Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Lincoln Stars Tryout Camp Schedule Released

The official Lincoln Stars website released the schedule for the 2012 tryout camp today which will be held at Ridder Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis.  The camp will take place from June 7th-10th.  Pictured to the left is a shot of the inside of Ridder Arena.  Click here (Windows doc) to read the press release from the Stars.  I will post the schedule below, also:


Thursday, June 7th:
3:00pm:  Check in at Ridder Arena
5:00pm - 6:05pm:  Game 1 Team Royal vs. Team White
6:20pm - 7:25pm:  Game 2 Team Grey vs. Team Red
7:40pm - 8:45pm:  Game 3 Team Black vs. Team Yellow

Friday, June 8th:
8:30am - 9:35am:  Game 4 Team Grey vs. Team Yellow
9:50am - 10:55am:  Game 5 Team Black vs. Team Royal
11:10am - 12:15pm:  Game 6 Team White vs. Team Red
3:00pm - 4:05pm:  Game 7 Team Black vs. Team Grey
4:20pm - 5:25pm:  Game 8 Team Royal vs. Team Red
5:40pm - 6:45pm:  Game 9 Team Yellow vs. Team White

Saturday, June 9th:
9:00am - 10:05am:  Game 10 Team Yellow vs. Team Red
10:20am - 11:25am:  Game 11 Team Royal vs. Team Grey
11:40am - 12:45pm:  Game 12 Team White vs. Team Black
5:00pm - 6:05pm:  Game 13 Team Red vs. Team Black
6:20pm - 7:25pm:  Game 14 Team Royal vs. Team Yellow
7:40pm - 8:45pm:  Game 15 Team Grey vs. Team White

Sunday, June 10th:
10:30am - 11:45pm:  All-Star Game #1
12:00pm - 2:00pm:  All-Star Game #2

Almost the exact same schedule as last year, which is good.  Nice to see that they moved the Saturday evening games up a bit so they don't end as late.  Last year the Saturday evening session ran until 10:15pm.  

There were six teams at the camp last year as well, which came out to over 110 players.  According to the Lincoln Stars website, the camp is now full, which is also a good sign that prospective players are interested in attending.  More players is always a good thing.  It just means more competition for a few spots on the roster.

I'm really getting excited for this event!  Can't wait to make the trek up there.  Only one week away!  I will be posting a number of articles related to the camp in the next few days, so stay tuned for that.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

USHL Highlights - Kevin Roy

Courtesy of the USHL.  Relive some of Kevin's best moments from his record-breaking season with the Lincoln Stars.  Congrats once again to Kevin for winning both the USHL Player of the Year, and Forward of the Year awards!  Click play below.

Kevin Roy named USHL Player of the Year

Courtesy of BA Photos
More awards for Kevin Roy!

Congrats to Kevin Roy who was named the USHL Player of the Year today for the 2011-12 season.  Click here to read the official press release from the league.

Here's an excerpt:

The United States Hockey League today announced that Lincoln Stars forward Kevin Roy has been selected as the 2011-12 USHL Player of the Year as determined by a vote of USHL coaches and general managers.

It was a record-breaking season for Roy as he led the USHL in scoring with 104 points (54g, 50a) playing in all but one of the 60 regular season games.  His point total was the most in the USHL Tier 1 era (2002-present) and the most by a player in over two decades as John Young scored 107 points (43g, 64a) in 47 games during the 1988-89 season for the St. Paul Vulcans.

Roy was the first player in USHL Tier 1 era history to score 50 goals when he accomplished that feat on April 6th, 2012 scoring the game-winner in the 4-1 victory over the Tri-City Storm.  He became the first USHL player to reach the 50-goal mark since the 1993-94 season when Mark Mowers (51) of the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Jason Blake (50) of the Waterloo Black Hawks both reached that mark.  Roy finished the season with 54 goals, the most in the USHL since Mark Karpen scored 54 during the 1988-89 season for the North Iowa Huskies.

Roy, who turned 19 earlier this week, led the Lincoln Stars to a 38-18-4 record (80 points) and a first-place finish in the USHL Western Conference.  The 38 wins were the most for the Stars in the past decade.  Roy also led the League with a plus-44 rating, the second highest mark in USHL Tier 1 history.  He finished tops in power play points with 28 (14g, 14a), first in shots (305), and tied for second in game-winning goals (7).  The forward had a USHL season high 15-game point streak from February 29th to April 13th in which he produced 31 points (16g, 15a) and led the Stars to an 11-4-0 record over that span.

“For the second time this week, we have to try to find the words to describe Kevin’s outstanding play this year,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince.  “This award annually goes not just to the League’s top scorer, or its top defender, but the player who was the single greatest difference maker for his team.  Kevin’s body of work throughout the 2011-12 season, and the playoffs, was unmatched.  Congratulations on behalf of the entire USHL to one of its great young stars.”

What more can you say about the season Kevin Roy had for the Lincoln Stars in 2011-12.  He broke just about every offensive franchise record a player could break.  He is easily the most talented offensive player I've ever seen in a Stars uniform, or in the USHL in general.  I think we should all feel very lucky we had the opportunity to watch him at the IceBox this past season.  A talent like his comes around every 20+ years.  Best of luck to Kevin in his future endeavors!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

B³ Draft Coverage: 2012 USHL Entry Draft Results

The 2012 USHL Entry Draft is complete.  Scroll down to read bios on each of the players drafted by the Lincoln Stars today.  If there are any blog readers who have further information about the players below, please feel free to leave a comment.  If you'd prefer to remain anonymous you can email me at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com. Just because the Stars drafted these players doesn't mean that all of them will attend the tryout camp next month in Minneapolis, MN. The Stars just own their USHL rights.  It's up to them if they want to attend camp and compete for a roster spot.  You can click on any of the links below in blue to read more about the players.  Okay, off we go!

