Sunday, December 15, 2013

Taking a break from the blog

Quick article here to give all of my readers a heads up.  I'll make this brief.

I am going to be taking a vacation from the blog for the time being.  I'm not sure when I'll start blogging again.  It could be in a few weeks, or it could be next season.  I'm just not sure right now.  What I am sure of is that I need a break.

I will be taking a break from the blog's Facebook page also. That account will not be updated.  I will update the blog's Twitter account sparingly.

However, I will continue to attend all of the home games, and will root on the Stars as usual.

Thanks as always for making this blog a part of your daily internet rounds.  No matter what happens, I will always appreciate your patronage of the B³.

Happy Holidays.  Go Stars.

-Tim

12/29 Edit:  I have decided to take the rest of this season off from the blog.  I didn't want to keep my readers guessing on when I'd start blogging again.  I will get back into it when the two drafts (Entry, Futures) roll around in early May.  Best of luck to the players the rest of this season.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Omaha 2, Lincoln 3 OT Shootout

Stars mob David Parrottino after his shootout game winner
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
David Parrottino scored the game-winner in the shootout to give the Lincoln Stars a gutsy 3-2 overtime victory over the Omaha Lancers at the IceBox on "Rivalry Night."

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The win and the two points improved Lincoln's record to 6-13-5 (17 points), and they are in seventh place in the USHL western conference.

Click here to view the current USHL standings.


First of all, if you missed this game, you missed one heck of a battle between two quality hockey teams.  It played out much like a playoff game.  The atmosphere tonight at the IceBox was incredible.

I thought the Stars played very, very well in the first twenty minutes and looked to be more hungry than the Lancers.  Omaha seemed to start a little slow, and it wasn't until the second period before they woke up.

Lincoln used their strong play in the first period to take a commanding 2-0 lead thanks to even-strength goals from Brandon Smith and John Simonson.  Smith's goal, which came at the 12:50 mark of the first, was a great effort to grab a rebound in the slot before shooting past Lancers goaltender Cole Bruns.  Simonson's goal, scored at the 17:25 mark, came on a beautiful 2-on-1 odd man rush with Magnus Hoff.

It was looking like the Stars would take the 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but Omaha native Gage Hough scored an even-strength goal with only 50 seconds remaining in the first period to pull the Lancers to within one goal.

After twenty minutes, the Stars led 2-1 over the Lancers.  Lincoln outshot Omaha 12-10 in the first period.

In the second, the Lancers picked up the pace and outscored Lincoln 1-0 in the period.  Omaha forward Luca Frigo scored a powerplay goal at the 11:47 mark of the second period to complete the scoring in regulation.  Lincoln outshot Omaha 13-10 in the middle stanza.

Both teams really played it safe in the third period, and shots on goal were few and far between compared to the first two periods.  Both teams had key penalty kills in the third period to keep the game tied up at 2-2.  Shots were 9-3 in favor of Omaha in the third.

The Lancers and Stars put up two shots on goal a piece in the five-minute, four-on-four overtime period, but the puck stayed out of both nets.

In the shootout, after the first three shooters for each squad failed to capitalize, Luca Frigo scored for Omaha in the fourth round.  Frigo's goal forced the next Lincoln shooter to score, or it would be all over.  Stars forward Magnus Hoff calmly skated down and scored on Cole Bruns in the fourth round to force a fifth.  Without Hoff's clutch shootout goal, this is a 3-2 Omaha win.

And in the fifth and deciding round of the shootout, after a big Michael Bitzer save on Lancers defenseman Steven Johnson, Stars forward David Parrottino scored the game-winner to send the IceBox into hysterics.  From my seat, it looked like Parrottino went five-hole on Bruns, but he may have slipped the puck under his arm.  I will post a video at the end of this article which has the entire shootout.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 29 of 31, including 4 of 5 Omaha shooters in the shootout.  He was named the #1 star of the game, deservedly so.

Omaha went 1-for-4 on the powerplay while the Stars went 0-for-6.

Big, big win going into the holiday break for the Lincoln Stars.  This should provide a huge boost of confidence.  The season hasn't gone like they've wanted, but this win should give the team some much needed momentum heading into the two-week break.  There's still a lot of the season yet to be played.  Keep fighting.  Keep battling.  Keep grinding.

To all of the players on the Stars, safe travels home.  Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.

Go Stars.

Here's the video of the shootout, courtesy of my friend Mike B.

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Sioux Falls 7

It wasn't a pretty sight at Sioux Falls Arena on Friday night as the hometown Stampede scored four powerplay goals in route to a 7-2 blowout win over the Lincoln Stars.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The loss dropped the Stars to 5-13-5 (15 points), and with Tri-City's win last night, Lincoln is now in seventh place in the USHL western conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

This recap will be brief for a variety of reasons.  First of all, I don't want to waste any time on trying to recap this sort of loss.  Secondly, I only caught part of the radio broadcast and did not watch it on FASTHockey.

In the first period, the Sioux Falls scored three goals (two were on the powerplay), and outshot the Stars 19-8.  Two of the three goals scored in the first period by the Stampede came from forward Griffen Molino.

In the second period, it was more of the same as the Stampede outscored the Stars 2-1 and outshot them 15-11.  Griffen Molino potted his third goal of the game in the second period on a powerplay.  The lone Stars goal in the middle stanza was scored by forward Dominick Sacco, his fourth of the season.

The Stampede outscored the Stars 2-1 in the third period as well, and outshot them 12-8.  Griffen Molino scored his fourth goal of the game in the final period, again on the powerplay.  So three of the four goals Molino scored against the Stars last night came on the powerplay.

In his past 24 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede, forward Griffen Molino had a total of 3 goals.  Last night he scored four goals in sixty minutes.  He probably wishes he could play the Stars every game.

The lone Stars goal in the third period was scored by Daniel Willett, on the powerplay.  It was Willett's first goal of the season.

Michael Bitzer, who was appearing in his 23rd straight game for the Stars, was pulled from this game after surrendering the third Stampede goal.  Lincoln backup goaltender Jacob Nehama, who had zero USHL experience coming into this game, relieved Bitzer for the rest of the contest.  What a way to make your USHL debut: down 0-3 on the road on the small ice surface of Sioux Falls arena.  Gotta feel for the kid on that one.

Bitzer stopped 12 of 15 before he was pulled, and Nehama stopped 27 of 31 for the remainder of the game.  Stampede goaltender Arthur Brey stopped 25 of 27 in the win.  Sioux Falls outshot Lincoln overall, 46-27.

The Stampede went 4-for-7 on the powerplay while the Stars finished 1-for-6.

I'm not sure where to start with this one.  I've mentioned it before, but we've seen these kind of losses all season long.  The Stars start out slow, get behind early, play undisciplined hockey, and lose the special teams war.  It's a broken record that needs fixed.  But how do you fix it?

Let's take a look at the Chicago Steel.  Much like the Stars, they began this season with only a few returning players from the 2012-13 season.  In their first ten games of the 2013-14 season, the Steel struggled mightily.  They lost each of those ten games to start the season 0-10-0.

I'm not sure what the Steel did after that tenth game, but since then they are 10-5-1.  They have climbed out of the eastern conference cellar and are beating teams above them in the standings.  They are 8 points out of a playoff spot in the east.  Meanwhile, the Stars are 18 points out of a playoff spot in the west.

