Can the Stars extend their winning streak to 10 and 11 games? We'll find out this weekend when Lincoln goes on the road to face the Sioux City Musketeers on Friday evening before hosting the Fargo Force at the IceBox on Saturday night. The puck will drop at 7:00pm CST in Sioux City on Friday, and at 7:05pm CST in Lincoln on Saturday.
The Sioux City Musketeers currently sport a record of 2-4-3 (7 points), and are tied for last place in the USHL Western Conference with the Tri-City Storm. This will be the first of eight regular season games the Stars and the Muskies will play against one another. Four of the eight games will be played in Lincoln, and the other four games will be played in Sioux City.
As their record indicatess, the Muskies haven't jumped out to the start they had hoped for this season. They are riding a three-game losing streak coming into the Friday game against the Stars, and the Musketeers were outscored 8-4 in those three losses. Sioux City is 2-1-2 at home this season.
Due to the 2012 World Junior A Challenge tournament, which I'll highlight below, the Musketeers will be without two defensemen for the next four games. Blake Heinrich and Dan Molenaar were both selected by Team USA, so Sioux City will be a little short on the blueline (much like the Stars) this weekend and next.
The Fargo Force are have a record of 4-4-2 (10 points) through 10 games played and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.. This will be the third time the Stars and Force will face one another this season. In their past two meetings, both at the IceBox, the Stars have two wins. On 10/19/12, the Stars won in an overtime shootout by a score of 3-2. On 10/20/12, Lincoln won another dramatic game this time by a score of 2-1 over Fargo.
The Force will be without the services of two key defensemen this weekend, one because of suspension and one because of an international tournament. Defenseman Dominic Racobaldo picked up a fighting major, instigator, and game misconduct last Friday in Fargo's 4-3 home loss to the Chicago Steel. Due to his actions, and the fact that the fight took place with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, Racobaldo was suspended two games. Racobaldo plays a game very similar to Stars defenseman Mike McKee, who will also miss both games this weekend due to a suspension.
The other Fargo defenseman out of the lineup this weekend (and next) is Justin Wade. Wade is a player I have have always enjoyed watching. He's a big kid (6'2", 203 pounds) who plays a very honest, physical, shutdown role for the Force. Like Fargo forward Gabe Guertler, Wade is a player who seems to perform his best against Lincoln. Wade will miss at least four games for Fargo because he was recently selected to play for Team USA in the 2012 World Junior A Challenge.
Speaking of the 2012 World Junior A Challenge, three members of the Lincoln Stars will miss the next four games because they will also be playing for Team USA. Click here to read more about Luke Johnson, Justin Woods, and Michael Bitzer getting selected to wear the red, white, and blue for Team USA. The Stars will certainly miss all three players. If you are interested in watching any of the World Junior A Challenge games that are being played in Nova Scotia, Canada, click here to read how you can catch the games online for free.
Because Lincoln will be without the services of defenseman Mike McKee for the next two games, and defenseman Justin Woods for the next four games, the Stars are down to only four defensemen on the roster. Forward Brad Hawkinson, who has done an amazing job playing defense in selected games this season, will likely move back to the blueline for at least the next 2-4 games. Per Associate Head Coach Jimmy McGroarty, the team has called up d-man Ian Scheid (younger brother of Eric Scheid) to help fill the hole at the defenseman position this weekend. Ian will be a junior this season for the Blaine (MN) High School Bengals. Ian Scheid participated in the Stars' 2012 tryout camp this past June in Minneapolis.
That's about it! Looking forward to the home game this Saturday against the Force! I'll be watching the game against Sioux City on FASTHockey so I'll post a recap article late Friday night after that one.