2nd Round: Michael Bitzer - Goaltender -  5'11", 205 pounds - 10/23/93
Originally from Moorhead, MN, Bitzer played last season for Moorhead High School where he had a record of 22-8 with a 1.80 goals against average, a .933 save percentage, and seven shutouts.  Bitzer was considered by many to be the best goaltender coming out of Minnesota high school hockey last season.  Due to his outstanding season with Moorhead, Bitzer won the Frank Brimsek Award for Minnesota’s best senior goaltender.  After finishing the season with Moorhead, Bitzer played a handful of games with the Alexandria Blizzard of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) where he went 3-0-1 in four regular season games with a 2.00 goals against average and a .915 save percentage.  In the playoffs for the Blizzard, Bitzer went 1-1-1 with a 1.50 goals against average and a .958 save percentage.  Click here to read number of articles about Bitzer by reporter-extraordinaire Ryan S. Clark.  Bitzer is uncommitted to a college at this time.

3rd Round: Jake Wood - Forward - 5'8", 165 pounds - 8/6/93
The native of Georgetown, Ontario, Canada played for Gunnery Prep School in Washington, CT last season.  I was informed via email that Jake scored 38 points (12g, 26a) in 33 games for The Gunnery.  Wood graduated from The Gunnery in 2012, so I assume he'll play for the Stars next season (if he makes the team after the tryout camp).  Wood has committed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institution (RPI) for the fall of 2013.

4th Round: Zack Pittman - Defense - 6'2", 195 pounds - 7/17/95
Pittman is a native of Macomb, MI which is also the hometown of former Stars forward John McCarron.  Last season, Zack played 28 games for Detroit Honeybaked Minor Midget where he scored 20 points (6g, 14a) and added 49 penalty minutes.  One of Pittman's teammates on the Honeybaked squad is Stars 2011 Futures Draft pick Max Humitz.  Pittman was the youngest player selected by the Stars in the entry draft today.  Zack was drafted by the OHL's Ottawa 67's in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection Draft.  Pittman is uncommitted to a college.

5th Round: Ross Olsson - Forward - 6'4", 200 pounds - 11/22/94
Olsson, a native of North Billerica, MA, played for Williston Northampton School located Easthampton, MA last season as a junior.  I was informed via email that Ross scored 14 points (4g, 10a) in 24 games played for Williston.  Click here to read a great interview of Olsson courtesy of Russ Bitley at Examiner.com.  Olsson is being talked about as a possible NHL draft pick in 2013.  Ross has committed to play for Northeastern University, beginning the fall of 2013.  From what I've been told, Olsson will not return to Williston next season.

5th Round: Mike McCarron - Forward - 6'5", 220 pounds - 3/7/95
So you should all recognize the last name.  Mike is the "little" brother of former Stars forward John McCarron.  Mikey played for the Team USA U-17 squad last season where he scored 17 points (3g, 14a) in 35 games to go along with 112 penalty minutes.  Mike has committed to Cornell University, where big brother John plays, starting the fall of 2013.  Honestly, I don't understand this selection at all.  McCarron is set to play for Team USA U-18 next season, and he tweeted as much this evening after the Stars selected him.  Mike is set to start at Cornell in 2013, so the only reason why I think the Stars drafted McCarron is in the hopes that Cornell won't want him until 2014.  Mike would age out of Team USA after the 2012-13, and then be able to play for the Stars in 2013-14.  Seems like a longshot to me, but the coaches obviously know something I don't.

6th Round: Craig Skudalski - Forward - 6'6", 205 pounds - 5/12/95
Skudalski is a native of Wyoming, PA where he played for Wyoming Seminary last season, which is located in Forty Fort, PA.  Like many players from prep schools, it's very hard to find stats online.  It appears he also played for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Jr. Knights where he scored 10 points (4g, 6a) in 33 games played.  I'm trying to remember if the Stars have ever drafted a player who is 6'6".  As far as I know, Skudalski is uncommitted to a college.  Skudalski will be a senior next season so he has some options.  If Craig ever suits up for the Stars, I have the perfect nickname:  "The Skud Missle."

7th-14th Rounds: No picks (Phase one of draft complete)

15th Round: Louie Nanne - Forward - 5'10", 165 pounds - 7/18/94
This should be yet another familiar last name.  Louie is the grandson of hockey legend Lou Nanne, and the cousin of current Stars forward Vinnie Lettieri and Stars Futures Draft pick Tyler Nanne.  All of a sudden, the Stars are trying to draft every grandson belonging to Lou Nanne.  Anyway, Louie was a junior last season for Edina High School, located in Edina, MN.  In 28 games last season for the Edina Hornets, Louie scored 27 points (15g, 12a) to go along with 34 penalty minutes.  Two of his teammates at Edina are also draft picks of the Stars: defensemen Parker Reno (2011 Futures Draft pick) and Jack Walker (2012 Futures Draft pick).  Nanne will also have some options next season.  He could return to Edina, tryout and play for the Stars, or go to the BCHL and play for the Penticton Vees.  Like Vinni Lettieri, Louie has committed to the University of Minnesota (2013).

16th Round: Michael Bunn - Forward - 6'0", 175 pounds - 7/19/94
Bunn, a native of Raleigh, NC, played  last season for Culver Military Academy where he was a junior.  This is another player that I wasn't able to find a lot of good information on.  According to the link above (name), Bunn scored three points in six games for Culver.  As far as I can tell, Bunn is uncommitted to a college.

17th Round: Brandon Morley - Forward - 5'9", 160 pounds - 4/17/94
Morley, who is originally from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, played for the South Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) where he scored 47 points (14g, 33a) in 49 games and 63 penalty minutes.  In 2010-11, Morley also played for the South Surrey Eagles where he scored 29 points (11g, 18a) in 57 games played.  According to this article, Brandon has committed to Merrimack University, but I don't see his name listed on Chris Heisenberg's NCAA Recruit website.

18th Round: Austin Yano - Defense - 5'9", 165 pounds - 10/30/93
Last season, Yano played for the Estevan Bruins of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.  The native of White City, Saskatchewan, Canada, Yano scored 27 points (9g, 18a) in 50 games to go along with 47 penalty minutes.  I'm unaware if Yano has committed to a college.

