Thursday, February 28, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Fargo Force

Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND will be the scene this weekend when the Lincoln Stars battle the Fargo Force in back-to-back games.

Friday's contest will start a little late, at 7:35pm CST.  Saturday's matchup will begin at 7:05pm CST.

If you can't make it to Fargo this weekend, you can follow the boxscores on Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7FM "The Ticket," or watch the games online via for a fee.

The Stars are currently 28-17-3 (59 points), and in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference. The Waterloo Blackhawks, who beat the Tri-City Storm tonight (Thu), broke a tie with the Stars and are now all alone in third place with 61 points.  Click here to view the current USHL standings. 

Fargo is in second place in the western conference with a record of 29-15-5 (63 points).  They are 15-6-2 at home this season, and 6-4-0 in their last ten games played.

The Force and Stars have met four times so far this season (each one of those four in Lincoln), and both teams have two wins a side.  Lincoln won the first two times they have met, and the Force have won the last two times.  These two teams will meet a total of eight times this season, so the last four games of this series will be played in Fargo.  In fact, the Stars will play the Force in Fargo four times in a span of 12 days starting with Friday's game.

The last time the Stars played the Force at the Scheels Arena in Fargo, it was April 27, 2012, and Brad Hawkinson scored the overtime winner to give Lincoln a 3-2 win and a 3-to-1 series win in the opening round of the 2012 USHL Clark Cup playoffs.

Lincoln is coming off a wild and crazy 8-5 win this past Tuesday over the Sioux City Musketeers in which Dominik Shine scored a hat trick and one assist.  Offensively, the Stars looked really good against the Muskies, especially on the powerplay.  Defensively, it wasn't pretty.  Lincoln will definitely have to tighten it up in their own zone against the Force, who have a ton of talented forwards such as Dominic Toninato, Brendan Harms, Gabe Guertler, and newly acquired Austin Ortega, 

I've been told that Zach Aston Reese's original two-game suspension handed down by the USHL has been reduced to one game, so ZAR should be in the lineup for both games this weekend.  ZAR picked up an elbowing major and game ejection against Waterloo at the IceBox last Saturday and was subsequently suspended two games.  Lincoln must have appealed the suspension, and won.  Good news there.  

You can argue that these two games against Fargo this weekend are the most important games the Stars will play so far this season.  In reality, every game is important when the Stars are fighting for a playoff spot.  Lincoln is only four points behind the Force in the standings, so getting 3-4 points this weekend would be huge.    

Go Stars.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 8, Sioux City 5

The Lincoln Stars exploded for 7 goals in the first two periods at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City in route to a 8-5 win over the Musketeers.  Dominik Shine led the way with a hat trick and one assist.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The Stars improved to 6-0-0 in six games against the Sioux City Musketeers this season.  Lincoln has outscored them 28-14 in those six contests.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 28-17-3 (59 points) and are now in a tie for third place in the USHL Western Conference with the Waterloo Blackhawks.

Lincoln ahead of Omaha in the's a beautiful sight. :)  Lincoln holds the tiebreaker against Waterloo, also.

Scoring for the Stars tonight was Dominik Shine (3), Riley Bourbonnais, Luke Johnson, Eric Schied, Brad Hawkinson, and Justin Woods. The Stars went 4-for-6 on the powerplay (yes, you read that correct). Michael Bitzer got the win in net, his 17th of the season.

I've got to get some sleep, so I'll try to update this article with a full recap tomorrow.  Crazy game tonight!  I think this tweet of mine from the second period pretty much sums it up!

Go Stars!

Monday, February 25, 2013

B³ Pregame Report: Lincoln Stars vs. Sioux City Musketeers 2/26

The Lincoln Stars will travel north to Sioux City, IA this Tuesday evening to take on the Musketeers at the Tyson Events Center.  Puck drops at 7:00pm CST.

If you can't make it up to SC for this game,  you can follow the boxscore 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 Stars are currently 27-17-3 (57 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference, one point behind the fourth place Omaha Lancers (58 points) and two points behind the third place Waterloo Blackhawks (59 points).  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

Stars are 5-0-0 in five regular season games against the Musketeers this season.  Lincoln has outscored SC 20-9 in those five contests.  Lincoln goaltender Michael Bitzer is 4-0-0 against Sioux City, with a .933 save percentage and a 1.46 goals against average.  These two teams will meet a total of eight times in the 2012-13 season.

Based on their five previous contests, you'd think that this would be an easy win and two points for the Stars.  That's not the case.  Although they've traded away some of their top talent for draft picks (e.g. Riley Bourbonnais), the Muskies are actually playing better hockey right now compared to a month or two ago before the fire sale.

Muskies are 3-1-0 in their last four games, and are 4-1-1 in their last six home games at the Tyson Events Center.  The last two games in which Lincoln faced Sioux City, each contest ended up going to OT.  This will not be a team the Stars can afford to look past.  The Muskies are playing their best hockey right now, and I'm sure they'll be looking for some payback on Tuesday night after losing five in a row to Lincoln.

The Stars coming off one of their best performances of the season, a 4-3 OT win over the Waterloo Blackhawks this past Saturday at the IceBox.  In my opinion, it was Lincoln's best overall effort at home this season.  If the Stars can play like that the rest of this season (17 games), the chances of them making the playoffs are very good.

Win this game, and the Stars jump up to a third place tie in the western conference.  Lincoln has two games in hand over Omaha, and one game in hand over Waterloo.  So this Tuesday night game against SC is a great opportunity for the Stars to pick up two more points for the playoff push.

Go Stars.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Snapshots of the Game: Waterloo vs. Lincoln 2/23

Once again, huge thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Waterloo-Lincoln game that was played Saturday 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.

Riley Bourbonnais jumps towards the glass after scoring the game-tying goal in the third period

Snapshots of the Game: Team USA U18 vs. Lincoln 2/22

Much thanks as always go out to Jeff White and Starstruck for letting me share their photos from the the Team USA U18-Lincoln game from Friday night with you.  Make sure you check out Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photo" Facebook page, and Jeff White's "Depicted Image" Facebook page.  If you're on Facebook, make sure you "Like" their pages so you can be updated throughout this season with their work.

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

Mike McKee scores a shorthanded goal in the second period

B³ Postgame Recap: Waterloo 3, Lincoln 4 OT

Stars mob Riley Bourbonnais after the OT winner
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Riley Bourbonnais scored a dramatic, game-winning overtime goal in front of a rowdy sellout crowd at the IceBox on Saturday night to give the Lincoln Stars a come from behind 4-3 victory over the Waterloo Blackhawks.

Bringing back the train!

