Thursday, October 25, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Youngstown and Indiana

The Lincoln Stars will embark on their longest road-trip of the season this weekend when they face the Youngstown Phantoms in Youngstown, OH on Friday, and the Indiana Ice in Indianapolis, IN on Saturday.  Lincoln will hopefully improve upon their franchise record 6-0-0 start to the season against two quality USHL Eastern Conference teams.

Since Youngstown and Indianapolis are in the eastern time zone, these two games will start an hour earlier than what we are accustomed to here in Nebraska.  The puck will drop at 6:15pm CST on Friday for the game against Youngstown, and at 6:05pm CST on Saturday for the game against Indiana.

If you'd like to follow the action from home this weekend, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreaklisten to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the game live on FASTHockey for a fee.

The Stars are currently 6-0-0 (12 points), and are tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with one other team.  Lincoln is one of only two teams in the league who are still undefeated in the regular season.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Phantoms currently have a record of 4-5-0 (8 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL Eastern Conference.  This will be the first of only two games the Stars and Phantoms will have against one another this season.  Youngstown will visit the IceBox on 1/12/13 in their last regular season matchup.

The Phantoms have had a very interesting start to their season.  To say it's been a roller-coaster first 9 games is an understatement.  Youngstown came out of the gate red hot, winners of four in a row.  They were near the top of the eastern conference standings after steamrolling teams such as the Omaha Lancers, Waterloo Blackhawks, and Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  After winning four in a row to start the season, the Phantoms have done a 180 are currently riding a five-game losing streak.  They have also been hit hard by the injury bug as of late, which hasn't helped the team break out of their slump.

Despite their recent losing streak, this is a very dangerous hockey club and they have historically played the Lincoln Stars very close the past few seasons.  The Stars and the Phantoms have met seven times in the regular season since 2009, and each of those seven games have been decided by one goal.  Even better, five of those seven games have gone to overtime.  Lincoln holds a 4-1-2 record against the Phantoms in those seven games.

As I stated above, the Phantoms have been hit hard with injuries to key players such as: Austin Cangelosi (leading scorer), Alfred Larsson, Daniel Renouf, John Padulo, Kyle Connor, Mac MacSorley, Luke Stork, and Markus McCrea.  That last name should be very familiar with Lincoln Stars fans.  McCrea played last season for the Stars before being cut because the Stars had too many overagers (players born in '92) on the team.  Each USHL team can roster only four overagers each season, and McCrea was one of a few returning '92's who were released by the Stars.  In 9 games for the Phantoms this season, McCrea has scored four points (3g, 1a) with 18 penalty minutes.

The Indiana Ice currently have a record of 3-7-1 (7 points), and are in sixth place in the USHL Eastern Conference.  Unfortunately, this will be the only time the Ice and Stars face one another this season.  The Ice do not come to the IceBox this season.

In a weird scheduling quirk, the Ice play this Friday night in Cedar Rapids, IA against the Roughriders before having to drive 7 hours back to Indianapolis to play the Stars on Saturday night.  Gotta love the USHL schedule makers.  I feel sorry for some of the eastern conference teams like Indiana and Youngstown who end up spending a lot of time inside a bus during the season.

Like the Phantoms, the Ice are struggling a bit right now, having lost seven of their last eight games.  The Ice have been playing the role of road warriors as of late, as they have played only one home game in their last eight contests.  In three home games this season, the Ice sport a record of 2-1-0.

The Ice have one of the top scorers in the USHL right now in forward Austin Ortega.  Ortega was traded from the Cedar Rapids Roughriders to Indiana at the start of the 2012-13 season.  In 11 games with the Ice, Ortega has accumulated 12 points (7g, 5a), and is the second-leading scorer in the USHL.  Ortega has committed to play college hockey just up the road in Omaha for UNO.

Just like Markus McCrea for the Youngstown Phantoms, the Indiana Ice have a former Stars forward on their roster.  Austin Hervey, who played 44 games for the Lincoln Stars in 2010-11, is another overager who played well enough for the Ice during the preseason to make the team as a free-agent.  Best of luck to Austin and Markus this weekend.

As for the Stars, the big news this week was the acquisition of forward Trent Samuels-Thomas from the Des Moines Buccaneers   Click here to read more about the trade that brought the native of West Hartford, CT to the capital city.  I assume the team bus picked up TST on the way to Youngstown, but I'm not sure.  We'll have to wait and see if the Stars play him at all this weekend against Youngstown and Indiana.

Lincoln will be without forward Vinni Lettieri this weekend as the Stars granted permission for him to suit up for the Team USA U-18 squad when they play the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University this weekend.  From what I understand, the U-18 squad has been hit hard by injuries, so they asked the Stars if they could borrow Lettieri for the two road games they have this weekend in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Great opportunity for Vinni to represent his country, and to play against the college team (University of Minnesota) he'll be playing for next season.

That's about it for this preview!  I hope to catch both games this weekend on FastHockey, and I'll report back here with all the news.  Stay tuned for that.

Let's get four points!  Go Stars.

1 comment:

Helen Scheid said...

Another great game for the Stars.
They are a fun team to follow.