Monday, December 31, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Waterloo 10

The Waterloo Blackhawks scored 8 powerplay goals tonight at Young Arena and cruised past the Lincoln Stars by a score of 10-2.  Lincoln went 0-for-3 on the powerplay, while Waterloo went 8-for-15.  Lincoln was whistled for 118 minutes in penalties and Waterloo was whistled for 15 minutes.  That's not a typo.

Needless to say, USHL referee Tommy Albindia won't be getting a x-mas card from Chad Johnson or Jimmy McGroarty anytime soon.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

I'm not going to spend any considerable time with this recap.  Ugly game all around.  Best to forget this horrible excuse for a hockey match and move on.  If you'd like to vent and leave a comment below, please do so.

Lincoln will be back in action this Saturday night at the IceBox against the Tri-City Storm.  I'm sure there will be suspensions handed down, so hopefully there will be enough players left to field a full team against the Storm.

Wishing everyone out there a happy and healthy 2013!

Go Stars.

B³ Pregame Report: Lincoln Stars vs. Waterloo Black Hawks

Looking to increase their winning streak to three games, the Lincoln Stars will spend New Year's Eve on the road tonight when they will face off against the Waterloo Black Hawks at Young Arena.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST.

You can follow the boxscore 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 17-8-3 (37 points), and are tied for second place with the Fargo Force in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln has played two less games compared to Fargo, and thus have the better winning percentage (.661 to .617).  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Waterloo Black Hawks come into this game with a record of 18-10-0 (36 points) and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  In their last eight games, Waterloo is 3-5-0 and have been outscored 33-27.  The Hawks are 1-3-0 in their last four games at home.


This will be the first time the Stars and Black Hawks will face each other since Waterloo bounced Lincoln out of the 2012 Clark Cup Playoffs last May.  The Black Hawks won the best-of-five series in four games, outscoring Lincoln 19-8.  The clinching series win for Waterloo came on 5/7/12 with a 6-2 blowout victory. Waterloo and Lincoln will meet four times during the 2012-13 USHL regular season.

Coming into this season, the Black Hawks were most pundits pick to win the Anderson and Clark Cup.  They got all the way to the finals last season where they took the powerhouse Green Bay Gamblers to a fifth and deciding game, which they lost.  Waterloo was already a young team last season, and they returned just about every key player this season.  The way some were gushing about Waterloo, you'd think they were the second coming of the Edmonton Oilers team of 1984.

Surprisingly this season, the Black Hawks have a better road record (9-4-0) than their home record (9-6-0).    Young Arena, where Waterloo plays their home games, is an olympic sheet of ice, meaning it's bigger than the standard USHL or NHL rink.  There's more room for players to skate, which benefits teams who utilize speed and skill.  Last season, the Black Hawks built their team around the philosophy that they would out-skill, and out-skate their opponent.  They have a small, skilled team that isn't very physical....but it works.  Well, it worked last season.  The jury is still out if the Black Hawks can go as far this season.

As their win-loss record and goals against indicate, the Black Hawks have "struggled" a bit this season.  I think most figured this team would roll through the western conference, but that hasn't been the case.  Yes, they have the highest scoring offense in the entire USHL (4.25 goals per game on average), but they've had difficulty keeping the opposition from scoring.  Through 28 games, the Hawks have given up 94 goals against....compared to only 71 goals against by the Lincoln Stars in the same amount of games.  Defense, and goaltending, hasn't been Waterloo's strong suit this season.

Waterloo didn't match up well for Lincoln last season, and especially in the playoffs.  It seemed like the Stars could not keep up with the race-track hockey that the Black Hawks utilized so well.  Waterloo was just too fast and too skilled for the Stars to handle.  There are a lot of Stars on the current roster who were around last season, and I'm sure the playoff loss to Waterloo is still fresh on their minds.  A little payback tonight would be nice.

Go Stars.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snapshots of the Game: Sioux City vs. Lincoln 12/29

Much thanks go out to Jeff White for letting me share his photos from the the Sioux City game last night at the IceBox.  Make sure you check out Jeff's "Depicted Image" Facebook page.  If you're on Facebook, make sure you "Like" his page so you can be updated throughout this season with his work.

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

Moments after Dominik Shine rips a shorthanded shot past Sioux City goaltender Kyle Hayton

Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln vs. Tri-City 12/28

I'm going to try to get caught up on posting some photos from the two games this weekend, starting with Lincoln's 2-1 OT road win in Kearney this past Friday night.  Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Stars/Storm game.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Click the "Read More" link below to view all of the photos in this series.

The Stars mob Paul LaDue after his overtime game-winning goal

Saturday, December 29, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux City 0, Lincoln 5

Dominik Shine scores his 2nd goal of the game.
Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars dominated the Sioux City Musketeers tonight at the IceBox with a 5-0 shutout win.  Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped all 23 shots he faced to record his first career USHL shutout.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the four points this weekend, the Stars moved up to second place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is now only one point out of first place in the west.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.



Scoring for the Stars tonight was Dominik Shine (two goals), Luke Johnson, (PP), Justin Woods (first career USHL goal), and Eric Scheid.  Shine's first goal, which turned out to be the game winner, was scored while the Stars were shorthanded.

I will update this article with a full recap Sunday morning when I have more time.  Just a dominating effort tonight by the Stars.  Probably the most one-sided game I've seen at the IceBox in a long, long time.  I expected more fight from the Muskies tonight, but they looked absolutely terrible.  Mentally, I'm not sure they ever got off the bus.

The Stars will be back in action on New Year's Eve with a big road game against the Waterloo Black Hawks, the team that knocked Lincoln out of the playoffs last season.  Time for some payback!

Go Stars.

Friday, December 28, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Tri-City 1 OT

Stars defenseman Paul LaDue scored with just 52 seconds remaining in overtime tonight to beat the Tri-City Storm in Kearney by a score of 2-1.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 15-8-3 (33 points) and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Stars are now 4-0-0 in four games against the Storm this season and have outscored them 12-4.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

I was able to catch this matchup on FASTHockey tonight, so I'll post my thoughts below.

This game was the very definition of the term, "goaltending duel."  The Stars and Storm combined for 91 shots on goal, but only three goals found the back of the net.  Storm netminder Johan Mattson and Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer were definitely the two best players on the ice tonight.

Neither team would light the lamp in the first twenty minutes, but it certainly wasn't for lack of effort.  Lincoln put a whopping 20 shots on Mattson in the first period while the Storm put 12 shots on Bitzer.  Tons of scoring chances, great goaltending, but very little defense.  That would be a common theme throughout the game.