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The win and the two points improved Lincoln's record to 27-17-3 (57 points) and they are still in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference, one point behind the fourth-place Omaha Lancers (58 points).  The Waterloo Blackhawks, who were extremely lucky to escape Lincoln with a point, are in third place with 59 points.  The Stars have two games in hand over Omaha, and one game in hand over Waterloo.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

The Stars came out with their hair on fire in this game and took it right to the Waterloo Blackhawks with a nasty combination of speed and hitting.  Right from puck drop, Lincoln dominated this game but it was Waterloo that struck first for the only goal scored in the first period.  At the 8:01 mark, Justin Kloos of Waterloo fired a shot that got past Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer to give the Blackhawks an early 1-0 lead.

Despite outplaying and outshooting (18-7) Waterloo in the first twenty minutes, the Stars were down 1-0 going into the first intermission.

In the second period, the bounces didn't go Lincoln's way early on when Zach Stepan scored at the 5:08 mark to give Waterloo a 2-0 lead.  As a fan, it was a little frustrating to watch the Stars completely dominate a team like they did, yet they were down two goals.  But like many in attendance last night, I just had a feeling that if the Stars kept plugging away, the goals would come.  And they did.

Less than two minutes after Stepan's goal, Stars forward Garrett Brossart batted a clearing attempt from 'Loo goaltender Eamon McAdamn down, and while on his stomach, passed the puck across the crease to a wide open Zach Aston-Reese who tapped it into the open net for Lincoln's first goal of the game.  Gutsy effort by Brossart on the play to get the puck to ZAR.

Waterloo scored the next goal, a PP tally late in the second period, to take a 3-1 lead.  I'm going to dissect this goal a little bit to help Stars fans better understand what happened.  At the 10:42 mark of the second period, Zach Aston-Reese picked up a major penalty for elbowing, and was ejected from the game.  Even though ZAR was ejected, the Stars coaches should have sent one player over to the penalty box to serve ZAR's five-minute major.  That didn't happen.  So when the Stars killed the entire five-minute major, which really energized the crowd, the coaches sent a player off the bench to make it 5-on-5.

Rightly so, the referee called a two-minute minor for "illegal substitution."  I saw a lot of confused looks last night from Stars fans after this penalty was whistled, but it was definitely the right call.  The Stars had just busted their butts to kill the five-minute major, and now they had to go right back on the penalty kill for two minutes.  Unfortunately for the Stars, Taylor Cammarata scored on that ensuing PP to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead.

Cammarata can thank the Lincoln coaches for that goal because that all falls back on them.  It was a careless mistake, and one the Stars paid for.  Who knows, if the coaches remember to put a body in the penalty box, maybe the Blackhawks don't score that third goal, Lincoln wins in regulation, and the Blackhawks don't get the bonus point.  You'd think by this point in the season the coaches would remember something as simple as this, but apparently not.

Dominik Shine responded with a goal less than a minute after Cammarata's to pull the Stars back to within one goal, at 3-2.  Shine's goal was huge, and it gave the Stars the momentum they needed to start the third period.

In that last twenty minutes, Lincoln played probably their best period of hockey I've seen this entire season.  They outshot Waterloo 15-2 in the third and outscored them 1-0.  Riley Bourbonnais' goal at the 9:15 mark of the third period was one of the prettiest goals I've seen in a long time.  I hope to get video of his goal and post it here later.  Bourbonnais turned a Waterloo defenseman inside out before roofing the puck past McAdam to knot the game up at 3-3.  Needless to say, the IceBox went nuts.  We had a tied game.

Try as they might, the Stars threw everything but the kitchen sink at Waterloo goaltender Eamon McAdam after the tying goal, but they could not find the back of the net.  This game would go into extra time.

At the 2:03 mark of the OT period, Riley Bourbonnais stepped up to be the hero with a laser shot into the top right corner, past McAdam's glove, to win it for the Stars.  Lincoln scored three unanswered goals to win it.  What. A. Game.  Easily one of the top 10 games I've been to at the IceBox.  The atmosphere was amazing.

Lincoln outshot Waterloo overall, 42-17.  That's complete domination.  As I stated above, the Blackhawks should feel very lucky to get a point last night.  They let the Stars roll right over them, and if not for a number of big saves by McAdam, they would have lost this game easily in regulation.

Lincoln went 0-for-3 on the powerplay, and Waterloo went 1-for-5.  Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 14 of 17 for the win, his 16th of the season.

Great effort by all of the players last night.  They should all be very proud of the way they performed as a team.  It was very fun to watch as a fan.  When the game was tied up at 3-3 in the third period, I turned to a friend and said "we're going to get the next goal."  I'm sure others in attendance could feel it also.  The way the Stars were playing, and the energy given off by the fans, you could sense a game-winning Stars goal was coming.

Lincoln will play the next three games on the road, starting this Tuesday in Sioux City against the Musketeers.  On Friday and Saturday, the Stars will be in Fargo to take on the Force in back-to-back games.  More on those games later.

Go Stars.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Team USA U-18 5, Lincoln 3

Phil Marinaccio scores on a breakaway in the 3rd period
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Team USA U-18 scored four unanswered goals over the course of the first and second periods to cruise to a 5-3 victory over the Lincoln Stars Friday night at the IceBox.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars fell to 28-17-3 (55 points) and are still in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Waterloo Blackhawks, Lincoln's opponent tonight (Saturday), beat Dubuque last night and now are in third place with 58 points.

The Omaha Lancers lost at home to the Sioux City Musketeers last night and are now in fourth place with 56 points.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

It looked great for the Stars in the first 10 minutes of this game.  They came out strong, physical, and put good pressure on U-18 goaltender Thatcher Demko.  The hard work paid off at the 10:16 mark of the first period when Phil Marinaccio scored a PP goal to give Lincoln it's only lead of the game.

After Marinaccio's goal, you could sense that Team USA finally got the jitters out of their system and started to take control of the game.  What momentum the Stars had early on vanished after Marinaccio's goal, and the U-18's dominated the rest of the contest.

The U-18's scored the next four goals to take a 4-1 lead before Mike McKee scored a shorthanded goal at the 19:02 mark of the second period to bring the Stars to within two goals.  The crowd was back into the game, and it looked like the Stars would be down only two goals going into the third period.

But with only 5 seconds remaining in the second period, the U-18's scored a PP goal and killed whatever momentum that Stars had going into the second intermission.

At the 19:03 mark of the third period, Phil Marinaccio scored his second goal of the game, this time a shorthanded breakaway tally, but it was a little too late.  Lincoln outshot team USA 11-7 in the third period, but could only score the one goal.

Getting back to Phil Marinaccio, he has really performed well since he was obtained from the Cedar Rapids Roughriders for Ross Olsson.  Marinaccio has scored 14 points (7g, 7a) in fourteen games for Lincoln, and arguably has been their best forward the past month or so.

Jake Wood fought Team USA's Sean Malone last night with only 4:53 left in the third period, so there's a good chance he'll be suspended for a game (or two) since players are not allowed to drop the mitts with less than five minutes remaining in the third.

