Thursday, April 4, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Omaha Lancers

The Lincoln Stars will look to clinch a spot in the 2013 Clark Cup playoffs this weekend when they take on the Omaha Lancers in a crucial home-and-home series.  Friday's matchup will take place at the IceBox in Lincoln.  Saturday's contest will take place at Ralston Arena in Ralston, NE.  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 36-21-3 (75 points) and are in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Stars are only four points behind the second-place Fargo Force (79 points), and three points ahead of the fourth-place Waterloo Blackhawks (72 points).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.  The Stars only need one point this weekend to secure a spot in the Clark Cup playoffs.

The Lancers are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference with a record of 33-26-1 (67 points).  Only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs, so Omaha is very close to being eliminated from postseason play for the first time in 23 years.  The Stars can help the Lancers hit the golf course earlier than normal with a win or two this weekend.

Omaha is 6-1-1 in eight games against Lincoln this season.  5 of the 8 games between these two teams have been decided by one goal.  In their last meeting, on March 23rd, Stars forward Brad Hawkinson scored the OT game-winner to beat the Lancers at the IceBox by a score of 3-2.

Consistent play hasn't been Omaha's forte this season.  At times, they have looked very good and have beaten some of the top teams in the USHL.  Other times, they have been embarrassed by the cellar dwelling teams of the western conference.  They are a very young team with excellent goaltending, but marginal offensive talent at best.  Their top forward, Robbie Baillargeon, has not played since 3/15 because of a recent appendectomy.

The Lancers are doing a "white out" this Saturday for the game in Ralston, so if you are a Stars fan attending that game, make sure you wear black or blue.

Both games this weekend should have a playoff feel to it, considering what's on the line.  The Lancers are barely clinging to stay relevant in the western conference playoff chase, while the Stars are looking to get a little closer to Fargo, and distance themselves from Waterloo in the standings.  Two big games with four big points up for grabs.

Go Stars.

Note:  A little plug for the Lincoln Stars' BlueLine Booster Club.  The BLBC will be holding its annual spring auction this Friday night at the IceBox in which autographed player plaques will be available to bid on.  The auction sign-up sheets will be located in the south hallway of the IceBox (across from the womens bathroom).  Click here to view photos of all of the plaques up for auction.  Each plaque will have a "Buy It Now" option for $150 for those who don't want to risk losing a plaque during the auction.

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