I thought the Stars looked very, very good in the first period.  I didn't see the holiday hangover that I thought I might see a little of.  Lincoln had the better scoring chances in the first period compared to Tri-City, but Mattson stood tall for the Storm.

Late in the second period, the Storm gave up a costly turnover in their own zone and Stars defenseman Travis Maxwell took full advantage.  Maxwell collected the turnover, skated into the open slot area and wristed the puck past Mattson to give Lincoln a 1-0 lead.  Maxwell's unassisted, even-strength goal was his first as a member of the Lincoln Stars.

Tri-City outplayed Lincoln in the second period, but they could not solve Bitzer.  Tri-City outshot Lincoln 19-10 in the second stanza, thanks mostly to three powerplay opportunities compared to only one for Lincoln.

Lincoln started the third period with a 1-0 lead, but that didn't last long.  After not being able to clear the puck out of their own zone, the Stars allowed Storm forward Tim Bonner to walk right through the defense before putting a low, glove-side shot past Bitzer to knot the contest up at 1-1.  Bitzer was left hanging by his teammates on the goal, and I can't fault him for a nice shot by Bonner (who has scored four goals in his last two games).  The Storm goal came just four minutes into the third period.  At the time, I worried that the Stars would give away yet another third period lead....but that didn't happen.

Lincoln peppered Mattson with 18 shots on goal in the third period, compared to only 9 for Tri-City, but neither team would score in regulation.  Shots on goal were 48-40 in favor of Lincoln through three periods.

In the five-minute, 4-on-4 overtime period, the Stars would wait until the 4:08 mark to provide the game-winning goal.  Forward Eric Scheid worked the puck along the boards in the Storm zone before finding a wide open Mike McKee just inside the blueline.  McKee, with his head up all the time, faked a shot before threading a beautiful saucer pass to a wide-open Paul LaDue who was located just to the left of Mattson.  LaDue collected the pass from McKee before wristing the puck past an outstretched Mattson to win the game.  Just a great play overall.

Stars outshot Tri-City 50-41 overall.  Lincoln went 0-for-2 on the powerplay while the Storm went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.  It was a very clean game for the most part, which contributed a bit to the high shots totals.  Very new whistles.  It was race-track hockey for sure.

Bitzer stopped 40 of 41 shots on goal to record his 8th win of the season.  Mattson stopped 48 of 50 shots in the loss.  Hard to fault Mattson at all in this game.  Both he and Bitzer played unbelievable in net.

I was told tonight that forward Brent Wold is not longer on the team, and will be going back to Canada to play hockey.  Best of luck to Brent wherever he ends up.  Wold's departure opens up an import spot on the roster if the coaches decided to go that route.  Each USHL team can roster only four "import" players this season.  Mike McKee, Jackson Teichroeb, Jake Wood, are Lincoln's three imports right now.

The Stars will be back in action tomorrow night at the IceBox where they will face-off against the Sioux City Musketeers, who won big tonight over the Waterloo Blackhawks by a score of 4-2.  The Muskies are an improving team, and will give the Stars all they can handle Saturday night.

Go Stars. Edit: Video highlights are below.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Tri-City and Sioux City


The Lincoln Stars will return from their short holiday break with two games against western conference divisional foes this weekend.  This Friday evening at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, NE, the Stars will take on the Tri-City Storm.  On Saturday night, the Stars will return to the IceBox to battle the Sioux City Musketeers.  The puck will drop at 7:30pm CST for the Friday night game in Kearney, and at 7:05pm CST for the game against Sioux City on Saturday.

If you can't make it to either of the two games 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 games live on FASTHockey for a fee.

The Stars enter this weekend with a record of 15-8-3 (33 points), and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.  Lincoln is only 4 points out of first place, and six points out of seventh place in the wild, wild western conference.  The Stars are 5-8-3 in their last 16 games after starting the season 10-0-0.

First up for the good guys this weekend will be a road tilt against the Tri-City Storm, who have a record of 12-13-3 (27 points) and are in seventh place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Storm are 2-4-2 in their last eight games played, and have a subpar home record of 7-8-0 in fifteen games played at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney.

This will be the fourth time the Stars and Storm will meet this season.  Lincoln is 3-0-0 in their three previous games against Tri-City, and have outscored them 10-3.  In their last meeting, which took place in Kearney on 10/30/12, the Stars and goaltender Jackson Teichroeb pitched a 3-0 shutout victory over the Storm.  Lincoln and Tri-City will meet a total of nine times during the regular season.  In two games in Kearney this season, the Stars are 2-0-0 against the Storm and have outscored them 7-1.

With only 75 goals scored in 28 games played this season, the Storm are the third lowest scoring offense in the USHL behind Team USA and the Sioux City Musketeers (Lincoln's opponent Saturday night).  On the other end of the ice, the Storm have surrendered 93 goals against in those 28 games played, which is second-most in the western conference.  Those numbers aren't pretty, but the Storm have somehow played well enough to be a near .500 hockey club so far this season.

Goal scoring depth and consistency have been the Storm's biggest issues so far this season.  They have some high end talented forwards in Trevor Moore, Tim Bonner, and Brian Ward....but not much depth after that.  There are nights when the Storm look very, very good....and nights when the team craps the bed.  I think Stars fans can sympathize with that kind of inconsistent play.  We've seen a lot of it the past month or so.

Saturday night at the IceBox, the Stars will host the Sioux City Musketeers who occupy last place in the USHL Western Conference with an abysmal 5-16-6 (16 points) record.  This will be the third of eight regular season games the Stars and the Muskies will play against one another.  Lincoln is 2-0-0 in their two prior games against Sioux City this season.  Only one of Sioux City's five wins this season have come on the road.

In my opinion, the Muskies are a much better team than their record indicates.  Since losing 4-2 to Lincoln on 12/6/12 at the IceBox, the Muskies are a respectable 2-2-2 in their last six games leading up to this weekend.  Head Coach Brett Larson has made a number of recent changes to the roster, which I think will benefit them in the long run.  They've added quality players such as J.T. Stenglein, Riley Bourbonnais, and Christian Lampasso.

However, it may already be a little too late.  Goaltending is a serious issue in Sioux City, as neither netminder on the roster has a save percentage about .900, which is a must in this league.  It will be very difficult for the Muskies to climb out of last place and into the playoff race, especially when only the top four teams in each conference qualify for postseason play.  Even more difficult to do all of that in the cutthroat western conference.