The Steel are a great example of turning a season around and coming together as a team.  I'm not sure what's going on with the Stars, but it almost seems they are regressing, not improving.  

Regardless, I'll continue to support the players and hope they can find a way to turn this around.  It starts tonight at the IceBox against the first-place Omaha Lancers.  The Lancers will be a salty bunch tonight after losing a rare home game Friday night against the Waterloo Blackhawks.

Go Stars.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux Falls and Omaha


The Lincoln Stars will play their last two games before the holiday break this weekend when they battle the Sioux Falls Stampede on Friday night, and the Omaha Lancers on Saturday.  Friday's game will take place in Sioux Falls, while the tilt against the Lancers on Saturday evening will occur at the IceBox in Lincoln.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for each game.

If you are unable to make it to any of the games this weekend, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the games live on FASTHockey for a fee.

The Lincoln Stars currently have a record of 5-12-5 (15 points) and are in sixth place the USHL western conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Friday's opponent, the Sioux Falls Stampede, have a record of 16-6-2 (34 points) and are currently in second place in the USHL western conference.  

Sioux Falls is 6-1-1 in their last 8 games at home.  They have outscored their competition 34-19 in those eight home games. This will be the third time the Stars and 'Pede will play one another.  Sioux Falls is 2-0-0 in the two prior games against Lincoln this season.

Saturday's opponent, the Omaha Lancers, have an impressive record of 20-3-2 (42 points) and are currently in first place in the USHL western conference.  

This is hard to say without wanting to punch the closest thing colored orange, but the Lancers have the best win-loss record in the USHL, and it's not even close.  Their winning percentage is .840, while the second best is .750 (Dubuque Fighting Saints).

Omaha is 6-1-1 in their last 8 games on the road. They have outscored their competition 33-21 in those eight road games.  This will be the third time the Stars and the Lancers will play one another.  Omaha is 2-0-0 in the two prior games against Lincoln this season.

Needless to say, the Stars have their hands full this weekend with the Stampede and the Lancers.  Both opponents are playing outstanding hockey right now, so the Stars will need to play their best in order to get some much needed points this weekend before they head home for the holiday break.  It would be nice to head into the break with some momentum after a big win or two this weekend.  Fingers crossed.

Some roster news was announced today as the Stars traded forward Jason Stephanik to the Sioux Falls Stampede.  In return for Stephanik (and a 6th round Phase I Futures pick), the Stars received a 3rd round Phase I Futures draft pick, a 6th round Phase II Entry draft pick, and "future considerations."  Click here and here to read the tweets announcing the trade by the USHL's Hockey Ops Twitter account.

Stephanik got out to a quick start for the Stars when he was initially acquired by the team after he left Quinnipiac University this past fall.  In his first 8 games in a Stars uniform, Stephanik scored 5 points (2g, 3a).  However, he only scored 1 point in his last 10 games for Lincoln.  Hopefully the change of venue gives him the jumpstart he needs to get back on track and obtain a college scholarship offer.  Best of luck to him (just not against the Stars).

The loss of Stephanik should open up a spot on the Stars' roster, which I would assume the team will want to fill with a forward.  It will be interesting to see who the coaches decide to call up or obtain to fill that open spot.

Be prepared for another parking mess this Saturday night for the Omaha Lancers game.  If the Huskers volleyball team wins their playoff game Friday night, they will play again Saturday night at "The Bob" starting at 8:00pm.  So it may not be too bad of a mess for Stars fans heading to the game, but if the volleyball game and the hockey game release at the same time, it might not be fun getting out of the fairgrounds area.

Go Stars.

Congrats to Zach Frye

Quick article to report some news that was tweeted this evening by Lincoln Stars defenseman Zach Frye.

Stars co-captain Zach Frye has committed to play his collegiate hockey at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.  Click here to read the tweet.

Although he didn't mention it in his tweet, I assume Zach will attend the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF) starting the fall of 2014.  UAF is located in (bone chilling cold) Fairbanks, Alaska.  The UAF Nanooks play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

Frye is currently in his fourth season with the Lincoln Stars, having played a total of 120 games so far for the black and blue going back to the 2010-11 season.  In those 120 games, Zach has accumulated 25 points (5g, 20a), 346 penalty minutes, and is +25.

Zach will join former Stars Matt Friese, Richard Coyne, and Justin Woods at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Congrats to Zach!  Very well deserved.  Zach is definitely one of those kids who leaves it all on the ice and never takes a shift off.  He will be missed next season for sure.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

B³ Postgame Report: Lincoln 5, Des Moines 4 OT SO

The Lincoln Stars picked up their fifth win of the season with a gutsy, come-from-behind 5-4 overtime victory over the Buccaneers in Des Moines, IA on Saturday night.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.


The big win and the two points improved Lincoln's record to 5-12-5 (15 points) and they are still in sixth place in the USHL western conference, 3 points behind the fifth place Buccaneers.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

This will be short recap.  I listened to the radio broadcast, but I did not watch the FASTHockey video feed.

For the 16th time in Lincoln's 22 regular season games thus far, the opponent scored the first goal.  At the 5:28 mark of the first period, the Bucs scored an even-strength goal to take a 1-0 lead.

Lincoln responded about three minutes later when John Simonson scored a powerplay goal at the 8:30 mark to knot the score at 1-1.  The Pointstreak boxscore which I have linked above mistakenly has Magnus Hoff scoring Lincoln's first goal.  Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye was very adamant that Simonson scored the goal.

The score would remain at 1-1 going into the first intermission.  Lincoln doubled up the Bucs in shots, leading 16-8 after one period.

In the second period, it was pretty much all Des Moines as they outshot Lincoln 18-6 and outscored them 2-1.  The Bucs scored the first two goals of the second period to take a commanding 3-1 lead, but a Stars scored late in the period gave Lincoln new life.

Jonathan Desbiens scored a powerplay goal with only 8 seconds remaining in the middle period to pull the Stars to within one goal.  The tally also gave Stars some momentum going into the third period where they outscored the Bucs 2-1 to force overtime.

Lincoln's Luke Voltin opened the scoring in the third period with an even-strength goal against his former team at the 6:00 mark to even the score at 3-3.  However, two and a half minutes later the Buccaneers responded with a powerplay goal to retake the lead at 4-3.

With roughly seven minutes remaining in regulation, John Simonson scored his second goal of the game for the Stars to knot the game up at 4-4.  Simonson's ninth goal of the season also came on the powerplay, giving him two PP goals on the night.  Five of Simonson's nine goals this season have been scored on the PP.

Shots were 10-7 in favor of Lincoln in the third period, however the Bucs lead 33-32 in that department through sixty minutes.

In the overtime period, the Bucs outshot Lincoln 9-0, but Michael Bitzer and company stood tall and forced the shootout.

Dan Willett scored the only goal in the shootout, while Michael Bitzer stopped all three Bucs shooters he faced to give Lincoln the 5-4 OT victory.

Speaking of Bitzer, he stopped 38 of 42 for the win.  Bitzer has played in EVERY game for the Stars this season.  That's 22 games.  Poor guy deserves a break but I'm not sure that's going to happen anytime soon.  Bitzer's backup, Jacob Nehama, has zero USHL experience so I'm guessing the Lincoln coaches will continue to ride Bitzer going forward.  Hard to imagine where this team would be without Bitzer between the pipes.