Once again, Lincoln lost the special teams war last night.  The U-18's went 3-for-7 on the power play and scored one shorthanded goal.  So four of Team USA's five goals were due to special teams.  Lincoln went 1-for-4 on the powerplay and surprisingly scored two shorthanded goals.  The Stars have scored 10 shorthanded goals this season, which is tied for the most in the entire USHL.

Jackson Teichroeb stopped 28 of 33 shots before he was pulled at the conclusion of the second period.  Michael Bitzer started the third period and stopped all 7 shots he faced.  I felt bad for Teichroeb last night, as he really didn't get a lot of help from his teammates.

Team USA outshot Lincoln 40-27 last night.  I can't remember when a team outshot the Stars by that large of a margin at home.  Team USA had a whopping 33 shots on goal through the fist two periods.  I think the U-18's eased up a bit in the third period, which allowed the Stars to outshoot USA in the third period.

I was really impressed with how good Team USA U-18 looked last night.  They are as talented as advertised.  It took them about 10 minutes to warm up, but once they did, they took control of the game and never let go.  Speed kills, and that was definitely on display last night.  The U-18's outskated, outshot, and outplayed the Stars.  There wasn't any wasted effort from the U-18's.  I'm never happy when the Stars lose, but it was kinda fun watching the youngsters of Team USA put on a clinic last night.  Lincoln ran into a buzzsaw, so I don't think they should hang their heads today.  Learn from it, and move on.

Because of the loss Friday evening, Saturday's game against Waterloo is huge.  There are only 18 games left in the regular season, so every point right now is very important.  I don't know if it's a "must win" tonight, but if Lincoln wants to play postseason hockey, they'll want to secure the two points against a team that is only three points ahead of them in the standings.

Be loud tonight!  The players need us more than ever.

Go Stars.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Team USA U-18 and Waterloo

The Lincoln Stars will return to the IceBox this weekend with two home games against extremely talented hockey clubs.  On Friday evening, the Stars will host Team USA U-18 at the IceBox.  Saturday evening, the Waterloo Blackhawks will invade the capital city looking to distance themselves from the Stars in the standings.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST for each game.

If you are unable to make it to 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.

The Stars are currently 26-16-3 (55 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference, one point behind the fourth place Waterloo Blackhawks.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

First up this weekend for the Stars will be the uber-talented youngsters of Team USA U-18.  Team USA, which consists of two separate teams (U-17's and U-18's), has a USHL record of 11-24-5 (27 points) and are in eighth place in the USHL East Division.  This will be the first and only time the Stars play the U-18's this season.

Unlike the U-17 squad, the U-18 team also plays games against NCAA teams along with their regular schedule of USHL opponents.  If my calculations are correct, the Team USA U-18 squad has a 8-5-0 record against USHL competition this season.  Click here to see the U-18's 2012-13 schedule, which includes the results of their games.  Some of the NCAA college hockey teams that the U-18's have beat this season are: Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, and Merrimack.  They've also tied powerhouse teams like North Dakota and Minnesota.

This past Wednesday, the U-18's blanked the Steel in Chicago by a score of 4-0.  The U-18's outshot Chicago 51-19 in that game (wow).  Team USA was supposed to play the UNO Mavericks in Omaha tonight (Thursday), but that game was postponed until Saturday because of the snowstorm we are dealing with right now.  The snow should not affect either game at the IceBox this weekend.

Don't let Team USA's sub-par USHL record (11-24-5) fool you.  The majority of those losses are from the U-17 squad.  The U-18 squad is straight up deadly, and is jam packed with the best young American-born players in the country.  Some names to watch for on Friday night per Chris Peters of the "United States of Hockey" blog are:  J.T. Compher (F-#7), Steven Santini (D-#16), Keaton Thompson (D-#6) , John Hayden (F-#15), Hudson Fasching (F-#22), Tyler Kelleher (F-#19), and Anthony Louis (F-#9).

Two players in particular on the U-18 roster have some Lincoln ties, but unfortunately, only one will make a visit to the IceBox.  U-18 forward Mike McCarron, whose older brother John McCarron played for the Stars from 2008-11, did not make the road trip with Team USA because of an injury he suffered in practice earlier this week.  John's "little" brother is a 6'5", 228 pound 16-year old.  Incredible size for someone that young.  Mike has a bright future ahead of him, as he is drawing a ton of interest from NHL scouts due to his combination of size and skill.

Mike was selected by the Lincoln Stars in the fifth round of the 2012 USHL Entry Draft, but I don't think we'll ever see him in a Stars uniform.  I believe the Stars coaches took a shot on him playing one more season in the USHL after he ages out of the Team USA program after this season.  Mike has committed to Western Michigan University for the fall of 2013, and he also has the opportunity to play major junior hockey in the OHL as well.  It's too bad we won't get to see Mike play at the IceBox on Friday night.  I know his family was really looking forward to that.

The other U-18 player with a Lincoln connection is forward Sean Malone from Buffalo, NY.  Sean was a fourth round draft pick of the Stars in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft.  There was a chance that Sean would have played this season in Lincoln, but after playing extremely well in a couple of Team USA camps this past summer, the NTDP came calling.  And when Team USA comes calling, you don't ignore it.  It would have been great to have Sean in Lincoln this season, but I can completely understand why he decided to play from Team USA when they offered him a spot.  You can't turn that opportunity down.

Like Mike McCarron, I don't believe we'll see Sean Malone in a Lincoln Stars uniform either.  Sean is a very bright kid, and will be attending Harvard University this fall after his season with Team USA.  I've had the opportunity to befriend members of Sean's family (who read this blog) the past year or so, and they are super nice people.  They even bought Lincoln Stars gear after Sean was originally drafted by Lincoln.  I know they will all be watching this game via FASTHockey back in Buffalo.

On Saturday, the Stars will play host to the Waterloo Blackhawks, who have a record of 27-17-2 (56 points) and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  This will be the third time the Stars and B'hawks have met this season.  On 12/31/12, the Blackhawks scored 8 powerplay goals in route to a 10-2 victory over the Stars.  On 1/15/13, the Stars got some revenge at the IceBox with a well-played 4-2 win over Waterloo.

Like the Stars, the Blackhawks are battling for that fourth and final playoff spot in the western conference.  Sioux Falls and Fargo are firmly in the top two spots in the west, so that means Omaha, Waterloo, and Lincoln are left to fight it out for the remaining two playoff spots.  There's still a lot of hockey yet to be played, but the Stars can definitely help themselves with a big win over the Blackhawks this Saturday.  Not allowing Waterloo to pick up any extra points in overtime would be nice also.

This weekend preview article is already too long, so I better wrap it up.  Huge, huge test for the Stars this weekend against two very talented hockey clubs.  Lincoln will have to play its best hockey to beat these two teams.

