Sunday, January 29, 2012

Congrats to Matt Friese!

According to the Lincoln Stars official Twitter account, forward Matt Friese has accepted a scholarship to play hockey at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, starting the fall of 2012.  Friese is a native of Wasilla, AK, so he'll be playing close to home next season.  Click here to read the tweet.

Through 36 games for the Stars this season, Friese has scored 20 points (7g, 13a), and is +11.  Matt got off to a bit of a slow start for the Stars this season, but has since turned it on and is racking up the points.  Lately he's been playing on the same like with fellow Alaskan Jared Hanson, and those two have been clicking extremely well together.  In my opinion, Friese the fastest skater on the team and uses his speed to his advantage.

Back in 2010, Friese originally committed to the University of Alaska-Anchorage but then later de-committed.  Matt was originally drafted by the USHL Tri-City Storm, but was later traded to the Chicago Steel.  After 10 games with the Steel last season, Friese went back to Alaska to play for the Alaska Avalanche of the NAHL.  After a solid season with the Avalanche in 2010-11, the Lincoln Stars selected Friese in the fifth round of the 2011 USHL Entry Draft.

Congrats once again to Matt!  Very well deserved.

Snapshots of the Game: Des Moines vs. Lincoln 1/27

Thanks to Jeff White and Brandon Anderson for letting me post some of their photos from the Des Moines game on Friday night.  Check out Jeff's "Depicted Image" Facebook page and Brandon's "BA Photos" Facebook page.

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

Jonathan Grebosky scores on a breakaway in the second period to give Lincoln a 1-0 lead 

Friday, January 27, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 1/27: Des Moines 2, Lincoln 5

With six players out of the lineup due to suspension or injury, a shorthanded Lincoln Stars team played a complete game tonight at the IceBox to beat the Des Moines Buccaneers by a score of 5-2.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 21-13-2 (44 points) and are now tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with the Omaha Lancers who lost at home tonight to the Tri-City Storm by a score of 3-2.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

In the first period, both teams came out strong and put a number of good shots on goal but both goaltenders were up to the task.  Des Moines would outshoot Lincoln 14-12 in the first twenty minutes, but the Bucs' Jason Kasdorf, and the Stars' Charles Williams stopped every shot they saw.

In the second period, the Stars would get on the scoreboard first when Jonathan Grebosky got behind the play and after getting a pass from Teemu Tiitinen, broke in alone on a Kasdorf and roofed a backhand shot into the net to give Lincoln a 1-0 lead.  Grebosky's goal, which came just 57 seconds into the second period, was his second of the season.

A little over two minutes after Grebosky's goal, Jared Hanson scored on a deflection to give the Stars a 2-0 lead.  A point shot by Ralfs Freibergs was tipped in by Hanson who was positioned in front of Kasdorf.  Luke Johnson and Feibergs collected the assists on Hanson's 17th goal of the season.

Jared Hanson would strike once again at the 9:55 mark of the second when he fired the puck past Kasdorf, high and on the stick side, to give Lincoln a 3-0 lead.  Matt Friese and Luke Johnson picked up the assists on Hanson's 18th goal.  Hanson has already doubled his goal output from last season with 18 goals through 31 games played.  Last season, Hanson scored 9 goals in 53 games played.

With 4:22 left in the second period, the Bucs finally got on the board when Chad McDonald collected his own rebound off a blocked shot and wristed the puck past Charles Williams to pull Des Moines to within one goal at 3-1.  At this point in the game, I thought the Bucs were buzzing and playing much better, but a late Stars goal in the second period pretty much sealed the victory.

With only 40 seconds remaining in the third period, Stars forward Kevin Roy wristed the puck past Kasdorf to give Lincoln a 4-1 lead going into the second intermission.  From my seat, it appeared the shot by Roy may have been deflected by a Des Moined player before it found the back of the net.  Logan Smith earned the lone assist on Roy's league-leading 29th goal of the season.

In the third period, both teams would trade goals with Lincoln scoring early in the period and the Bucs scoring late.  At the 3:11 mark, Luke Johnson collected a rebound to the left of Kasdof and buried the puck into an open net to increase the Lincoln lead to 5-1.  Dominik Shine and Kevin Roy assisted on Johnson's tenth goal of the season.  Very late in the period, with the Bucs on a powerplay, Duggie Lagrone of Des Moines shot the puck past a screened Charles Williams to score the last goal of the game.    Lagrone's goal came with only 8 seconds remaining in the game.

Stars outshot the Bucs overall, 37-35.  Lincoln goaltender Charles Williams was solid in net as he stopped 33 of 35 shots on net to record his ninth win of the season.  Des Moines netminder Jason Kasdorf stopped 32 of 37 shots in the loss.

There were some fireworks late in this game when Dax Lauwers had two HUGE hits on the Bucs' Jason Kirtland.  Earlier in the third period, Kirtland was whistled for a charging penalty that some of the Stars players took exception too.  Shortly after Kirtland was released from the penalty box, Dax Lauwers dropped the mitts with Kirtland but for some reason the linesmen waiting until the players started to throw the first punches before they intervened and stopped the fight.  The early stop to the fight had all of the fans in attendance scratching their heads.

So late in the third period, Dax caught Kirtland with a huge check near the Stars' bench which sent Kirtland head over skates into the bench.  The crowd went nuts.  Shortly after that, Lauwers caught Kirtland again withh an open ice check that sent Kirtland immediately to the ice.  Lauwers was whistled for interference on the second hit, and as he was going to the penalty box, two Des Moines players (Connor Schmidt and Trent Samuels-Thomas) came off the Bucs bench to try to get at Lauwers.  Schmidt and Samuels-Thomas were held back by the linesmen and were immediately sent to the locker room after receiving misconduct penalties.

Here's some video of two Lauwers hits, and the aftermath.  The video quality from the IceBox isn't the greatest (worst in the league, in my opinion), and the camera person doesn't pick up the first Lauwers hit in which he sent Kirtland into the Stars bench.

Lincoln was only awarded one powerplay on the night and were not able to score on it.  Des Moines went 1-for-6 on the powerplay.  Referee Steve Thomson had a brutal game, in my opinion.  During the pregame lineups, Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye said Thomson was "one of the best referees in the USHL."  Uhh, I don't think so (unless Melbye was being sarcastic).  Thomson missed a number of calls on both teams.  Stars were awarded one powerplay in this game.  One.  You can't tell me that the Bucs were angels all night long.  Brutal performance by Thomson and I hope he never shows his face at the IceBox again this season.