Lincoln won the special teams war as they went 3-for-6 on the powerplay while the Bucs went 1-for-6.  Nice to see the Stars on the winning side of that battle.  Too often this season that hasn't been the case.

Really proud of the Stars after this win.  This season isn't going as well as they had hoped, yet they battle every game and will not quit.  Against the Bucs, they faced a 3-1 deficit in the second period but kept their composure and continued to fight back.  They should be very proud of their effort.

Looking ahead to next weekend, the Stars will be in Sioux Falls, SD on Friday to take on the Stampede, and then back home on Saturday evening for a huge tilt against the Omaha Lancers.  Lincoln will be taking on the top two teams in the west next weekend, so it will be a big test for them.  More on those two games later in the week.

Go Stars.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

B³ Postgame Report: Sioux City 3, Lincoln 2

The fur flies after John Simonson's second period goal
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
It was another heartbreaker Friday evening at the IceBox as the Sioux City Musketeers squeaked out a 3-2 victory over the Lincoln Stars.

The loss was the twelfth in the last thirteen games for the Stars.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The loss dropped the Stars' record to 4-12-5 (13 points), which is good enough for sixth place in the USHL western conference.

 Click here to view the current USHL standings.


It didn't take long for the Muskies to get on the scoreboard in this game as Jared Thomas scored on a partial breakaway at the 2:52 mark to give Sioux City an early 1-0 lead.

The Stars outshot Sioux City 8-6 in the first period, but the Muskies took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.  I thought the Stars played very timid in the first twenty minutes, while the Muskies played a little more aggressive.

In the second period, the fur flew at the 4:55 mark when Stars forward John Simonson scored a powerplay goal at the 4:55 mark to tie the score at 1-1.  Fans at the IceBox flooded the rink with tons of stuffed animals after Simonson's 7th goal of the season, which leads the Stars.

Less than two minutes after Simonson's tally, Muskies forward Jared Thomas scored his second goal of the game, this time on the powerplay, at the 6:47 mark of the middle period.  Thomas' shot, which Stars Michael Bitzer appeared not to see because of a screen, found a hold glove high.

The turning point in this game, in my opinion, came towards the end of the second period.  With the Muskies leading 2-1, the Stars were awarded a four-minute powerplay with 4:07 remaining in the period.  Lincoln had a perfect opportunity here to grab control of the game with a PP goal, along with momentum heading into the third period.  But the Muskies killed the entire four-minute PP, and maintained their 2-1 lead going into the second intermission.

In the third, Sioux City used the momentum coming off of that big penalty kill to score a goal only 33 seconds into the period to take a 3-1 lead.

Lincooln's David Parrottino scored at the 4:00 mark to pull the Stars to within one goal, but that's as close as the Stars would get.

Once again, the Stars outshoot their opponent, this time 29-22, but lose.  Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 19 of 22 in the loss while Muskies netminder Kyle Hayton stopped 27 of 29 for the win.

Lincoln went 1-for-3 on the powerplay while Sioux City went 1-for-2.  A big positive in this game is that the Stars were able to play disciplined hockey and stayed out of the penalty box.

Despite the loss, I thought the Stars played relatively well in this game and for the most part outplayed the Muskies for the majority of the contest.  However, how Lincoln lost this game plays out like a broken record.  It seems as if we've witnessed a ton of these kinds of games at the IceBox this season.  The Stars fall behind early, outshoot their competition, score a goal or two to get close, but in the end fall just short.  Also, they lose the special teams war.  It's a broken record that just continues to skip and skip.

The Stars will be back in action tonight in Des Moines where they will knock heads with the Buccaneers, who are coming off a 3-2 home win over Tri-City on Friday night in which they were outshot 55-29 by the Storm.  I'll be listening to the radio broadcast of the Stars-Bucs game and will provide live updates on Twitter later this evening.

Go Stars.

Edit:  A big middle finger to the UNL parking idiots for forcing fans entering in the east lot to park a mile away despite their being tons of open spots just east of the IceBox.  That long walk back to the car after the game in the bitter cold was not fun at all.  Also, it was nice of the UNL parking idiots to turn off all of the lot lights after the Husker volleyball ended so that Stars fans could walk back to their vehicles in the dark.  As a Stars fan I guess I should be used to it by now, but it is still frustrating to be treated like crap by the UNL parking idiots even though they are quick to take our money.  /rant

Thursday, December 5, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Des Moines


The Lincoln Stars will be back in action this weekend with two games against western conference divisional foes ahead of them in the standings.  On Friday night at the IceBox, the Stars will host the Sioux City Musketeers.  On Saturday evening, the Stars will be back in Des Moines (again) to face the Buccaneers.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for each contest.

If you are unable to make it to any of the games this weekend, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the games live on FASTHockey for a fee.

Unfortunately this will be a very short weekend preview article.  I've been traveling for work this week and haven't had much time to devote to the blog.

The Lincoln Stars currently have a record of 4-11-5 (13 points) and are in sixth place the USHL western conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

First up for the good guys will be the Sioux City Musketeers who sport a record of 13-7-1 (27 points) and are in fourth place in the western conference.  In their only prior meeting this season, the Muskies held off a late Lincoln push to beat the Stars in Sioux City by a score of 6-5.  These two teams will meet a total of four times this season.

The top four teams in each conference make the playoffs, and Omaha, Sioux Falls, Waterloo, and Sioux City are running away from the bottom four teams in the west (Des Moines, Lincoln, Tri-City, Fargo).  It's odd to see such a division between the top four and bottom four this soon into the season.  With Sioux City holding a 14 point lead over them in the standings for that last playoff spot, the Stars really need to get on a big winning streak to get back into the playoff hunt.

On Saturday, the Stars will once again take on the Buccaneers in Des Moines, IA.  The Bucs enter this weekend with a 7-12-1 (15 points) record, good enough for fifth place in the western conference, two points ahead of the Stars.

In an odd scheduling quirk, the Stars' last three road games have been against the Bucs in Des Moines.  The fourth straight road game will also be in Des Moines this Saturday night.  I'm sure by the end of this game, these two teams will be sick of one another.

Earlier this week the Stars were dealt some bad news as the USHL handed down a very lengthy suspension to defenseman Zach Frye.  With one of the longest suspensions I've ever seen the league give out to a Stars player, Frye was suspended a total of 7 games.  According to the league, the suspension was due to a head contact hit during a game against Waterloo at the IceBox on 11/23/13.  What's interesting is that Frye was not whistled for a penalty on the play.  So I'm assuming the Waterloo coaches asked the league to look at the game tape.

Losing Frye, who eats up a tons of minutes and is a co-captain, really hurts the team.  Much like Mike McKee last season, the Stars need Frye on the ice not sitting in the stands.  Because he had a prior suspension for head contact, I think the league really wanted to make an example of Frye.  Right or wrong, they really dropped the hammer on him.  The next game Frye will be allowed to play in is a December 31st tilt against....guess who....the Waterloo Blackhawks.

