Monday, March 4, 2013

B³ Pregame Report: Sioux City Musketeers vs. Lincoln Stars

For the second straight Tuesday, the Lincoln Stars will take on the Sioux City Musketeers in an important mid-week tilt.  This week, the game will be played in Lincoln, NE at the IceBox.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST.

If you can't make it to the IceBox,  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 sport a record of 29-18-3 (61 points), and are tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for third place in the USHL Western Conference, one point ahead of the fifth place Omaha Lancers (60 points).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Sioux City is in last place in the USHL Western Conference with a record of 14-24-11 (39 points).

The Stars are 6-0-0 in six regular season games against the Musketeers this season.  Lincoln has outscored SC 28-14 in those six contests.  Lincoln goaltender Michael Bitzer is 5-0-0 against Sioux City, with a .907 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average.  These two teams will meet a total of eight times in the 2012-13 season.

The last time the Stars and Muskies will meet this season is on Friday, March 29th, which happens to be game #1,000 in Lincoln Stars franchise history.  More on that game later in this article, and the bus trip planned for those who'd like to watch it in person.

Just this past Tuesday, the Stars scored seven goals in the first two periods in Sioux City to beat the Musketeers by a score of 8-5.  Offensively, the Stars looked very good in that game.  Surprisingly, their powerplay unit accounted for four of the eight goals scored that night.  Defensively, however, it wasn't pretty.

As I mentioned last week, based on their six 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.

The Muskies enter this tilt riding a two-game winning streak, both against the Omaha Lancers.  What's crazy is that Sioux City has won three in a row against the Lancers, a team that has won five in a row against Lincoln.  Meanwhile, Lincoln has won all six games against the Muskies this season.  Omaha can't beat the bottom dwellers (SC, Tri-City) of the west, but they have Lincoln's number.  The Stars haven't lost a game against SC or TC, but can't seem to beat the Lancers.  Strange season for sure.

The Stars coming off a gutsy 3-2 road victory over the Force in Fargo in which Michael Bitzer stopped 24 of 26 in the win.  I'd expect to see Bitzer in net Tuesday night at the IceBox, especially considering his record (5-0-0) against SC this season.

Win this game, and the Stars are all alone in third place in the western conference, and only two points out of second place (home ice in the first round of the playoffs).

Go Stars.

Note:  Here's another 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 either Tuesday night, or on Friday night.

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.  I've been told that alcohol IS allowed on the bus.  Again, this can't happen if the club doesn't get at least 45 people.  So make sure you stop by the BLBC booth either on Tuesday or Friday this week to sign up.  Thanks.

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