Quick plug for the Lincoln Stars' BlueLine Booster Club:  The booster club is organizing a bus trip to Sioux City, IA for the Friday 3/29/13 game against the Musketeers. This will be game #1,000 in Lincoln Stars franchise history. You may have heard Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye talking about this recently on air.  Melbye really wants to get as many Stars fans up there for this historic game.

The cost to ride the BlueLine Booster Club bus to Sioux City on 3/29 is $25, and if you get a ticket through the club, it will cost an additional $10. The BLBC needs 45 people to sign up by 3/8/13 for the bus to go. If you are interested, sign up in the BLBC booth beginning this Friday.  This bus trip can only happen if the club gets at least 45 people to sign up.  I'm planning on doing it, so I hope you all consider it as well.  This should be a great opportunity to hang out with other Stars fans, and support the boys in Sioux City during a very important game in Lincoln's franchise history.  But again, this can't happen if the club doesn't get at least 45 people.  So make sure you stop by the BLBC booth this weekend to sign up.  Thanks.

Go Stars.

KLIN's "Jack and Dave" video with the Lincoln Stars

Nice little video here from KLIN's "Jack and Dave" radio show as they recently spent some time with the Lincoln Stars. Click play below to check it out.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 1, Sioux Falls 6

The Sioux Falls Stampede outscored the Lincoln Stars 5-0 through the first two periods and eventually rolled to a 6-1 blowout win Saturday night at Sioux Falls Arena.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars fell to 26-16-3 (55 points) and remain in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  If there is any good news, the two teams (Omaha, Waterloo) directly ahead of Lincoln in the standings also lost last night.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I did not follow this game at all, so this recap will be very brief.  If you listened to the radio broadcast, or watched on FASTHockey, or were there in person, please leave a comment below with your thoughts.  I apparently picked a good night to go out with the wife and ignore the game.  I got home late last night and was surprised to see the final score.

Looking around on Twitter and on Facebook, it appears that some fans were a little upset at referee Kenny Anderson.  From what I've read, it sounds like Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye was pretty fired up at the calls being whistled against Lincoln last night.  I can't comment on that since I didn't watch the game.

Having said that, it's hard to imagine that the refs were entirely responsible for the 6-1 loss.  At some point, you've got to take responsibility for losing a game that bad, despite the questionable calls.  I've always been of the opinion that good teams will overcome bad calls.  But I know Anderson has called some brutal games in the past, also.

Click here to read a recap from the Sioux Falls Stampede website.

Michael Bitzer started the game but was pulled after the second period for Jackson Teichroeb.  Bitzer got the loss with 22 saves on 27 Stampede shots.  Teichroeb stopped 6 of 6 shots in the third period.  Brad Hawkinson scored Lincoln's only goal on the night.

Jake Wood and Mike McKee were both ejected from this game, so I'm sure the league will be looking at those plays and doling out suspensions.

One call in particular is very strange when looking at the boxscore.  Thomas Forgione of Sioux Falls was called for a dive at the 15:26 mark of the second period.  Apparently, he was awarded a penalty shot on the same play.  Huh?  I'm not sure I've ever seen or heard of that in a hockey game before.  If Forgione was whistled for a diving minor, how in the hell did he get a penalty shot out of it?  Yes, he scored on the penalty shot.

I've seen where a referee will whistle a diving penalty on one team, and a hooking or tripping penalty on the other team to offset the penalties.  Put them both in the box with coincidental minors and continue play.  But if Forgione was whistled for a dive, how does Anderson award him a penalty shot?  Logically, it makes absolutely no sense to me.  If he dove, he dove.  End of story.

I noticed that Paul LaDue, Dominik Shine, and Jimmy DeVito were scratched last night.  Were they injured?  Since I didn't listen or watch the game, I'm in the dark here.  Speaking of scratches, does anyone know why forward Max Humitz never plays?  I feel sorry for the kid.  He is scratched even in games that the Stars play shorthanded.  Why is he even here if he never gets an opportunity to play in a game?  I've been impressed with him the little bit that I've seen of him this season.  Get the kid in the kid in the lineup and coach him!

Anyway, I'll wrap this article up here.  Looking back, getting four of six points is a positive.  But I'm sure the Stars were hoping to play better against the Stampede.  Please leave a comment below if you followed the game last night.

Go Stars.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Video highlights of Lincoln's 4-2 win over Des Moines

As always, a HUGE thanks goes out to Scott Thompson for recording, editing, and posting video highlights of Lincoln's 4-2 win over Des Moines from Friday.  Scott is a Bucs fan, and he does a great job of putting together video highlights from each Des Moines home game.  It's a lot of work, but Scott does a fantastic job, and I appreciate the time and effort he put into this.  If you're on Twitter, please give him a follow: @DMBucsHighlight

Friday, February 15, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 4, Des Moines 2

Jake Wood scored two goals, and Jackson Teichroeb stopped 31 of 33 shots to power the Lincoln Stars to a 4-2 road victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers tonight.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The Stars improved to 26-15-3 (55 points) after the win in Des Moines, and they are still in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Sioux Falls beat Omaha tonight, and Fargo beat Waterloo in OT.  The playoff race in the western conference is unbelievably tight right now.  I'm going to post a pic of the western conference standings below:

Only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs, so you can see it's going to be dogfight until the very end for five teams (SF, Fargo, Omaha, Waterloo, Lincoln).  It's cliche, but every single point is important right now.

I was able to catch the radio broadcast of this game only.  I hope to post video highlights later, courtesy of @DMBucshighlight.

Jake Wood opened the scoring just a little over six minutes into the opening period with the first of his two goals on the night.  Wood's first goal was his 10th of the season.  Stars took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.  Shots were even at 8 a piece after twenty minutes.

In the second period, the Stars outscored the Bucs 2 to 1 with goals from Jake Wood and Brad Hawkinson.  Because of suspensions to Zack Pittman and Mike McKee, Hawk was moved from forward to defense to provide some depth at that position.  Lincoln took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.  Shots were 22-21 in favor of Des Moines through two periods.

Zach Aston-Reese got the monkey off his back with his first goal of the season at the 5:41 mark of the third period.  ZAR was only one assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick tonight.

The Bucs scored a meaningless goal with only 17 seconds remaining the third period to complete the scoring.  Des Moines outshot Lincoln 33-31 overall.  Jake Wood finished with three points (2g, 1a) and was +4 on the night.

Jackson Teichroeb rebounded nicely tonight after getting pulled after the first period in Thursday night's game against Tri-City.  Teichroeb stopped 31 of 33 shots against the Bucs to pick up his 11th win of the season.

The Stars went 5-1-0 in the six games played against the Des Moines Buccaneers this season.  Lincoln outscored Des Moines 27-13 in those six games.  This was their last meeting of the 2012-13 USHL season.

