audio broadcast, please let me know. 

Just like last year, the Lancers are not selling tickets to this game ahead of time.  If you want to watch this one in person, you'll have to purchase tickets at the Tranquility IcePlex before the game.  Be aware that the Lancers are only selling 1,000 tickets, and those tickets go on sale at 2:00pm.  Last year, there was some concern that the game might sellout, but that never happened.  However, last year's game was scheduled on a Nebraska football Saturday (brilliant, eh?), so a lot of people were at home watching the football game on TV.  This year the exhibition game is on Sunday, so there might be more people interested in attending.  All tickets cost $7.  Again, seating is limited to 1,000 fans, so I would recommend being there a good hour or two early just to make sure you get your tickets.  Also, remember to dress warm.  Tranquility is very, very cold inside.

The Stars are coming off a 2-0 road loss to the Tri-City Storm this past Thursday night.  I watched the game online, and considering the amount of practices the Stars have had this week, I didn't think they looked that bad at all.  They certainly improved as the game went along, and they dominated play in the third period against the Storm.  It's going to take a little while for this team to gel, which is understandable.  Most USHL teams have been practicing together for weeks now, so the Stars (just like every season) are behind the curve.  
I know a lot of Stars fans are planning on attending this game in Omaha on Sunday, so I hope to get game reports from some of them.  I recently blew out my left knee, so I will be off of my feet for awhile.  Because of that, I will not be attending this game, nor any of the Fall Classic games.  More than ever, I will be leaning on some of the blog readers to help out and provide us with their thoughts and opinions from these upcoming exhibition games.

Thanks for reading!  Go Stars.