19th Round: Zach Pochiro - Forward - 6'2", 168 pounds - 3/6/94
Pochiro played for the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) last season where he scored 34 points (18g, 16a) in 52 games to go along with 154 penalty minutes.  Pochiro was in the Top 10 in penalty minutes in the NAHL last season.  The native of Las Vegas, NV was actually a 2011 USHL Entry Draft selection of the Fargo Force.  Click here to read an article about Pochiro from the Fargo Force website after he was drafted last year.  Zach tried out for the Force but did not make the team out of their tryout camp last year.  Click here to view a video interview of Pochiro made by the USHL prior to the 2011 USHL Entry Draft.  According to this article, Pochiro signed a contract with the Western Hockey League's Prince George Cougars for next season.  It appears that the signing came two days after the Stars drafted him.  Not great timing.  I highly doubt Pochiro ever plays for the Stars.  The WHL is considered major junior, so if Pochiro plays with the Cougars next season, he will forfeit his NCAA college eligibility.

20th Round: Charles Guevremont - Forward - 6'0", 176 pounds - 1/14/95
Charles is a native Iles Des Soeurs, Quebec, Canada.  Last season he played for the Magog Cantonniers of the Quebec Midget AAA league.  In 31 games for the Cantonniers, Guevremont scored 23 points (11g, 12 assists) and accumulated 16 penalty minutes.  According to this video, Charles was selected by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) in June of 2011.  I have been informed via email that Charles is very much interested in playing in the USHL.

21st Round: Garrett Brossart - Forward - 5'11", 145 pounds - 6/4/94
The last player selected by the Stars, Brossart is a native of Fargo, ND.  Last season he played for the Chicago Fury Major Midget team.  According to the link above, Brossart scored 22 points (9g, 13a) in 40 games for the Fury last season.  Before playing for the Chicago Fury, Brossart was a member of the Fargo South Bruins high school team.  According to this article, he was the only freshman on the varsity squad.  I believe Brossart is uncommitted to a college.

That's it!  Almost five hours after it started, a total of 13 players were selected by the Lincoln Stars.  10 forwards, 2 defensemen, and 1 goaltender.  I'm not too surprised Lincoln only drafted two defensemen considering the d-men from last year who could return, and the d-men already on their affiliate list.

I was a little surprised that they selected a goaltender with their first draft pick, but from what I've read online about Bitzer, he's the real deal.  Everything I've heard about the kid is positive.  A lot of scouts think he can come in next season and be starter at the USHL level, which makes me wonder about the status of current Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb, who will be an overager ('92) next season.  I don't think the Stars drafted Bitzer to sit on the bench.  Bitzer has already commented on Twitter that he's excited about being part of the Stars family.

Another player I've heard nothing but positive things about is forward Ross Olsson.  I think he can come right in next season and be one of the top point producers on the team and add a physical element as a power forward.  I've had a few people tell me that they were surprised he fell to the fifth round.  As I mentioned above, he could very well be selected in the 2013 NHL entry draft.

Well, the next step is hopefully watching all of the above players at the Stars' tryout camp this June in Minneapolis.  I'll highlight all of the players that should be at that camp later in a blog article.  Thanks for reading.  Sorry for the length.

Go Stars.

Edit:  Click here to see what the Lincoln coaches think about some of the draft picks made yesterday.  According to the article, former Stars forward Eric Scheid has left the University of Alaska-Anchorage and will play for Lincoln next season (if he makes the team after tryouts).  Eric scored 36 points (15g, 21a) in 57 games for the Stars during the 2010-11 season.  Scheid is a '92, so he would count as an overager next season.  Each USHL team can roster only four overagers (players born in 1992) next season.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kevin Roy named USHL Forward of the Year

Courtesy of BA Photos
Congrats go out to Kevin Roy today as he was named by the USHL as "Forward of the Year" for the 2011-12 season.

 Click here to read the official press release by the league.  Here's an excerpt:

The United States Hockey League today announced that Lincoln Stars forward Kevin Roy has been selected as the 2011-12 USHL Forward of the Year as determined by a vote of USHL coaches and general managers.

Roy put up an astounding 104 points (54g, 50a) in 59 games during the regular season for the Stars.  It was the most points in a season during the USHL Tier 1 era (2002-present) and the first 100-point scorer since the 1998-99 season when Peter Fregoe scored 103 points (46g, 57a) for the Des Moines Buccaneers.  Roy shattered Lincoln Stars team records for goals and points which had both stood for more than a decade.

Roy, who celebrated his 19th birthday yesterday, led the USHL with 305 shots on goal and was also tops in the League with a plus-44 rating, the second highest plus/minus rating in the USHL Tier 1 era following the plus-52 mark set by Blake Coleman of the Indiana Ice in 2010-11. 

“Kevin single-handedly threatened the reputation of the USHL as a great defensive league this year with his extraordinary performance,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince.  “His scoring records this year set a new standard for the Tier 1 era – and as anyone who has watched him all year will recognize, he is just as strong on both ends of the ice.  Congratulations to Kevin, and the Lincoln Stars players and organization that helped him shine throughout his great season in the USHL.”  

Roy led the Stars to a 38-18-4 record (80 points) and a first place finish in the USHL Western Conference.  It was the first division title for Lincoln since the 2008-09 season.  The 38 wins were the most for the Stars over the last 10 seasons.  Lincoln was the third best team on the power play with a 23.2% conversion rate which was led by Roy’s 28 power play points (14g, 14a), the most in the USHL.

Roy becomes the fifth Lincoln Stars player to earn the USHL Forward of the Year award, joining Jason Gregoire (2007-08), Dan Riedel (2004-05), Ryan Potulny (2002-03), and Chris Fournier (2000-01).

Hopefully this is the first of two USHL awards won by Kevin.  The league has yet to announce the winner of the "Player of the Year," but considering the record-breaking performance put in by Kevin this past season, I don't see how the league could not give him the POY award.  You could argue Kevin should have also won the "Rookie of the Year" award which was handed out last week to Taylor Cammarata, the 16-year old phenom for the Waterloo Blackhawks.  Former Stars forward Jason Gregoire won both the "Forward of the Year," and the "Player of the Year" awards in 2007-08.

Congrats once again to Kevin!  It was a pleasure to watch him this past season in Lincoln.  We may never see a talent like his in the USHL in a long, long time.  Best of luck to him in the future.