On paper, you'd think would be an easy four points for the Stars this weekend.  Lincoln has a combined 5-0-0 record this season against Tri-City and Sioux City.  Lincoln has outscored Tri-City and Sioux City 19-8 in those fives games.  Yet, this is the first couple of games coming off the short holiday break.  Mentally, will the Stars be able to set their minds to playing 60 minutes of hockey each night?  Or will they come out flat, suffering from a holiday hangover?  We'll find out soon enough.

I know a lot of Lincoln fans are planning on making the trip out to Kearney for the game Friday night, so hopefully those folks are treated to a Stars win.  I'll be watching from home, and will post a recap article late Friday night.

Go Stars.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Michael Bunn named USHL Offensive Player of the Week

Lincoln Stars forward Michael Bunn was named "CCM USHL Offensive Player of the Week" by the league this afternoon.  Click here to read the official USHL press release.  Here's an excerpt from the article:

Michael Bunn, F, Lincoln Stars: He scored four goals over two games, including his first career hat trick while playing his first USHL game on Friday.  The Wake Forrest, NC native, who has spent the past five months recovering from knee surgery, found out shortly before the game that he was going to be in the lineup and took advantage of the opportunity by netting a pair of second-period goals and added another in the third to complete the hat trick in a 6-1 win over Des Moines.  

The 18-year-old also finished the night with a game high plus-three rating.  On Saturday, Bunn scored his fourth goal of the weekend just under three minutes into a 6-2 loss to Des Moines.

Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye said this past weekend that Bunn is the first Lincoln Stars player to score three goals (hat-trick) in his first USHL game.  I reached out to league officials this past weekend and asked if they knew if Bunn was the first USHL player to get a hat-trick in his first USHL game.  They were unable to confirm that.

It's hard to believe that Bunn is the first member of the Lincoln Stars to win a weekly USHL award this season.  Even during Lincoln's 10-game winning streak to start the season, they never had a player win an offensive, defensive, or goaltending award.

Regardless, it's nice to see the league put a spotlight on the Stars, and Michael Bunn in particular.  I had a feeling Bunn could be a special player back in June when I saw him at Lincoln's tryout camp.  Because of a knee injury suffered during camp, Michael has spent the last 6 months or so rehabbing his knee.  As I said in an earlier article, I can only imagine how hard he has worked to get to this point.  Very happy to see his hard work rewarded.  Hopefully the goals continue.

Congrats again to Michael!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Lincoln Stars video on KOLN/KGIN Channel 10/11

Earlier this evening on KOLN/KGIN Channel 10/11, the Lincoln Stars were featured in a neat little piece that luckily I caught live. Thankfully, KOLN/KGIN posted the video online, and it's linked below if you missed it when it originally aired. Click play to check it out.

Happy Holidays from the B³!

I wanted to make sure I took a little bit of time today to post this quick article and wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays.

I also wanted to thank each and every one of you who make the "Black and Blue" blog a daily stop in your internet rounds.  I very much appreciate your patronage.

I'll post a weekend preview article late Thursday night for the upcoming games against Tri-City on Friday, and Sioux Ciity on Saturday.

So have a happy and safe holiday season, everyone!

-Yeti (Tim)

Snapshots of the Game: Des Moines vs. Lincoln 12/21

Sorry again for the delay getting these game pictures up.  I wanted to post these yesterday but ran out of time.  Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Des Moines game at the IceBox this past Friday night.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Click the "Read More" link below to view all of the photos in this series.

Michael Bunn celebrates after scoring his third goal of the game

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Video highlights of Lincoln's 6-2 loss to the Des Moines Bucs

Much thanks go out to Scott Thompson and his "Des Moines Bucs highlights" youtube page for the video below. Scott, who is a fan of the Bucs, does a fantastic job of recording highlights from every Buccaneeers home game and editing them into a highlights video. If you're on Twitter, make sure you follow Scott here. Click play below to watch the video.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Des Moines 6

The Lincoln Stars blew a two-goal lead in Des Moines tonight and lost 6-2 to the Buccaneers.  Lincoln scored two goals in the first three minutes of this game before the Bucs stormed back with six unanswered goals.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars fell to 15-7-3 (33 points) and dropped to fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  After winning their first five road games of the season, the Stars are 2-6-0 in their last eight road games.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

This is going to be a very, very quick recap.  I only listened to the radio broadcast so I couldn't see how well they played.  From the sounds of it, it wasn't that "well."

Stars scored two early goals in the first period with tallies from Vinni Lettieri and Michael Bunn.  After that, the wheels simply fell off.  The Bucs went on a tear, scoring six unanswered goals (including one empty-netter) to win this one convincingly.

This was the second straight loss for the Stars in which they had a lead at the first intermission.  They'll have to figure out very quickly how to play with a lead and keep it.

Jackson Teichroeb stopped 18 of 23 shots in the loss.  I'm still scratching my head why Michael Bitzer didn't get the start tonight.  In my opinion, you stick with your hot goaltender, and since Bitzer beat the Bucs last night, you start him again tonight.  But what do I know.  I'm just an idiot with a blog.

As a friend of mine said tonight on Twitter, the Stars have been consistently inconsistent as of late.  Hopefully the team can break out of this up and down play after the holiday break.

Lincoln will be back in action next Friday night in Kearney where they will take on the Tri-City Storm.

Happy holidays, everyone.  Travel safe if you are out and about.

Go Stars.

B³ Postgame Recap: Des Moines 1, Lincoln 6

Michael Bunn (bottom right) scores his 2nd goal of the game
Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars exploded for four goals during a  6:33 stretch of the second period to cruise past the Des Moines Buccaneers Friday night at the IceBox by a score of 6-1.  The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Stars.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 15-7-3 (33 points), and are now tied for second place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current league standings.


Unfortunately, something came up at the last minute and I was not able to attend this game.  It certainly sounds like I missed a good one, too.  I was able to catch a little bit of the game on the radio, but that's it.  So I will apologize in advance for the short length of this recap.  I would really appreciate any comments left by fans who were at the game.

From the sound of it, the Stars came out a bit sluggish in the first period and were outplayed by the Bucs.  Des Moines outshot Lincoln 8-5 in the first twenty minutes, and outscored the Stars 1-0.  Bucs forward Joseph Gambardella took advantage of a Stars giveaway and scored very early at the 2:38 mark to give Des Moines a 1-0 lead.  It would be the only puck to get past Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer the rest of the night.