As I mentioned above, the Stars were missing the following six players due to injury or suspension:  Jackson Teichroeb (suspension), Paul LaDue (suspension), Zach Frye (suspension), Brent Tate (suspension), Will Suter (suspension), and Markus McCrea (injury).

Gutsy effort by all of the Stars on the ice.  With the shorthanded bench, I was worried that by the third period some or all of the players might get gassed and tire out.  However, I didn't see that at all.  There was energy all throughout the game from the Lincoln bench.

The Stars will have the rest of this weekend off and won't play again until next Friday when they host the very same Des Moines Buccaneers at the IceBox.  Considering what happened late in the game, you have to figure the matchup next Friday will have a lot of "fireworks."  Get your tickets now.

Go Stars.

B³ Pregame Report: Des Moines Buccaneers vs. Lincoln Stars 1/27

The Lincoln Stars will only play one game this weekend, and it will be a Friday night home tilt at the IceBox against the Des Moines Buccaneeers.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST tonight.

If you can't make it to the game tonight, you can follow the boxscore online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on KLMS 1480 AM, or watch the game on FASTHockey for a fee.

Lincoln enters this weekend with a record of 20-13-2 (42 points), and are in second place in the USHL Western Conference.  Only three points separates Lincoln from the third place Fargo Force (39 points), and four points from the fourth place Waterloo Blackhawks (38 points).  Click here to see the current USHL standings

The Bucs currently have a record of 13-15-3 (29 points), and are fifth place in the USHL Western Conference  In their last 8 games leading up to the matchup tonight, the Bucs sport a record of 2-5-1 and have been outscored 35-26 in those eight contests.

These two teams have only faced each other one other time this season, and that was one of the craziest games I've ever seen.  In Des Moines on Friday, December 30th, the Stars beat the Bucs in an overtime shootout by a score of 7-6.  If you want to watch video highlights from that game, click here.  Lincoln started that game on fire, and marched out to a commanding 6-1 lead early in the second period.  After that, the roof caved in for the Stars as Des Moines roared back with five unanswered goals to knot it up at 6-6 and send it to OT.  Luckily for the Stars, they were able to best the Bucs in the shootout.

The Stars will be looking to snap out of their current two-game losing streak tonight with a strong effort against the Bucs, but it won't be easy because of a number of Lincoln players out of the lineup due to league suspension. According to the Pointstreak transaction page, the following five players have been suspended for one game due to their involvement in the Stars-Lancers line brawl last weekend in Omaha:  Jackson Teichroeb (G), Paul LaDue (D), Zach Frye (D), Brent Tate (F), and Will Suter (F).  If you were curious, the league suspended four players from the Lancers for one game, according to this article.  Lancers forward Mark Miller, who started the brawl with a sucker-punch on Will Suter, was not suspended.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

This might sound a little weird considering it's a late January game against a fifth place team, but I believe this is a must-win situation for the Stars.  Lincoln only plays one game this weekend, so there is only one opportunity to earn two points.  With Fargo and Waterloo both playing three games this week, those two teams have plenty of opportunities to earn some points and potentially jump the Stars in the standings.  It's a little early to talk playoffs, but the top two teams in both the Eastern and Western conferences earn a first round playoff bye.  So finishing in the top two at the end of the season is a big deal.

Like I stated above, it's not going to be easy with so many players out of the lineup tonight.  Charles Williams will get the start, and I assume the Stars will bring in a backup goaltender from one of the local junior teams to sit on the bench.  With two defensemen out due to suspension, and Colton Saucerman done for the season due to injury, the Stars will only dress four d-men tonight.  Forward Logan Smith has been used as a defenseman in the past, so I expect to see that happen against the Bucs.

With only the one game to earn two points, and with so many players out of the lineup, the Stars will definitely need support from the home crowd tonight.  Be loud!

Go Stars.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Congrats to Dominik Shine!

According to the Lincoln Stars official Twitter page, forward Dominik Shine has committed to play collegiate hockey at Northern Michigan University, which is located in Marquette, MI.

Click here to read the tweet.

It is unknown to me if Shine will enroll at Northern Michigan in the fall of 2012, or 2013.  Shine will fit in nicely as a member of the NMU Wildcats hockey team, as four former Stars are currently on the roster:  Jared Coreau (G), Kyle Follmer (F), Austin Handley (D), and Kory Kaunisto (F).

Congrats to Dominik!  Very well deserved.  Dom is a heart and soul type of player, and I know the fans at Northern Michigan will appreciate his efforts on the ice.  He's the type of player you hate to play against, but love to have on your team.  Congrats once again to Dominik!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is tonight

Just a reminder, the USHL will be holding its 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects game tonight in Muskegon, Michigan.

The puck will drop at 6:15pm CST.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The game will be broadcast for free by

 Click here to read more about how you can watch the broadcast tonight.  Here's an excerpt from the article:

Viewers can watch the webcast live via multiple formats – the USHL’s Facebook page, through a previously established FASTHockey account, or Roku users can watch the game on the platform’s USHL channel.

To view the USHL free game broadcast, fans must first register and create a free account on FASTHockey  Facebook users should “Like” the USHL Facebook page and log in to their FASTHockey account using the  “USHL on FASTHockey App” to watch the game.

Players from the Lincoln Stars who will participate tonight are forwards Zach Aston-Reese, Luke Johnson, Kevin Roy, and defenseman Mike McKee.  Stars head coach Chad Johnson will be head coach of Team West.

Click here to see the full rosters of Team East and Team West.

Tune in at 6:15pm CST tonight!  Good luck to Zach, Luke, Kevin, Mike, and Chad.  Go Stars, and go Team West!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 1/21: Lincoln 2, Omaha 3

The Lincoln Stars dropped their fourth straight to the Omaha Lancers last night, losing 3-2 in a wild game at the Civic Auditorium.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars dropped to 20-13-2 (42 points) and are now in second place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Lancers improved to 21-11-2 (44 points) and are in sole possession of first place.  The Fargo Force, winners of nine in a row after last night's 5-2 victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede, have 39 points and are only three points behind the second place Stars.  Also, only four points separates Lincoln from the fourth place Waterloo Blackhawks.  Click here to view the USHL Standings.