B³ Draft Coverage: 2012 USHL Entry Draft Preview

Tomorrow (Tuesday 5/22) afternoon starting at 4:00pm CST, the Lincoln Stars will participate in 2012 USHL Entry Draft.  This draft is much different than the USHL Futures Draft which was held in a few weeks ago.  Whereas the Futures Draft is used to select some of the up and coming youngsters from a specific birth year who will contribute to the Stars in a few seasons, most of the players selected in Tuesday's Entry Draft are drafted with the intentions they will contribute in 2012-13.  Click here to read more from the USHL website.

Here's a quote from the USHL website about the 2012 Entry Draft:

The second and main USHL draft will be held on May 22, 2012. This draft is open to players with birthdates ranging from 1992 to 1997. Teams will fill their roster to a total of 30 players on this date, in addition to the 10 they have on their Affiliate List. The total number of players that a team will draft will vary depending on the number of returning players they have on the Initial Protected List. Typically teams will have 9 returning players, as 14 on average will be moving on to the NHL or NCAA Division I hockey. This is an average, and not a guarantee. Some teams will protect more players and some will protect less. Teams will have their training camps/tryouts in June and July. Teams will typically have 60-80 players at their training camps. 30 of the players at the camp are returning players or drafted players that the team has protected. The remaining 30-50 players are invited by the team. By July 1st, 2012, teams must be down to a 25-man protected list from all the players that were at their training camps in June.

So the amount of players drafted by the Stars this Tuesday has a lot to do with how many players from last season are protected by the Stars because they anticipate returning for another season.  Based on what I put together, I'd anticipate the Stars drafting a total of 14-16 players tomorrow.

I believe the Stars will not have a draft pick in the first round because of a trade they made last year with the Dubuque Fighting Saints for goaltender Jackson Teichroeb.  When the trade was announced, it stated that the Stars sent a first round draft pick, and a conditional fifth round draft pick in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft for the rights to Teichroeb.  So unless the Stars have secretly obtained a first round draft pick, I don't believe they'll draft their first player until the second round.  In the 2011 Entry Draft, the Stars selected Kevin Roy in the first round.

Because the Stars do not have a goaltender on their affiliate list, and with Charles Williams departing for Ferris State, I would suspect that the Stars will draft at least one goaltender tomorrow.  As far as I know, Jackson Teichroeb could return next season unless he has a college scholarship lined up that I'm not aware of.

You can never replace a talent like Kevin Roy, who comes around once every 20+ years, but Lincoln will look to draft some talented, point-scoring forwards who can come in next season and replace names such as Roy, Jared Hanson, Matt Friese, and Teemu Tiitinen.

I'll be following the draft live as it occurs, and I'll post the selections made by the Stars in a separate article.  If I recall correctly, last year's entry draft lasted about five hours, so please be patient Tuesday afternoon/evening as we post results.  Thanks.

Click here to view the list of players formerly drafted by Lincoln who are on their most recent affiliate list.
Click here to view the players selected by the Lincoln Stars in the 2011 USHL Entry Draft.
Click here to view the players selected by the Lincoln Stars in the 2010 USHL Entry Draft.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Congrats to Dax Lauwers!

According to the Lincoln Stars official Twitter account, defenseman Dax Lauwers committed to play collegiate hockey for Northeastern University today.

Click here to read the tweet.  Northeastern University is located in Boston, MA.

Lauwers played a total of 122 games over the course of two seasons with the Lincoln Stars.  After completing the 2009-10 season with the Stars, Dax committed to the Army Black Knights where he played the 2010-11 season.  Lauwers decided after that one season with Army that he wanted to pursue other options, so he came back to Lincoln to play the 2011-12 season.

Dax will start at Northeastern in the fall of 2012.  Northeastern University has been a popular college among former and current Stars players.  That list includes former Stars defenseman Jake Newton, forward Brodie Reid, forward Garrett Vermeersch, defenseman Ben Oskroba, defenseman Colton Saucerman, and current forward Zach Aston-Reese (2013).  I guess you could call it a Lincoln-Northeastern pipeline.

Congrats once again to Dax!  A true warrior on the ice.  Dax was a big reason why the Stars had such a successful 2011-12 season.  He was a goaltenders best friend due to his shot-blocking prowess.  A leader on and off the ice.  He will be missed.  We wish him all the best next season in Boston.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lincoln Stars lead the USHL in attendance for sixth straight season

Courtesy of BA Photos
Another season gone, another attendance record set by the Lincoln Stars.  Seems like every year about this time I'm posting an article like this.  I think it's a statistic that a lot of folks gloss over, and take for granted.  Good season, bad season, good economy, bad economy, we all show up at the IceBox and root on our favorite hockey team.  I'm positive that there aren't any other USHL teams that could lead the league in attendance year in and year out, despite their record.  It's no secret we have the most committed, hardcore fans in the league.


Much thanks go to Lincoln Stars Director of Ticket Operations Micki Buhrmann and her staff for being an essential part of this attendance streak and always being helpful when called upon.  Micki and her staff work very hard, and they deserve the accolades.

Historical attendance statistics (the past 10 seasons) for the Stars, courtesy of Pointstreak:

2011-12:  117,879 total;  3,929 per game (first overall in the USHL)
2010-11:  113,727 total;  3,790 per game (first overall in the USHL)
2009-10:  124,422 total;  4,147 per game (first overall in the USHL)
2008-09:  129,428 total;  4,314 per game (first overall in the USHL)
2007-08:  130,235 total;  4,341 per game (first overall in the USHL)
2006-07:  130,134 total;  4,337 per game (first overall in the USHL)
2005-06:  129,570 total;  4,319 per game (second overall in the USHL)
2004-05:  132,768 total;  4,425 per game (first overall in the USHL)
2003-04:  135,719 total;  4,523 per game (first overall in the USHL)
2002-03:  138,240 total;  4,608 per game (second overall in the USHL)

Here's to you, Stars Nation!  You should all be very proud of the fantastic atmosphere created at the IceBox, which is second to none in the USHL!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Looking Ahead To Next Season

Is it too early to look ahead?  I say no.  Yes, we're all still in "mourning," so to speak.  But I'm sure most of you are interested in what the lineup could look like next season.  The list below is very fluid, and some of it is a guessing game.  A lot can happen between now and September/October.