In the second and third periods, it was all Lincoln.  I don't know what was said by whom in the Stars' locker room during the first intermission, but the Stars dominated the last two periods of the game.  In the second period in particular, the game turned into the "Jimmy DeVito and Michael Bunn Show."  Amazingly, both players scored two goals a piece in the second period, and both were 33 seconds apart from one another.  I'm going to post a quick picture below taken right from the Pointstreak boxscore to illustrate the four goals scored in the second period.


That has to be incredibly rare.  DeVito and Bunn score exactly 33 seconds apart twice in the same period, with both goals at times ending with :19 and :52.  I'm not sure you could duplicate that again in a million games played.

Lincoln outshot Des Moines 14-6 in the second period, and led 4-1 going into the second intermission.  Compared to the first period, this game turned 180 degrees.

In the third period, the Stars would add two more goals to finish out the scoring and snap their four-game losing streak in a big way.  Vinni Lettieri scored a PP goal very early in the third period, at the :58 mark, to make it a 5-1 game.

With less than a minute remaining, forward Michael Bunn, playing in his first game as a member of the Lincoln Stars, scored his third goal of the game to complete the hat-trick.

I'm sure a lot of fans last night at the IceBox were asking themselves, "Who is Michael Bunn, and where has he been all season long?"  Bunn is a native of Wake Forest, North Carolina and was drafted by the Lincoln Stars this past spring in the 16th round of the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.  Before coming to Lincoln, Bunn last played hockey for Culver Military Academy, located in Culver, IN.  The Stars have had very good luck with players coming from the Culver program, such as Michael Sdao, Cory Hibbeler, David Gerths, and Andrew Schmit.

Bunn participated in Lincoln's tryout camp this past June in Minneapolis where he impressed a lot of folks in attendance, especially myself.  He was easily the fastest player there, and used that speed a number of times to score goals and create offensive opportunities.  During one of the last few days of camp, Bunn was hit by current Stars defenseman Justin Woods and unfortunately tore his ACL on the play.  So since June, Bunn has been working very hard to rehab that knee and get back into shape.  Very happy to hear he had such a great first game, but also disappointed I couldn't see it in person.

Not to be overshadowed by Bunn, Jimmy DeVito scored two goals Friday night and Justin Woods racked up 4 assists.  In his previous 15 games, DeVito had been held scoreless.  Jimmy adds more to the team than just goals, but it was nice to hear he was able to break out of his goal-scoring slump.  Justin Woods came into the game last night with just 3 assists in 18 games, so he really exploded with the four assists (and was +2).

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 21 of 22 shots on goal to record his seventh win of the season.  Bitzer is now 7-3-1 on the season, with a 1.91 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.

Even better, the Stars stayed out of the penalty box for the most part Friday night and actually won the special teams war.  Lincoln went 2-for-3 on the powerplay, while the Bucs were held scoreless, going 0-for-3 with the man advantage.  No penalties last night for Mike McKee?  Amazing that the officials let him play his game.  Also, very happy to see Dominik Shine's name in the boxscore last night.  I had heard some rumors that he might not be back in the lineup until after the holiday break.

Hopefully the big win against the Bucs gives the team a boost of confidence going into the game tonight in Des Moines.  Beating the same team in back-to-back nights will not be easy.  Buccaneer Arena isn't the most friendly place to play, either.  However, the Stars have historically played well in that barn over the years. Getting four points this weekend would be huge going into the short holiday break.

Go Stars.

P.S. - Apparently during the game last night at some point, a puck was broken in half.  In all my years of playing and watching hockey, I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like that.  Just my luck to miss it last night. Referee Steve Reneau tweeted a picture of the broken puck last night on Twitter, and I'll include that pic below.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Des Moines Buccaneers

The Stars will play a home-and-home series this weekend against the Des Moines Buccaneers in Lincoln's last two games before the Christmas break.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm for both games this weekend.  Friday night's game will take place at the IceBox, while Saturday evening's game will occur at Des Moines Buccaneer Arena.

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

The Stars currently have a record of 14-7-3 (31 points), and are tied for third place in the USHL Western Conference with the Fargo Force.  The Stars have played two less games compared to the Force and thus have a better winning percentage (.646 to .596).  The Stars are only two points out of first place in the west, but also only five points out of seventh place.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Des Moines Bucs sport a 14-12-1 (29 points) record which is good enough for sixth place in the hotly contested USHL Western Conference.  The Bucs are 7-3-0 in their last ten games played after starting the 2012-13 regular season with a 4-6-1 record in their first eleven games.  Des Moines has a very impressive 10-5-0 record in fifteen home games, but a not so great road record of 4-7-1 in twelve games away from Buccaneer Arena.

This will be the second and third time the Stars and Bucs will meet up this season.  In their lone previous matchup, which took place at the IceBox on 10/5/12, the Stars beat the Bucs by a score of 5-2.  In that particular game, Stars forward Will Suter and Eric Scheid both score three points (2g, 1a)  a piece, and goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 28 of 30 shots to record his first USHL career win.  Lincoln and Des Moines will meet a total of six times during the 2012-13 regular season.

The Bucs have the fourth best powerplay percentage in the USHL at 20.18%, but the third worst penalty kill percentage in the league at 78.5%.  Through 27 games played, the Bucs have scored 91 goals, and have given up 91 goals.  That's an average of 3.37 goals scored and 3.37 goals against per game.

As for the Stars, the team is still struggling a bit to get back into the win column after a pair of overtime shootout losses last weekend.  Lincoln is 1-2-2 in their last five games and 3-6-3 in their last 12 games played.  The Stars have a 7-2-3 record in twelve home games at the IceBox, and a 7-5-0 record in twelve games on the road.

Believe it or not, but the Stars shouldn't have any players under league suspension for this game.  Crazy, right?  Maybe it's just me, but the USHL seems to be handing out suspensions at a record rate this season.  A few days ago, Jimmy DeVito's name appeared on the Pointstreak transaction page with a one-game suspension, but now I see that is no longer the case.  So I assume the Stars appealed the suspension and won.  It will nice to finally have a full roster this weekend....or at least Friday night, anyway.

Getting at least two points is a must this weekend.  Three points would be great, and four points would obviously be ideal.  Unfortunately, the Stars don't get much of a holiday break after these two weekend games.  After Saturday night's game in Des Moines, the team will get a few days to be with their families before coming back to Lincoln in time to play next Friday night in Kearney

Go Stars.

Congrats to Tommy Schutt!

Lincoln Stars forward Tommy Schutt announced on Twitter this afternoon that he has committed to play college hockey at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, starting the fall of 2013.

