Tuesday, October 30, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 3, Tri-City 0

Choo choo!

The Lincoln Stars remained undefeated tonight with a 3-0 shutout victory on the road over the Tri-City Storm.



Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.


With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 9-0-0 (18 points) on the season and are back in a tie for first place in the USHL Western Conference with the Waterloo Blackhawks.  Click here to view the USHL standings.  The win tonight also completed an undefeated month of October for the Stars.  8-0-0 in eight games played.  You're next, November.

The first goal, and eventual game-winner, was scored by Jimmy DeVito at the 17:56 mark of the first period.  After a Brent Wold shot on goal that was saved by Storm goaltender Christian Frey, the rebound went right to DeVito who fired the puck into the open net.  The goal was DeVito's first as a member of the Lincoln Stars.  Wold and Max Humitz earned the assist on the even-strength goal from DeVito.

Stars took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission, leading in shots 13-10.

After a scoreless second period which saw Lincolnout-shoot Storm 11-6, the Stars would finish out the third period with two more goals to cruise to their 9th straight win to start the season.

Lincoln's second goal was scored by Vinni Lettieri on an unreal snipe at the 7:49 mark of the third period.  After accepting a long pass from Trent Samuels-Thomas, Vinni skated into the Storm zone along on the right wing.  Vinni faked a slapshot before wristing the puck glove high, short side, on Frey.  Beauty shot.  Vinni's goal was his first of the season and it came at even-strenth.  Samuel-Thomas and Jackson Teichroeb picked up the assists on Lettieri's goal.

Later in the third period, Dominik Shine put the game away with his 6th goal of the season at the 15:08 mark to increase Lincoln's lead to 3-0.  The Pointstreak boxscore shows that Paul LaDue picked up the lone assist, but it was Zach Aston-Reese who should have been rewarded.  ZAR was along the far boards in the Storm zone and found Shine with a beauty backhand pass.  Dominik skated into the slot and fired it glove-high past Frey for the goal.  Shine has now scored one goal in three straight games and has six total goals scored in only 8 games.

Neither team would score on the powerplay as the Stars and Storm both went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.  A total of four minor penalties were called in this game.  Nice to see the Stars stay out of the penalty box and still dominate teams.  The Stars outshot the Storm overall, 39-31.

Jackson Teichroeb played brilliant once again tonight, stopping all 31 shots he faced to record his first shutout of the regular season.  Teichroeb improved to 6-0-0 with a 1.62 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.  Rightfully so, Teichroeb was named the number one star of the game.

Stars co-captain Mike McKee did not play tonight as he was serving the first of a three-game suspension handed down by the USHL.  McKee was suspended after picking up a spearing major and game misconduct against the Indiana Ice this past Saturday.  McKee will miss both games this weekend.

The Stars will look to go 10-0-0 this Friday night in Sioux City, Iowa against the Musketeers.  On Saturday, Lincoln will be back at the IceBox for a tilt against the Fargo Force.  The Stars will be without the services of Luke Johnson, Justin Woods, and Michael Bitzer for the next four games as the trio will be playing for Team USA in the 2012 World Junior A Challenge in Nova Scotia, Canada.  Click here to read more about that.  I'll post a weekend preview article late Thursday night, so keep an eye out for that.

The train rolls on!  Go Stars!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

B³ Pregame Report: Tri-City Storm 10/30

The undefeated 8-0-0 Lincoln Stars will play a rare mid-week game this Tuesday evening in Kearney, NE against the Tri-City Storm.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney.

If you can't make it out to Kearney to watch this game live, you can follow 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 are currently 8-0-0 (16 points), and are in second place in the USHL Western Conference.  The first place Waterloo Blackhawks have 18 points, but have played two more games than the Stars.  Lincoln is still one of only two teams in the league who remain undefeated in the regular season.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Storm currently sport a record of 3-5-1 (7 points), and are tied for last place in the USHL Western Conference.  This will be the third of nine regular season games the Stars and the Storm will play against one another.  Lincoln is 2-0-0 in two games against the Storm so far this season, including a 3-2 OT home win on 10/12/12, and a 4-1 road victory the next night on 10/13/12 in Kearney.

In the battle for the USHL's "Good Life Cup," the Stars hold a 2-0-0 record, as they have yet to face the Omaha Lancers.  Click here to read more about the "Good Life Cup" trophy.  Here are the current "Good Life Cup" standings:

Lincoln:  2-0-0 (both wins against Tri-City)
Tri-City:  2-2-1 (both wins against Omaha)
Omaha:  1-2-0 (lone win against Tri-City)

I'll be honest, I'm not too excited about this newly created "Good Life Cup."  Lincoln and Omaha have established a fierce rivalry over the past 16 years.  Both clubs normally end up near the top of the western conference standings each season.  Many consider the Lancers and the Stars two of the most successful organizations in the USHL right now.  Whereas Lincoln and Omaha have traditionally been the big kids on the block, the Tri-City Storm are the little brother whom people have forgotten.  They have struggled over the years to remain relevant in the USHL, both in winning hockey and in attendance.  In my opinion, this trophy was created for the sole purpose to make the Storm feel like they are part of a rivalry with Lincoln and Omaha.  Nothing more than that.  At the end of the season, after the Andy and Clark Cups are awarded, no one is going to care or remember who won the "Good Life Cup."

This past Friday night, the Storm traveled to Ralston, NE to battle the Omaha Ralston Lancers at the grand opening of their new rink, the Ralston Arena.  In a bit of a shocker, the Storm spoiled the Lancers' grand opening in a big way, blanking Omaha by a score of 3-0.  A sellout crowd of 3,643 watched the Lancers put a whopping 17 shots on goal for the entire game, including two shots on goal in the first period.  It was an anemic offensive showing for the Lancers in front of a disappointed crowd.

The next night, riding high after playing the role of spoiler, the Storm laid an egg in Sioux Falls against the Stampede, losing 5-2.  The Storm were outshot 35-23 this past Saturday evening against the 'Pede, and gave up two powerplay goals as well.  For the most part, the Storm have been an up-and-down team.  They'll have a game or two that they'll play very well, before losing two in a row.  They are 2-2-0 in four games at home this season.

The Stars are coming off a productive weekend on the road which saw them beat the Youngstown Phantoms and the Indiana Ice.  Lincoln is now 5-0-0 at home, and 3-0-0 on the road.  Lincoln's next two games are on the road:  Tuesday in Kearney against the Tri-City Storm, and Friday in Sioux City against the Musketeers.  The Stars will be back at the IceBox this Saturday against the Fargo Force.

As of right now, it doesn't appear that defenseman Mike McKee will be suspended for the Storm game on Tuesday night.  This past Saturday in Indianapolis, McKee picked up a spearing major and misconduct in Lincoln's 4-3 win over the Ice.  According to the USHL's transactions page, McKee hasn't been suspended, but the league is sometimes slow to update that page.  We'll have to wait and see if USHL drops the hammer or not.

I know a lot of Stars fans will be making the trip out to Kearney this Tuesday evening, so I hope to hear from some of those people here on the blog after the game.  I'll be watching on FASTHockey from home.  Safe travels for all Stars fans heading that way.

Two more points up for grabs!

Go Stars.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 4, Indiana 3

Another weekend done, another four points!