Nice way to start the long weekend with four points.  Two more points are up for grabs Saturday night in Sioux Falls against the first place Stampede.

Go Stars.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 6, Tri-City 5 OT Shootout

The Lincoln Stars mounted a furious third period comeback to beat the Tri-City Storm in Kearney on Thursday night by a score of 6-5 in an overtime shootout.

The Stars trailed the Storm 5-2 in the third period before scoring three straight goals in regulation to tie it at 5-5 before winning it in the OT shootout.

Click here to view the Poinstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 25-15-3 (53 points) and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is only two points behind fourth place Waterloo (55 points), three points behind third place Omaha (56 points), and four points behind second place Fargo (57 points).  The Stars have one game in hand over Waterloo, and two games in hand over Omaha and Fargo.

Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I'm seriously regretting not driving out to Kearney to watch this game tonight.  I'm also kicking myself for not watching it on FASTHockey either.  I listened to the radio broadcast only, which I'm sure contributed to taking years off my life with how crazy it was in the third period, overtime, and the shootout.

Scoring for the Stars tonight was Eric Scheid, Phil Marinaccio, Justin Woods, Vinni Lettieri, and Paul LaDue.  LaDue and Justin Woods scored for Lincoln in the shootout (Woods' SO goal turned out to be the game-winner).

Lincoln goaltender Jackson Teichroeb stopped 10 of 12 shots before he was pulled at the end of the first period.  Michael Bitzer played the rest of this game and stopped 21 of 24 shots to record the win.  Lincoln outshot Tri-City 46-36 overall.

Eric Scheid and Phil Marinaccio both led Lincoln with three points a piece (both had one goal and two assists on the night).

With Lincoln's fifth goal in tonight's game, Paul LaDue became the highest-scoring defenseman in Lincoln Stars history. LaDue now has 70 points (20g, 50a) in 99 games played.  Paul beat former Stars d-man Eli Vlaisavljevich who scored 69 points in 116 games for Lincoln from 2004-06.   Maybe this is a discussion for another day, but is LaDue the best overall defenseman to ever play in a Lincoln Stars uniform?  Leave a comment below with your thoughts.  I'd love to hear from you.

Hopefully the Stars can keep the momentum going into their game Friday night in Des Moines against the Buccaneers.

Go Stars.

Edit: Video highlights from this game are below, courtesy of the Tri-City Storm YouTube account:


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Tri-City, Des Moines, Sioux Falls

The Lincoln Stars will head out onto the road this upcoming weekend with three big away games against western conference foes.  On Thursday, the Stars will be in Kearney, NE to face the Tri-City Storm.  On Friday, Lincoln will travel east to Des Moines, IA to battle the Buccaneers.  Finally, on Saturday, the Stars will go north to Sioux Falls, SD to knock heads with the Stampede.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST for each of the three games.

If you can't make it to any of the road games this weekend, you can follow the boxscores on Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7FM "The Ticket," or watch the games online via for a fee.

The Stars are currently 24-15-3 (51 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.  The Stars are now five points behind the third-place Omaha Lancers, who beat the first place Sioux Falls Stampede tonight by a score of 3-2.  Lincoln is only four points behind the fourth-place Waterloo Blackhawks.  The top four teams in each conference make the playoffs this season.  Only nine points separates first and sixth place in the western conference.

Lincoln is 4-4-0 in their last eight games played and 3-3-0 in their last six road games.

Up first for Lincoln will be the Tri-City Storm who have  record of 18-21-4 (40 points) and are in seventh place in the western conference.  The Storm are 3-5-0 in their last eight games played and 3-3-0 in their last six games played at home.

The Stars are undefeated (6-0-0) in six games against the Tri-City Storm thus far this season, and have outscored them 19-9.  Despite the one-sided numbers, four of Lincoln's six wins against the Storm have been by only one goal.  Two of the six games have gone to overtime.  The Storm might not score a lot of goals, but they do a good job of playing team defense and their goaltending is underrated.

If you're curious about the current "Good Life Cup" standings, here they are :

Lincoln (7-4-2; 16 points)
Omaha (7-4-0; 14 points) 
Tri-City (4-5-2; 10 points)

On Friday, the Stars will take on the Des Moines Buccaneers who currently have a record of 20-22-3 (43 points) and are in sixth place in the western conference.  The Bucs are 2-5-1 in their last eight games played and 1-4-1 in their last six home games.

The Stars are 4-1-0 in five regular season games against the Bucs this season, and have outscored them 23-11.  Lincoln has scored at least 5 goals in four of the five games against Des Moines this season.  Unlike the Storm, when the Bucs lose to Lincoln they have lost big for the most part.  The Stars and the Bucs are the two most penalized teams in the USHL right now.

Lincoln will wrap up three games in three days on Saturday evening with a tilt against the first place Sioux Falls Stampede who have a record of 29-12-2 (60 points).  The 'Pede are 4-3-1 in their last eight games and 5-1-0 in their last six home games.

It's hard to believe that the Stampede have lost three in a row after their road loss to the Omaha Lancers tonight.  As hot has they've been the past two months, Sioux Falls is finally starting to look mortal.  Meanwhile, the Lancers are 11-1-0 in their last twelve games and goaltender Alex Lyon is playing out of his head.

Saturday's contest against Sioux Falls will be Lincoln's third game in three days, so hopefully there will be enough fuel in the tank to come out strong against the Stampede in their rink.  The 'Pede will be playing three games in four games this weekend, concluding with the Saturday game against Lincoln.  So both teams will be a little beat up coming into their matchup.

Some bad news today as forward Michael Bunn has decided to go home to North Carolina to further rehab the knee he had ACL surgery on last summer.  From what I've been told, he will not be back the rest of this season.  Bunn injured his knee at Lincoln's tryout camp last June in Minneapolis.  Best of luck to Michael.  I really hope to see him in a Stars uniform next season.

With the Lancers playing their best hockey right now, the Stars must get at least four points out of this weekend to stay relevant in the western conference playoff race.  Sioux Falls, Waterloo, Fargo, and Omaha are distancing themselves from teams like Lincoln, Des Moines, and Tri-City in the west.  5-6 points would be great, but a minimum of four points should be attainable.

Big weekend!  Go Stars.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln vs. Omaha 2/9

Photo courtesy of Jeff White (click to enlarge)
As promised, here are some pictures taken by a few folks (including me) of the Stas-Lancers outdoor game this past Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

Because there are so many pictures, I'm just going to post links to the individual albums below for readers to click on and view at their pleasure.