Click here to read the tweet from Schutt.

Tommy is in the middle of his second season with the Lincoln Stars.  In 69 regular season games with the Stars, Schutt has scored 29 points (11g, 18a) to go along with 69 penalty minutes and is +18.  Schutt was a 2010 USHL Entry Draft pick of the Lincoln Stars.  Tommy arrived in Lincoln after finishing his high school hockey career at Minnetonka High School in Minnesota.

Schutt will join a Quinnipiac hockey program that currently has two former Stars on the roster, defensemen Mike Dalhuisen and Cory Hibbeler .  Dalzy is a senior this season, while Hibbs is a junior.  Schutt and Hibbeler will be teammates next season for the 2013-14 Qunnipiac University Bobcats hockey team.

I've always enjoyed watching Tommy play.  In my opinion, he's one of the hardest working players on the team.  He's a guy you can play both on the powerplay and on the penalty kill.  Very versatile.  He may not be the guy who puts up a ton of points, but he plays with tons of energy and has a huge heart.

Best of luck to Tommy at Quinnipiac!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Snapshots of the Game: Sioux Falls vs. Lincoln 12/15

I'm going to get caught up on posting pictures from the two games this past weekend.  Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Sioux Falls game at the IceBox this past Saturday night.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Stars congratulate Vinni Lettieri after his third period goal

Snapshots of the Game: Omaha vs. Lincoln 12/14

I'm going to get caught up on posting pictures from the two games this past weekend.  Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Omaha game at the IceBox this past Friday night.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Jackson Teichroeb and Jake Wood bump gloves before puck drop

Sunday, December 16, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux Falls 4, Lincoln 3 OT Shootout

The Lincoln Stars surrendered a 3-1 third period lead before losing in an overtime shootout to the Sioux Falls Stampede Saturday night at the IceBox by a score of 4-3.  The loss was Lincoln's fourth in a row, and it's second straight overtime shootout loss.  In both of those games, the Stars had a lead going into the third period.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the overtime loss and the one point, the Stars now have a record of 14-7-3 (31 points) and are tied for third place in the USHL Western Conference with the Fargo Force.  Lincoln is only two points out of first place in the west, but also only five points out of seventh place.  Amazingly, 7 of the 8 teams in the western conference have a record of .500 or better.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Stars got on the scoreboard first in this game with some help from Stampede goaltender Charles Lindgren.  Vinni Lettieri of the Stars fired a shot on net that Lindgren attempted to catch with his glove, but the puck squirted out and bounced out to a streaking Eric Scheid who one-timed the puck into the net.

Stars played very, very well in the first period and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.  Lincoln outshot Sioux Falls 12-5 in the first twenty minutes.

In the second period, the Stampede evened the score at 1-1 when Thomas Forgione got behind the Lincoln defense and went five-hole on Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb at the 6:35 mark.

I was out of my seat for the next three goals scored in this game, so I can't give a good account on how they were scored.  Eric Scheid scored his second goal of the game at the 16:34 mark of the second period to give the Stars a 2-1 lead going into the third period.  Scheid's 12th goal of the season was unassisted.

Early in the third period, Vinni Lettieri scored at the 4:43 mark to give Lincoln a 3-1 lead.  Lettieri's goal was assisted by Paul LaDue and Eric Scheid.  Less than three minutes after Lettieri's goal, Dennis Kravchenko scored for Sioux Falls to pull the 'Pede to within one goal.

With a Stars player in the penalty box midway through the third period, the Stampede would get the game-tying goal on a bang-bang play.  Just three seconds into the powerplay, Thomas Forgione won a faceoff back to forward Kyle Schempp who fired a laser through a crowd and past Teichroeb glove-high into the open net.  Just like that, Lincoln's 2 goal lead in the third period vanished.

Neither team would score in the 5 minute overtime period, so this one went to a shootout.  The Stampede scored twice in three chances, while the Stars were held scoreless in two opportunities.  After winning the first two games that went to a shootout, the Stars have lost three overtime shootout games in a row.

Jackson Teichroeb stopped 24 of 27 in the loss.  It was Teichroeb's fifth loss in a row.  Stampede goaltender Charles Lindgren stopped 31 of 34 in the win, which was his third in a row.

The special teams woes continued Saturday night for the Stars.  Lincoln went 0-for-3 with the man advantage, while the Stampede went 1-for-6.  Very, very rarely do the Stars have more powerplay opportunities compared to their opponents in a game.  Part of that is playing better disciplined hockey, but also drawing more penalties to give your team more PP chances.

I said this on Twitter last night, but when you give up a 3-1 lead in the third period you probably deserve to lose the game.  Honestly, I think the Stars were very lucky to get one point last night.  The Stampede were the better team in the second and third periods.  Jackson Teichroeb had to make a number of game-saving stops to keep the Stars in the game.

Earlier on Saturday, the USHL posted three new suspensions for the Stars because of incidents in the Omaha game the night before.  According to the Pointstreak transaction page, Max Humitz, Jimmy DeVito, and Jake Wood were all suspended one game.  I expected that all three would be out of the lineup against Sioux Falls, but DeVito did play last night.  Only thing I can think of is that the Stars appealed DeVito's suspension, and won.

After starting the season winning its first 10 games, the Stars are 4-7-3 in their last 14 games played.  4 wins in their last 14 games played.  Not exactly setting the world on fire, but there's no reason why this team can't win 10 in a row again.  The talent is there.  Special teams needs to improve big time.  The offense has been a big stagnant as of late, also.  Everyone on the team needs to play more disciplined on the ice.  Lincoln has to regain that killer instinct that put away teams early on in the season when they had leads in the third period.

Lincoln will attempt to get back on track this upcoming weekend with a home-and-home series against the Des Moines Buccaneers.  Friday night's game will take place at the IceBox, while Saturday evening's game will take place in Des Moines.

Go Stars.

Friday, December 14, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Omaha 2, Lincoln 1 OT Shootout

I'll update this article tomorrow with a full recap.  Just want to get something up quick so fans can comment if they'd like.

Stars lose in an overtime shootout tonight to the Omaha Lancers by a score of 2-1.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

I'm not one to complain about calls, but thanks to an unbelievably bad call on Jimmy DeVito in the second period, the Lancers were awarded a bogus 5 minute powerplay in which they scored the game-tying goal.

Late in the second period, Jimmy DeVito ran into Lancers goaltender Alex Lyon behind the Omaha net.  DeVito knocked Lyon down, and Lancers defenseman Ben Ostlie immediately dropped the gloves and went after DeVito.