Friday night at the IceBox will be the annual teddy bear toss game.  Fans are encouraged to bring new stuffed animals to the game and throw them onto the ice after the first Lincoln goal.  All stuffed animals will be collected for 104.1 The Blaze's Kampout For Kids to benefit the Community Action Partnership.  This is always a very fun game, so if you don't have your tickets already, get them Friday asap.

Also, the 2013-14 Lincoln Stars trading cards will be available for the first time tomorrow (Friday) night at the IceBox.  You can get trading cards in the BlueLine Booster Club booth located just inside the south entrance of the IceBox.  I will include a quick preview picture below of some of the cards.  Click the photo below to enlarge it.


Go Stars.

Congrats to Jared Kolquist

Quick article to report some news that was first reported by Mike McMahon of College Hockey News late last night.

Lincoln Stars defenseman Jared Kolquist has committed to play his collegiate hockey at Merrimack College.  Click here to read more from Mike McMahon.

Jared is an overager (born in 1993) this season, so he will attend Merrimack starting the fall of 2014.  Merrimack College is located in a suburb north of Boston, MA.  The Merrimack Warriors play in the Hockey East conference.


The Stars acquired Kolquist this past offseason in a trade with the Sioux City Musketeers.  In 20 games for Lincoln this season, Kolquist has accumulated 7 points (1g, 6a), 32 SOG, and 22 penalty minutes.  Kolquist was named an alternate captain at the beginning of the season.

Congrats to Jared!  Very well deserved.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 4, Des Moines 5 OT SO

Down 0-3 to the Buccaneers, the Lincoln Stars scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead late in the third period, but Des Moines responded with a game-tying goal with 2:16 remaining before winning the game 5-4 in a shootout.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The overtime shootout loss gave the Stars one point, and their record now is 4-11-5 (13 points).  The Tri-City Storm and the Fargo Force both lost last night, so the Stars actually jumped up to sixth place in the USHL western conference with the one point earned against Des Moines.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I listened to the radio broadcast of this game, so this will recap will be brief.  I don't feel comfortable writing about how good or bad the team played unless I've watched them in person or on FASTHockey.

As I stated above, the Stars fell behind quickly in this game and trailed 3-0 at the first intermission.  The Bucs scored one powerplay goal, and two even-strength goals in the first twenty minutes of the game.  Des Moines outshot Lincoln 17-9 in the first period as well.

Whatever switch the Stars forgot to turn on in the first period, it was definitely flipped on in the second.  The first of four unanswered Lincoln goals was scored shorthanded by Brandon Smith at the 5:53 mark.  Jonathan Desbiens followed that up with an even-strength goal at the 9:12 mark.  The game tying tally, which was also scored at even-strength, came from Magnus Hoff at the 12:51 mark.

So in a 6:58 span in the middle period, the Stars scored three goals and clearly had momentum on their side.  Lincoln put an incredible 23 shots on goal in the second period, as opposed to 15 for Des Moines.

In the third period, Stars defenseman Luke Shiplo, who played for the Bucs last season, picked a great time to score his first goal as a member of the Lincoln Stars as he put his team up 4-3 with an even-strength tally at the 8:55 mark.  The improbable comeback was now a one-goal lead for the Stars, which they held until late in the period.

The Bucs stopped the bleeding with a huge, game-tying goal, which came shorthanded, with only 2:16 remaining in the third period.  Just like that, momentum switched back over the Bucs.

After playing to a 4-4 regulation tie, this game would go to overtime.  Neither teams scored in the 4-on-5 OT period, despite both club having a PP opportunity.

In the shootout, three Bucs scored while only two scored for Lincoln giving Des Moines the win and the two points.  The Stars are now 2-3 in the five shootouts they've participated in this season.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer and Bucs netminder Ryan Ruck both put up the same exact numbers last night with 45 saves on 47 shots on goal.  Considering the amount of shots on goal, it doesn't sound like either team played particularly well defensively.  It was definitely a shooting gallery.

Des Moines went 1-for-5 on the powerplay while the Stars went 0-for-7.  Lincoln is now 0-for-14 on the powerplay in their last three games combined.

Tough loss for sure, but credit the Stars for not giving up when they were down 0-3.  With how this season is going, it would have been easy for them to just quit playing after the first period and let the Bucs roll over them.  But they battled back and showed a lot of heart.  You have to focus on the positives and try to build on them, and I hope that's what the Stars do with this game.

Based on some tweets I read from players, the Stars had a 3:00am bag skate early this morning when the team returned to Lincoln.  Ouch.  If you don't know what a bag skate is, what the movie "Miracle," or click here.

The Stars will be back in action this week with a Friday night home game at the IceBox against the Sioux City Musketeers.  On Saturday, the Stars will travel to Des Moines (again) for a tilt against the Bucs.  I'm sure by now those two teams are sick of one another.  Looking ahead, Lincoln's schedule coming up is very, very tough. The combined record of all of the teams the Stars play in the next 10 games is 81-37-7.

Go Stars.

Edit:  Video highlights of this game are embedded below, courtesy of Scott Thompson.

Friday, November 29, 2013

B³ Pregame Report: Lincoln Stars vs. Des Moines Buccaneers

Saturday evening in Des Moines, IA, the Lincoln Stars will look to break out of their current scoring slump when they take on the hometown Buccaneers.  Puck drops 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.

With a record of 4-11-4 (12 points), the Stars are in a three-way tie with Tri-City and Fargo for sixth place in the USHL western conference.  

With Chicago's 4-1 win over Des Moines last night, the Stars are tied with the Tri-City Storm for the lowest winning percentage (.316) in the USHL.  The highest (Omaha with .810) and lowest winning percentages in the USHL belong within the borders of Nebraska.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Des Moines comes into this game with a 6-12-1 (13 points) record which is good enough for fifth place in the USHL western conference.  The Bucs are 1-4-0 in their last five games, with that one win coming against Lincoln.

Surprisingly, this will be the fourth time already this season that the Stars and Bucs will meet.  Des Moines has a 2-1-0 record in those three previous contests.  These same two teams will meet for the fifth time next Saturday night in Des Moines once again..

As I mentioned briefly above, the Buccaneers played Friday night in Chicago where they lost 4-1 to the Steel.  I would assume the Bucs will be a little tired Saturday evening after making the 5 hour trip back to Des Moines late Friday night/early Saturday morning.  Hopefully a well rested Stars team can take advantage of that.

Per the USHL.com transactions page, Stars defenseman Zach Frye has been suspended by the league, with the length of the suspension "to be determined."  That's never a good sign when the league posts a "TBD" next to a suspension.  I would assume a big one is coming up for Lincoln's co-captain.  Frye missed the Wednesday home game against Sioux Falls.  According to the page linked above, the suspension was due to an offense committed in the Waterloo game on 11/23.

I will not be watching this one on FASTHockey, but I will be listening to the radio broadcast.

Go Stars.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux Falls 3, Lincoln 0

Michael Bitzer and Jonathan Desbiens touch gloves
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars suffered their second straight shutout loss tonight at the IceBox as the visiting Sioux Falls Stampede blanked the good guys by a score of 3-0.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The loss dropped the Stars' record to 4-11-4 (10 points), which is good enough for a three-way tie for sixth place in the USHL western conference.

Click here to view the current USHL standings.