Some players have aged out of the USHL (Freibergs, Lauwers, Tate), and will be playing collegiate hockey next season.  There also are a number of players who have committed to certain colleges, but their programs have yet to decide if they want them to report in 2012 or 2013.


Here's what I know right now.

Players departing:
G - Charles Williams:  Ferris State University
D - Ralfs Freibergs:  Bowling Green University
D - Dax Lauwers:  Uncommitted
D - Colton Saucerman:  Northeastern University
F - Brent Tate:  Bowling Green University
F - Teemu Tiitinen:  Cornell University
F - Matt Friese:  University of Alaska-Fairbanks
F - Kevin Roy:  Brown University
F - Jared Hanson:  Colorado College

Players (possibly) returning:
G - Jackson Teichroeb:  Uncommitted
D - Paul LaDue:  University of North Dakota (2012 or 2013)
D - Mike McKee:  Western Michigan University (2012 or 2013)
D - Brandon Carlson:  Uncommitted
D - Logan Smith:  Uncommitted
D - Zach Frye:  Uncommitted
F - Dominik Shine:  Northern Michigan University (2012 or 2013)
F - Luke Johnson:  University of North Dakota (2013)
F - Zach Aston-Reese:  Northeastern University (2013)
F - Brad Hawkinson:  Denver University (2013)
F - Bob Kinne:  Bemidji University (2013)
F - Vinni Lettieri:  University of Minnesota (2013)
F - Will Suter:  Uncommitted
F - Tommy Schutt:  Uncommitted
F - Markus McCrea - Ineligible for NCAA hockey (former major junior player)

The big question marks in regards to players returning are Paul LaDue, Mike McKee, and Dominik Shine.  Most of the UND followers I know say that LaDue will probably be back in Lincoln next season because the Fighting Sioux return six or seven defensemen from last season, along with incoming freshman Jordan Schwartz of the Green Bay Gamblers.  I've heard Western Michigan could take McKee this fall, or in 2013.  Shine apparently has told some Lincoln fans that he'll be back next season, so I would assume he'll start at Northern Michigan at 2013.

One of the big questions will be which four overagers will be retained for next season.  Each USHL team will be able to roster only four players next season with a birth year of 1992.  As of right now, here are the players that could return that were born in 1992:  Teichroeb, LaDue, Carlson, Smith, Kinne, Suter, and McCrea.  Seven possible players fighting for only four spots.

I also ran across some tweets and  message board posts that indicate former Stars forward Eric Scheid has left the University of Alaska-Anchorage and could possibly play for the Stars next season.  Each year it seems like the Stars get at least one player who comes back to Lincoln after spending a season at the collegiate level.  Two seasons ago it was Kevin Murdock.  Last season it was Dax Lauwers.  Nothing is official yet, but if Scheid shows up at the Stars' tryout camp in early June, I'd say there's a very good chance he could play Lincoln next season.  Scheid was born in 1992, so he would also be competing with seven (possibly) other players for four positions on the team.

Just like every season, the returning players I listed above will have to participate in the tryout camp and earn a spot on the roster for next season.  Nothing is guaranteed, as we've seen in previous seasons when returning players were let go at the conclusion of the tryout camp.

So that's as much as I know right now.  As I stated above, a LOT can happen between now and September/October.  There are a few players listed above as returning/uncommitted that could pick up a late scholarship and play college hockey this fall.  You never know.  If there's any info stated above that needs to be corrected, please leave a comment below or shoot me an email at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com.

After the USHL Entry Draft, which will be held on Tuesday, May 22nd, I will highlight all of the draft picks made by the Stars.  How cutthroat will it be to make the team in 2012-13?  Veteran players returning from last season, protected players drafted by Lincoln last year, players drafted by Lincoln this year, free agents at tryout camp....all competing for a few spots on next year's roster at the tryout camp in Minneapolis in early June.

Go Stars.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

B³ Lincoln Stars 2011-12 Season Recap

Well, here we are at the end of another Lincoln Stars season.  It's hard to believe it's all over, but as fans we have a lot to be thankful for.  Because of a great group of players (and coaches), we were all treated to some of the best hockey we've seen here in Lincoln in many years.

The Stars finished the 2011-12 regular season with a record of 38-18-4, and a western conference regular season championship.  The 38 regular season wins was the most since the 2001-02 season when the Stars went 43-15-3.  The 18 road wins the Stars accumulated was the most since the 2005-06 season.  A total of 214 goals was scored by Lincoln this season, the most since 2006-07 (241).

I'm not sure the Stars have ever accomplished this in franchise history, but Lincoln had the top USHL scoring leaders at both the forward and defense positions.  Kevin Roy (of course) led all skaters with a whopping 104 points (54g, 50a) scored in 59 games.  Ralfs Freibergs led all USHL defensemen in scoring with 43 points (8g, 35a) in 60 games played.  Kevin Roy led all USHL skaters in plus/minus with a +44 rating in 59 games played.  Paul LaDue led all USHL defensemen in plus/minus with a +36 rating in 56 games played.  I'm planning a separate article which highlights all of the records shattered by Kevin Roy, so keep an eye out for that.

The Stars led the USHL in attendance for the the SIXTH straight season with a total of 117,879 fans and an average of 3,929 in thirty regular season games at the IceBox.  Like we needed a bunch of numbers to prove that we are the most dedicated fans in the entire USHL.  I'm planning another article highlighting the attendance numbers as well.

I'd like to take a moment and thank each and every one of the players who suited for the Lincoln Stars in 2011-12.  This season ended a little earlier than we had hoped, but the players on this team never quit.  We appreciate all that you sacrificed this season for our entertainment.  All of your hard work and determination will not be forgotten.  For the players who are moving on to college, good luck and remember us back in Lincoln as you continue your hockey careers.  I know there are a number of player parents who read this blog and I'd like to thank each and every one of them for sending their sons to Lincoln to play for the Stars.  It was a pleasure watching them this season.