I did not go up to Omaha to watch this game, nor was I able to catch it on the radio or on FASTHockey, so this recap will be very short.  I really hope to get some comments from blog readers who were at the game.  Please leave a comment below and tell me what you thought.

After a scoreless first period, the Stars got on the scoreboard first when Kevin Roy scored a powerplay goal at the 1:03 mark of the second period to give Lincoln a 1-0 lead.  Ralfs Freibergs and Paul LaDue collected the assists on Roy's league-leading 28th goal of the season.  Unfortunately for Lincoln, that would be the only time the Stars would have a lead in this game.

The Lancers answered back with two goals of their own in the second period, both coming on the powerplay, to give Omaha a 2-1 lead.  After that, all hell broke out on the ice.  I wasn't there, so I don't know what set this off, but there was a line brawl and a goalie fight which took place at the 10:54 mark of the second period.  Here's the Poinstreak boxscore of all the penalties called during the line brawl:

Lincoln - Paul LaDue - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Paul LaDue - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Will Suter - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Will Suter - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Brent Tate - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Brent Tate - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Zach Frye - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Zach Frye - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Jackson Teichroeb - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Jackson Teichroeb - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Brent Tate - (Roughing), 2 min, 10:54
Lincoln - Brent Tate - (Fighting (Instigator)), 2 min, 10:54
Omaha Mark Miller - (Holding), 2 min, 10:54
Omaha Victor Newell - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Omaha Anthony Hamburg - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Omaha Anthony Hamburg - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54
Omaha Kevin Schulze - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Omaha Kevin Schulze - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54
Omaha Max Vallis - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Omaha Max Vallis - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54
Omaha Alex Lyon - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 10:54
Omaha Alex Lyon - (Fighting (Stoppage) Game Misconduct), 10 min, 10:54

Also, here's a video taken from the game of the line brawl and the goalie fight between Lincoln's Jackson Teichroeb and Omaha's Alex Lyon.  There's a lot of screaming going on in the background so you may want to hit mute.

Regarding the video just posted above, go to the :10 mark and watch Omaha's Mark Miller cheap shot Will Suter with a gloved left hand punch to the face (not called), which started the whole mess.

After the line brawl and the multiple ejections, it seemed to calm down a bit according to the boxscore.  Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb would be replaced by Charles Williams, and Omaha goaltender Alex Lyon was replaced by backup Thatcher Demko.  The Lancers would score another goal late in the second period to take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.

In the third, the Stars outshot the Lancers 20-4 in the period, but could only score one goal when the Stars pulled Charles Williams for the extra attacker at the 18:26 mark.  Jared Hanson scored his 16th goal of the season with an assist to Teemu Tiitinen at the 18:26 mark, but it wasn't enough.  Lancers hung on for the 3-2 victory despite getting outshot 37-17.  So for the second straight game, the Stars outshoot their opponent by 20 shots, and lose the game.  On Friday night, the Stars outshot Fargo 38-18, but lost 5-1.  But like I have said previously, quality over quantity.  I'll take 5 quality shots over 20 bad, off-angle shots any game.

There was quite the disparity in powerplays awarded, as the Lancers finished with two PP goals in eight opportunities, while the Stars only had three PP chances and scored on one of them.  The two teams combined for a whopping 194 penalty minutes in the game.

I got a few texts last night from some friends who were at the game that the Stars had a number of undisciplined penalties in the second period which lead to the two Omaha powerplay goals.  I believe the Stars have surrendered at least one powerplay goal in 14 of their last 18 games.

Here's an interesting (and at the same time confusing) quote from Stars head coach Chad Johnson after the game, taken from this article on the Lincoln Journal Star website:

"I couldn't say we were undisciplined," Johnson said. "I thought there were calls that weren't called, on the flip side, and there were calls on us that (the referee) said he made a mistake. We started to get undisciplined, and we just addressed it and it's something that's going to come to a halt. We've got to play on the edge, and at times we were over the edge tonight."

Huh?  At the beginning he states the Stars weren't playing undisciplined, but then two sentences later he says they were playing undisciplined.  

Anyway, that's about it for this article.  Again, please leave a comment if you were at the game.  Stars are now 1-4-0 against Omaha this season.  Unlike some of our fans, I could give a crap if the Stars win a bunch of fights.  I want the two points, and the win.  Lincoln will get another crack at the Lancers in Omaha on Friday, February 10th.  In the meantime, the Stars have only one game to prepare for this next weekend, a Friday night tilt against the Des Moines Bucs at the IceBox.

Go Stars.

Friday, January 20, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 1/20: Fargo 5, Lincoln 1

The Fargo Force invaded the IceBox in Lincoln tonight and won their 8th game in a row with an impressive 5-1 victory over the Stars.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss the Stars dropped to 20-12-2 (42 points), and are still tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with the Omaha Lancers.  Those same Lancers lost 3-2 at home tonight to the Sioux City Musketeers.  That means the winner of the Stars-Lancers game tomorrow evening will be in sole possession of first place in the west.

It didn't take long for the Force to take the wind out of the Lincoln sails with a goal scored just a little over four minutes into the first period.  Force forward Bryn Chyzk, who has scored a scored a goal in five straight games, netted his 19th goal of the season at the 4:15 mark of the period.  It didn't get any better for the Stars as the Force scored five minutes later at the 9:28 mark of the first to increase their lead to 2-0.  Austin Farley scored the second Fargo goal, which came on the powerplay.  Stars outshot the Force 7-6 through the first twenty minutes.

In the second period, the Force capitalized with three breakaway goals to put the game out of reach for the Stars.  Just 31 seconds into the game, Force defenseman Brian Cooper took advantage of a Stars turnover and skated in alone to score on Lincoln goaltender Charles Williams.  The goal by Cooper came while the Stars were on the powerplay, so it counted as a shortie.

At the 6:11 mark of the second, Lincoln defenseman fired a shot past Fargo goaltender Zane Gothberg to bring the Stars to within two goals at 3-1.  Unfortunately for the home team, that would be the only shot to get by Gothberg on the night.  Fargo would close out the second period with two more breakaway goals to take a 5-1 lead into the second intermission.  Stars outshot the Force 16-8 in the second period.

Give credit to Lincoln for not giving up and battling until the very end, but they just could not solve Gothberg in the third despite outshooting the Force 15-4 in the period.  Stars goaltender Charles Williams was pulled at the second intermission and Jackson Teichroeb played the entire third period, stopping all four shots he saw.  In the third, the Force seemed to go into a prevent defense, and consequently, Jackson Teichroeb really wasn't tested much at all in the third period.

