Thursday, December 6, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Omaha

Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars will look to improve on their current two-game winning streak with two matchups this weekend against western conference divisional foes.  On Friday night at the IceBox, the Stars will host the Sioux City Musketeers.  On Saturday evening, the Stars will travel to Ralston, NE to knock heads with the Omaha Lancers.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST for both games.

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

The Stars sport a record of 13-5-1 (27 points), and are tied for second place in the USHL Western Conference with the Sioux Falls Stampede.  The Stars have played two less games compared the Stampede and thus have a better winning percentage (.711 to .643).  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

Sioux City are currently occupying last place in the USHL Western Conference with a dismal 3-12-4 (10 points) record. This will be the second of eight regular season games the Stars and the Muskies will play against one another.  In their first matchup of 2012-13, the Stars beat the Muskies in Sioux City by a score of 5-3 on 11/2/12.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Muskies are really struggling as of late.  They are winless in their last seven games with a 0-6-1 record.  In those seven losses, the Musketeers were outscored 30-16.  Sioux City is winless on the road this season with an 0-8-2 record.  So after looking at the stats, this seems like an easy win for Lincoln.  However, no matter what their record is, historically the Muskies have always played the Stars tough at the IceBox.  The Stars cannot take the Musketeers lightly Friday night.

Don't forget that Friday night's game against Sioux City is Lincoln's annual "Teddy Bear Toss" night at the IceBox.  From the official Stars website:  "Bring a new stuffed animal to the game and when the Stars score their first goal, the bears come flying onto the ice. Walgreen's will be at the Ice Box selling bears. All toys are collected for 104.1 The Blaze's Kampout For Kids to benefit the Community Action Partnership."

Saturday evening's opponent, the Omaha Lancers, have a record of 11-11-0 (22 points) and are in sixth place in the USHL Western Conference.  This will be the third time the Stars and Lancers will meet this season, with each team winning one game previously.  On 11/21/12 at the IceBox, the Lancers beat the Stars in an overtime shootout by a score of 4-3.  Lincoln got a little payback last Friday night against the Lancers with a dominating 5-1 victory at Ralston Arena.  Omaha and Lincoln will play one another a total of 10 times in the regular season.

You have to figure the Lancers will be very fired up to take on the Stars after laying an egg last Friday night in that 5-1 loss.  So this will be a great road test for Lincoln.  Hopefully the Ralston Arena will be packed with black and blue and the Stars fans in attendance are treated to another Lincoln win on Omaha's "home" ice.

The Stars will be without the services of goaltender Jackson Teichroeb this weekend as he will be serving games three and four of his 5-game suspension handed down by the USHL.  For the time being, it will be the "Michael Bitzer Show."  Bitzer played outstanding last weekend in the two wins, so lets hope he continues his hot streak this weekend.

Stars forward Brad Hawkinson, who was on the receiving end of a nasty check from behind last Friday night in Ralston against the Lancers, will likely miss both games this weekend.  Lancers defenseman Niklas Folin picked up a one-game suspension for the hit on Hawkinson, and will miss Omaha's Friday night game against Team USA.  If Folin is back in the Omaha lineup Saturday night against the Stars, he could be a very "popular" player.

Hopefully the Stars aren't looking too far ahead to the big rematch in Ralston against the Lancers and forget to come out and play a strong 60 minutes against the Muskies Friday night at the IceBox.  These two games are a great opportunity for the Stars to pick up four points against divisional foes below them in the standings.

Sorry for the short weekend recap.  Ran out of time tonight to get this up.

Go Stars.

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