Lastly, thanks to all of you who frequent this blog for your daily Stars fix.  I really appreciate the patronage.  Without you, I'd still be talking to myself.  I say this all the time, but the absolute best part about running this blog is that I've had the opportunity to meet and befriend so many awesome people.  Other Stars fans, fans of other teams, player parents, player family members, players themselves.....the list goes on, and on.  So even though the blog is a lot of work, it's also a blessing because of all the friendships I've made over the years.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Even though we won't have any live hockey in Lincoln until at least September, we'll still be covering a lot of off-season events here on the B³.  The 2012 USHL Entry draft is coming up on Tuesday, May 22nd.  In that particular draft, the Stars will select a number of players who will end up playing for the black and blue next season.  I'm a draft-junkie, if you haven't noticed already, so I'll thoroughly highlight each of the draft picks made by the Stars.

It's hard to believe, but the tryout camp is only one month away and I'll be in Minneapolis, MN from June 7th-10th covering that.  The tryout camp is easily my favorite off-season event of the year.  This will be my 5th or 6th straight time watching the camp live, and I can't wait to get up there and check out the future of next year's team.  I'll have more on the camp as we get closer to June 7th

In late June, the NHL will hold its entry draft where players such as Kevin Roy, Zach Aston-Reese, and Mike McKee have a pretty good shot at being selected by a NHL club.

Okay, that's it for now!  Thanks for reading!

Go Stars.

Monday, May 7, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Waterloo 6

The 2011-12 season came to a close for the Lincoln Stars tonight in Waterloo, IA as the hometown Blackhawks skated to a 6-2 victory and a 3-1 series win.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The Blackhawks will represent the western conference and move onto the USHL Clark Cup Finals where they will face off against the Green Bay Gambers.  Click here to view the Pointstreak USHL playoff bracket.

Extremely tough game to watch tonight knowing that the end was quickly approaching.  As in just about every game this series, the Stars fell behind early and could not catch up.  Waterloo scored two in the first, two in the second, and two in the third.  Waterloo outscored Lincoln 9-1 total in the four first periods of this series.

Lincoln finally got on the scoreboard two minutes into the third period when Kevin Roy netted his sixth goal of the playoffs to pull the Stars to within three goals at 4-1.  Roy added his second of the game with about 8 minutes remaining to pull Lincoln to within two goals.

The Stars fought like hell in the second and third periods to get back into the game, but the damage was already done.  Proud of the boys with how they finished the game.  They could have packed it up, but they battled and battled until the very end.

Okay, here's my rant.  Skip this paragraph if you don't want to hear my babbling.  The officiating in this game (and series) was really, really bad.  I know I'm going to sound like sour grapes but I don't give a shit.  The officiating in this league is so inconsistent it's a joke. The officials pretty much let Lincoln and Fargo play, but in this series it's suddenly a whistle-fest.  The Stars get used to one style of hockey and then all of a sudden they can't play their style without constant penalties.   I'm going to stop right there before my big mouth gets me in trouble.  I just hope USHL referee Christopher Pitoscia moves on to a different league next season.

Props to Waterloo.  They have incredible team speed and take full advantage of their larger ice surface at Young Arena.  Having said that, I have to root for Green Bay in the finals.  I don't care who is representing the western conference in the finals; if it's not Lincoln, I'm rooting for the other team.  The Gamblers have defenseman Dakota Mermis, who played a few games for the Stars back in 2009-10 , and whose older brother Jarrod played for Lincoln that same season.  Those are good enough reasons for me to pull for the Gamblers in the finals.

I'll update the blog with a season-ending recap article tomorrow sometime, so stay tuned for that.

Huge thanks to all of the Stars players and coaches this season for giving up so much for our entertainment.  You're the best, and you deserved better.  Please hold your heads high and remember the good times!  We are very, very proud of your efforts and hard work.  You are our champions!

More tomorrow.  Go Stars.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 0, Waterloo 5

The Waterloo Blackhawks used their team speed and the advantage of a larger ice surface to shutout the visiting Lincoln Stars in Game 3 of their best-of-five series by a score of 5-0.

 Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The Stars are now facing elimination and must win Game 4 in Waterloo on Monday, April 7th to force a deciding Game 5 which would be held at the IceBox in Lincoln.  Click here to view the Pointstreak USHL playoff bracket.

Well, I watched this entire game on FastHockey and it was pretty ugly.  Not the best way to spend 2.5 hours and 8 bucks, but it gave me some perspective on how fast this Waterloo team really is.  It's scary how small, quick, and skilled the Blackhawks are, especially at the forward position.  They are the only team in the Western Conference with a larger olympic ice surface, and they use it to their advantage.  After the shutout win last night, the Blackhawks have now won 14 in a row at Young Arena.

At the start of the game, I thought the Stars came out and looked pretty good.  They were skating with the Blackhawks and created a number of good scoring chances that were saved by 'Loo goaltender Stephon Williams. But after the first Blackhawks goal, which was an unfortunate bounce after a blocked shot, it all went downhill for the Stars after that.

Waterloo was able to score three goals in the first, and one each in the second and third periods.  It seemed at times that the Stars were playing against the officials as well.  It wasn't until four minutes into the third period that the Stars received their first powerplay opportunity of the game.  The only positive that I could see from last night was how well the Lincoln penalty-kill unit looked.  Waterloo was only able to score one PP goal in eight opportunities, which included a three-minute 5-on-3 opportunity in the second period.

Try as they might, the Stars were unable to put any pucks past 'Loo goaltender Stephon Williams.  Although he didn't have to work too hard for the win last night, Williams did come up big a number of times.  Kevin Roy looked to me like he had a goal gift-wrapped up for him in the third period when he accepted a cross-crease pass and had half of an open net to shoot on, but Williams dove across and snagged the puck out of mid-air with his glove.  Waterloo outshot Lincoln 35-23 overall.

It's hard to be physical and play the body against a team that is so quick that you cannot catch them to hit them.  Add in the extra room because of the larger sheet of ice, and it's damn near impossible to play the style of hockey Lincoln can win with.  I know they'd like to get in their faces, play the body and slow them down, but I don't see how that's possible at Young Arena.  It can happen at the IceBox, as we all saw this past Friday night.