Stars outshoot the Force 38-18 overall, but fall by a score of 5-1.  Charles Williams stopped 9 of 14 shots int he loss.  Jackson Teichroeb stopped four shots in twenty minutes of action in the third period.  Fargo netminder Zane Gothberg stopped 37 of 38 shots on net to record his 8th straight win.  Lincoln finished 0-for-3 on the powerplay, while the Force went 1-for-2 with the man advantage.

I felt sorry for Charles Williams tonight because his team really hung him out to dry with those three breakaway chances in the second period.  I'm sure he'd like the first two Fargo goals back, but the Stars simply fell apart in the second period and allowed the Force way too many breakaway opportunities.

In the battle of Austin Farley vs. Kevin Roy, the top two point scorers in the USHL, it was all Farley this time.  Roy finished with zero points and was -2.  Farley finished with 3 points (2g, 1a), and was +2.  Farley's first goal of the game proved to be the game winner.

Those who were not in attendance tonight might take a look at the boxscore, see the disparity in shots on goal, and be surprised that the Force won this game.  I wasn't, and from the listening to Chad Johnson after the game on the radio, he wasn't either.  Although the Stars put 38 shots on Gothberg, he really didn't have to work hard to save the majority of those shots.  It seemed like Gothberg had a target painted on his chest/belly, and just about every Stars shot hit him in that location.  Every shot was simply gobbled up by the Fargo goaltender.  Very few rebounds were surrendered by Gothberg.  Lincoln did not do a good job crashing the net and making it difficult for Gothberg to make those saves.  The majority of the 38 Lincoln shots came from bad angles, allowing Gothberg to make the easy stop.

I guess the good news tonight is that the Omaha Lancers lost, so the game tomorrow night should be very intense.  Omaha is going to be fired up after losing at home to the Muskies, and I hope the Stars will be angry as well after a disappointing loss at home in front of a sellout crowd.  It should be a great atmosphere at the Civic Arena in downtown Omaha tomorrow night.  I won't be in attendance, so I hope to get some first-hand game reports from some blog readers who attend the game.  For those going to the game, travel safe.

Go Stars.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Fargo and Omaha

The Lincoln Stars will have their hands full this weekend when they face off against two of the hottest teams in the USHL right now.  On Friday night at the IceBox, the Stars will host the Fargo Force.  On Saturday evening at the Civic Center in Omaha, the Stars will take on the Lancers.  Puck drops at 7:05pm on both nights.

If you can't make to the games this weekend in Lincoln, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on KLMS 1480 AM, or watch the games on FASTHockey for a fee.

Lincoln enters this weekend with a record of 20-11-2 (42 points), and are tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with the Omaha Lancers.  Click here to see the current USHL standings.

As I stated above, the Fargo Force (16-13-3, 35 points, fourth place in the USHL Western Conference) are one of the hottest teams in the league right now.  The Force have won seven games in a row and have propelled themselves into playoff contention in the west.  The last time the Force lost a game was way back on 12/28/11.  That loss came at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND at the hands of the Lincoln Stars by a score of 5-3.

This will be the sixth time the Stars and Force will meet.  The Stars hold a 3-2-0 record against Fargo in their five previous head-to-head games.  After their Friday night matchup, these two teams will not face each other again until the very last weekend of the regular season in mid-April.

Leading the way for the Force is forward Austin Farley, who is currently riding a seven-game point scoring streak.  In fact, Farley has scored 14 points (4g, 10a) in those seven games and is second overall in points scored in the USHL with a total of 44 points (21g, 23a).  Only Kevin Roy (52 points) has scored more points this season than Farley.  The last time Farley was held without a point was that 5-3 loss to the Stars back on 12/28/11.  Farley was -4 in that game as well.

On Saturday night, the Stars will look to get the monkey off their back and earn their first win in four attempts against the Omaha Lancers (20-10-2, 42 points, tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference).  Omaha has won five games in a row and sport an impressive record of 11-2-0 in their last 13 games.  The Lancers have won three in a row against the Stars this season and have outscored Lincoln 18-7 in those three games.

This will be the fifth time these two teams will play each other this season.  Lincoln is 1-3-0 in those four previous games against the Lancers.

It's been strange to watch the Stars struggle against the Omaha Lancers in these past three games.  Since the Omaha management fired former head coach Bliss Littler in late November, the Lancers have been playing unbelievable hockey.  If not for Littler's firing, the Stars would probably be all alone at the top of the western conference standings.  Unlike last season when the Lancers couldn't beat the Stars to save their lives, this season Omaha can't do wrong against Lincoln.

Sorry for the short weekend preview but I just ran out of time tonight to get this up.  I wish I had more free time to devote to the blog.  Too many story ideas, so little time.  I hope to see another big crowd this Friday at the IceBox, and I hope there are a lot of Stars fans planning on making the trip up to Omaha on Saturday night.  It certainly won't be easy against two red-hot teams in Fargo and Omaha.  It should be a great test for the Stars in their quest to stay near the top of the standings and distance themselves from the Waterloo Blackhawks and the Fargo Force.  Getting four points would be a huge moral boost, also.

Go Stars.

Fighting in the USHL article; USHL commish takes a jab at the Stars

Skip Prince
I ran across an article this morning from my buddy Ryan S. Clark, reporter for "The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead."  Ryan is also author of the "Slightly Chilled" USHL blog.  Even though his primary coverage is the hometown Fargo Force, Ryan does a great job of covering the entire USHL and is a great resource for hockey nerds like myself..

Anyway, Ryan posted this article today in which he tackles the debate on fighting, and if it should be allowed at the USHL level.  The intent of my blog article is not to argue either side.  What I found interesting were a couple of quotes made by USHL commissioner Skip Prince.

First off, there is this gem from Skip (direct quote from the article linked above in blue):

So far, it appears the USHL is doing its best to accomplish the goal. Fighting is down in the USHL this season.

The Lincoln Stars, who led the league with 70 fights last season, have 24 fights this year and are on pace for 48 fights.

“Well, how did they do last year?” Prince asked of the Stars, who were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. “I don’t think fighting wins you hockey games.”