At the most, DeVito should have received a 2 minute minor for goalie interference and a 5 minute major for fighting.  Ostlie should have received a 2 minute minor for instigating (since he initiated the fight), and a 5 minute major for fighting.

Instead, the refs gave DeVito a 5 minute major for charging and a 5 minute major for fighting.  Ostlie was only given a 5 minute major for fighting.  I've seen some bad calls at the IceBox, but this one was pathetic.

Stars killed 4:54 of the 5 minute major before the Lancers scored to tie the game up at 1-1.  Omaha went on to win it in the shootout.

A gift-wrapped 2 points for a Lancers team that put an anemic 16 shots on goal through three periods.  Santa came early for Omaha.

I'll be called a homer and a sore loser, and that's fine.  DeVito's penalty should have been a minor, and not a major.  It was a bad call that had a huge influence on how this game was played.

Please leave a comment with your thoughts.  I'd love to hear from you

With the loss, Lincoln sits at 30 points (14-7-2) and in third place in the Western Conference. Waterloo leads with 32 points and Sioux Falls has 31. 

Just like last week, Lincoln held a significant shot advantage (32-19) on Omaha but the Lancers got back into the game via special teams.The Stars played without both captains Friday night. Mike McKee was serving a suspension and Dominik Shine is injured. Zach Aston-Reese was also out of the lineup due to a suspension. 

Jake Wood scored the only goal of the first period to get Lincoln on the board first. Wood's goal came 18:17 into the first period off of an assist from Paul Ladue. Lincoln outshot Omaha 8-4 in the opening period. Wood had an eventful first period in addition to putting his name on the scoresheet, picking up elbowing and roughing minors in the first five minutes.

Neither team scored in the second period while Lincoln claimed an 8-7 advantage in shots. Things got chippy though. Zack Pittman picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct misconduct halfway through the period, and then the illogical call on DeVito happened with 4:01 left in the second period. Amazing call considering how Lincoln was treated last week in Omaha when a Star was checked low into the boards behind the net and required medical attention. Meanwhile Aston-Reese instigated a fight and got a penalty and suspension. On Friday, Ostlie instigates a fight on DeVito and receives no penalty and I'm sure will not get a suspension.

The Lancers couldn't capitalize on the major in the second period, but they did 53 seconds into the third period. Just when it looked as if Lincoln was going to survive the bogus five-minute man disadvantage, with just six seconds left on the power play, Tucker Poolman evened the score at 1-1.

Although Lincoln dominated the third period with an 11-5 shot advantage, and overtime with a 5-2 advantage, the game went to a shootout. The first two shooters missed for each team. Omaha's Jake Randolph beat Jackson Teichroeb in the third round, but Brent Wold scored to send the shootout into the sudden death rounds. Omaha's Alex Rauter scored and Eric Scheid couldn't convert for Lincoln, sending the Lancers to their second straight win over the Stars. Teichroeb made 17 saves on 18 shots.

The Stars face the Sioux Falls Stampede on Saturday at the Ice Box. Sioux Falls will be well rested after not playing Friday night.

Go Stars.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Omaha and Sioux Falls


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

If you can't make it to the IceBox this weekend, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreaklisten to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the game live on FASTHockey for a fee.

The Stars sport a record of 14-7-1 (29 points), and are in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.  Lincoln is only 3 points out of sixth place, and two points out of first place in the wild, wild western conference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Stars.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 1, Cedar Rapids 3

Cedar Rapids took advantage of their nine powerplay opportunities tonight to score two PP goals and cruise past the visiting Lincoln Stars by a score of 3-1.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars dropped to 14-7-1 (29 points) and remain in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current USHL Standings.

This recap is going to be very short.  I only listened to the radio broadcast, so I can't comment on how the Stars looked.  It's probably good that I didn't spend money to watch this game on FASTHockey.

The Roughriders scored one PP goal in each of the first two periods to take a 2-0 lead going into the second intermission.  After a virtually quiet first period, referee's Curtis Marouelli and Peter Schlittenhardt (porn name?) warmed up their whistles in the second stanza and sent damn near every Stars player on the roster to the penalty box at some point.

Very late in the third period, Stars forward Vinni Lettieri scored his seventh goal of the season to give Lincoln some life, trailing by only one goal.  However, just 22 seconds after Vinni's goal, the Roughriders netted an empty net goal to seal the 3-1 victory.  Coming into this game, the Roughriders had given up at least 3 goals in 12 straight games.  Tonight they give up only one.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 26 of 28 shots in the loss.  Lincoln went 0-for-5 on the powerplay, while Cedar Rapids went 2-for-9 with the man advantage.  Once again, the Stars lose the special teams war.  Seems like a broken record this season.

I wasn't watching, so I don't know how many of the penalties whistled on the Stars were legit or not.  The Roughriders have had the reputation over the years to "sell" penalties, so it wouldn't surprise me if some of the calls against Lincoln were bogus.  The Roughriders were awarded SIX powerplay opportunities in the second period alone.  Having said that, the Stars seem to implode and commit dumb penalties when they get behind a few goals.

Cedar Rapids Roughriders goaltender Steve Michalek, who came into this game with a 4.17 goals against average and a rock-bottom save percentage of .852%, stopped 25 of 26 shots to record his second win of the season.

Stars forward Dominik Shine was injured in the third period tonight and was helped to the locker room where he stayed for the remainder of the game.  According to this tweet, Shine fell face-first into the boards and was bleeding from the mouth.  Chad Johnson said after the game on the radio that Shine received stitches due to his injury.  Sending good vibes his way in hopes he returns to the ice very soon.

Stars are back in action this weekend with back-to-back games at the IceBox.  Lincoln will host the Omaha Lancers on Friday night, and the Sioux Falls Stampede on Saturday night.  Two good teams come to the IceBox this weekend, so it will be a good test for the Stars.  Hopefully the team can forget this loss tonight and focus on those two upcoming contests against western conference foes.  I'll post a weekend preview article late tomorrow night.

Go Stars.