The Lincoln Stars continued their perfect start to the season with a tough 4-3 win over the Indiana Ice at Pan Am Arena Saturday night. Playing in front of what sounded like little to no atmosphere in Indy, the Stars created their own energy and came out victorious. Radio broadcaster Mike Melbye actually compared it to the setup at Tranquility and said it was colder. For anyone who has been to Tranquility, you know how cold that must be.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 8-0-0 (16 points) and are still tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for first place in the USHL Western Conference. Waterloo beat Team USA 3-2 Saturday night. Click here to view the current USHL standings. Indiana is now 3-9-1 this season, but they were 2-1 at home coming into tonight's game.

Neither Yeti nor I were able to watch the game tonight, so this recap will not be too extensive. If you did watch on FastHockey or were lucky enough to be in attendance, please post your thoughts in a comment below!

The first period was a long one, taking nearly 55 minutes to complete. The fireworks started early, as Mike McKee and Indy's bad boy Woody Hudson dropped the gloves just five seconds into the game. Maybe the two biggest heavyweights in the league found themselves on the ice to start the game, and no doubt they made the most of the opportunity. I wasn't able to listen to the beginning of the game, so I'm not sure who earned the decision, if anyone.

Brad Hawkinson got the scoring started just 1:51 into the game. Hawkinson slipped a rebound past Dalton Izyk off of assists from Jimmy DeVito and Justin Woods. DeVito took a slapshot that Izyk made a save on, but Hawkinson swallowed up the leftovers for his second goal of the season. Hawkinson played both forward and defense for the Stars again tonight. That kind of versatility is invaluable.

But Indiana's Mikhail Plotnikov tied the game at 7:11 off of an assist from Alex Talcott. Plotnikov beat Jackson Teichroeb, who earned a second straight start in net for Lincoln.

McKee took a spearing major at 8:21 and received a game misconduct for it, ending his night very early. Love McKee's style of play, but it's never good to lose an NHL Draft pick and one of your best players before the first period is even over. Nevertheless, the Stars killed off the five minute major, as well as a few seconds of a 4-on-3. Each team went 0-for-3 on the powerplay in the opening period. The teams combined for 35 penalty minutes. Lincoln outshot Indiana 11-6.

In the second period, the Stars again came out the aggressor. Eric Scheid scored 1:25 into the period for his fifth goal of the season and a 2-1 Stars lead. Zachary Aston-Reese and Daniel Willett assisted the goal. Not to be outdone, Dominik Shine scored his fifth goal of the season at 6:27 on a breakaway for a 3-1 Stars lead. Willett picked up his second assist of the game and Paul Ladue notched one as well.

Indiana cut the lead to 3-2 on a goal by Brian Morgan 11:36 into the second. Morgan's shot hit the back bar inside the net and came out so fast that the referees initially didn't signal a goal. But the light went on, and after conferring with the goal judge, a goal was awarded.

Just when it appeared the Ice might take some momentum into the third period, the Stars got a huge goal from one of their leaders. Will Suter continued his streak of scoring a point in all eight games this season with his fifth goal of the year with 52 seconds left in the period. Suter sniped a shot from the dot in the right circle to give the Stars a two-goal lead at 4-2. Jake Wood and Tommy Schutt assisted the goal. Getting the two-goal lead back was huge heading into the third period, as it turned out to be the game-winner. Lincoln outshot Indiana 11-9 in the second for a two-period total of 22-15.

Early in the third period, Indy made it 4-3 on the powerplay thanks to Morgan's second goal of the game, which came just 2:56 into the third with one second left on the Stars' penalty kill. But the Stars held off the Ice the rest of the way to pick up the 4-3 win. In the final minute, Indiana wasn't even able to pull its goaltender for an extra attacker, as Luke Johnson, Trent Samuels-Thomas and Max Coatta kept the puck in the Indiana zone for the final 34 seconds following a faceoff. Teichroeb made 18 saves on 21 shots. Lincoln outshot Indiana 37-21 with a dominant 15-6 advantage in the third period. Lincoln has now won, I believe, 42 straight games when leading after two periods.

The Stars visit Tri-City on Tuesday for a Halloween Eve game at 7:05 p.m. Lincoln is at Sioux City next Friday at 7:00 p.m. before returning home on Saturday to host Fargo at 7:05 p.m. Three big games against three divisional opponents. One game at a time. Go Stars!

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 4, Youngstown 1

On the strength of an efficient opening period, the Lincoln Stars remained undefeated on the season with a workmanlike 4-1 road victory over the Phantoms in Youngstown, Ohio Friday night.



Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 7-0-0 (14 points) and are still tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for first place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Dubuque Fighting Saints (8-0-0) are the only team other than the Stars who are undefeated on the season.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I was able to watch this game on FastHockey, so I'll post my thoughts below.

The Stars came out very strong Friday night and controlled play for most of the first twenty minutes.  It didn't take long for Lincoln to get on the scoreboard, thanks to Daniel Willett's first USHL goal of his career just two minutes and six seconds into the first period.  Willett fired a puck from just inside the blueline that found its way past Youngstown goaltender Patrick Spano to give the Stars the early 1-0 lead.  Newly acquired forward Trent Samuels-Thomas and Luke Johnson each collected the assists on Willett's even-strength goal.

A little over six minutes after Willett's goal, the Phantoms would score their only goal of the game thanks to a strange bounce.  Luke Stork of Youngstown fired a puck at Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb, and it looked to me that it changed direction a few times before somehow finding the back of the net.  It was the definition of a fluky goal, but the Phantoms tally knotted the game up at 1-1.

With about 7 minutes remaining in the third period, Stars forward Will Suter fired what looked like an innocent shot from near center ice on Phantoms goaltender Patrick Spano.  What should have been a routine play ended up with Lincoln scoring its second goal of the game.  Spano made the save on Suter's long shot, but the juicy rebound went right to an opportunistic Tommy Schutt who buried the puck past the Youngstown goaltender to put the Stars back into the lead at 2-1.  Suter and Paul LaDue earned the assists on Schutt's second goal of the season, which was scored at even-strength.

The Stars were not done scoring in the first period.  With only 31 seconds remaining in the period, Stars forward Luke Johnson got the monkey off his back with his first goal of the season.  After a Paul LaDue shot that was initially saved, a streaking Luke Johnson took advantage of another rebound surrrendered by Spano to give the Stars a commanding 3-1 lead.  LaDue and Max Coatta picked up the assists on Johnson's even-strength goal.

Lincoln took the 3-1 lead into the first intermission in Youngstown.  The Phantoms outshot Lincoln 10-9 in the first twenty minutes, but the majority of those ten Youngstown shots were not high quality.

The Phantoms would outshoot the Stars again in the second period, 13 to 9, but neither team would find the back of the net.  The Stars held onto their 3-1 leading heading into the second intermission.

In the third, the only goal scored came by way of Dominik Shine on an empty net with only 6 second remaining in the game.  Try as they might, the Phantoms could not solve the Stars and Jackson Teichroeb in either the second or third periods.  Shine's unassisted, empty-net goal with six seconds remaining was the icing on the cake after another strong period by the Stars.