Really?  This is the commissioner of the USHL stating this?  I thought the Stars lost to the Fargo Force in the playoffs last season because Fargo was simply the better team.  Also add in the fact that both games were in Fargo's barn.  But no, I guess the real reason the season ended for Lincoln the way it did was because they led the league in fighting majors.

In those two playoff games in Fargo in which the Stars lost, both teams combined for one fight.  One.  Zach Aston-Reese vs. Keaton Thompson.  To be honest, that may have been Zach's first fight of the season.  

Also, what about the Green Bay Gamblers teams of 2008-10?  John Cooper, the head coach of the Gamblers at the time, was notorious for coaching a very physical, in your face style of hockey.  They didn't shy away from dropping the mitts at all.  In his two seasons in the USHL at the helm of the Gamblers, Cooper's teams combined for a record of 84-27-9.  His 2009-10 team racked up 1394 penalty minutes (3rd most in the league), and his 2008-09 team racked up 1363 penalty minutes (3rd most in the league).  His teams won back-to-back Anderson Cups (regular season champion), and in 2009-10, they also won the Clark Cup (playoff champion).  Not too shabby, eh?

How many penalty minutes did the Stars have last season?  1323.  Less than both seasons in Green Bay under Jon Cooper.  Where is Cooper today?  He's the head coach of the AHL Norfolk Admirals, and is rumored to be the next head coach of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning.  Playing that rough and tumble style obviously didn't work out for Cooper (sarcasm).   Oh, but the USHL is quick to praise him with articles chronicling his meteoric rise up the coaching ranks.

Here's a quote from Skip Prince made back in April of 2010 in which he lauds Cooper after he was named USHL Head Coach and General Manager of the Year:

“The USHL gives out separate awards for the League’s top General Manager, and its top Head Coach for good reason – the demands of each position are separate, unique, and extraordinarily challenging,” said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince.  “It’s a tribute to Jon’s extraordinary talents that he has managed to excel in both, managing the overall hockey operations of a superb Green Bay Gamblers organization while coaching a team that has now won two consecutive Anderson Cups and is preparing for the Clark Cup Finals.  These are well-deserved awards for an impressive performance in all facets this year.”

Ask anyone who has any knowledge of Cooper's style and they'll tell you his teams were plain nasty to play against.  They'd beat you up on the ice and on the scoreboard.  That quote was from less than two years ago.  Where was Prince when Cooper's teams were steamrolling opponents back then?

I don't want to ramble on, but Prince's statement is flat out ignorant and stupid in my opinion.  If you want to argue that fighting doesn't belong at this level....fine.  Make your point and move on.  To throw the Stars under the bus and state that they lose games because they play a certain style of hockey is dumb.  How is it working for the Stars this season?  In first place for most of the season?  Bueller?  Yeah, I thought so.

Finally, here's another nugget of wisdom from the commissioner of the USHL:

For now, there are rules in place to cut down on fighting.

Players are no longer allowed to remove their helmets to start a fight, unlike last season. Prince said if a helmet was to fall off, referees will break up the fight immediately.

Uhh....what?  When was the last time Skip watched a USHL game?  Players remove their helmets all the time before a fight.  And from what I've seen, they are not penalized for removing their helmets.  The only additional penalties handed out other than the five-minute major have been misconducts when the players dance around and take too much time before throwing punches.

Also, his statement about referees breaking up fights immediately if a helmet falls off?  Laughable.  Not to argue semantics, but linesmen break up fights, not referees.  Anyway, if this is what the rules are supposed to be, Prince may want to watch the occasional USHL game and see what really happens.  An example from just last weekend:

Just about every fight I've seen so far this season, both players took their helmets off in front of the linesmen and referee before throwing punches.  You don't see any linesmen interrupting the fight when the helmets come off.

Yes, the Stars play a rugged style of hockey.  Some of the players aren't afraid to drop the gloves to defend a teammate, or fire their team up.  However, there are no "enforcers" in the Lincoln lineup.  You can easily look at any other USHL roster and find a player with zero points and a ton of penalty minutes.  Players like Mike McKee, Brent Tate, Markus McCrea, and Dax Lauwers all contribute with points and quality minutes on the ice.  I can point out other USHL players who are fourth-liners, who get maybe 5 shifts a game, and rack up fighting majors like it's going out of style.

Sorry for the rant, but the statements from Skip Prince really rubbed me the wrong way.  I'd love to hear what you think.  Please leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 1/17: Tri-City 0, Lincoln 7

Choo choo!

Any thoughts that Lincoln might overlook the Tri-City Storm tonight were soon dismissed as the Stars scored two early goals in the first period and cruised to a 7-0 shutout victory at the IceBox .

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 20-11-2 (42 points) and are once again tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with the Omaha Lancers.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

Stars goaltender Charles Williams played his best game of the season as he stopped all 32 shots he faced to record his second shutout of the season.  Williams' record improved to 8-1-1 on the season.

Scoring goals for the Stars tonight was Matt Friese (two goals), Will Suter, Brent Tate, Luke Johnson (PP), Ralfs Freibergs, and Bob Kinne.  Top point scorers for the Stars tonight were Will Suter (2g, 1a) and Mike McKee (3a).  Suter's first period goal at the 1:57 mark proved to be the game-winning goal.

Great atmosphere tonight at the IceBox considering it was a Tuesday night game.  I don't know too many USHL teams other than Lincoln that can draw 3,210 for a mid-week game.  For those of you who had tickets and didn't come to the game, you missed a good one!

I'll try to update this article a bit more sometime tomorrow when I have more time.  Enjoy the win tonight, folks!

Go Stars.

Congrats to Ralfs Freibergs!

Per the Lincoln Stars Twitter account, defenseman Ralfs Freibergs has committed to play hockey at Bowling Green State University next season.  Click here to read more.

Through 32 games with the Stars this season, the native of Liga, Latvia has scored 18 points (6g, 12a) and is +6.  8 of his 18 points have come on the powerplay where Freibergs is an integral part of the PP unit.  Ralfs is the very definition of a "powerplay quarterback," as he in charge of distributing the puck to the players on the ice whom he feels has the best opportunity to score.  Freibergs is a big reason why the Stars have the third best PP percentage in the USHL.

Freibergs was also named "USHL Defensive Player of the Week" in late November of 2011 when he scored three goals over the course of three games.

Ralfs will join his current teammate Brent Tate at Bowling Green State University this fall.  Tate committed to BGSU in July of 2011.