Pics from Jeff White and Depicted Image
Pics from Brandon Anderson and BA Photos

Lastly, here are some crappy pics I took and posted on the blog's Facebook page.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Omaha 4

My view from the first row of Section 221 (click to enlarge)
The four Lancer goals scored in the first period Saturday afternoon at the Mutual of Omaha "Battles on Ice" outdoor game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha was all they needed to beat the Lincoln Stars by a score of 4-2.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

This was a league game, so the Stars fell to 24-15-3 (51 points) and are still in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Lancers are now three points ahead of Lincoln with 54 points, and in fourth place.  The third place Fargo Force have 55 points.

Only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs, so the Stars have some work ahead of them to catch up to Omaha and Fargo.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

As far as the game goes, pretty much par for the course when it comes to Lincoln vs. Omaha.  I'm not sure if the Stars were just too wired up, or just nervous, but early on they hung goaltender Michael Bitzer out to dry.  Omaha players were left wide open for non-contested shots on two goals that came on the PP. I think another was a partial breakaway.  Before the game was 10 minutes old, it was already 3-1 Omaha. Bitzer was pulled for Jackson Teichroeb after giving up 3 goals on 4 shots.  Omaha added one more goal before the end of the first period to take a 4-1 lead into the first intermission. At that point, the game was pretty much over.

Phil Marinaccio scored Lincoln's first goal at the 8:25 mark of the first period to pull the Stars to within one goal at 2-1.  Marinaccio has now scored a goal in three straight games for Lincoln.  In the second period, Omaha native Will Suter scored at the 6:47 mark to pull the Stars to within two goals at 4-2.  Suter's goal would be the last goal scored by either team in this game.

I thought Lincoln was the better team in the second and third periods (they outshot Omaha 36-14 through those last two periods), but they couldn't solve Omaha goaltender Alex Lyon.  The ice conditions didn't allow them to really get any quality shots on Lyon, I don't know how many of those 36 shots were very good quality.  Omaha played on the same crappy ice, so it's not an excuse for Lincoln.  They outplayed Lincoln in the first period when the ice was at its best, and that's all they needed to win it.

Just like every game against Omaha this season, the Stars lost the special teams war (Omaha was 2-for-4 on the PP, Lincoln was 0-for-1), and the Lancers got better goaltending.  The Lancers took advantage of their scoring opportunities, and the Stars did not.

The quality of the ice was bad to start, but it got worse as the game went on.  Biggest problem (I assume) was the sun.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky, so the sun was allowed to beat down on the ice.  Soon it turned to slush, and eventually to water.  It made for sloppy, unwatchable hockey.  I felt bad for the players while I was watching this game.  I'm happy that no players on either side were injured.  The ice was that bad.  Players were falling down all the time.  Off ice officials tried to repair the ice at every whistle, but the sun was just too much.  People on Twitter were soon calling the event "Battles on Puddles" or "Battles on Slush" instead of "Battles on Ice."  In my opinion, this contest should have been an exhibition game, not a league game.

Looking back, I'm not sure I would pay $50 per ticket to do it again.  A lot of people paid much more than that per ticket. Our experience inside the stadium wasn't the greatest.

We sat in the first row of 221, which allowed for some great views of the ice.  But we had some drunk, asshole UNO fans sitting behind us that made watching the game unbearable.  Once they noticed there were a bunch of Lincoln fans in front of them, they were relentless.  Typical crap about Lincoln being goons, and their fans being hicks....stuff I've heard from Omaha fans in the past.  After Marinaccio scored Lincoln's first goal, my wife stood up to clap...and a few of the guys yelled at her to sit down.  So she turned around and gave it back, and they ended up calling her some choice words.  The first period was brutal with the four Omaha goals.  Each time the Lancers would score, they would get up right behind our ears and purposely yell and scream.  Luckily, they spent most of the second and third periods getting up to buy beers, so they weren't around as much.

I'm not a big UND or UNO fan, so we decided not to come back for the college game after the USHL game.  We also didn't want to sit in front of those idiots again. After hearing that UND beat UNO last night, I admit I had a smile on my face knowing those asshole UNO fans behind us went home with a loss.  I know all UNO fans aren't like these idiots, but I've never had such a negative experience at a hockey game.

Best part of the day was tailgating with a bunch Stars fans before and after the game.  Some family members of Stars forward Brad Hawkinson got me a nice gift before the game, which I posted here on Twitter.  I met some other player parents and family members who read the blog, so that was great.  I got to talk to Tino Lettieri, father of Stars forward Vinni. Tino was a former World Cup and Olympic soccer goalie for Canada.  Interesting character, and he had some great stories.  Very nice man.  So the tailgating experience was awesome....just wish the other parts were as fun.

The announced attendance was 13,650 which did not beat the previous USHL record of 14,892 that was set by the Indiana Ice on February 12th, 2005.  The 13,650 were tickets sold, definitely not butts in seats when the Lancers were playing the Stars. I doubt there was half of that 13,650 in the stadium when the USHL game was being played.

I'm going to include some videos below that were posted yesterday on the USHL's YouTube account.  First video is a post-game press conference featuring Chad Johnson, Vinni Lettieri, Luke Johnson, and Paul LaDue.  Second video is a one-on-one interview with Will Suter.  Lastly is a one-on-one interview with newly acquired defenseman Eric Schurhamer.

I took some pictures (and video) which I'll try to post later today in a different article.   I hope to post some photos from others who were at the game also.

In the meantime, I 'd really like to hear from those of you who attended this event.  Please like a comment below!  How was your experience?  Would you attend again if this event was duplicated next year?  If not, why?

Go Stars.

Friday, February 8, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Tri-City 3, Lincoln 4

Phil Marinaccio (far left) scores the game winning goal
Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Stars rallied from a 2-3 deficit in the third period to beat the Tri-City Storm by a score of 4-3 tonight in front of 4,033 fans at the IceBox in Lincoln.

The Stars are now 6-0-0 in six games against the Storm this season.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 24-14-3 (51 points) and are still one point behind the Omaha Lancers in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.

The Lancers squeaked by the Buccaneers tonight in Des Moines by a score of 2-1 (overtime shootout).  Omaha is in fourth place with 52 points, and Fargo is in third place with 53 points.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Scoring for the Stars tonight was Eric Schurhamer (his first in a Stars uniform), Jimmy DeVito, Zack Pittman (his first in a Stars uniform), and Phil Marinaccio (game winning goal). Michael Bitzer stopped 27 of 30 shots to record his 14th win of the season.

I will try to update this recap late Saturday after the outdoor game.  Speaking of the outdoor game, click here to check out the "Battles on Ice" article I posted the other day which has a lot of good information if you are planning on attending.  I will try to utilize the blog's Twitter page tomorrow to tweet updates throughout the day.  So stoked to be up in Omaha 12 hours from now!  See you all at TD Ameritrade Park.

Go Stars.