Phantoms outshot Lincoln overall, 32-28, but lose their sixth straight.  Neither team would win the special teams war Friday night as the Stars went 0-for-3 on the powerplay, while the Phantoms went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

Lincoln goaltender Jackson Teichroeb made it look easy once again, stopping 31 of 32 shots to record his fourth win of the season.  Although a majority of the 32 shots he faced weren't that challenging, Teichroeb did have to stand on his head a few times to fend off the Phantoms during the second and third periods.  Teichroeb improved to 4-0-0 on the season, with a 1.68 goals against average, and a .941 save percentage.

With his lone assist tonight, Will Suter has scored at least one point in each of the seven games the Stars have played this season.  Suter is now Lincoln's leading scorer with 10 points (4g, 6a) scored in 7 games played.  Suter is a great example of good things happening to someone who works hard every day.

Stars defenseman Paul LaDue, who pick up 2 assists against the Phantoms and was +3, now has 8 points (all assists) in seven games which is second-most for any defenseman in the USHL.  His plus/minus rating of +11 is tied for first overall in the league.

Very impressed with how the Stars playing Friday night.  Lincoln controlled play for most of the game, and deserved the two points.  I thought the Stars played great team hockey, and defensively did a tremendous job of keeping the Youngstown shots on goal contained to the outside.  Meanwhile, the forwards made the most of the opportunities present to them, especially in the first period.  Quality effort by everyone.

The Stars will finish up this long eastern road trip with a game against the Indiana Ice Saturday night.  The puck will drop at 6:05pm CST for the game against the Ice.  I won't be able to watch this game on FastHockey since I'm planning on driving up to Omaha on Saturday night to catch the Bemidji State vs. UNO game.  Because I'll be at the UNO game, I won't be able to provide updates on Facebook or Twitter either.

Go Stars.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Youngstown and Indiana


The Lincoln Stars will embark on their longest road-trip of the season this weekend when they face the Youngstown Phantoms in Youngstown, OH on Friday, and the Indiana Ice in Indianapolis, IN on Saturday.  Lincoln will hopefully improve upon their franchise record 6-0-0 start to the season against two quality USHL Eastern Conference teams.

Since Youngstown and Indianapolis are in the eastern time zone, these two games will start an hour earlier than what we are accustomed to here in Nebraska.  The puck will drop at 6:15pm CST on Friday for the game against Youngstown, and at 6:05pm CST on Saturday for the game against Indiana.

If you'd like to follow the action from home 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 are currently 6-0-0 (12 points), and are tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with one other team.  Lincoln is one of only two teams in the league who are still undefeated in the regular season.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Phantoms currently have a record of 4-5-0 (8 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL Eastern Conference.  This will be the first of only two games the Stars and Phantoms will have against one another this season.  Youngstown will visit the IceBox on 1/12/13 in their last regular season matchup.

The Phantoms have had a very interesting start to their season.  To say it's been a roller-coaster first 9 games is an understatement.  Youngstown came out of the gate red hot, winners of four in a row.  They were near the top of the eastern conference standings after steamrolling teams such as the Omaha Lancers, Waterloo Blackhawks, and Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  After winning four in a row to start the season, the Phantoms have done a 180 are currently riding a five-game losing streak.  They have also been hit hard by the injury bug as of late, which hasn't helped the team break out of their slump.

Despite their recent losing streak, this is a very dangerous hockey club and they have historically played the Lincoln Stars very close the past few seasons.  The Stars and the Phantoms have met seven times in the regular season since 2009, and each of those seven games have been decided by one goal.  Even better, five of those seven games have gone to overtime.  Lincoln holds a 4-1-2 record against the Phantoms in those seven games.

As I stated above, the Phantoms have been hit hard with injuries to key players such as: Austin Cangelosi (leading scorer), Alfred Larsson, Daniel Renouf, John Padulo, Kyle Connor, Mac MacSorley, Luke Stork, and Markus McCrea.  That last name should be very familiar with Lincoln Stars fans.  McCrea played last season for the Stars before being cut because the Stars had too many overagers (players born in '92) on the team.  Each USHL team can roster only four overagers each season, and McCrea was one of a few returning '92's who were released by the Stars.  In 9 games for the Phantoms this season, McCrea has scored four points (3g, 1a) with 18 penalty minutes.

The Indiana Ice currently have a record of 3-7-1 (7 points), and are in sixth place in the USHL Eastern Conference.  Unfortunately, this will be the only time the Ice and Stars face one another this season.  The Ice do not come to the IceBox this season.

In a weird scheduling quirk, the Ice play this Friday night in Cedar Rapids, IA against the Roughriders before having to drive 7 hours back to Indianapolis to play the Stars on Saturday night.  Gotta love the USHL schedule makers.  I feel sorry for some of the eastern conference teams like Indiana and Youngstown who end up spending a lot of time inside a bus during the season.

Like the Phantoms, the Ice are struggling a bit right now, having lost seven of their last eight games.  The Ice have been playing the role of road warriors as of late, as they have played only one home game in their last eight contests.  In three home games this season, the Ice sport a record of 2-1-0.

The Ice have one of the top scorers in the USHL right now in forward Austin Ortega.  Ortega was traded from the Cedar Rapids Roughriders to Indiana at the start of the 2012-13 season.  In 11 games with the Ice, Ortega has accumulated 12 points (7g, 5a), and is the second-leading scorer in the USHL.  Ortega has committed to play college hockey just up the road in Omaha for UNO.

Just like Markus McCrea for the Youngstown Phantoms, the Indiana Ice have a former Stars forward on their roster.  Austin Hervey, who played 44 games for the Lincoln Stars in 2010-11, is another overager who played well enough for the Ice during the preseason to make the team as a free-agent.  Best of luck to Austin and Markus this weekend.

As for the Stars, the big news this week was the acquisition of forward Trent Samuels-Thomas from the Des Moines Buccaneers   Click here to read more about the trade that brought the native of West Hartford, CT to the capital city.  I assume the team bus picked up TST on the way to Youngstown, but I'm not sure.  We'll have to wait and see if the Stars play him at all this weekend against Youngstown and Indiana.

Lincoln will be without forward Vinni Lettieri this weekend as the Stars granted permission for him to suit up for the Team USA U-18 squad when they play the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University this weekend.  From what I understand, the U-18 squad has been hit hard by injuries, so they asked the Stars if they could borrow Lettieri for the two road games they have this weekend in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Great opportunity for Vinni to represent his country, and to play against the college team (University of Minnesota) he'll be playing for next season.

That's about it for this preview!  I hope to catch both games this weekend on FastHockey, and I'll report back here with all the news.  Stay tuned for that.

Let's get four points!  Go Stars.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stars acquire Trent Samuels-Thomas from Des Moines

Trade news!  I definitely didn't see this coming.

Per the Lincoln Stars Twitter account, the team has acquired forward Trent Samuels-Thomas from the Des Moines Buccaneers for a fifth round draft pick in the 2013 USHL Entry Draft.  Click here to read the tweet.

In 67 USHL games over the course of three seasons, Samuels-Thomas has accumulated 36 points (15g, 21a), 174 PIM's, and a plus/minus rating of -10.


With a few forwards (Michael Bunn, David Parrottino) set to come off of the 45-day injured reserve list, I didn't expect the Stars to make a trade for another forward.  However, I like the trade a lot.  Samuels-Thomas adds size to the forward group and has some good USHL experience under his belt.  As you can tell by his penalty minutes accrued, he's not afraid to drop the mitts to protect a teammate either.

