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 FASTHockey.com 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)
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.