Thursday, February 2, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Des Moines and Waterloo

The Lincoln Stars will look to put together two wins this weekend when they face off against two divisional teams from the state of Iowa.  On Friday night, the Stars will host the Des Moines Buccaneers for the second straight weekend at the IceBox.  On Saturday evening, the Stars will travel to Waterloo, IA to take on the Blackhawks.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST on both nights.

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 21-13-2 (44 points), and are in second place in the USHL Western Conference.  It's becoming crowded at the top of the western conference with the top four teams separated by only seven points.  Click here to see the current USHL standings.

Friday night at the IceBox, the Stars will take on a familiar foe in the Des Moines Buccaneers (13-18-3, 29 points, sixth place in the USHL Western Conference).  Just last Friday, the Stars skated past the Bucs at the IceBox by a score of 5-2.  After losing to the Stars that night, the Bucs lost two more times last weekend.  The Bucs have now lost four in a row, and have been outscored 24-11 in those four losses.  Des Moines is 0-1-1 in two games against Lincoln this season.

Due to some of the late fireworks in the game last Friday between the Bucs and Stars, the matchup tomorrow night could be very interesting.  Very late in the game, Stars defenseman Dax Lauwers knocked Bucs forward Patrick Kirtland into the Stars' bench after a huge hit.  Later in that same shift, Dax caught Kirtland again in open ice with a huge body check, sending Kirtland right on his butt.  Lauwers was whistled for interference after the second hit, and while he was on his way to the penalty box, two members of the Bucs came off the bench to try to get at Dax.  Both of the Des Moines players (Connor Schmidt, Trent Samuels-Thomas) were immediately thrown out of the game, and both served one game suspensions the following game.  Click here to see the video.  Both Schmidt and Samuels-Thomas will be back in the lineup tomorrow night, so you have to figure that they will try to go after Dax again.  If Lauwers is in the lineup to start the game, don't be surprised if he drops the mitts with a Bucs player right after the opening faceoff.

On Saturday, the Stars will take a quick road trip to north-central Iowa to battle the Waterloo Blackhawks (19-11-4, 42 points, third place in the USHL Western Conference).  This will be the fourth, and final time these two teams will face one another this season.  The Stars are 2-1-0 against the Blackhawks this season, including a 2-1 OT win at Waterloo back on 12/11/11 in their last meeting.  In fact, the two Lincoln wins against the Blackhawks this season both came in overtime.

Both the Bucs and the Blackhawks were busy this week with a number of trades which I'll highlight below.  The USHL trade deadline is Sunday, February 6th, so quite a few USHL teams traded players this week.  The Des Moines Buccaneers traded an affiliate player and a first round entry draft pick for the rights to Muskegon Lumberjacks defenseman Nick Seeler.  I assume Seeler will be in the lineup tomorrow night for the Bucs at the IceBox.  Seeler is a draft pick of the NHL Minnesota Wild, and has committed to play hockey at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

The Blackhawks were VERY busy this week moving players in and out of Waterloo.  They first traded defensemen Peter Hand and Trevor Owens to the Indiana for the rights to Ice defenseman (and captain) Alex Barron.  Waterloo then traded goaltender Jay Williams to Sioux Falls for Stampede goaltender Stephon Williams.  So basically, both Waterloo and Sioux Falls swapped goaltenders with the last name of 'Williams.'

I've got to wrap this up for the night, so thanks for reading.  I hope you have tickets to the game on Friday night at the IceBox because I think you'll see a very physical game.  There is definitely some bad blood between the Bucs and the Stars right now, and it could all boil over tomorrow evening.  More than anything, the Stars need two big wins this weekend and four points to keep up with the rest of the top teams in the west.

Go Stars.

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