Videos: Stars Prepare For First Outdoor Hockey Game In USHL History

Lincoln news station KOLN-KGIN 10/11 posted some very cool videos late yesterday that I thought I'd share here on the blog.  Thanks to 10/11 reporter Dave Polzin for contacting me on Twitter with the link.  Much appreciated!  Click play below to check them out.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stars acquire defenseman Eric Schurhamer from Waterloo

Before I get to the trade news, I wanted to mention that I won't be posting a weekend preview article.  I wish I had time to get it done tonight, but it's not going to happen.  Stars will host the Tri-City Storm at the IceBox Friday night before the big outdoor game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Saturday.  If you are attending the outdoor game, click here to check out the article I posted a few days ago which has a lot of good information you'll want to look over.

Per the Stars' official Twitter account, the team acquired defenseman Eric Schurhamer ('93) from the Waterloo Blackhawks today.  Click here to read the tweet.  No news yet on what the Stars gave up for Schurhamer, but I would guess it was a draft pick.

In 14 games with the Blackhawks this season, Schurhamer has 3 points (all assists), 16 penalty minutes, and is -6.  Schurhamer injured his shoulder early on in the season and didn't play his first USHL game for the Blackhawks until 12/28/12.  Eric was a second round draft pick of Waterloo in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.  Schurhamer will attend the University of Maine in the fall of 2013.

Schurhamer has been described to me as a excellent skater, and someone who can play both the PP and the PK.  Hopefully he can help Lincoln's dismal PP unit.  Best of luck to him with the Stars.

According to the same tweet linked above, the Stars released defenseman Travis Maxwell, who played 24 games with the Stars after being called up from the Minot Minotauros of the NAHL.  Maxwell scored 5 points (1g, 4a) and was +10 in those 24 games.  I was told this afternoon that Maxwell suffered a significant injury recently, so the addition of Schurhamer makes sense.  I'm hoping the injury to Maxwell isn't too serious, and the Stars invite him back next season.  Although he wasn't flashy, I thought Maxwell was a solid addition to the team and a valuable piece of Lincoln's defense corps.

Go Stars.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

B³ All Things "Battles on Ice" Outdoor Game

We're about 3 days away from the "Battles on Ice" outdoor game which will be held this Saturday, so I thought I'd put together an article which hopefully lists everything you've ever wanted to know about the upcoming event.  If there's anything you think I should add to this article, feel free to email me at

First off, let's get to the particulars:

When:  Saturday, February 9, 2013
Stars vs. Lancers will begin at 12:35PM CST.  UND vs. UNO will begin about 45 minutes to an hour after the conclusion of the USHL game.

Where:  TD Ameritrade Park located at 1200 Mike Fahey Street
Omaha, NE 68102

Yes, tickets are still available!  Click here to go to the Ticketmaster website to purchase tickets.  Last thing I heard, over 11,000 tickets have been sold and organizers hope that number will be around 15,000 the day of the event.  TD Ameritrade Park can hold a total of 24,000 fans.  Click here to view a seating chart.

From what I've been told, you will be allowed to leave TD Ameritrade Park, and re-enter only once.  So plan accordingly if you do leave the event and want to return.

I've been told by officials with the USHL that this game will be broadcast on  That's good news for fans and player parents/family/friends who can't make it to the game.  If you live in Omaha, Cox Cable will also broadcast the game live.

I'm going to copy and paste a paragraph below I got from a USHL message board from an Omaha fan.  Lots of good info:

For anyone going, on Saturday there's also a home show at the convention center and a 9:00pm Creighton basketball game at the CenturyLink Center (next door to TD Ameritrade Park). So it'll be busy around the stadium, but the area handles large crowds very well. The crowds will probably be more noticeable in the Old Market.  Gates open at 11:30.  Stadium lots open at 9:00am.  Parking is $8.  There are other parking lots in the area, but I think they all charge. Meters are free on weekends if you can find one.  Tailgating is allowed in lots B and D, charcoal grills only though. They look the other way on alcohol as long as you're not causing problems.  Alcohol will be served in the stadium for both games, and there are several restaurants/bars in the area.

So again, the parking lots will open at 9:00am Saturday morning, and TD Ameritrade Park will open its doors at 11:30am, one hour before the Stars and Lancers begin playing.  You can tailgate, but only in Lots B and D.  No propane grills, only charcoal.  Click here to see a map of the parking available around the stadium.

Omaha Metro Transit will be offering a bus route around the Old Market area from 10:30am-9:00pm on Saturday for those who many want to park further away on the cheap and then use the bus.  Click here to read more about that and to see the bus route.

What about bringing items such as cameras and backpacks inside the stadium?  Good information to remember in italics below from the TD Ameritrade Park website:

No glass bottles, cans, hard plastic containers or other potential projectiles are allowed at any time, this includes sales within the venue. CAMERAS WITH CHANGEABLE LENSES ARE NOT ALLOWED. No video cameras, audio recording equipment, laser pointers, flash lights, etc. shall be allowed at any time. No weapons or fireworks of any description are to be allowed at any time. All large bags, backpack, large jackets will be searched upon entering the stadium. All flags and banners must have been detached from sticks/poles, etc before entering the building if allowed. No inflatable, i.e. beach balls, hammers and seats etc. to be allowed inside the stadium at anytime (before, during or after the show).

It's still a little early to predict the weather with 100% certainty, but based on a number of websites I visited, expect the temperature to be in the mid 40's.  Right now, most weather websites are predicting that it will be partly cloudy, with a chance of rain.  I've seen anywhere from a 10% chance of precipitation, to a 40% chance.  If precipitation does occur, it will likely be in the form of rain....which is not good.  One weather event could really cause havoc with this event, and that is rain.  Lots of rain.

This is Nebraska, so the weather forecast could change dramatically in a short period of time.  You just never know what to expect.  But as of right now, the temps look good (not freezing cold), but the chance of rain is a little concerning. However, according to this article, organizers aren't very worried about a little rain.  But a downpour is something different.  Just in case, it might be a good idea to come prepared (e.g., bring a poncho) in case it does rain.  2/7 Update:  Looks like the weather for Saturday is improving.  The high temperature should be around 50 degrees, and the chance of rain seems to be diminishing.  Good news!

Now for some reading material:

Click here to read a recent article posted on the website about the first ever outdoor USHL game.

Click here to read an article from the USHLcom website: USHL Players Ready to Make New Outdoor Memories

Click here to read a recent article from the Omaha World Herald website about the different variables that come into play when trying to schedule an outdoor hockey game.

Click here to read an article from the WOWT website that has links to a couple of videos you'll want to check out.

Click here to read a really informative article posted on the Omaha World Herald website a few days ago.  I'm going to embed a short video below taken from the same website.

Click here to view a photo of the jersey the Stars will be wearing this Saturday.  Photo is courtesy of the Lincoln Journal Star.  These jerseys have been for sale at FaceOff Sports inside the IceBox, so I'm sure a lot of Stars fans in attendance this Saturday will be wearing them.