If the Samuels-Thomas name sounds familiar, it should if you've followed the USHL the past few years.  Trent's older brother Jordan played two seasons (2007-09) for the Waterloo Blackhawks.  As a blog reader pointed out to me on Twitter, Trent and his brother Jordan are cut from the same cloth.  Big, power-forward type of players who like to play with an edge.

Honestly, I didn't think the Stars would be looking to add another forward, especially considering that the team is above the USHL-mandated 23-player roster right now.  As I stated above, Bunn and Parrottino should be coming off the 45-day IR soon, so that would mean the Stars would need to drop or trade two players to make room for them.

I know that forward Max Coatta will be going back to Minnesota soon to play his senior season at Minnetonka High School.  I assume Coatta will return to Lincoln next spring once his high school season is complete.  Basically, Coatta is doing this season what Vinni Lettieri did last season.

I believe defenseman Vinny Muto was recently let go by the team.  He wasn't listed with the scratches this past weekend, and hasn't played since 10/5/12, so I assume he's been traded or dropped.

So with Coatta and Muto off the roster, and Bunn, Parrottino, and Samuels-Thomas on the roster....the Stars would be at 25.  I believe my numbers are correct.  It's confusing for sure.

Regardless, I think this is a great trade.  Lincoln sends a mid-round draft pick to the Bucs for a big-bodied forward with some quality USHL experience.  Most of Lincoln's size is on the blueline so I think this is a good addition of size to the group of forwards.

Welcome to Lincoln, Trent!  Best of luck to you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Snapshots of the Game: Fargo vs. Lincoln 10/20

Sorry for the delay getting these up.  It was a busy weekend.  Much thanks as always go out to Jeff White and Starsturck for letting me share their photos with you.  Make sure you check out Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photo" Facebook page, and Jeff White's "Depicted Image" Facebook page.  If you're on Facebook, make sure you "Like" their pages so you can be updated throughout this season with their work.

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

Tommy Schutt celebrates with his stick in the air after scoring the eventual game-winning goal

Sunday, October 21, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Fargo 1, Lincoln 2

Eric Scheid scores in the second period - Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
In yet another dramatic game at the IceBox on Saturday night, the Lincoln Stars held on for a 2-1 victory and a weekend sweep over the visiting Fargo Force.



Click here to view the Poinstreak boxscore from the game.

The Stars improved to 6-0-0 on the season, and are all alone in first place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.



I was out of town all day yesterday, so I was unable to attend this game.  I don't like missing home games, but I was happy to hear that the Stars won last night.  Much thanks go out to a few people on Twitter for keeping me updated last night.  You know who you are.

Since I was in attendance last night, this "recap" will be very brief.  I'd really like to hear from some of you out there who were at the game.  Please leave a comment below!  I'd love to hear how the game played out.

Fargo struck first Saturday night thanks to a shorthanded tally by Gabe Guertler at the 13:25 mark of the first period.  Guertler has a nack for scoring big goals against Lincoln.  He's sort of a pest, but the kid can play.  Over the weekend, Guertler scored four points (3g, 1a) in the two games against Lincoln.  He also scored a shootout goal Friday night as well in Lincoln's 4-3 OT shootout victory.  Guertler's shorthanded goal was the first shorthanded goal the Stars have given up this season.

Lincoln answered back less than two minutes after Guertler's goal when Eric Scheid continued his hot streak with a goal scored at even strength at the 15:09 mark of the period.  Dominik Shine collected the lone assist on Scheid's fifth goal of the season.

Lincoln would take the 1-1 tied into the first intermission.  Stars led in shots 11-7 through the first twenty minutes.

In the second period, the Stars would get a goal from Tommy Schutt at the 15:28 mark of the period, which would turn out to be the game-winner.  Schutt's first goal of the season would turn out to be a huge one.  Will Suter and Jake Wood earned the assists on Schutt's even-strenth goal.

Looking at the boxscore, it appears the Stars couldn't stay out of the penalty box in the second period.  Again, I'd love to hear from the fans who were in attendance.  Were they good penalties?  Were they undisciplined penalties?  Or just bad calls?  The Stars' penalty kill unit must have done a great job last night, blanking the Force in seven powerplay opportunities.

The Stars were outshot 16-7 in the second stanza, thanks to playing shorthanded most of the period, but took the 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

Both teams would put 8 shots on goal in the third period, but neither team would find the back of the net.  For the first time this season, the Stars were outshot by their opponent.  Fargo led in shots 31-26, but the more important stat was the final score.  Lincoln wins their sixth straight to start the season with a gutsy 2-1 victory over the Force.

What more can you say about goaltender Michael Bitzer.  The Moorhead, MN native (which is a suburb of Fargo, ND) stood on his head and stopped 30 of 31 shots to record his third win of the season.  Coaches often say that goaltenders have to be your best penalty killers, and Bitzer certainly was that last night.  Bitzer was named the number one star of the game for his efforts.

I'm sure Bitzer was very eager to get a start against the Fargo Force, since the hometown team failed to draft him in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.  Instead, the Force selected goaltender Tomas Sholl of the NAHL in the first round.  Sholl, who only lasted a few weeks in Fargo, was cut from the team before he regular season started, and was sent back to his NAHL team.  Many Fargo fans I know were very unhappy that the Force did not draft Bitzer, especially since he was from the area.  I'm sure Bitzer felt pretty good last night that he could put on the Stars uniform, and stick it to the Force coaches who passed over him in the draft.  I have a feeling Bitzer is going to be a thorn in Fargo's side for many games this season.

Staying with the goaltenders, I'm not sure the Stars have ever started a season with two better netminders.  Both Teichroeb and Bitzer have put up some unbelievable numbers through six games played.  Not to minimize what the rest of the team is doing, because the offensive and defensive units are both playing fantastic.  However, Teichroeb and Bitzer are putting the team on their backs and playing lights-out hockey each night.  Here are their stats through six games:

Jackson Teichroeb:  3-0-0, 1.89 goals against average, .931 save percentage
Michael Bitzer:  3-0-0, 1.33 goals against average, .956 save percentage

Most USHL teams are lucky to have one goaltender put up the numbers Teichroeb and Bitzer are putting up.  Lincoln is lucky enough to have two goaltenders with those kind of gaudy numbers.

Eric Scheid (9 points) and Will Suter (9 points) both lead the Stars in points through six games played.  At their current pace, both Scheid and Suter are on track to score 96 points each this season.  No pressure. :)

I can't imagine a better start for the Lincoln Stars through six games played.  This team will get even better when forwards Michael Bunn and David Parrottino are healthy and back in the lineup.  Scary to think what this team could do when 100% healthy.

After playing 5 of their first 6 games at home, the Stars will now embark on a four-game road swing.  Starting next weekend, the Stars will take the 16 hour road trip to Youngstown, OH to face the Phantoms on Friday, before making a trip to Indianapolis to play the Indiana Ice on Saturday.  This will be a good test for the Stars against two quality eastern conference opponents.  More on those games later this week on the blog.

I hope to post pictures from the Saturday night Fargo game later today, so keep an eye out for that.  Once again, I'd really appreciate any comments left by those who were in attendance!  Comments are wide open, and you do not need to register.

Go Stars.