The Stars are staying in Waterloo today and hopefully will have some time to practice on the larger ice sheet before Game 4 tomorrow night.  The entire season comes down to that one game on Monday evening.  Do or die time.  Win, and fight another day.  Lose, and go home.  I have faith in this team!  It won't be easy, but they can beat Waterloo in their own barn.  They proved that already in the regular season.  Time to do it now in the playoffs.

Go Stars.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Snapshots of the Game: Waterloo vs. Lincoln 5/5

Thanks to blog readers Brandon Anderson and "Starstruck" for allowing me to share some of their photos from the Waterloo game last night.  Click here to check out BA's Facebook page.

Click the "Read more" link underneath the photo below to see all of the pictures in this series.

Tommy Schutt (left) and Vinni Lettieri (middle) are all smiles after Luke Johnson's first period goal

Snapshots of the Game: Waterloo vs. Lincoln 5/2

Sorry for the delay getting these pictures up.  Thanks to blog readers "Starstruck" and Brandon Anderson for allowing me to share some of their photos from the Waterloo game this past Wednesday night at the IceBox.  Click here to check out BA's Facebook page.

Click the "Read more" link underneath the photo below to see all of the pictures in this series.

Pregame huddle

Friday, May 4, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Waterloo 3, Lincoln 4

What a great atmosphere tonight at the IceBox!  Even better than that, a win!

The Lincoln Stars stormed back from a 3-1 deficit tonight to beat the Waterloo Blackhawks at the IceBox by a score of 4-3.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The five-game series between the Stars and the Blackhawks is now tied up at 1-1.  Game 3 will occur tomorrow (Saturday) evening in Waterloo, IA at Young Arena.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm for that game.  Click here to view the Pointstreak USHL playoff bracket.


Outstanding effort tonight by the entire team.  The Blackhawks had their moments, but I thought the Stars dominated most of the game.  Lincoln had a few bad bounces go against them and fell behind early, but the boys never quit and fought like dogs to get back into the game.  Very proud of all of them.  They could have packed it in after going down 3-1, but they continued to grind it out and showed a lot of heart.

Scoring for the Stars tonight was Luke Johnson, Tommy Schutt (PP), Kevin Roy (SH), and Dominik Shine (GWG).  Charles Williams was a bit shaky to begin the game, but he bounced back with an outstanding effort between the pipes to earn the win.  CW3 stopped 25 of 28 shots to collect his fourth win of the playoffs.  Waterloo goaltender Stephon Williams stopped 37 of 41 in the loss.  Both teams went 1-for-5 on the powerplay.

I promise I'll update this article tomorrow with a full recap when I have time to sit down and collect my thought.  I'll also post pictures from the Wednesday and Friday night games.

If you had an opportunity to go to this game tonight but stayed at home, shame on you!  It was definitely a playoff atmosphere tonight at the IceBox.  The true fans were just as loud as a sellout crowd!  Props to all of you who showed up to support the team!

The train rolls on!

Go Stars.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Waterloo 5, Lincoln 2

The Lincoln Stars fell tonight at the IceBox to the Waterloo Blackhawks by a score of 5-2.  Waterloo now leads the best-of-five series, 1-0.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

I will update this blog article with a full recap sometime tomorrow when I have more time.

Ugly loss tonight. Not sure how else to describe it. Lincoln wasn't physical enough, didn't crash the net enough, didn't forecheck as well as the Blackhawks, and generally looked asleep.  Lincoln outplayed Waterloo for the last 10 minutes of the second period, but that was it.  Waterloo wanted it more, and it showed.

Plenty of hockey yet to be played in this series, so there's no reason to get down.  Lincoln can play a lot better than they did tonight, and when they do, I have no doubt they can beat the Blackhawks.  The first step is bouncing back this Friday night at the IceBox with a 60 minute effort.

Go Stars.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

B³ Clark Cup Playoff Preview: Waterloo Blackhawks

The Lincoln Stars will continue on in the 2012 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs against the Waterloo Blackhawks this weekend in their Western Conference Finals series matchup.

Click here to view the Pointstreak playoff bracket.

This will be a best-of-five series (first team to win three games wins).  Here are the particulars of each game:

Game 1: Wednesday, May 2nd, 7:05 PM – Waterloo @ Lincoln
Game 2: Friday, May 4th, 7:05 PM – Waterloo @ Lincoln
Game 3: Saturday, May 5th, 7:05 PM – Lincoln @ Waterloo
Game 4: Monday, May 7th, 7:05 PM – Lincoln @ Waterloo (if necessary)
Game 5: Wednesday, May 9th, 7:05 PM – Waterloo @ Lincoln (if necessary)

The Blackhawks earned the right to play the Lincoln Stars in the conference finals thanks to a two-game sweep of the Tri-City Storm in the first round of the Clark Cup playoffs, and then a 3-1 series win over the Omaha Lancers in the second round.

The Stars and the Blackhawks met four times in the 2011-12 USHL regular season with Lincoln going 2-2-0 in those 4 contests.  Lincoln went 1-1-0 at the IceBox against the Blackhawks and went 1-1-0 in two games on the road in Waterloo.  Three of the four regular season games between these two teams were decided by one goal, and two of the games were decided in overtime.

The last time the Stars and Blackhawks met in the regular season, it was 4/1/12 and Lincoln lost at Young Arena in Waterloo, IA by a score 4-1.  That was the only contest that wasn't decided by one goal, and it was a one-goal game going into the third period.

The Blackhawks are an extremly hot team right now, and are riding a 13-game win streak in their own barn.  Young Arena in Waterloo has not been a very friendly place for the Stars to play over the years.  On 12/11/11, the Stars beat the Blackhawks in Waterloo by a score of 2-1 in OT.  It was the first time since April 10th, 2007 that Lincoln beat Waterloo at Young Arena.  Almost five years.

Going back to the start of the 2007-08 season, the Stars and Waterloo Blackhawks have played a total of 16 times in the regular season.  The Stars have a record of 5-7-4 in those sixteen games.  I'm not sure why, but the Stars just haven't had much luck in recent seasons against the Blackhawks.

