Thursday, December 13, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Omaha and Sioux Falls

The IceBox will definitely be rocking this weekend when the Lincoln Stars host the Omaha Lancers and Sioux Falls Stampede on back-to-back nights.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for both games.

If you can't make it to the IceBox 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 sport a record of 14-7-1 (29 points), and are in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.  Lincoln is only 3 points out of sixth place, and two points out of first place in the wild, wild western conference.

Up first for the good guys this weekend will be the Omaha Lancers who come into this game with a 13-11-0 (26 points) record and are in sixth place in the western confernce.  In fifteen road games this season, the Lancers have a 7-8-0 record.  This will be the fourth time the Stars and Lancers will play one another this season.  The Stars have a 1-1-1 record in the three prior games against Omaha.

The Lancers have become a familiar foe for the Stars these last few weeks.  This will be the third straight weekend that Lincoln and Omaha knock heads on the ice.  After the game this Friday, the Stars and Lancers won't play another again until January 18th, 2013.

The big news this week that involved both these teams was the acquisition of forward Trent Samuels-Thomas by the Omaha Lancers.  After only playing 10 games with the Stars, the team put TST on waivers this week where he was later picked up by the Lancers.  In late October, TST was acquired by the Stars in a trade with the Des Moines Buccaneers.  At the time, the Stars traded a fifth round pick in the 2013 USHL Entry Draft for Samuels-Thomas.  I'm not sure why it didn't work out for TST in Lincoln, but from what I heard he asked to be traded or released.  TST was a healthy scratch in a number of recent games, so maybe that's why he wasn't happy.  Hopefully this isn't a move that comes back to bite the Stars in the rear end.  TST should be in the lineup for Omaha this Friday.  Best of luck to Trent Samuels-Thomas in Omaha...just not against Lincoln.

On Saturday, the Stars will turn their attention to the visiting Sioux Falls Stampede, who currently have a record of 15-7-1 (31 points) and are in first place in the USHL Western Conference.  In eight road games this season, the 'Pede have a record of 4-3-1.  This will be the fourth time the Stars and Stampede will play one another this season.  The Stars have a 2-1-0 record in the three prior games against Sioux Falls.

The Stampede have to be considered the surprise of the USHL 2012-13 season so far.  This was a team that finished dead-last in the league last season with abysmal 17-36-7 record in 60 games.  In the offseason, the 'Pede fired long-time head coach Kevin Hartzell and hired former University of North Dakota assistant coach Cary Eades as it's new leader.  In a matter of months, Eades has transformed the Stampede into the top team in the western conference (in my opinion).

Lincoln, Waterloo, and now Sioux Falls have all traded spots at the top of the Western Conference so far this season.  The Stampede are a much different team right now compared to the team that lost 5-1 to the Stars at the IceBox on opening night.  This will be a huge test for the Stars.

Lincoln will be without Mike McKee and Zach Aston-Reese for Friday's game against Omaha.  Both players will be serving the second game of their two-game suspensions handed down by the USHL.  Big Mike and ZAR should be back in the lineup against Sioux Falls on Saturday night, though.

Stars trainer Corey Courtney stated on the radio Wednesday night that defenseman Justin Woods and forward Brad Hawkinson could be healthy enough to play this upcoming weekend, so lets hope #25 and #19 are back in the lineup.  That's the good news.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that looks like the Stars will be without forward Dominik Shine this weekend as he was injured in the third period this past Wednesday in Lincoln's 3-1 loss at Cedar Rapids.  Shine was helped from the ice and did not return in that game.  I don't want to go into specifics, but if what I heard is true, he may be out of the lineup for a while.  Everyone here at the B³ are wishing him a speedy recovery.  The Stars are definitely a better team with Shine in the lineup, so he will be missed.

It's hard to believe that this will only be the second full weekend of hockey at the IceBox so far this season.  The last back-to-back home-stand was way back on October 19th and 20th.  Nothing better than spending two straight night at the IceBox watching live hockey.  I can't wait.  Hopefully the team can put together two good games and escape the weekend with four points.

Go Stars.

P.S. - A quick plug for the Lincoln Stars' Blueline Booster Club:  the BLBC will have their Winter Auction on Saturday night during the Sioux Falls game.  Christmas ornaments painted/decorated by each Stars player will be up for auction.  The starting bid for all ornaments is $20, and there is a "Buy It Now" option for each ornament which costs $100.  The auction sign-up sheets will be located in the south hallway of the IceBox.  Click here to see pictures of the ornaments.

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