Edit:  I forgot to mention this last night when I was putting together this article, but per Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye, the team traded forward Trent Samuels-Thomas to the Omaha Lancers.  Melbye didn't mention what the Lancers traded in return for TST.  Very odd move, in my opinion.  Lincoln traded a 5th round draft pick in late October to the Des Moines Bucaneers for TST.  In 10 games with Lincoln, Samuels-Thomas scored 4 points (all assists) to go along with 10 penalty minutes.  The last few weeks, TST was a healthy scratch more often than he played.  I'm not sure why it didn't work out for him in Lincoln, as he was a player I was really excited about getting when the trade with Des Moines was first announced.  Hopefully this move isn't one that will come back and bite Lincoln in the rear later on this season.  I'm not a big fan of trading players to a rival team like the Omaha Lancers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

B³ Pregame Report: Lincoln Stars vs. Cedar Rapids Roughriders 12/12

The Lincoln Stars will play a rare Wednesday game this week when they travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to take on the Roughriders.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST at Cedar Rapids Arena.

You can follow the boxscore 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 14-6-1 (29 points), and are in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  Despite being in third place, Lincoln's winning percentage is .690%, which is tops in the western conference.

Click here to view the updated USHL standings

The Cedar Rapids Roughriders have a record of 8-11-3 (19 points), and are in sixth place in the USHL Eastern Conference.  This will be the second of two regular season games the Stars and the Roughriders will play against one another.  In their previous matchup back on 11/9/12 at the IceBox, the Stars put a hurting on the Roughriders by a score of 5-0.  In my opinion, the shutout win against Cedar Rapids was Lincoln's best effort at home so far this season.  It was a dominating win.

Since that 5-0 loss to the Stars at the IceBox, the Roughriders have a record of 2-8-1 and have struggled to stay relevant in the tightly contested USHL Eastern Conference.  'Riders head coach Mike Carlson has turned his roster into a revolving door as of late trying to shake up his team, trading away five players who were in the lineup on 11/9 against the Stars.   Sam Wolfe (traded to team in NAHL), Gavin Bayreuther (traded to Fargo), Eetu Karvinen (traded to Sioux City), Riley Bourbonnais (traded to Sioux City), and Landon Smith (traded Chicago) played against Lincoln just last month, but were casualties in Carlson's roster reorganization.

The 'Riders are 1-6-1 in their last eight games, so the results of all the player trading haven't been positive so far for Carlson and his team.  They recently brought in goaltender Steve Michalek to help shore up their goaltending, but that hasn't helped much.  Michalek started the season playing college hockey for Harvard, but dropped out of school and was picked up by the 'Riders.  Michalek is a 2011 NHL draft pick of the Minnesota Wild.  In four games with the Roughriders since leaving Harvard, Michalek has a record of 1-2-1, a goals against average of 4.17, and an abysmal save percentage of .852%.  Cedar Rapids fans are hoping Michalek can break out of his slump and backstop the 'Riders to more victories in the second half of the USHL regular season.

Despite their recent troubles, this is a team that historically have had little trouble beating the Stars on their home ice.  The Roughriders sport a 8-3-0 record against Lincoln at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena since the beginning of the 2006-07 season.

Lincoln will be without the services of defenseman Mike McKee who was once again suspended by the USHL.  This time, the league suspended McKee for two games due to his actions this past Saturday night in Lincoln's 4-3 loss to Omaha.  I believe McKee's suspension is due to the fighting major he picked up in that Omaha game, which was his sixth fighting major of the season. The USHL is really trying to crack down on fighting this season, and will be handing out suspensions to players who earn a certain amount of fighting majors. I believe the league starts suspending players when they get to six fighting majors. That's my guess, anyway.  I could be wrong.  Unfortunately, the league doesn't do a very good job explaining why players get suspensions.

Staying on the suspension topic, Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb will sit this game out as well, as he will be serving the fifth and final game of his five-game suspension the USHL handed out a few weeks ago.  So that means Michael Bitzer will be in net for the Stars against the Roughriders.  Teichroeb will be available this weekend when the Stars have back-to-back games at the IceBox.

I'm planning on listening to this game on the radio instead of watching it on FASTHockey.  Seems like the last few times I watched the Stars play on FASTHockey, they've lost.  So in my warped, superstitious mind, it's better off if I just listen to the radio broadcast this time.  :)

Go Stars.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 3, Omaha 4

Despite outshooting the Lancers 37-17 Saturday night at Ralston Arena in Ralston, NE, the Lincoln Stars fell to Omaha by a score of 4-3.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

After the loss, the Stars dropped to 14-6-1 (28 points) but are still tied for second place with the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln still has the best winning percentage (.690) in the west, and are only one point out of first place.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I wasn't at this game, but I did watch it on FastHockey.  I'll post my thoughts below.

The shots may indicate that the Stars completely dominated this game, but that wasn't the case.  Yes, there were good stretches of this game where Lincoln controlled the puck and put a ton of shots on Omaha goaltender Cole Bruns.  But the Lancers won the special teams war (again), and took advantage of the few chances they had offensively.

Before the game was barely five minutes old, the Lancers already had a 2-0 lead thanks to a PP goal from Tucker Poolman, and even-strength goal from Tyler Moy.  I believe Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye mentioned this last night, but Moy's goal was Omaha's first even-strength goal against the Stars this season in three games.  Tells you how much better Lincoln is 5-on-5 compared to Omaha, but also how bad the Stars are specials teams wise compared to the Lancers.

The Stars showed some life late in the first period and it was Mike McKee who finally got on the scoreboard for Lincoln.  After a Luke Johnson shot on goal, the rebound went to McKee who backhanded the shot into the open net.  Johnson and Jake Wood picked up the assists on McKee's second goal of the season.

Stars trailed 2-1 at the first intermission, but outshot Omaha 10-6 in the first period.

Lincoln outshot Omaha 16-5 in the second period, but the Lancers were able to put two of those five shots past Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer to take a 4-1 lead heading into the second intermission.  One of the two goals the Lancers scored in the second period came on the powerplay.

Lincoln outscored Omaha 2-0 in the third period, but it was not enough as the Lancers barely held on at the end to win this one by a score of 4-3.  Luke Johnson scored the two Lincoln goals in the third period, and both came on the powerplay with Michael Bitzer pulled for the extra attacker.

Try as they might, the Stars peppered Bruns with shot after shot late in the third period, but they were unable to score the game-tying goal.  Credit Bruns for playing his best game of the season against the Stars last night.  He was a big reason why the Lancers were able to escape with two points.

Michael Bitzer stopped 13 of 17 shots in the loss.  I'm sure this is one game Bitzer will want back as he didn't look very comfortable out there.  Goaltenders will have the occasional off game, and I think this was one of those games for Bitzer.  I'm sure he'll want to be in net next Friday night at the IceBox when the Stars host the Lancers.  After his performance last night, he'll want some payback for sure.

This was your typical Stars-Lancers game with multiple fights.  Here are video links to the three fights from last night, courtesy of Stars fan "Michelle," who was at the game.  Click the text below in blue to watch each fight.

