The Stars will play a home-and-home series this weekend against the Des Moines Buccaneers in Lincoln's last two games before the Christmas break. The puck will drop at 7:05pm for both games this weekend. Friday night's game will take place at the IceBox, while Saturday evening's game will occur at Des Moines Buccaneer Arena.
If you'd like to follow the games this weekend, you can check out the boxscores online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the game on FASTHockey for a fee. The Stars currently have a record of 14-7-3 (31 points), and are tied for third place in the USHL Western Conference with the Fargo Force. The Stars have played two less games compared to the Force and thus have a better winning percentage (.646 to .596). The Stars are only two points out of first place in the west, but also only five points out of seventh place. Click here to view the updated USHL standings.
The Des Moines Bucs sport a 14-12-1 (29 points) record which is good enough for sixth place in the hotly contested USHL Western Conference. The Bucs are 7-3-0 in their last ten games played after starting the 2012-13 regular season with a 4-6-1 record in their first eleven games. Des Moines has a very impressive 10-5-0 record in fifteen home games, but a not so great road record of 4-7-1 in twelve games away from Buccaneer Arena.
This will be the second and third time the Stars and Bucs will meet up this season. In their lone previous matchup, which took place at the IceBox on 10/5/12, the Stars beat the Bucs by a score of 5-2. In that particular game, Stars forward Will Suter and Eric Scheid both score three points (2g, 1a) a piece, and goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 28 of 30 shots to record his first USHL career win. Lincoln and Des Moines will meet a total of six times during the 2012-13 regular season.
The Bucs have the fourth best powerplay percentage in the USHL at 20.18%, but the third worst penalty kill percentage in the league at 78.5%. Through 27 games played, the Bucs have scored 91 goals, and have given up 91 goals. That's an average of 3.37 goals scored and 3.37 goals against per game.
As for the Stars, the team is still struggling a bit to get back into the win column after a pair of overtime shootout losses last weekend. Lincoln is 1-2-2 in their last five games and 3-6-3 in their last 12 games played. The Stars have a 7-2-3 record in twelve home games at the IceBox, and a 7-5-0 record in twelve games on the road.
Believe it or not, but the Stars shouldn't have any players under league suspension for this game. Crazy, right? Maybe it's just me, but the USHL seems to be handing out suspensions at a record rate this season. A few days ago, Jimmy DeVito's name appeared on the Pointstreak transaction page with a one-game suspension, but now I see that is no longer the case. So I assume the Stars appealed the suspension and won. It will nice to finally have a full roster this weekend....or at least Friday night, anyway.
Getting at least two points is a must this weekend. Three points would be great, and four points would obviously be ideal. Unfortunately, the Stars don't get much of a holiday break after these two weekend games. After Saturday night's game in Des Moines, the team will get a few days to be with their families before coming back to Lincoln in time to play next Friday night in Kearney