I thought the Stars played one of their better periods of the season to start this game, but they did not have any puck luck.  That seemed to be a common theme for the night.  Lincoln outshot the Stampede 12-8 through the first twenty minutes, but neither team would score.  Lincoln did a good job staying out of the penalty box, and were the better team by far in the opening period.

Early in the second period, with two Lincoln players in the penalty box, the Stampede got their first goal of the game to take a 1-0 lead.  The PP goal came on a 5-on-3 opportunity and was scored by Zeb Knutson.  It was a fantastic shot by Knutson, who put it high and on the short side just past Michael Bitzer.  I thought Bitzer played the shot well and was in position, but the shot by Knutson was a rocket and extremely well placed.

Both teams put up 10 shots on goal a piece in the middle period, but the Stampede would take that 1-0 lead into the second intermission.  Lincoln put a ton of offensive pressure on Stampede goaltender David Jacobson in the last couple of minutes of the second period, but he stood tall and preserved the shutout.

Early in the third, the Stampede once again took advantage of a powerplay opportunity to take a 2-0 lead.  Six minutes later, Sioux Falls scored an even-strength goal to complete the scoring.

Give credit to the Stampede for making the most of their powerplay opportunities.  That was the key to the game.  Sioux Falls was able to score those two powerplay goals, and the Stars were not able to convert any of their 5 PP chances.  Sioux Falls went 2-for-4 on the PP.

David Jacobson stopped all 35 shots he faced tonight to pitch the shutout.  Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 22 of 25 in the loss.

Honestly, I thought the Stars played pretty damn well in this game.  This seems like a broken record, but the Stars were the better team 5-on-5 for the majority of this game.  However, Lincoln could not win the special teams war.  There have been plenty of games this season that I thought Lincoln played well at even-strength, but the opposing team would always win the special teams war.  That happened again tonight.

It's not for lack of hard work, that's for sure.  The Stars busted their butts tonight, but puck luck was just not on their side.  Lincoln outshot a very good Sioux Falls team, 35-25.  The effort was there this evening, but the final score just doesn't show it.

After a two-day break, the Stars will be back in action this Saturday night in Des Moines, IA against the Buccaneers.

Wishing everyone out there a Happy Thanksgiving!  Hoping that you all get to spend some quality time tomorrow with friends and family.  I'm extremely thankful for all of the readers of this blog.  Your patronage is always appreciated.

Go Stars.

B³ Pregame Report: Sioux Falls Stampede vs. Lincoln Stars

The Lincoln Stars will play their traditional Thanksgiving eve game Wednesday night at the IceBox against the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST.

If you don't have your tickets already, make sure you get them because this game normally sells out.

If you can't make it out to this Thursday evening game, 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 have a record of 4-10-4 (12 points) and are tied with the Tri-City Storm for sixth place in the USHL western conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

With an impressive record of 13-5-2 (28 points), the Sioux Falls Stampede occupy second place in the USHL western conference, only two points behind the first-place Omaha Lancers (30 points).  Sioux Falls is 4-0-1 in their last five games played, and are 8-3-1 on the road this season.

This will be the second time the Stars and Stampede will play one another this season.  In their only other meeting, Sioux Falls beat the Stars in overtime by a score of 4-3 at the IceBox on 10/12/13.  


Most pundits, including yours truly, thought the Stampede would run away with the western conference title this season.  And that still may happen, but the Stampede have struggled a bit defensively, and with their goaltending so far this season.

The 'Pede are an offensive-heavy squad, with top forwards like C.J. Franklin, Zeb Knutson, and Dennis Kravchenko.  They've scored 63 goals through twenty games, but they've also given up 57 goals against.  The Stampede will need to shore up their defensive numbers if they want to overtake the Omaha Lancers for first place in the west.  

The key for the Stars is to shut down the line of Franklin-Knutson-Kravchenko.  That's easier said than done. In their last meeting on 10/12/13, the three Stampede forwards I just mentioned combined for 3 goals (including the OT game-winner), and 3 assists.

This should be a very good game.  The Stars have proven already this season they can hang with the Stampede at the IceBox, so I'm hoping that will happen again Thursday night.  Michael Bitzer will once again need to be Lincoln's best player for the Stars to win this game.  Winning the special teams war would help, also.

Go Stars.

Note:  Some surprising roster news Wednesday evening as the team dropped goaltender Shane Starrett, and picked up Jacob Nehama ('95) from the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL.  Click here to view the tweet from the USHL Hockey Ops account.

Just a few weeks ago, the Stars traded a conditional fifth round entry pick to the Sioux Falls Stampede for Starrett.  After getting only one start, and a total of 16 minutes of playing time in a Stars uniform, Starrett has been dropped for a goaltender (Nehama) who was at Lincoln's tryout camp this past June.

This morning, the USHL Hockey Ops account stated that since the pick was conditional and Starrett was released by a certain date, the Stars don't have to give up that 5th round pick.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Waterloo 3, Lincoln 0

An early missed call prevented the Stars from gaining momentum of the game, and the Waterloo Blackhawks responded with a 3-0 shutout victory over the Lincoln Stars at the IceBox on Saturday evening.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars and are tied for sixth place in the USHL western conference with the Tri-City Storm.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Before I begin this rant, I just want to say that I'm not one to normally rail on the officials.  I know they have a very difficult job.  I also understand that the USHL is a developmental league for the officials as well.  Some of the officials are still learning their trade, and at times their inexperience in big game atmospheres can negatively influence a game.

Last night's contest was one of the worst officiated games I've ever seen at the IceBox.  I'm not giving excuses because the Waterloo Blackhawks deserved to win the game.  However, Referee Anthony Falette and his crew (linesmen Ryan Madsen, Richard Lembo) did a very poor job and I hope their supervisors at the USHL take a good hard look at the game tape.

A few minutes into this game, I believe it was Stars forward Jonathan Desbiens who skated the puck into the Waterloo zone and snapped a shot on goal.  Blackhawks goaltender Mathias Israelsson got a piece of shot, but the puck trickled behind him and into the open net.  Unfortunately, Anthony Falette, who was out of position and nowhere near the goalline, blew his whistle way too early because he didn't see the puck.  It was clear to everyone inside the IceBox (save for Falette and his crew) that Israelsson never had possession of the puck before it found the back of the net.

After Falette conferred with his linesmen, an announcement was made that the goal was waved off.  The fans were not happy at all and rained down boos onto the ice.  Because Falette was out of position on the play and blew his whistle entirely too early,  the Stars were denied an early 1-0 lead in this game.  I've seen some bad calls in my time at the IceBox, but that may have been the worst.

Regardless, the two teams played to a scoreless tie after one period.  Shots were 14-8 in favor of Waterloo after twenty minutes.

Just 1:36 into the second period, the Blackhawks took advantage of a Stars turnover to score their first goal of the game, on a breakaway, to take a 1-0 lead.

Later in the second, another bad call against the Stars gave the Blackhawks their second goal of the game.  At the 10:59 mark, Zach Sanford of the 'Hawks skated into the Lincoln zone on a partial breakaway and got a shot on goal that Michael Bitzer saved.  However, Sanford's momentum knocked the right goalpost peg off its moorning.  Referee Anthony Falette did not see that, so the trailing Blackhawks player (Blake Winiecki) was able to score on the rebound.  The play should have been dead immediately after the goalpost was knocked off.