Waterloo is a much different team than the team the Stars faced last round, the Fargo Force.  The Blackhawks are smaller up front, but much more quicker and skilled than Fargo.  They can score goals in bunches, and will use the larger ice surface (olympic sheet) in Waterloo at Young Arena to their advantage.  So they will give the Stars a much different challenge compared to Fargo.  The Blackhawks are much more potent offensively than the Force, and they have just as good of a goaltender in net.

Stephon Williams began the season as the starting goaltender for the Sioux Falls Stampede before he was traded to Waterloo in February.  The Stars have had good luck against Stephon Williams while he was with the Stampede, but he's almost a different goaltender in the playoffs.  Over the last two seasons, Stephon has a record of 9-2 in the playoffs with a .919 save percentage and a 2.29 goals against average.  He seems to step up his games with they count.

Waterloo was picked by many USHL pundits as the team to beat in the western conference at the beginning of the 2011-12 regular season.  They didn't get out to the best start, but they are certainly playing their best hockey of the season right now (as are the Stars).  I went back and looked at the last 20 games each team as played, and the results are very interesting.  Waterloo is 16-4-0 in their last twenty while the Stars are 15-5-0 in their last twenty.  I have a hard time believing this series doesn't go at least four games.  In fact, I'm predicting it goes all five games.

I'm really, really looking forward to this series.  Although I think the Blackhawks will pose a very tough task for the Stars, I believe Lincoln has what it takes to compete with Waterloo and possibly move on to the USHL Finals.  They key for Lincoln is to take advantage of home ice.  The Blackhawks have been nearly unbeatable at home as of late, so it's extremely important the Stars take care of business at the IceBox this weekend with two big wins.  So that's why it's important that all of us pack the IceBox for games one and two and give the Stars every advantage they deserve.  Be loud and proud!

Go Stars.

B³ Draft Coverage: 2012 USHL Futures Draft Results

The Lincoln Stars selected six players tonight in the 2012 USHL Futures Draft and I'll highlight each and every one below.  Click here to check out the USHL's draft website to view the selections made by all of the USHL teams tonight.

All of the player selected by the Stars were born in 1996, and are considered the best at their age group.  Although they may not play for Lincoln next season, these players very well could be in a Stars uniform in the next couple of years.

Click here to see what the Lincoln coaches think about the six players they selected.

1st Round:  Ryan Norman (F), 5'10" 160 pounds
Ryan played last season for the famous hockey prep school Shattuck St. Mary's as a member of the U-16 squad.  In 54 games played, Norman scored 61 points (33g, 28a) and was his teams second-leading scorer.  According to this article from Ryan S. Clark of the "Slightly Chilled" blog, Norman was a freshman on a team comprised mostly of sophmores and juniors.  Norman is getting attention from a number of colleges such as the University of Wisconsin.  I did find this video of Norman in action a few years ago when he played for the St. Louis Jr. Blues ('96).  Norman single-handedly beat three opponents to the puck and scores a very nice goal.  Ryan's father Todd Norman is a former NHL draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers, and played with former Lincoln Stars head coach Steve Johnson at the University of North Dakota from 1984-86.

2nd Round:  Daniel Willett (D), 5'7", 165 pounds
Daniel played last season for the New Jersey Rockets Junior B squad.  In 67 games for the Rockets, Willet scored 61 points (23g, 38a) in 67 games to go along with 68 PIM's.  8 of his 23 goals were of the game-winning variety, and 12 of his 61 points came on the powerplay.  Although undersized, Willet's stats are pretty impressive.  He's obviously an offensive-defenseman but the 68's PIM's show that he's not afraid to get his nose dirty.  According to this article, Willett has committed to play college hockey for Northeastern University.  Willett was drafted by the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL a few weeks ago, so he has some options in terms of where he wants to play hockey.

3rd Round:  Tyler Nanne (F), 5'9", 162 pounds
Tyler played last season as a sophomore on the Edina High School (MN) hockey team.  In 30 games, Nanne scored 22 points (7g, 15a) for the Edina Hornets.  Nanne is the grandson of Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne, and is the cousin of current Stars forward Vinni Lettieri.  One of Tyler's teammates at Edina HS is Parker Reno, who was a 2011 Futures Draft pick of the Lincoln Stars.  From what I've been told about Nanne, he can play both forward and defense.

4th Round:  Gordon Helmuth (F), 5'10", 160 pounds
Gordon played last season for the Detroit Little Caesars U-16 squad.  In 29 games, Helmuth scored 15 points (4g, 11a) to go along with 34 PIM's.  According to this article, Gordon is an "honest two-way player with a high compete level. Is persistent, forceful and abrasive, and has the ability to get underneath the opposition’s skin. Battles hard and is more than willing to work the trenches and do the dirty work."  Current Stars forward Brent Tate also came from the Detroit Little Caesars program.  From the description of Helmuth's play, he sounds like he plays a very similar game to Tate's.  Like Daniel Willett above, Gordie was recently drafted by a OHL team a few weeks ago, the Soo Greyhounds.

5th Round:  Jack Walker (D), 5'9", 150 pounds
Jack played last season as a freshman on the Edina High School (MN) hockey team where he was a teammate of the Stars' third round pick, Tyler Nanne.  In 29 games for the Edina Hornets, Walker scored 14 points (2g, 12a) along with 22 PIM's.  Jack, along with teammate Tyler Nanne, was invited to tryout for the Team USA U-17 team that participates in the USHL.  According to this article, Jack's older brother plays for the Victoria Royals of the WHL, and that team is very interested in Jack playing there next season.

6th Round:  Michael Prapavessis (D), 5'10", 144 pounds
Does the last name sound familiar?  Well, it should.  Michael is the younger brother of former Stars defenseman Matt Prapavessis.  Michael is from Oakville, Ontario, Canada and played for the Mississauga Rebels AAA squad last season.  He was recently drafted by the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL.  I'm having a hard time finding game statistics for Michael online, so if you can find any stats from last season, please let me know.

That's it!  All in all, a pretty good group.  If I was incorrect with any of the information provided above, or if there is anything I should add, please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com.