Snapshots of the Game: Fargo vs. Lincoln 10/19

I'm going to try to get caught up on some articles this morning.  I wasn't home much at all yesterday so I didn't have time to post the pictures from Friday's game against Fargo.  Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share their great photos from the game on Friday.  Make sure you check Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photo" Facebook page.  If you're on Facebook, make sure you "Like" their page so you can be updated throughout this season with their work.

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

Jackson Teichroeb (L) and Paul LaDue bump fists before the game

Friday, October 19, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Fargo 3, Lincoln 4 OT Shootout

Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
5-0-0!  Franchise record!

The Lincoln Stars set a franchise record tonight with their fifth straight win to start the season, thanks to a thrilling 4-3 overtime shootout victory over the Fargo Force in front of 3,800+ fans at the IceBox.



Click here
to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 5-0-0 (10 points) on the season, and are still tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference standings.  Lincoln is one of two teams who are still undefeated on the season.  The Dubuque Fighting Saints are 6-0-0 so far this season.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.


Scoring for the Stars tonight was Mike McKee (powerplay), Brad Hawkinson (shorthanded) and Jake Wood.  Dominik Shine and Paul LaDue both scored in the overtime shootout to help the Stars cruise past the Force and earn the two points.  I will post video of the shootout below, courtesy of a friend of the blog.

Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb stopped 32 of 35 shots to record his third win of the season.  He also stopped three of four Fargo players in the shootout.  Personally, I think Teichroeb played one of his better games of the season and should have been on of the three stars of the game.  He definitely looks like a brand new goaltender this season.

Both teams went 1-for-4 on the powerplay, but the Stars won the special teams war thanks to Brad Hawkinson's clutch shorthanded goal late in the second period.

I will try to update this article tomorrow (Saturday) morning with a full recap.  I wanted to get this article up quickly tonight in case anyone out there wanted to leave a comment.  Feel free to leave a comment below if you wish.  I've love to hear your opinions of the big win tonight!

The Stars are back at it against the Fargo Force once again tomorrow night at the IceBox!  Another opportunity to remain undefeated!

Go Stars.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Fargo Force

The Lincoln Stars will look to stay undefeated this weekend when they host the Fargo Force in back-to-back games at the IceBox this Friday, and Saturday night.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST each night in Lincoln.

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 are currently 4-0-0 (8 points), and are tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with two other teams.  Lincoln is one of only two teams in the USHL who are still undefeated.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

Fargo currently has a record of 3-2-1 (7 points), and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  This will be the first, and second time the Stars and Force will meet one another this season.  In total, Lincoln and Fargo will meet eight times during the 2012-13 regular season.  The first four games will be played in Lincoln, while the last four regular season games will be played in Fargo.

I should also note that the Force are playing tonight (Thursday) at home against the Youngstown Phantoms.  Let's all hope for a long, physical game for the Force against the Phantoms so they'll be extra tired this weekend in Lincoln against the Stars. ;)

Six games into the season, the Force, like most USHL teams, are still trying to find their identity.  So far, Fargo is a team that can score a lot of goals, but also give up a lot of goals.  The Force are averaging 3.67 goals scored per game, and are giving up 3.83 goals per game.  In comparison, the Lincoln Stars are averaging 4.25 goals scored per game (second most in the USHL), and are giving up 1.50 goals per game (second lowest in the USHL).

In their four years in the USHL, the Fargo Force are quickly becoming one of Lincoln's top rivals.  Apart from Omaha, I'd argue that the Force are more of a rival right now to the Stars than other western conference teams like the Tri-City Storm, Sioux Falls Stampede, or Sioux City Musketeers.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons why the Stars and Force are becoming fierce rivals in such a short amount of time is that they've met one another in the playoffs three out of the last four years.  They've become very familiar with one another once the postseason rolls around.

Lincoln beat Fargo in the second round of the 2012 Clark Cup playoffs, three games to one this past April.  In that series, Fargo won the first game before the Stars won three in a row to bounce the Force from the postseason.

One year earlier, Fargo swept Lincoln, two games to none, in the first round of the 2011 Clark Cup playoffs.  In 2009, the Force swept Lincoln three games to none in the second round of the Clark Cup playoffs.

Getting back to the present....these two weekend home games against will wrap up a six-game stretch where Lincoln played 5 of those 6 games at the IceBox.  After this weekend, the Stars will embark on a four-game road trip.  So far, the Stars have taken advantage of the atmosphere provided at the IceBox.  Let's hope that continues this weekend.

Sadly, I won't able to attend the Fargo game on Saturday night, so I'm hoping to get some good recaps from any blog readers out there after that game.  However, I will be there Friday, and will report back here with my thoughts and opinions.

Let's get four points!  Go Stars.

Bitzer, Woods, Johnson named to USA Junior Select Team

Quick article to congratulate three members of the Lincoln Stars who were chosen today to represent Team USA at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge, which will take place Nov. 5-11 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer, defensemen Justin Woods, and forward Luke Johnson were all named to the Team USA Junior Select Team.

Click here to read the official announcement from the USA Hockey website.

Click here to view the entire Team USA roster.

Here's an excerpt from the article linked above:

The U.S. Junior Select Team that will compete in the 2012 World Junior A Challenge was announced today. The under-20 tournament takes place Nov. 5-11 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Team USA has won three of the last four tournaments (2008-10) and placed third in 2011.

Twenty-one of the 22 players are from the United States Hockey League. 

The U.S. faces Canada West in an exhibition game on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. ADT. Tournament play gets underway Nov. 5 vs. Canada East at 7:30 p.m. AST. The complete schedule is listed below. 


I assume if the first exhibition game is on Saturday, November 3th, the three players mentioned above will probably miss four games with the Stars (11/2, 11/3, 11/9, 11/10).

Congrats to all three players!  What an honor to represent your hockey in an international hockey tournament such as this.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln vs. Tri-City 10/13

Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share their great photos from the game last night.  Make sure you check Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photo" Facebook page.  If you're on Facebook, make sure you "Like" their page so you can be updated throughout this season with their work.

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

Lincoln's bench during a break in the action

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 4, Tri-City 1

It's a weekend sweep!

The Lincoln Stars scored three unanswered goals in the third period Saturday night in Kearney to break a 1-1 tie, and beat the Tri-City Storm by a score of 4-1.



Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 4-0-0 on the year (8 points), and are one of only two remaining USHL teams who are still undefeated on the season.  The other undefeated team is the Dubuque Fighting Saints, who are 5-0-0.  The Stars are tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with two other teams, but have a better winning percentage.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

Unfortunately, I was unable to watch this game in person, or on FASTHockey.  I did listen to most of the game on the radio, so this recap will be very brief.  If there were any Stars fans who made the roadie to Kearney last night and would like to give their opinions on the game, please leave a comment below.  You do not need to register to comment.  You can leave an anonymous comment if you so desire.

Unlike Friday night, the Stars did not start this game in a 0-2 hole in the first period.  I'm sure the coaches emphasized coming out strong on the road in the first period so not to put the team in a hole early on.  Neither team would score in the first period, but the Stars outshot the Storm 10-9 through the first twenty minutes.

In the second period, both teams would score a goal a piece, with Lincoln getting on the scoreboard first.