Even after the goal, Falette and his crew were clueless that the goalpost was off its mooring until Michael Bitzer, who was obviously upset at the call, pushed the goalpost further off the goalline to get the officials attention.  It was a circus, and Falette and his crew had the spotlight all to themselves.

Waterloo took the 2-0 lead into the second intermission.  The Blackhawks doubled up the Stars in shots on goal through two periods, 24-12.

In the third, the Stars were able to put 13 shots on goal, but Mathias Israelsson shut the door to preserve the shootout.  With 1:30 remaining in the game, the Blackhawks scored a meaningless empty-net goal to complete the scoring.

Lincoln's PK unit was stellar last night, as the Blackhawks went 0-for-7 with the man advantage.  The Stars went 0-for-2 on the powerplay.  Waterloo's seven powerplays to Lincoln's two.

Michael Bitzer has another solid game for the Stars has he stopped 38 of 40 in the loss.  Waterloo's Israelsson stopped 25 of 25 to record his first shutout of the game (assist to Falette).

Despite the loss, I really think the Stars played pretty well against a very good team.  5-on-5, I thought Lincoln was just as good as Waterloo.  I thought the Stars did a great job of playing the body, which seemed to slow down the Blackhawks at times and force turnovers.  But you can only ask Bitzer to do so much.  This team really needs to figure out how to start scoring goals.

The Stars will have a few days off before they will be back at the IceBox this Wednesday evening to take on the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Lincoln head coach Jimmy McGroarty said on the radio after last night's game that the entire team will hop on a bus and drive up to Grand Forks, ND to attend Chad Johnson's funeral, which is Monday morning.  I think it's great that the organization is giving the team an opportunity to pay their respects in person.

Go Stars.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Youngstown 3, Lincoln 4 OT SO

Dan Willett scores the game-winning SO goal
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
"That one was for Chad."

Dominick Sacco and Daniel Willett each scored in the overtime shootout to propel the Lincoln Stars to a 4-3 OT SO win over the Youngstown Phantoms Friday night at the IceBox.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the big win and the two points, the Stars improved to 4-9-4 (12 points) and are in sixth place in the USHL western conference.


For the first time in a while, there are teams (Fargo and Tri-City) below the Stars in the standings.  Lincoln is now only one point out of fifth place in the west.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Before the game began, the Stars held a very moving tribute for former head coach Chad Johnson.  Public address announcer Craig Estudillo read a statement from the Stars that left no dry eyes in the rink.  Afterwards, there was a moment of silence.  After the moment of silence, every member of the Stars, who were standing together at the blueline, did a stick tap to the sky for Chad.  It was incredible.

Click here to view the helmet decals the Stars will wear this season in honor of Chad Johnson.

Click here to view the helmet decals all USHL officials will wear this season in tribute to Chad Johnson.

Once the game began, I thought both teams looked a little sluggish in the first period, especially the Stars.  With what they've had to deal with this week, I can understand why their heads may have not been in the game to start.  Neither team would score in the first period, with Youngstown leading in shots through the first 20 minutes, 10-7.

In the middle period, the Stars (specifically Brandon Smith) exploded for two quick goals only 24 seconds apart to take a 2-0 lead.  Smith's goal at the 8:09 mark of the second came on a powerplay, with assists going to Luke Voltin and David Parrottino.  Smith's goal at the 8:33 mark was at even-strength, with assists going to Luke Voltin and Daniel Willett.  Both of these goals were scored on the other side of the IceBox from where I sit, so I didn't get a very good view, but it looked like good work down low by Smith on each tally.

With the 2-0 lead halfway through this game, the Stars were flying high and the crowd was going nuts.  However, the Stars just were not able to stay out of the penalty box for most of this game, which opened the door for the Phantoms to get right back in it.  In my opinion, if it wasn't for the undisciplined penalties, the Stars keep that two goal lead and cruise to a regulation win.  Luckily for the Stars, the Phantoms played just as undisciplined at times also.

With only 1:21 remaining in the second period, the Phantoms scored a powerplay goal to pull to within one goal.  Stars took the 2-1 lead into the second intermission with Youngstown leading in shots on goal, 25-18.

In the third, the Phantoms struck first with an even-strength goal at the 5:10 mark to even the score at 2-2.  Lincoln's two-goal lead had vanished, and suddenly it wasn't looking so hot for the Stars.

Dominick Sacco put the Stars up 3-2 with a nice goal-mouth scramble effort while on a powerplay at the 12:30 mark of the period.  Zach Frye and Christian Lampasso had the assists on Sacco's PP goal.

It was looking like the good guys were going to hold onto that lead and win in regulation, but bad penalties let the Phantoms back in the game again.  At the 15:07 mark, the Phantoms scored their second powerplay goal of the game to knot the contest up at 3-3.  

Shots were 38-26 in favor of Youngstown through sixty minutes.  Both teams put five shots on goal a piece in the five-minute overtime period, but neither squad would score.  This one went to a shootout.

In the shootout, Stars goaltender stopped three of four Youngstown shooters, while Sacco and Willett each scored for the Stars to give Lincoln's its second straight victory.  Willett's goal was the eventual game-winner.  Both Sacco and Willett appeared to use the same backhand to forehand deke on Youngstown goaltender Colin DeAugustine to get their goals.

Lincoln went 2-for-10 on the powerplay while the Phantoms went 2-for-9.  Youngstown netminder Colin DeAugustine stopped 28 of 31 in the loss.  Michael Bitzer was the #2 star of the game has he stopped 40 of 43 shots to record his second straight win.  Brandon Smith was named the #1 star of the game for his two goals.  Smith also finished the game +1, with four shots on goal and one fight.

Even with all the penalties, last night's game was a lot of fun to watch.  So very happy the Stars were able to pull this one out for Chad.  I'd like to think his spirit was there inside the IceBox last night rooting the team on to victory.

The Stars will be back at the IceBox tonight to take on the Waterloo Blackhawks, who lost last night to Team USA U-18 by a score of 8-6.  Considering that they had 8 goals put on them at home, I'm sure the Blackhawks will be a salty bunch tonight and will want to rebound with a better effort against the Stars.  Meanwhile, Lincoln will be looking to win their third game in a row.  Should be a good one.

A message from Stars announcer Mike Melbye:

Friday, November 22, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Youngstown and Waterloo


With heavy hearts after the loss of former head coach Chad Johnson, the Lincoln Stars will be back at the IceBox for back-to-back home games this weekend.  On Friday, the Stars will host the Youngstown Phantoms.  On Saturday evening, the Stars will take on the Waterloo Blackhawks.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for each contest.

If you are unable to make it to any of the games at the IceBox this weekend, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the games live on FASTHockey for a fee.

This will be a very short weekend preview.  My apologies for that.  Just too busy the last couple of days to get as much as I wanted into this article.


The Lincoln Stars enter this weekend with a record of 3-9-4 (10 points) and are tied with the Fargo Force and the Tri-City Storm for sixth place the USHL western conference.  Last Saturday, the Stars snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Des Moines Bucs.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

The Phantoms start the weekend with a record of 6-11-1 (13 points) and are in seventh place in the USHL eastern conference.  The last time these two teams met, the Phantoms shutout the Stars by a score of 1-0 in Youngstown.  Since that game, the Phantoms are 2-6-0 in eight games played.  Youngstown is 1-7-0 in 8 road games this season.