Congrats to Ralfs!  Very well deserved.  I know all of us in Lincoln will be following the progress of both Ralfs and Brent next season at Bowling Green.

Chad Johnson to coach the 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

According to the article linked here, Lincoln Stars head coach Chad Johnson was one of two USHL head coaches selected to participate in the 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game which will be held on Tuesday, January 24th in Muskegon, MI.

Here's an excerpt from the article I linked above:

Chicago, IL - The United States Hockey League today announced the coaches who will lead the 40 USHL players during the 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game presented by CCM. The game is scheduled for Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Michigan.

Legendary coaches Ron Mason and Dave Siciliano will serve as honorary coaches during the event while Derek Lalonde of the Green Bay Gamblers and Chad Johnson of the Lincoln Stars, whose teams were leading their respective conferences on January 1st, have been selected to lead the two teams.

Members of the Lincoln Stars who were selected to play in the top prospects game are forwards Zach Aston-Reese, Luke Johnson, Kevin Roy, and defenseman Mike McKee.

According to this link, is planning on broadcasting the USHL/NHL top prospects game for free.  

Congrats to Chad!  Always nice to see our players and coaches recognized for their hard work.

Monday, January 16, 2012

B³ Pregame Report: Tri-City Storm vs. Lincoln Stars 1/17

The Lincoln Stars will host the Tri-City Storm this Tuesday evening in a rare mid-week game at the IceBox.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST.

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 are all alone in second place in the USHL Western Conference with a record of 19-11-2 (40 points), two points behind the first place Omaha Lancers.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Tri-City Storm enter this game with a record of 11-21-0 (22 points) and are in last place in the USHL Western Conference.  Tri-City's 21 losses are tied for most overall with the Chicago Steel.  The Storm are riding a four-game losing streak and were outscored 24-7 in those four games.  Tri-City has a road record of 4-12-0, although one of those four road victories came this season at the IceBox against the Stars.

This will be the fourth time these two teams will play each other this season, with the Stars holding a 2-0-1 record over the Storm in the three previous games.  Like I mentioned above, the only win the Storm have over the Stars this season came on 11/23/11 at the IceBox when Tri-City beat Lincoln by a score of 3-2 in an overtime shootout.  In that particular game, newly acquired Storm goaltender Adam Wilcox stood on his head and single-handedly beat the Stars as he stopped 40 of 42 shots on the night.

The Storm have been languishing in the cellar of the western conference for most of the season, but this can be a dangerous team when they want to be.  From the few times I've seen them play, it's hard for me to say with any certainty that they are a last place club.  In my opinion, their main deficiency comes on the blueline.  Unlike some of the teams in their conference, the Storm just don't have the "horses" on defense.  Tri-City defensemen have scored a total of only three goals this season, while Lincoln defensemen have combined for 16 goals.

The Storm have a few guys up front that are very skilled and can put the puck in the net, like Nick Lappin and Kenny Brooks.  After that, it's hard to find a player on their roster who can strike fear into the heart of an opponent.  Lappin and Brooks have combined for 27 goals this season, which accounts for 32% of the 85 goals the Storm have scored through 31 games.

The Storm goaltending duo of Pheonix Copley and the aforementioned Adam Wilcox may not have a whole bunch of wins between them, but both have save percentages above .900 which is something neither goaltender for the Lincoln Stars can say right now.

The Stars are coming off a tough home loss a few days ago to Omaha that saw Lincoln battle back in the third period but were unable to stop the Lancers from answering with scoring of their own.  Omaha made the most of their opportunities while the Stars ran into a hot goaltender in Alex Lyon.  The effort was there for the most part, but the Stars just couldn't muzzle Omaha's third period scoring barrage.

For some reason, this game against the Storm worries me a bit.  I don't think the Stars will necessarily overlook the Storm, but that could easily happen.  Mid-week games are never know if a team is going to show up or not.  They are out of their element, so to speak, with playing a mid-week game.  The players aren't used to suiting up and getting out there on a Tuesday night to knock heads.  In Lincoln's case, they are getting ready for two big games this weekend against arguably the two hottest teams in the USHL right now (Fargo Force on Friday, and the Omaha Lancers on Saturday).  Lincoln cannot afford to look past this Tri-City club.

If the Stars can pull out a win and get the two points this Tuesday evening, they'll once again be tied for first place in the western conference with the Omaha Lancers.

Go Stars.

Snapshots of the Game: Sioux City and Omaha

Much thanks go out to blog reader "Starstruck" for allowing me to share some of their photos from the two games this past weekend at the IceBox.  It is much appreciated!

The first set of photos will be from the Sioux City game on 1/13.  The second set of photos will be from the Omaha game on 1/14.  Enjoy!

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

Stars salute to the crowd after the win against Sioux City

USHL Winter Classic in 2013?

Back in October of 2011, University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks head coach Dean Blais said during a fan-attended luncheon that UNO would host an outdoor game against the University of North Dakota in February of 2013.  The venue for the outdoor game would be TD Ameritrade Park (pictured to the left), the new baseball stadium built just east of downtown Omaha.  Total seating capacity is 24,000.

Here's an old message board thread from that discusses the topic further:  click here to read.

According to Blais, the Omaha Lancers would also use the outdoor rink to host the Lincoln Stars that same day, or weekend.  I blogged about it here last October.

Well, I received some good information over the weekend that this event is a go.  I've been told that organizers would like both games to be held on Saturday, February 9th, 2013.  The Lancers would play the Stars in the afternoon, and then UNO would play UND later that evening.

We're still a year away so a lot could happen between now and then.  Personally, I would rather have the two games held on different days.  Maybe have the UND-UNO game on Saturday, and then the Stars-Lancers game on Sunday that weekend.  

Weather could play havoc with the scheduling also, as a MavPuck member mentions in the thread I linked above.  We've had an unseasonably warm (and dry) winter so far, but the weather changes so drastically here in just a short amount of time.  I'm not sure I'd want to spend 4-6 hours outdoors watching back-to-back hockey games in -5F degree weather with the wind blowing out of the north at 30mph.

Regardless, I really hope this comes to fruition.  I would definitely attend both games, as would a lot of hockey fans here in Lincoln.

What say you?  Would you attend this event?