Stars co-captain Dominik Shine, nice and rested after sitting out Friday's game due to a one-game suspension handed down by the league, scored just 29 seconds into the second period to give Lincoln the 1-0 lead.  Shine's goal came on the powerplay after a Tri-City penalty that came very late in the first period and carried over into the second period.  Eric Scheid picked up the lone assist on Shine's third goal of the season in three games played.

The Storm would answer back later in the second period when TC forward Brian Ward scored at the 11:45 mark of the second period to knot the game up at 1-1.  The score would remain 1-1 going into the second intermission.  Tri-City outshot Lincoln 11-9 in the second period.

In the final period, it was definitely all Lincoln.  As mentioned above, the Stars would score three unanswered goals in the third period to cruise to the 4-1 win and the weekend sweep of the Storm.

Eric Scheid would end up with the eventual game-winning goal with his tally scored at the 13:20 mark of the third period to break the 1-1 tie.  Max Humitz earned the lone assist on Scheid's fourth goal of the season in four games played.

Less than two minutes after Scheid's even-strength goal, Jake Wood would add an insurance goal to give the Stars a 3-1 lead.  Paul LaDue picked up the only assist on Wood's second goal of the season.

With only 38 seconds remaining in the game, Will Suter would put the icing on the cake with an empty-net goal to increase the lead to 4-1.  Mike McKee picked up the lone assist on Suter's fourth goal in four games played.

Lincoln outshot the Storm 19-10 in the third period, and 38-30 overall.  The Stars went 1-for-2 on the powerplay, while the Storm went 0-for-2.  It was nice to see the Stars stay out of the penalty box, and beat the Storm on their own rink playing up-tempo hockey.

A day after committing to play college hockey for Bemidji State University, Michael Bitzer "celebrated" by stopping 29 of 30 shots to record his second win of the season.  From the sounds of it, Bitzer had to make a number of highlight reels saves to keep the Stars in the game.

Lincoln certainly has a "two-headed monster" between the pipes so far this season.  When you look at the stats, both Jackson Teichroeb and Michael Bitzer have almost identical numbers:

Jackson Teichroeb:  2-0-0, 1.44 goals against average, .942 save percentage in 125 minutes played
Michael Bitzer:  2-0-0, 1.50 goals against average, .950 save percentage in 120 minutes played

The Stars are now 2-0-0 in the "Good Life Cup" standings, while the Tri-City Storm are 0-1-1.  Click here to read more about the "Good Life Cup" competition between the three Nebraska USHL teams.

The Stars were down to five defensemen last night because of injuries to Vincent Muto and Zach Frye.  I guess I should quantify that by saying I'm assuming Muto and Frye are injured.  I don't recall hearing anything on the radio last night about why Muto and Frye were scratched, but I assumed they were dinged up.  Frye played very well Friday night at the IceBox, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist.  Frye played the entire game Friday night, so I was surprised to see him not in the lineup last night.  Muto missed Friday night as well, so I just assumed he was injured as well.

Because of the shortage at defense, Stars forward Brad Hawkinson was Lincoln's sixth defensemen last night.  Hawk is one of those players who is very, very steady and extremely smart.  It shows a lot about his game that the coaches would look to him to play that position, as he's done a few times already early this season.

Tommy Schutt, Michael Bunn, and David Parrottino were the other scratched players.  Schutt is an everyday player, so I assume he's dinged up if he missed both games this weekend.  Bunn and Parrottino are both recovering from offseason injuries, and are currently on the 45-day injured reserve list.  The Stars will get better when those two are healthy and back in the lineup.  As well as Lincoln is playing right now, they could be playing even better when the team gets 100% healthy, which might be impossible to do, considering the length of the USHL regular season.

The Stars are back at the IceBox this upcoming Friday and Saturday nights when they host the Fargo Force in a weekend series.  This will be a nice opportunity for the Stars to take advantage of some home cooking, and put some points between them and a quality western conference opponent in the Fargo Force.

Go Stars.

Edit:  The Tri-City Storm Facebook page has posted video highlights from the game last night.  They actually include all goals scored by the Stars, unlike the weak Omaha Lancers.  I was able to embed the video below, but for some reason the size of the video is very small.  Click here to go directly to the Storm Facebook page to watch the video in a larger format.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Congrats to Michael Bitzer!

Lost in the excitement of yesterday's dramatic 3-2 overtime victory over the Tri-City Storm was the news that Lincoln Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer has committed to play college hockey at Bemidji State University.  Bitzer announced his commitment on Twitter yesterday (Friday) afternoon.  I'm going to post the tweet below:

Click here to read more about Bitzer's committment from "The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead" newspaper.

Click here to read an article about the commitment from the Western College Hockey blog.
Bitzer was Lincoln's first draft selection in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft this past spring.  As a senior goaltender at Moorhead High School (MN), Bitzer led his team to a Section 8AA championship, and a long run in the Minnesota state high school hockey tournament.  After his high school season ended, Bitzer won the Frank Brimsek award, given to Minnesota's top senior goaltender.

Bitzer went 22-8-0 with a 1.80 goals against average and a .933 save percentage in 30 games during the 2011-12 season with Moorhead High School.

According to the first article I linked above, it's not yet known if Bitzer will attend Bemidji State in the fall of 2013, or 2014.  Former Stars defensemen Matt Prapavessis is currently a sophomore on the Bemidji State roster.

Congrats to Michael!  Very well deserved.  The Bemidji State University campus is only 2.5 hours away from Bitzer hometown of Moorhead, MN, so I'm sure he's excited to have friend and family close by to support him and watch his games.

We're all excited to see what Bitzer can do in a Lincoln Stars uniform before he moves on to Bemidji State!  Congrats again to Michael.

Snapshots of the Game: Tri-City vs. Lincoln 10/12

Big thanks go out to Starstruck and Carl Kacvinsky for allowing me to share their great photos from the game last night.  Make sure you check out Carl's "CK Photo" Facebook page, and Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photo" Facebook page.  If you're on Facebook, make sure you "Like" their page so you can be updated throughout this season with their work.  I really appreciate their willingness to share!

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

Jimmy DeVito celebrates with Zach Frye after Frye's second period goal

Friday, October 12, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Tri-City 2, Lincoln 3 OT SO

Brent Wold scores the OT winner - Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
After falling behind 2-0 early in the first period, the Stars scored three straight goals, including the overtime shootout winner, to beat the visiting Tri-City Storm by a score of 3-2.

With the win, the Stars improved to 3-0-0, and are still the only remaining undefeated team in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is also tied for first place in the west.



Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

Scoring in regulation tonight for the Stars was Zach Frye and Will Suter.  After a scoreless overtime period, the only player to score for either team after six shootout rounds was Stars forward Brent Wold.

Jackson Teichroeb, who was the player of the game in my opinion, struggled a bit early but then stood on his head and stopped 26 of 28 shots to record his second win of the season.  Teichroeb also stopped ALL six Tri-City shooters in the overtime shootout.

I will update this article with a full recap tomorrow (Saturday) morning when I have more time.  I'll also post pictures from the game tomorrow morning as well, so make sure you remember to stop by and check that out.

The Stars will take on the same Tri-City Storm tomorrow night, this time the game will be in Kearney, NE.  I hope to see a lot of Stars fans there!

Amazing atmosphere once again at the IceBox tonight.  It felt like a playoff game.