As far as tailgating goes, I don't believe the Stars organization has anything planned outside of the stadium in terms of an official tailgate.  It would be nice if all the Stars fans could get together before the game, but that might be hard to accommodate   If your group plans on tailgating before/after the game, and you don't mind sharing your location, let me know and I can post it here.

Again, I will add to this article as I get more information, so keep checking back throughout the week!  If there's anything you'd like for me to add to this article, or if any information stated above is incorrect, please let me know.

It's funny that my first visit to TD Ameritrade Park, a stadium built for baseball, will be for an ice hockey game.  I'm sure many others fall into this same category. :)

Go Stars!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Des Moines 2, Lincoln 5

Vinni Lettieri scored a hat trick (along with one assist) to power the Lincoln Stars to a 5-2 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers Saturday night at the IceBox in front of another sellout crowd.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

Lincoln improved to 23-14-3 (49 points), and are still in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference standings, one point behind the fourth place Omaha Lancers.  Lincoln needed some help from Fargo this past weekend against Omaha, but didn't get it.  Click here to view the current league standings.

This recap will be very short.  I was unable to make it to the game, and I was only able to listen to parts of the contest on the radio.  I would appreciate any comments left below!  Let me know how the team looked.

Surprisingly, the Stars first scored on a powerplay when defenseman Daniel Willett scored at the 14:10 mark to give Lincoln a 1-0 lead.  Zach Frye and Vinni Lettieri picked up the assists on Willett's third goal of the season.  Glad to see Willett back in the lineup.

Just about a minute later, at the 15:11 mark, Vinni Lettieri scored his first of three goals on the night, to give Lincoln a 2-0 lead.  Zach Aston-Reese picked up the lone assist on Lettieri's even-strength goal.

With just two seconds remaining in the first period, Phil Marinaccio scored an even-strength, his tenth of the season, to give the Stars a commanding 3-0 lead going into the first intermission.  By all rights, this game was already over.

In the second period, Vinni Lettieri potted his second goal of the game at the 14:58 mark to give the Stars a 4-0 lead.  Garrett Brossart and Mike McKee collected the assists on Lettieri's even-strength goal.

The Bucs scored two meaningless goals in the third period before Vinni Lettieri put the icing on the cake with an empty-net goal at the 18:04 mark to complete the hat trick and finish out the scoring.  Brossart and ZAR picked up the assists on Lettieri's third goal of the game.

Stars outshot the Bucs 32-28 through the three periods.  Michael Bitzer stopped 26 of 28 shots to record his 13th win of the season.  Lincoln went 1-for-3 on the powerplay while the Bucs were 0-for-4.

In three of the last four games the Stars have played against the Des Moines Buccaneers, a player for Lincoln has scored a hat trick.  On 12/21/12 in Lincoln, Stars forward Michael Bunn scored three goals in Lincoln's 6-1 win over the Bucs.  Just last Sunday in Des Moines, Luke Johnson scored three goals in Lincoln's 5-0 shutout win against the Bucs.  And now Vinni Lettieri with three goals against Des Moines in the 5-2 win last night at the IceBox.

The Stars are winning games they should in the western conference, which is good.  Against the bottom three teams in the west (Des Moines, Tri-City, Sioux City), the Stars have a combined record of 14-1-0 record in fifteen games played.  That's impressive, despite those teams' record.  I'm of the opinion that there is no bad team in the USHL.

It's hard to believe the "Battles on Ice" outdoor game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha is less than a week away.  I'll have more on that historic game later this week.  Before that, the Stars will play a Friday night contest at the IceBox against the Tri-City Storm.

Go Stars.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux Falls 4, Lincoln 1

Jake Wood scores Lincoln's only goal in the game
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Sioux Falls Stampede outscored the Lincoln Stars 3-0 in the second and third periods Friday night to cruise to a 4-1 victory in front of 4,093 fans at the IceBox.  The loss was Lincoln second in a row at home, and their fourth in six games at the IceBox.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars fell to 22-14-3 (47 points) and have now dropped down to fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Omaha Lancers, who beat Fargo last night, leapfrogged Lincoln into fourth place.  If the playoffs were to start today, the Stars would be on the outside looking in.

The good news is that Lincoln has two games in hand over Omaha.  Click here to view the current USHL Standings.

The Stampede initiated the scoring last night late in the first period when Tony Calderone was allowed to bull rush through a faceoff to score a PP goal on Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb at the 16:56 mark.  On the play, the Stars' defense was asleep as Calderone pushed the puck to himself off the faceoff and wristed the puck into the open net.

Lincoln would respond with only 23 seconds remaining in the game to knot the contest up at 1-1.  After a Brad Hawkinson shot on goal which was saved by Stampede goaltender Charles Lindgren, the rebound came right out front to Jake Wood who one-timed it into the open net to score his 9th goal of the season.  Hawk and Mike McKee picked up assists on Wood's even-strength goal.

Little did the 4,000+ fans in attendance know that Wood's tally would be the only goal they would celebrate that night.  Stars and Stampede took the 1-1 tie into the first intermission.  Sioux Falls outshot Lincoln 11-9 through the first twenty minutes.

In the second and third periods, it was pretty much all Sioux Falls.  The Stampede outscored Lincoln 3-0 in the last forty minutes of the game, and outshot them 20-11.

Jackson Teichroeb was pulled after the third Sioux Falls goal and Michael Bitzer entered the game.  Teichroeb stopped 12 of 15 in the loss, while Bitzer stopped 15 of 16.

Sioux Falls went 1-for-5 on the powerplay, while the Stars went 0-for-1.  That's right, one powerplay.  I know the Stampede played pretty well last night, but they weren't angels.

Sioux Falls outshot Lincoln 31-20 overall in this game, which isn't good.  I don't have time to go back and look at every game, but the 20 shots on goal has to be the lowest amount the Stars have had at home this season.

Lincoln put a ton of pressure on Sioux Falls and Charles Lindgren in the first period, but could only score the one goal.  Personally, I thought Lincoln was the better team for the first 20-30 minutes of the game, but the bounces certainly were on Sioux Falls' side last night.

I guess what I didn't like to see what the effort on the Stars' behalf in the third period.  I didn't see any sense of urgency.  Down two goals, it seemed like quite a few Lincoln players on the ice were on auto-pilot.  Having said that, Sioux Falls definitely got better as the game went along.  They forechecked like demons, and didn't allow Lincoln much of anything in terms of offensive chances in the third period.  The Stars were only able to manage 4 shots on goal in the final period.

Tonight's game against Des Moines is a must win, in my opinion.  With Omaha's victory last night, they are now ahead of the Stars in the standings, and playing some of their best hockey of the season.  The Stars can't say that right now.  Lincoln needs to take better advantage of the home crowd at the IceBox and get the two points against a struggling Bucs team that has lost four of their last five games.

Go Stars.