Trent Samuels-Thomas vs. Nicklas Folin
This fight was payback for Folin's cheapshot against Brad Hawkinson last week in Lincoln's 5-1 win over the Lancers.  Hawk is still out with a neck injury.  You can tell Folin doesn't want to fight and is just hanging on.  Just my opinion, but Folin got off pretty lucky compared to what Hawk is dealing with right now.  For some reason, this fight isn't noted on the Pointstreak boxscore.  It's like it didn't happen.

Mike McKee vs. Eli Lichtenwald
I'm not sure what started this fight, but Mike rag dolls Lichtenwald for most of the scrap.  McKee is so damn strong.  Lichtenwald is 6'6", 211 pounds....so that's a big kid that Mike is tossing around.

Zach Aston-Reese vs. Frank Schumacher
This happened late in the third period after a nasty hit from behind from Schumacher on Jake Wood.  Amazingly, the referee missed the call on Schumacher but ZAR came to the aid of his teammate.  ZAR instigated the fight, but that's to be expected when you are defending a teammate.  Since this fight occurred with less than 5 minutes remaining in the third period, both players will likely be suspended for one game.

Lincoln will have a busy week coming up with three games in four nights.  First they will travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday to take on the Roughriders.  On Friday and Saturday, the Stars will be back home with back-to-back games at the IceBox.  The Omaha Lancers will visit on Friday, and the Sioux Falls Stampede on Saturday.  Great opportunity coming up for the Stars to earn six points and vault to the top of the western conference standings.

Go Stars.

Snapshots of the Game: Sioux City vs. Lincoln 12/7

Sorry for the delay getting these up.  I wanted to post these yesterday, along with updating the recap article from the same game, but just ran out of time.  Still unpacking in the new house so I've been pretty busy.  Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Sioux City game at the IceBox this past Friday night.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Stars clean up teddy bears after Paul LaDue's first period goal

Friday, December 7, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux City 2, Lincoln 4

On the strength of a dominating second period, the Lincoln Stars cruised to a 4-2 victory over the visiting Sioux City Musketeers Friday night at the IceBox.  The win was Lincoln's third in a row.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.


With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 14-5-1 (29 points) and are tied for second place in the USHL Western Conference with the Sioux Falls Stampede.  The Stars have played two less games than the first place Waterloo Blackhawks and the second place Stampede, so Lincoln has the best winning percentage (.725) in the western conference right now.

Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Scoring for the Stars tonight was Paul LaDue (PP), Dominik Shine, Will Suter, and Eric Scheid (shorthanded-empty net).  Michael Bitzer stopped 23 of 25 shots to record his third straight win.

I'll update this article with a full recap tomorrow morning when I have more time.  Solid win tonight against a game Sioux City club that didn't play like a last place team.

Big game tomorrow night in Ralston against the Omaha Lancers!  I'll be watching from home, but I hope a lot of Stars fans make the trip up there to root on the good guys.

Go Stars.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Omaha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Stars.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Back online

Just a quick note to say I'm back online and all moved into the new house.  I was very happy to hear that the Stars got back on track with the two big road wins this past weekend.  I was able to catch only bits and pieces of both games on the radio, so I don't have a lot to add right now.  Thanks to BT for posting the recap article from the Omaha game.  Big win in their own barn.  It's always nice to win that first game in their new arena.

Later in the week I'll post a weekend preview article for the home game at the IceBox against the Sioux City Musketeers on Friday, and then the road game against the Omaha Lancers on Saturday.  I'm sure a lot of Stars fans will be making a return trip to Ralston for that one.

Don't forget that Friday's home game against Sioux City is "Teddy Bear Toss" night at the IceBox.  Bring a new stuff animal to the game and throw it onto the ice after the first Stars goal.

There's a good chance I may post an article later today if a certain Stars goaltender wins the USHL's weekly goaltender of the week award.  He was certainly deserving.

More later!  Go Stars.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 5, Omaha 1

This is BT filling in for Yeti since he doesn't have Internet access just yet at his new home. Yeti has decided that for the good of the Stars he is going to be moving every weekend from now on. Anyway, here is a very short recap to just get something up on the blog. I didn't listen to the game.

The Lincoln Stars romped to a 5-1 win over the Omaha Lancers on Friday night at Ralston Arena. Here is a link to the Pointstreak box score. Four goals in the second period was more than enough than the Stars would need to cruise to the victory. It was a dominant effort by Lincoln, as they outshot Omaha 35-23 and snapped a five-game losing streak and avenged a shootout loss to the Lancers a week earlier.

The win puts the Stars at 12-5-1 and in third place in the West with 25 points. Waterloo (30) and Sioux Falls (27) remain ahead of Lincoln, but both have played two more games than the Stars. Omaha/Council Bluffs/River City/Ralston dropped to 11-11 and is in fifth place with 22 points.

Scoring for Lincoln in the second were Dominik Shine, Luke Johnson (powerplay), Ross Olsson and Eric Scheid. Jake Wood added a powerplay goal in the third period, and Luca Frigo's goal in the third period mattered very little.

Michael Bitzer stopped 22-of-23 shots in the win. Jackson Teichroeb will miss five games because of a USHL suspension, so expect to see Bitzer start the next four games. Vinni Lettieri assisted on three of the five goals and received the third star. Scheid had a goal and assist to be named second star, and Shine had a goal and assist and was named first star after sitting out the last three games.

Looking at the box score, sounds like this was a typical Lincoln/Omaha game. Omaha's Niklas Folin was ejected 7:06 into the game for checking from behind. Brent Wold took exception and received a roughing penalty for retalliating. With two seconds left in the period, Connor Chatham took an elbowing penalty for the Lancers, and Zack Pittman didn't care for it too much, instigating a fight with Chatham. He was subsequently ejected for it, but there is no doubt the Stars fed off of it, scoring three times in the first eight minutes of the second period. Early in the third period, Frank Schumacher received an abuse of officials misconduct after a hooking penalty on the Lancers.

Lincoln went 2-for-7 on the powerplay, while Omaha went 0-for-3. I have no idea what the officiating was like, but it sure does feel good to be the ones on the positive side of the powerplays. That's only the fourth time in 18 games that the Stars have had a powerplay advantage this season. Lincoln has won all four of those games. Omaha has nothing to complain about as they had a 5-2 advantage in powerplays at the Ice Box last week and scored two of their three goals on it.

Lincoln is at Sioux Falls Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Go Stars!