I'm going to post video of the entire shootout below, thanks to a friend of the blog.  The video is over five minutes long, but it's worth the wait to see Brent Wold's overtime game-winner.  Wold's shootout move was filthy.

Go Stars!

c

Thursday, October 11, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Tri-City Storm

The Lincoln Stars will play their first full weekend of games this Friday and Saturday night when they begin a home-and-home series with the Tri-City Storm.  On Friday, the Stars will host the Storm at the IceBox in Lincoln.  On Saturday, the Stars will travel to Kearney, NE to face the Storm at the Viaero Event Center.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST for both games.

If you can't make it to the IceBox this Friday evening, or to the game in Kearney on Saturday, 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 are currently 2-0-0 (4 points) on the young season, and are the only undefeated team left in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Storm have a record of 1-2-0 and are tied for fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  They are 0-2 on the road and have given up a total of 8 goals in those two road games.  In their three games so far, the Storm have scored a total of 7 goals.  Tri-City has scored 1 powerplay goal in 11 opportunities, and 0 shorthanded goals in three games.  The Stars have scored 10 goals in two games played, including 1 powerplay goal in seven opportunities, and a whopping four shorthanded goals.

This will be the first of nine regular season game the Stars and the Storm will play against one another.  4 games will be played in Lincoln, and 5 games will be played in Kearney.  This weekend's games will be the first two games of the newly created "Good Life Cup," a new trophy given to the top Nebraska USHL team.  Click here to read more about the "Good Life Cup."

The Storm are coming off a 2011-12 campaign which saw them go 26-33-1, and earn a playoff bid.  In the first round of the Clark Cup playoff last year, the Storm were swept by the Waterloo Blackhawks, the team the Stars lost to in the USHL Western Conference Finals.  Lincoln went 5-1-2 in eight regular season games against the Tri-City Storm last season.

With head coach Josh Hauge at the helm, the Storm are no longer the doormat for the USHL Western Conference.  He's one of the better young coaches in the league, and he's been very successful in getting talented kids to commit to the Storm and come to Kearney, NE.  In the past, under previous Storm coaches, the team had problems recruiting players and draft picks to report to central Nebraska.  Hauge plays an up-tempo style of hockey, similar to what the Stars play, and they are no longer an irrelevant USHL team playing in the middle of nowhere.

Regarding the Stars, there is some bad news and some good news.

The bad news is that Stars will be without co-captain Dominik Shine this Friday night as he will be serving a one-game suspension handed down by the league.  Shine was whistled for a head-butting major and a game misconduct at the end of the second period during Lincoln's 5-2 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers last Friday night at the IceBox.

The good news is the other Stars co-captain, defenseman Mike McKee, will be back in the lineup this weekend after he served a one-game suspension last Friday night after a fighting game misconduct he received during Lincoln's home opener on September 28th.

Any fans out there making the trek to Kearney on Saturday night to root on the Stars?  Sadly I won't be there, but I'm hoping to watch the game online.

Sorry for the short length of this weekend.  It's been a busy week and I ran out of time tonight to get this done.  Hoping for another big crowd at the IceBox Friday night!  See you all there.

Go Stars.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Snapshots of the Game: Des Moines vs. Lincoln 10/5

Big thanks go out to Carl Kacvinsky, Starstruck and Jeff White for being generous and allowing me to share their great photos from the game last night.  Make sure you check out Carl's "CK Photo" Facebook page, Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photo" Facebook page, and Jeff White's "Depicted Image" Facebook page.  If you're on Facebook, make sure you sauce them a "Like" so you can be updated throughout this season with their work.  I really appreciate their willingness to share!

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

Postgame salute to the crowd

Friday, October 5, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 10/5: Des Moines 2, Lincoln 5

Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars won the special teams war Friday night at the IceBox, scoring three shorthanded goals, and one powerplay goal to pull away from the visiting Des Moines Buccaneers and win by a score of 5-2.  The Stars are now 2-0-0 on the young season and are in first place in the USHL Western Conference.



Click here to view the Poinstreak boxcore.


I thought the Stars came out very, very strong in this game and played a good physical game.  Bodies were flying all over the place in the first period.  Lincoln was rewarded on an early powerplay opportunity when Eric Scheid scored at the 5:57 mark of the first to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.  On the play, Scheid skated towards the Des Moines net from the corner, and appeared to be trying to center the puck but it deflected of a Des Moines player and into the open net.  Justin Woods picked up the only assist on Scheid's powerplay goal.

As well as the Stars played in the first period, the Bucs didn't back down and were able to score their first goal of the game roughly two minutes after Scheid's goal.  Bucs defenseman Marcus Ericsson appeared to shoot the puck from just inside the Stars' blueline, and it deflected at least once before getting past Lincoln goaltender Michael Bitzer.  From my seat, the puck possibly changed directions at least once before finding the open net.  I'm not sure Bitzer saw the puck at all.

At the end of the first period, the score was tied up at 1-1.  Shots were even also at 11 a piece.

Allthough the Bucs outplayed the Stars for most, if not all of the second period, the Stars were able to outscore Des Moines 1-0 in the period.  Lincoln outshot Des Moines 12-7 in the second period, but again, I thought the Bucs clearly outplayed the Stars in the period.  I didn't see the sense of urgency and physicality that was present by the Stars in the first period.  However, very late in the second period, the Stars took their first lead of the game when Eric Scheid scored his second goal of the game.

On the play, Will Suter rifled a shot that was initially saved by Bucs goaltender Billy Christopoulos, but the rookie netminder kicked out a juicy rebound to a streaking Scheid, who was able to bury the puck into the open net.  Scheid's second goal of the game, which came with only 29 seconds remaining in the second period, was scored at even-strength.  Suter and Tommy Schutt earned the assists.  Scheid's late second period goal was a big one, and despite looking a little lost in the second stanza, it gave the Stars a boost of confidence going into the second intermission.

At the end of the second period, the Stars held onto a 2-1 lead.  Lincoln led in shots 23-18 through the first forty minutes of the game.

The Bucs outshot Lincoln 12-7 in the third period, but the Stars outscored Des Moines 3-1 in the final twenty minutes of the game.  Two of Lincoln's three goals in the third were scored on an empty net.

Will Suter scored his first goal of the game at the 3:44 mark of the third thanks to a very nice pass by Eric Scheid on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush.  Scheid skated the puck into the zone before somehow getting a tape-to-tape pass to a wide open Suter who wristed the puck into the open net.  This was a HUGE goal, as it gave the Stars that insurance goal (two-goal lead) it needed early in the third period.  It also turned out to be the eventual game-winning goal.  Scheid and Tommy Schutt earned the assists on Suter's first goal of the season.

The Bucs crept back into the game at the 16:10 mark of the third period when Michael Marnell scored to pull Des Moines to within one goal at 3-2.  I didn't get a good look at this goal, but it appeared Bitzer was either screened on the play, or just didn't see the puck.

Des Moines was given new life after Marnell's goal, and it seemed that they might be able to get back into the game after the Stars were whistled for a "too many men on the ice" bench minor with 1:53 left in the game.  However, the Stars scored two shorthanded goals in the 1:15 of the period to seal the 5-3 victory.

