Thursday, March 21, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux Falls and Omaha

The Lincoln Stars will be back at the IceBox this weekend for two big home games against western conference foes as they fight to lock up a playoff spot in the west.  On Friday, the Stars will host the first-place Sioux Falls Stampede.  Saturday evening, the Stars will knock heads with the Omaha Lancers.  Puck drops 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.

Lincoln has a record of 33-20-3 (69 points) and are in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Stars are only four points behind the second-place Fargo Force (73 points), and four points ahead of the fourth-place Waterloo Blackhawks (65 points).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

First up for the Stars this weekend will be the Sioux Falls Stampede who have a record of 40-14-4 (82 points) and have a firm grip on first place in the west.  The 'Pede have five in a row overall, and six in a row on the road.

This will be the seventh time the Stars and Stampede meet this season.  Their eighth and final meeting will take place on Saturday, March 30th in Sioux Falls.  Lincoln has a 2-3-1 record in their six previous contests against the Stampede.  Sioux Falls has outscored 21-14 in those six matchups.

The Stars will finish up the weekend homestand on Saturday night with a huge tilt against the Omaha Lancers.  The Lancers have a record of 32-24-0 (64 points) and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  As of right now, Omaha is on the outside looking in with regard to the western conference playoff race.  Only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs.

It's well documented how the Lancers have had Lincoln's number this season, and last.  These two teams have played a total of 15 games going back to the start of the 2011-12 season, and the Lancers have a record of 12-3-0.

Omaha has won five in a row over Lincoln coming into this weekend's game, which includes a 4-2 victory at the "Mutual of Omaha" outdoor game at TD Ameritrade Park on February 9th.  It seems like just about team in the west, other than the Stars, have had no problems beating Omaha this season.  The Lancers can't afford to lose this game and stay in the playoff race, so they will be ready to play.  I'm sure the Stars are sick and tired of losing to their arch rival, so you know they will be pumped up also.  This game should be another classic matchup between two teams who really hate one another.

Seems like every weekend we are all saying that these next couple of games are the most important the Stars will play this season.  It's a broken record.  Truthfully, every game is important at this point.  Last weekend, Lincoln exploded for 12 goals against Waterloo and Green Bay.  They probably played their best hockey of the season, so let's hope that continues this weekend.  Lincoln's foes last Friday and Saturday night were very tough, and it doesn't get any easier this weekend.

Considering what's on the line, and how important these two games are, it's important that we pack the IceBox and give the boys 100% support.  More than ever, the teams needsI believe both games are already close to selling out, so the atmosphere should be rocking.  Be loud and proud!

Go Stars.

Edit:  Don't forget that the Stars will be having their jersey auction tonight (Friday) after the game against the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Here's a quote from the Lincoln Stars website:  "On Friday, March 22nd vs Sioux Falls, the Stars will hold their annual "Jerseys Off Our Backs" Jersey Auction to benefit the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life". The team will wear specially designed, one-of-a-kind jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game in a live auction."

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