Edit: Stick tap to the Western College Hockey Blog for linking us here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 1/14: Omaha 6, Lincoln 3

The Lincoln Stars fell short against the Lancers last night at the IceBox, losing their third straight to Omaha, this time by a score of 6-3.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss the Stars dropped to 19-11-2 (40 points) and slipped to second place in the USHL Western Conference.  Omaha improved to 20-10-2 (42 point) and now have sole possession of first place in the west.  Click here to view the updates USHL standings.  Third place Waterloo is now only four points behind the Stars with 36 points, and have three games in hand over Lincoln.

This was kind of a strange game.  I thought Lincoln came out and played very well for the majority of the first two periods.  They outshot Omaha 15-7 in the first, and 9-3 in the second.  However, the Lancers got very lucky with their first two goals and took at 2-0 lead into the second intermission.  Despite putting 24 shots on Omaha goaltender Alex Lyon through the first 40 minutes of the game, they could not find the back of the net.

From my seat, it appeared that the two first Omaha goals were deflections.  In the first period. a shot Ken Babinski of Omaha hit a Lincoln skate in front of Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb and found the back of the net.

In the second period, with the Lancers on the powerplay, a point shot by Omaha's Nolan Zajac was deflected by Casey Bailey and behind Teichroeb.  It's hard to fault Teichroeb with those two goals, in my opinion.  When the puck changes direction just a few feet in front of you, it's nearly impossible to be quick enough to make the save.

So going into the third period, the Stars found themselves down 2-0.  That would change quickly as both teams combined for seven goals in the third period .

Lincoln's Kevin Roy scored his league-leading 27th goal of the season just 32 seconds into the first period to bring the crowd to life and pull the Stars to within one goal at 2-1.  After getting a pass from Brent Tate, Roy skated to the center of the Omaha zone, pulled the puck back to himself, and sent a wicked wrister glove-high past Alex Lyon.

In what would turn out to be a familiar theme in the third period, the Lancers seemed to get a little mad after each Stars goal and put the pressure on to score goal after goal.  Less than two minutes after Roy's goal, Max Vallis of the Lancers scored to give his team a two-goal lead once again at the 2:04 mark.  However, just 14 seconds after Vallis' goal, Lincoln's Markus McCrea scored (unassisted) to make it a one goal game again at 3-2 at the 2:18 mark.

Less than one minute after McCrea scored, the Lancers would score again.  Omaha's Nolan Zajac had one of the prettiest goals I've seen at the IceBox this year when he scored at the 3:09 mark of the third to give his team a 4-2 lead.  Zajac deked around one Stars defender before putting an amazing move on Teichroeb and depositing the puck into an open net.  All of a sudden this game turned into a tennis match.  The goal scoring went back and forth with Omaha answering every Lincoln goal with a goal of their own.

Jared Hanson would answer for Lincoln at the 6:47 mark when he sent a stray rebound from Alex Lyon into the Omaha net to pull the Stars to within one goal again at 4-3.  Kevin Roy and Logan Smith earned the assists on Hanson's 15th goal of the season.  Unfortunately for the Stars, this was a close as they would get to the Lancers for the rest of the game.

Omaha finished off the third period scoring with two goals, including an empty-net goal, to pull ahead of the Stars and win the game by a score of 6-3.  Those two goals came late in the period, so the final score really isn't indicative of how close this game was.  The Lancers played very strong in the third period, and outshot the Stars 13-10.

Give credit to Omaha because they certainly deserved to win this game.  Unlike their last matchup on 1/7/12 in which the Lancers scored three powerplay goals, neither team really won the specials teams war last night.  Omaha was 1-for-4 with the man advantage, while Lincoln went 1-for-5.  The Stars outshot the Lancers overall last night, 34-23.

I thought the two areas that Omaha was much better than the Stars last night was team speed, and goaltending.  I was really impressed with how fast the Lancers got up the ice from their own defensive zone and into the Stars zone.  They have a number of smaller, speedster type players that created havoc all night long.  At times, it seemed like the Stars defenseman had a hard time keeping some of the Omaha forwards from skating around them.

Omaha goaltender Alex Lyon made some really big saves throughout the game and was a big reason why his team left the IceBox with two points.  During the first two periods when the Stars were swarming around him, Lyon played cool, calm, and collected.

On the other end of the ice, I know Jackson Teichroeb would like some of those third period goals back.  The first two Omaha goals came off deflections, which are nearly impossible to save.  In the end, Teichroeb stopped 17 of 22 shots on goal in the loss.  Teichroeb is on a bit of a down stretch, having lost four of his last five games.  He is also 0-3 against the Lancers this season and has surrendered 12 goals in those three losses.

Unlike last year where the Stars beat up on the Lancers each time they played them, Omaha seems to have Lincoln's number thus far thi season.  After beating the Lancers in their first matchup this season, the Stars are 0-3 against Omaha and have been outscored 18-7 in those three games.  Ugly numbers, for sure.

The Stars will look to bounce back this Tuesday night in a rare mid-week game at the IceBox against the Tri-City Storm.  I'll preview that game later on Monday.  Thanks for reading.

Go Stars.

Friday, January 13, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 1/13: Sioux City 2, Lincoln 6

Friday the 13th was a horror show for the visiting Sioux City Musketeers tonight as the Lincoln Stars dominated the Muskies by a score of 6-2.  Click here to view the Poinstreak boxscore.

Scoring goals for Lincoln tonight was Kevin Roy (2 goals), Paul LaDue (2 goals), Jonathan Grebosky, and Matt Friese.  Stars goaltender Charles Williams stopped 28 of 30 shots on goal to record his 7th win of the season.

Great overall effort tonight by the Stars.  I thought the Muskies came out and outplayed the Stars for the first 5-9 minutes of the game, but after that, it was all Lincoln.

I'll update this article with a full recap tomorrow when I have more time.  Enjoy the win tonight, folks!  Big game tomorrow night.  With Omaha winning this evening, the game tomorrow night will be for first place in the USHL Western Conference.  It should be a crazy atmosphere at the IceBox.  By far, this will be biggest game the Stars will play this season.  I can't wait!

Go Stars!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Omaha

The Lincoln Stars will be looking for a little payback this weekend when they host back-to-back games at the IceBox against two teams that have had their number as of late.  On Friday night, the Stars will take on the Sioux City Musketeers.  On Saturday night, the Stars will battle the Omaha Lancers.  Faceoff for both matches will take place at 7:05pm CST.

If you can't make to the games this weekend in Lincoln, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on KLMS 1480 AM, or watch the games on FASTHockey for a fee.