The Blackhawks sport a very impressive record of 11-4-0 (22 points), and occupy third place in the USHL western conference.  In their last meeting this season, the Blackhawks stomped all over the Stars at the IceBox by a score of 5-1.  Waterloo is 4-1-0 in their last five games played, and are 5-3-0 on the road.

I'm sure it will be an emotional scene this Friday and Saturday night at the IceBox.  As fans, lets do all that we can to support the players, coaches, and the organization as a whole this weekend.  They are going through a very tough time with the passing of their friend, and I'm sure they would appreciate the encouragement.  Also, let us remember Chad this weekend, and the legacy he left behind.  He spent many nights inside the IceBox coaching the Stars, and I'd like to think he'll be there again this weekend in spirit.  So be cheer loud and proud so Chad can hear us.  Stars Nation is one big family, and we'll get through this together.

Go Stars.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lincoln Stars sold; New ownership is 823 Ventures, LLC

Stars owner Ryan Schiff shown on the right
with L.A. Kings forward Dustin Brown
Although the Stars confirmed last week that a transaction to sell the team was imminent, it wasn't until today that it was confirmed by the USHL, and the new ownership named.

Click here to read the official announcement from the USHL.

Click here to read the announcement from the Lincoln Stars.

The new ownership group is 823 Ventures LLC, which consists of Ryan Schiff and his wife Kirsten Schiff.  Ryan Schiff is pictured on the left with L.A. Kings forward Dustin Brown.

Through the wonders of Google, here's what I've been able to track down about Ryan Schiff:

Schiff works for "ED&F Man Capital Markets" in Chicago, Ill where he is the Global Head of Foreign Exchange.  Click here to view his Linkedin profile.

He is also the CEO and Founder of "POSTGAME," which is a company that sells shampoo/body wash that is marketed towards athletes.  Click here to read more about POSTGAME.  According to their website, USHL teams such as the Indiana Ice and the Chicago Steel use POSTGAME in their locker rooms.  The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Pittsburgh Penguins also use POSTGAME.

Schiff played two years of college hockey at the University of Miami-Ohio, and one year of minor-pro hockey.  Click here to view his EliteProspects.com profile.

Schiff is originally from Roslyn, NY but lives in the Chicago area now.  He is 47 years old, married, and has three children

From what I was told, Schiff was in attendance last Thursday evening at the IceBox and watched the Chicago Steel-Lincoln Stars game in which the Stars lost 5-1.

Very exciting times for sure.  It's nice to know Schiff is committed to keeping the Stars in Lincoln.  It will be interesting to see what changes he makes, and how soon he makes them.

Thoughts on this big news?  Comments are wide open.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Go Stars.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Former Stars Head Coach Chad Johnson found dead in Fargo

Very sad news to report today.

Former Lincoln Stars assistant and head coach Chad Johnson was found dead Monday evening in Fargo, ND.  I will post some links below with more information.

InForum.com
Grand Forks Herald
Lincoln Journal Star
University of North Dakota
USHL.com

I've been sitting all morning at work trying to concentrate on other things, but it has been very hard.  When these things happen, and with the suddenness of it, it’s very difficult to understand how and why.  I feel sick to my stomach.

Chad was always so nice to me over the years.  I’m just an idiot with a blog, but Chad always made it a point to track me down at Lincoln’s tryout camp every June to talk about the team.  He never had to do that, and I would have been fine if he didn't track me down.  But he took the time to say hi, and always joked he was going to look at my tryout camp notes.  At this last camp, we sat and talked for quite a while about the team.  It's hard to believe that he is gone now.

During the season, whenever I’d pass him in the concourse inside the IceBox, Chad would always stop and say hi to my wife and I.  A few years ago when I blew out my knee and was hobbling around on crutches, he would stop and ask me how I was doing.  And he was genuine.  You could tell that Chad honestly cared.  Again, he didn't have to do that but he did.  He was a kind soul.

It has been incredible today to see the amount of people on Twitter who were positively affected by Chad.  He touched the lives of so many people.  I've been RT'ing tweets from friends of Chad all day on the blog's Twitter account.  The outpouring has been amazing.

Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the extended Johnson family.  I can’t imagine what they are going through right now.  If any of them are reading this, please know that all of us here in Lincoln send our support in this time of need.

Rest in peace, Chad.  You will be greatly missed by everyone in Stars Nation.

Edit:  With the approval of former Lincoln Stars hall-of-fame foward Chris Fournier, I'm going to post a note below that Chris sent me this afternoon.  Chris wanted to share his thoughts about Chad with the rest of Stars Nation.  I appreciate him reaching out to me.

So many kind words have been said of coach Chad. And rightfully so. He was not only my coach, but my friend. He was the type of person you could go to no matter what the situation and he'd make you feel better about the situation and about yourself. He had a great personality, which was only surpassed by his great humor. 
I would not have been a Lincoln Star if it was not for Chad. He came into my parents home and not only sold us on the Stars organization, but sold us on himself and Steve. He promised my parents that he would look after a 15 year old kid who had never been away from his parents. And that's what he did. Was always there for a laugh and to make me feel comfortable in my surroundings. Never blew hot air up your ass but never tore you down either. He loved hockey and coached every game and practice with passion and heart. Because of Chad, I made one of the best decisions of my life. And that was to play for a great organization, a great city and the great fans of Lincoln. 
You'll be missed dearly Coach, but never forgotten. God bless your family.
-Chris Fournier

Sunday, November 17, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Des Moines 1

The Lincoln Stars used a gutsy effort Saturday night in Des Moines, IA to beat the Buccaneers by a score of 2-1, and in turn snapped their seven-game losing streak.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The win improved Lincoln's record to 3-9-4 (10 points), and moved them into a three-way tie with Fargo and Tri-City for sixth place in the USHL western conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

This will be another brief recap.  I did not watch the FASTHockey broadcast, but I did catch most of the radio broadcast.  I'm not a big fan of FASTHockey, to be honest.  For the amount of money they charge per game, I don't believe it's a good product.  So for most road games I will listen to the radio broadcast only.

In a nice change of pace, the Stars got the first goal of the game when Jason Stephanik scored a 5-on-3 PP tally at the 5:53 mark of the first period to give Lincoln an early 1-0 lead.  That lead would continue into the first intermission with the Stars leading on shots, 14-11.

In the last three minutes of the first period, Stars defensemen Zach Frye and Connor Frantti were both ejected from the game.  Frye picked up a double minor for checking from behind and a 10 minute game ejection misconduct.  Frantti picked up a major penalty for head contact and a game ejection misconduct as well.  Because of the ejections, the Stars played shorthanded on the blueline for the second and third periods.  Both Frye and Frantti have been suspended by the league this season, so it wouldn't surprise me if they have to sit more games after these latest penalties.  Not good.

Late in the second period, the Stars got their second goal, and the eventual game-winner, from forward Luke Voltin.  Lincoln radio announcer Mike Melbye was adamant that Voltin scored the goal, although Pointstreak still shows that Christian Lampasso scored.  Melbye later tweeted that the scoresheet he viewed after the game showed that Voltin scored, so I would assume the Pointstreak boxscore will be changed eventually.  Regardless, the goal at the 16:28 mark gave the Stars a 2-0 lead.