First, Will Suter outskated two Des Moines players to the puck and scored on an empty net at the 18:45 mark of the period.  The Bucs had pulled goaltender Billy Christopoulos for the extra attacker while on the powerplay, but Suter turned on the jets and beat two Bucs players to the puck before tapping the puck into an open net.  Zach Frye added another empty-net, shorthanded goal with 36 seconds remaining.

Tommy Schutt and Paul LaDue picked up assists on Suter's second goal of the game.  Frye's empty-netter was unassisted.

The Pointstreak boxscore from last night shows Zach Frye's empty-net goal coming at even-strength, but I'm pretty sure that's incorrect.  As I mentioned above, the Stars were whistled for a "too many men on the ice" bench minor with 1:53 left in the third period.  So Frye's goal with 36 seconds remaining should have been shorthanded as well.  I'll keep an eye on the Pointstreak boxscore to see if that changes.

Lincoln went 1-for-2 on the powerplay while the Bucs were blanked, going 0-for-5 with the man advantage.  The Stars definitely won the special teams war, scoring one PP goal and three SH goals.  As a friend pointed out to me, the Stars have scored four shorthanded goals in two games this season.  Last season, the Stars scored four shorthanded goals TOTAL in 60 regular season games.

Lincoln's line of Eric Scheid-Tommy Schutt-Will Suter was dominant in this game, as they scored a total of 8 points (4g, 4a) and were a combined +8.  Without a doubt, that line was Lincoln's best against the Bucs.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer earned his first USHL win Friday night as the Moorhead, MN native stopped 28 of 30 shots on goal.  Bitzer made a number of game-saving stops, and in the process showed off an amazingly quick glove hand.  Both of the goals he gave up were ones that I'm not sure any other goaltender would be able to make.  He looked very solid in his USHL debut, in my opinion.

Stars Co-Captain Dominik Shine was whistled for a head-butting major and a game misconduct at the end of the second period, and will be suspended for next Friday's home game against the Tri-City Storm.  Lincoln's other Co-Captain, Mike McKee, did not play against the Bucs after he was assessed a one-game suspension by the league after his fight last Friday against the Sioux Fall Stampede.  We need these two players on the ice, and not in street clothes watching from the stands.  Both need to play smarter.

Just like last weekend, the Stars will take today (Saturday) off and will not return to action until next Friday night when they will take on the Tri-City Storm at the IceBox.  Next Saturday, the Stars will travel to Kearney to play the Storm again in what will be Lincoln's first road game of the season.  More on that home-and-home weekend series later next week.

If you were at the game, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

Go Stars!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

B³ Pregame Report: Des Moines Buccaneers vs. Lincoln Stars 10/5

The Lincoln Stars will return to action this Friday night when they will face off against the Des Moines Buccaneers at the IceBox.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST.  The Stars are 1-0-0 on the young season, and are currently tied for second place in the USHL Western Conference.  If you can't make it to the friendly confines of the IceBox this Friday evening, you can follow the boxscore 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.  For the second straight weekend, the Stars will only play the lone Friday night game, and will not play on Saturday (10/6).

The Bucs enter this game with a 0-1-1 record after losing two games on the road last weekend.  Last Friday night, the Bucs traveled to Ann Arbor, MI and were spanked by the Team USA U-17 squad by a score of 6-1.  In that particular game, the Bucs put a whopping 42 shots on Team USA goaltender Thatcher Demko (who played for the Omaha Lancers last season), but they could not solve him.  Meanwhile, the U-17's also put 42 shots on net but were successful in scoring six goals on Bucs goaltender Billy Christopoulos.

The next night (Saturday), the Bucs traveled to Youngstown, OH to take on the Youngstown Phantoms.  In that matchup, the Bucs got out to a strong start and had a 3-1 lead with one minute remaining in the game, yet lost a heart breaker in overtime.  With their goalie pulled for the extra attacker, the Phantoms were able to score two goals in the final minute of regulation to send the game to overtime, and eventually win by a score of 4-3.  In terms of tough losses, this was a big one for the Bucs.  Des Moines goaltender Nick Ellis stopped 25 of 29 Youngstown shots in the OT loss.

The Bucs are very similar to the team the Stars played last Friday night at the IceBox, the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Like the 'Pede, the Bucs are coming off a disappointing 2011-12 USHL regular season which saw them finish second to last in the western conference with a dismal record of 20-33-7.  Also like the Stampede, the Bucs fired their head coach (Regg Simon) and have since hired Jon Rogger, who was an assistant with the Green Bay Gamblers the past four seasons.  The Bucs are a young team still searching for an identity with Rogger at the helm.

It will be interesting to see which goaltender the Bucs start tomorrow night at the IceBox.  Both Christopoulos and Ellis are very young (both born in 1994), and neither had USHL experience heading into this season.  Suffice it to say, neither netminder has played in arena like the IceBox, and neither have experienced the atmosphere the IceBox and Stars fans provide.  If the Bucs want to stay in this game early on, it's imperative that Christopoulos or Ellis stand on their head, keep their composure, and make some big saves early on to keep the Bucs from falling behind early.  

The Bucs are led on offense by players such as Zach Saar, Axel (don't call me Rose) Wemmenborn, and Luke Voltin.  Saar leads the Bucs in points with 3 points (1g, 2a) in two games.  Saar is easy to spot, coming in at 6'4" and 210 pounds.  Wemmenborn, who is originally from Sweden and is a USHL rookie overager (born in 1992), has scored two goals in two games and is +2.  Voltin, who played 11 games with the Team USA U-17 team last season, has one assist and 14 penalty minutes in two games.  Voltin has committed to play hockey at the University of North Dakota, like current Stars Luke Johnson and Paul LaDue.

Speaking of Luke Johnson, he'll be back in the lineup against the Bucs after missing the home opener last weekend because he, along with rookie Stars forward Ross Olsson, was participating in the  2012 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, which was played last Saturday, September 29th in Buffalo, New York.  Both Johnson and Olsson are considered by many NHL scouts to be potential high draft selections in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.  The Stars are a better team with those two in the lineup, so it will be good to see them on the ice against the Bucs.

As for the Lincoln Stars, they are coming off an impressive 5-1 victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede last Friday night at the IceBox.  Co-Captain Dominik Shine was Lincoln's best player on the ice, scoring the first two goals of the game.  Dom first scored to tie the game at 1-1 before adding his second goal which turned out to be the game-winning goal.  Speaking of Shine, one of the local news channels (Channel 8) interviewed Dom recently, so click here to watch that video if you missed it the first time.

As far as I know, the Stars are pretty healthy right now, save for forwards Michael Bunn and David Parrottino who started the season on the 45-day IR.  Both Bunn and Parrottino really impressed me at tryout camp, so the Stars will get even better when those two are healthy and back in the lineup.

Which goaltender for the Stars gets the lone start this weekend?  Will it be Jackson Teichroeb, who looked pretty solid in net last Friday net against the Stampede, stopping 23 of 24 shots for the win....or will it be rookie sensation Michael Bitzer, who was Lincoln's first draft pick in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.  I've always been the type of person who thinks a coach should ride a hot goaltender until they're not hot anymore, so maybe the coaches will stick with Teichroeb in net.  However, I know that Bitzer is a guy the team thinks a lot of, and I'm sure the Lincoln coaches will want to give Bitzer some ice time very soon.

I'm really looking forward to another Friday night at the IceBox!  See you all there.

Go Stars.