Lincoln enters this home weekend with a record of 18-10-2 (38 points), and are tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with the Omaha Lancers who have an identical record of 18-10-2.  Click here to see the current USHL standings.

First up this weekend for the Stars will be the visiting Sioux City Musketeers (12-18-0, 24 points, 6th place in the USHL Western Conference).  This will be the fifth time the Stars and Muskies will face each other this season with each team holding an identical 2-2-0 record in those four previous games.

After winning their first two games against the Musketeers this season, the Stars have dropped their last two games which includes a disappointing 5-0 shutout loss on New Years Eve just a few weeks ago in Sioux City.  The last time these two teams faced each other at the IceBox, the Muskies edged the Stars by a score of 4-3 on 12/3/11.  Hopefully these recently losses, especially the 5-0 blowout a few weeks ago, are fresh on the mind of the Stars.

On Saturday evening at the IceBox, the Stars will play host to their main rival, the Omaha Lancers (18-10-2, 38 points, tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference).  This will be the fourth time the Stars and Lancers will face each other this season.

After winning their first meeting on 11/12/11 at the IceBox by a score of 2-1, the Stars have lost two straight to the Lancers.  In fact, Omaha has outscored Lincoln 12-4 in their last two meetings.  The last time these two teams knocked heads at the IceBox, the Lancers embarrassed the hometown Stars by a score of 7-2 on 12/2/11.

I mentioned this last weekend, but the bad news out of the Stars camp is that defenseman Colton Saucerman tore the ACL in his left knee and is out for the season.  He will return to Colorado to have surgery on his knee but will later return to Lincoln and root on his teammates.  Tough loss for the Stars considering how important Saucerman was to the team, especially as one of the top PP quarterbacks in the lineup.

The good news is that forward Dominik Shine is close to returning to the lineup after missing the last 3 months due to knee surgery.  Getting Shine back in the lineup will be huge, and will help an already potent Stars offense.  From what I have heard, Shine was cleared to play but may sit some of the upcoming games out while he continues to strengthen his knee and build endurance.

Sorry for the short weekend preview.  I ran out of time to get this article up along with the halfway point article.  I'm not sure about you guys, but I'm ready for my Stars fix!  A full weekend of hockey at the IceBox!  7:00pm Friday night can't come soon enough.

Go Stars.

Halfway Point: A Statistical Look Back At The First 30 Games

With 30 games played so far, the Lincoln Stars are at the halfway point of the 2011-12 regular season.  They say the the USHL regular season is a marathon and not a sprint, so there is still a lot of hockey yet to be played. Each USHL team participates in 60 regular season games, and then however many playoff games after that.  A lot can change between now and mid-April, when the regular season concludes.

I'm kind of a stats geek (I love math!), so I thought I'd look at the first 30 games played by the Stars and post some numbers that might be interesting.  There is a saying that "there is truth in the numbers."  I'd like to think that is true in some cases.  Having said that, here's what I came up with.

Stars overall record:  18-10-2 (38 points); tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with the Omaha Lancers who have an identical record of 18-10-2 through 30 games played.

Lincoln has a home record of 8-4-1 (17 points) and a road record of 10-6-1 (22 points).  Of the thirty games the Stars have played thus far, 13 have been played at the IceBox and 17 have been played on the road.  So the majority of the 38 total points the Stars earned through the first thirty games came on the road.

These numbers are a good sign, in my opinion.  When it comes time for the playoffs, if you can't win on the road you aren't going to last long.  There are plenty of home games coming up in the next few months for the Stars to generate some home cookin' and earn even more points.

Shots and Goals:
In terms of generating shots on goal, there is no team in the USHL that does a better job than the Lincoln Stars.  Through 30 games, the Stars have put a total of 1,038 shots on the opponents net.  That averages out to 34.6 shots per game for Lincoln, which is tops in the league.

On the other end of the rink, the Stars have allowed a total of 825 shots on goal against the goaltending tandem of Charles Williams and Jackson Teichroeb.  That averages out to 27.5 shots against per game which is the 5th lowest amount given up per game in the USHL.

The Stars have scored a total of 99 goals through 30 games, which averages out to 3.3 goals scored per game.  The 99 goals scored is 3rd most in the USHL, and the 3.3 goals per game average is 4th best in the USHL.  No surprise here.  For the most part, scoring goals has not been a problem with this team.

On the defensive end, the Stars have given up a total of 90 goals through 30 games, which averages out to 3.0 goals surrendered per game.  The 90 goals given up is 7th most in the USHL, and the average of 3.0 goals surrendered each game is 8th most.  The numbers say that compared to the rest of the league, the Stars are middle-of-the-pack defensive team.  Not great, but not bad either.

Special Teams:
Through thirty games this season, the Stars have scored 25 powerplay goals in 115 opportunities for a powerplay percentage of 21.74%, which is good for 3rd best overall in the USHL.  The 25 PP goals Lincoln has scored is 4th most in the league.

On the other end of the rink, the numbers aren't so good.  The Stars have surrendered a total of 30 powerplay goals against in 148 opportunities for a penalty kill percentage of 79.73%.  That PK percentage of 79.73% is 3rd worst in the USHL.  The 148 times the Stars have been shorthanded is the most of any team in the league.

The Stars have accumulated a total of 604 penalty minutes in thirty games, which averages out to 20.1 PIM's per game.  Only the Muskegon Lumberjacks, who average 26.3 penalty minutes per game, rack up more penalty minutes per game than the Lincoln Stars.

According to the numbers, the Stars are very much "Jekyll and Hyde" in regards to special teams.  With the amount of offensive talent on this team, the Stars have shown that they are more than capable of putting the biscuit in the basket when they have a man advantage.

However, the penalty kill has struggled at times, especially as of late.  It's no secret that the Stars haven't been playing as disciplined as they would like.  If the Stars can cut down on the amount of silly penalties, and shore up the PK unit, they should be able to win more special team wars.

Surprisingly, these numbers weren't as good as I expected.  As a team, the Stars have save percentage of .891%, which is tied for 13th overall out of 16 USHL teams.  Neither Charles Williams or Jackson Teichroeb currently have a save percentage above .900, which again was surprising to me.  Despite their less than stellar numbers, what Williams and Teichroeb have been able to do through thirty games is win games.

That's about it.  I am running out of time tonight to get this article up, along with the weekend preview article.  Hopefully this halfway point article was interesting and somewhat informative.  Thanks for reading.

Go Stars.