Friday, January 4, 2013

B³ Pregame Report: Tri-City Storm vs. Lincoln Stars

The Lincoln Stars will look to get back in the win column Saturday night at the IceBox when they host the Tri-City Storm.  The Stars will only play the lone Saturday game this weekend.  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 17-9-3 (37 points), and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is only four points our of first place, but just six points out of seventh place in the wild, wild western conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Tri-City Storm come into this game with a record of 14-13-4 (32 points) and are in sixth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Storm are 2-1-2 in their last five games, and have gone to overtime in three of their last four games.

This will be the fifth time the Stars and Storm will face one another this season.  The Stars are 4-0-0 in four games against the Storm this season and have outscored them 12-4.  These two teams just met last week, with Lincoln winning it by a score of 2-1 in overtime at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, NE.

In that 2-1 overtime win by Lincoln, goaltenders Michael Bitzer and Johan Mattsson combined to stop 88 of 91 shots on goal.  Both netminders stood on their heads to keep their respective teams in the game, but in the end, Paul LaDue of the Stars scored in the overtime period to give Lincoln the win and the two points.

I'm not sure if we'll see Mattsson between the pipes for the Storm this Saturday or not.  He was injured against Omaha on 12/29/12, and hasn't played since.  According to the Poinstreak roster, the Storm currently have three goaltenders on their roster:  Mattsson, Christian Frey, and Justin Quale.  Quale has played every minute for the Storm since Mattsson was injured, so there a possibility we could see him start for TC on Saturday.  Then again, Mattsson could be healthy, or maybe Christian Frey starts.  Regardless, not one of those three goaltenders have ever beaten the Stars.

The Storm play Friday night in Cedar Rapids, IA against the Roughriders, so hopefully they will be a little worn out from that game when they play a rested Stars team Saturday evening.

As for the black and blue....

The USHL handed down more suspensions today, this time for incidents that occurred in Lincoln's 10-2 road loss to Waterloo this past Monday.  Defenseman Mike McKee was suspended five games, and associate head coach Jimmy McGroarty was suspended four games.  McKee picked up a spearing major and game ejection in the game against Waterloo, so I assume that's what he was suspended for.  McKee is also a "repeat offender" in the eyes of the league, so I'm sure they considered that when levying the suspension.  McKee has been suspended for a total of 11 games already this season.

In regards to the suspension to associate head coach Jimmy McGroarty, I did not exactly see what happened, but I assume he said a few choice words about the calls that were being made that USHL referee Albindia didn't appreciate.  Again, just speculation on my part.

With just the one game this weekend, I think it's vital for the Stars to pick up the two points.  Every other western conference team plays twice this weekend (Des Moines plays three times), so Lincoln will need those two points to stay in the upper half of the western conference standings.

Go Stars.

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