That two-goal cushion wouldn't last long, as the Bucs scored a PP tally less than a minute after to pull to within one goal.  At the second intermission, the Stars led 2-1 with Des Moines leading in shots, 30-25.

Both teams put up 10 shots a piece in the final twenty minutes, but neither club would put the puck in the net.  The Bucs had a lot of PP opportunities in this game, but they were only able to score one PP goal in nine chances.  Coaches often say that a team's best penalty killer is the goaltender, and Michael Bitzer was certainly that last night.

Lincoln went 1-for-8 with the man advantage in the win.  Shots were 40-35 in favor of Des Moines.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer was the #1 star of the game as he stopped 39 of 40 shots for the win.  Bucs netminder Billy Christopoulos played well for the second straight game, but it wasn't enough as he stopped 33 of 35 in the loss.  In the two games against the Stars in Des Moines this weekend, Christopoulos stopped 82 of 85 shots on goal.  Considering those numbers, the Stars should feel very fortunate they salvaged two of four points this weekend.

It may not have been pretty, but props to the players for getting the two points last night.  Playing shorthanded for most of the game due to the loss of Frye and Frantti, the team had to kill a ton of penalty minutes to keep the Bucs from getting back in it.  Gutsy effort for sure.

The Stars play their next three games at the IceBox, so it should be a good opportunity to string some wins together.  However, the opponents in those three games will be tough.  On Friday 11/22, the Stars will host the Youngstown Phantoms.  Saturday 11/23, Lincoln will take on the Waterloo Blackhawks.  And then on Wednesday 11/27, the day before Thanksgiving, the Stars will battle the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Also, I'd expect the USHL and the Stars to announce something early this week about the selling of the team.  I've heard some rumors on my end about that, so it will be interesting to see who the buyer(s) is and what their plans are for the team.

Go Stars.

Edit:  Once again, here are video highlights from this game, courtesy of Bucs fan Scott Thompson.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 1, Des Moines 5

The Des Moines Buccaneers got out to a quick 3-0 first period lead over the Lincoln Stars and never looked back as they cruised to a 5-1 win at Buccaneer Arena in Des Moines, IA last night.  The loss was Lincoln's seventh in a row.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The loss dropped the Stars to 2-9-4 (8 points) on the season, and they continue to occupy last place in the USHL western conference.

Despite the fact that the Stars are on a seven-game slide, and they have the worst winning percentage (.267) in the USHL, Lincoln is only two points out of sixth place in the west.

This recap is going to very brief.  I did not watch the FASTHockey broadcast, and I caught bits and pieces of the radio broadcast.

Seems like during this seven-game losing streak, the opponent has gotten out to a quick first period lead, and that was no different in this particular matchup.  Less than twelve minutes in, the Stars found themselves in a 0-3 hole.

Stars goaltender Shane Starrett got his first start in a Stars uniform, but was pulled after giving up two  first period goals on eight shots on goal.  Michael Bitzer entered the game and surrendered a penalty shot goal at the 11:30 mark.

Lincoln defenseman Zack Pittman stopped the bleeding temporarily with a goal coming with only 23 seconds remaining in the first period to pull the Stars to within two goals.  Pittman, who earlier this week committed to Canisius College, has scored goals in back-to-back games.

Des Moines took the 3-1 lead into the first intermission, leading on shots as well, 13-10.

In the second, it sounded like the Stars came out and dominated the Bucs for twenty minutes, but they could not solve DM goaltender  Billy Christopoulos.  Lincoln outshot Des Moines 19-4 in the middle stanza, but neither the Stars nor the Bucs would put the biscuit in the basket.

In the third, the Bucs finished off the scoring with two additional goals, which included an empty-netter with 46 seconds remaining.  Despite spending the majority of the third period in the penalty box, the Stars still managed to outshoot the Bucs 21-15 in the final period.

Stars defenseman Zach Frye, and forward Hunter Anderson were both ejected in the third period, so we'll have to wait and see if the league decides to suspended them for a game (or longer).  Anderson was ejected after a checking from behind misconduct, while Frye was tossed after picking up his second misconduct in the third period.

Amazingly, the Stars outshot the Bucs 50-32 overall in this game, yet lost 5-1.

Lincoln went 0-for-7 on the powerplay while the Bucs went 1-for-10.  You're not going to win too many games when you give the other team 10 PP opportunities.

Shane Starrett stopped 6 of 8 shots and picked up the loss.  Michael Bitzer stopped 21 of 23 in relief of Starrett.  Bucs goaltender Billy Christopoulos was the #1 star of the game, and he stopped 49 of 50 Lincoln shots he faced.  Seems like opposing goaltenders have their best games against Lincoln as of late.

Not sure what more to say.  I figured this Stars team might struggle at the beginning of the season since they had so many new faces, and very few returning vets from last season, but I had no idea it would be this bad.  The only thing we can continue to do as fans is support the players through this and hope they can get it turned around.

These same two teams will battle it out again tonight in Des Moines.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST.  I'll be listening again to the radio broadcast and will provide updates on Twitter and on the blog's Facebook page.

Go Stars.

I am going to embed a video below which includes "highlights" of the Friday night game, courtesy of Scott Thompson, who is a Bucs fan.  Scott does a great job editing his game highlight videos.  Give him a follow on Twitter.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Chicago 5, Lincoln 1

Zack Pittman scores in the first period
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Chicago Steel stormed into the IceBox tonight and outscored Lincoln 4-0 in the last two periods in route to a 5-1 win over the Stars.  The loss was Lincoln's sixth in a row.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The loss dropped Lincoln's record to 2-8-4 (8 points) and they are still in last place in the USHL western conference.  The Steel improved to 5-11-0 (10 points), also in last place in their respective conference (eastern).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time at all on this recap, for obvious reasons.

The final score doesn't indicate how close this game was for the thirty minutes.  Having said that, I thought both teams played very sloppy tonight.  Each squad gave up a ton of odd man rushes, and breakaways.  Defensively, it wasn't pretty.

After an early Chicago goal made it 1-0 Steel in the first period, Zack Pittman scored Lincoln's only goal with about 5 minutes remaining in the first.  Zack fired a nice, glove-high wrister that Morris couldn't get.

In the second and third, it was all Chicago.  The Steel scored two in the second, and two in the third (including an empty net goal) to finish out the scoring.

Goaltender Cale Morris got the rare start for the Chicago Steel, and shut the door on the Stars, stopping 29 of 30 shots in the win.  Morris has been Chicago's backup goaltender this season, but he didn't play like a backup tonight.  He was named the #1 star of the game, and rightly so.  The native of Larkspur, CO earned his first USHL win tonight, which happened to come at the IceBox against the Stars.  Big night for that kid.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 25 of 29 in the loss.

The Stars went 0-0 on the powerplay.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Only against Lincoln would the second most penalized team (Chicago) in the USHL not get whistled for any penalties.  Not one.  Suddenly they were all angels tonight.  Funny how that happens.

The Steel went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.

Not much more to say other than there is plenty of room to improve.  Gotta support the players and hope they can turn this around soon.  They'll get another opportunity to do that Friday and Saturday night in Des Moines.

Go Stars.