Saturday, July 27, 2013

USHL releases 2013 Fall Classic West schedule

Sorry that I'm late putting this up on the blog.  I've been traveling for work quite a bit lately, so I haven't had much time to devote to the blog.

Click here to view the official release from the league regarding the schedule for the 2013 USHL Fall Classic West, which will be held on Wednesday, September 11th and Thursday, September 12th in Sioux City, Iowa.  

I'm going to post the schedule below, and bold the two games played by the Lincoln Stars.

USHL Fall Classic West Schedule

Wednesday, September 11th

10:00 AM – Sioux Falls Stampede vs. Omaha Lancers

1:00 PM – Lincoln Stars vs. Des Moines Buccaneers

4:00 PM – Fargo Force vs. Tri-City Storm

7:00 PM – Waterloo Black Hawks vs. Sioux City Musketeers

Thursday, September 12th

10:00 AM – Des Moines Buccaneers vs. Fargo Force

1:00 PM – Tri-City Storm vs. Waterloo Black Hawks

4:00 PM – Omaha Lancers vs. Lincoln Stars

7:00 PM – Sioux Falls Stampede vs. Sioux City

The USHL decided to split up the Fall Classic this year for the first time, and most fans aren't too excited about it.  In previous years, every USHL team participated in one Fall Classic.  This season, the western conference teams will play in Sioux City, and the eastern conference teams will play in Indianapolis.  It's a bummer, for sure.

One of the best parts (in my opinion) of the Fall Classic is being able to see all of the eastern conference teams (and players) we very rarely get to see here in Lincoln, NE.  This year, we get to see all of the western conference teams we see a million times already.  Whoopee. 

One other negative of this Fall Classic West is that it is being held on two weekdays (Wednesday and Thursday).  Most folks (like myself) are going to have to take time off from work to attend these two games, and that's unfortunate.  It would have been nice to see this event scheduled on a Saturday/Sunday, or even a Friday/Saturday, but that's not the case.

I'm assuming the Stars will schedule a few more preseason games apart from these two Fall Classic games.  Last year, the Stars participated in the Clyde Iron Cup preseason tournament, which is held in Duluth, MN.  I'm not sure if this particular tournament will be played this fall, but if it is, I assume the Stars will try to be there.  

Thoughts on the Fall Classic West?  Will you be attending?  If not, why?  I'm definitely not as excited about this event compared to previous years, but I should be there to cover it for the B³.  Hope to see a lot of you there.

Go Stars.

Monday, July 22, 2013

USHL releases 2013-14 regular season schedule

Hooray! The USHL released the 2013-14 regular season schedule today.  Nice to see the schedule released before August.

Click here to see the 2013-14 season schedule for the Lincoln Stars.

After expanding to a 64-game regular season last season, the USHL reverted back to a 60-game season for 2013-14.  The Stars will play 32 games at home next season, and 28 on the road.  More on that odd number later on in this article.

The Lincoln Stars will open the 2013-14 regular season at home on Friday, September 27th against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  Looking forward to that game at the IceBox already.  Only a little more than two months away!

Here are some highlights of the Stars' season schedule:

  • In the first half of the season (30 games), the Stars will play 14 games at home, and 16 games on the road.  

  • In the second half of the season (30 games), the Stars will play 18 games at home and 12 games on the road.

  • 16 Friday night home games, 11 Saturday night home games, 3 Tuesday night home games, 1 Wednesday and 1 Thursday night home game.

  • No Halloween or New Year's Eve home game in Lincoln this season.  The Stars will be on the road on 12/31/13 in Waterloo, IA against the Blackhawks.  Same as last season.

  • The Stars will play at home two days before St. Patrick's Day in 2014 on Saturday, March 15th against Team USA.

  • The Stars will play at home on Wednesday, November 27th (the day before Thanksgiving) against the Sioux Falls Stampede.  

  • The Stars will play five weekday (not counting Friday) games at home: vs. the Chicago Steel (Thursday 11/14/13), vs. the Sioux Falls Stampede (Wednesday 11/27/13), vs. the Tri-City Storm (Tuesday 1/21/14), vs. the Duqubue Fighting Saints (Tuesday 2/4/14) and the Sioux City Musketeers (Tuesday 3/4/14).

  • The Stars will play six of their first nine games of the regular season at home at the IceBox.

  • The longest home-stand at the IceBox is 5 games (occurs late January-early February of 2014).

  • The longest road swing for the Stars is 4 games (occurs once during the season).

  • There is an 11-game stretch in January-February of 2014 in which the Stars play 9 of those games at home, and the two road games are in Omaha.  So for over a month, the Stars will not have to leave the state of Nebraska.

  • Lincoln has three times during the regular season where they will play three games in three consecutive nights: November 14, 15, 16 (one of the three are at home), February 14, 15, 16 (one of the three are at home), and March 21, 22, 23 (two of the three are at home).

  • The Stars will play 44 games against Western Conference opponents, and 16 games against Eastern Conference opponents.  The 16 games against eastern conference foes is up from only 11 games last season (during a 64-game season).  Good to see the league listened to their fans who wanted to see more teams from the opposite conference during the regular season.  I don't want to see Omaha 10 times during the season.  8 is enough.

  • As I mentioned above, for the first time in a long time, the Stars will play more games at home next season than on the road.  How did that happen?  Well, the Stars "acquired" one game each from both the Chicago Steel and the Indiana Ice.  How these two games were acquired is up for debate.  Some have said that teams are now allowed to "buy" home games from other teams.  So in this case, if the Steel and Ice were selling, the Stars were buying.  It's a great strategy, in my opinion.  Instead of a road trip to Chicago and Indiana next season, the Stars will play those two games at the IceBox.  Those four points could be huge at the end of the season when teams are jockeying for playoff positions.

    # of games against opponents:
    Omaha - 8  (down from 10 last season)
    Tri-City - 8  (down from 9 last season)
    Des Moines - 8  (up from 6 last season)
    Fargo - 6  (down from 8 last season)
    Sioux Falls - 6  (down from 8 last season)
    Sioux City - 4  (down from 8 last season)
    Waterloo - 4  (same as last season)
    Cedar Rapids - 2  (same as last season)
    Dubuque - 2  (same as last season)
    Youngstown - 2  (same as last season)
    Chicago - 2  (up from 1 last season)
    Green Bay - 2  (up from 1 last season)
    Indiana - 2  (up from 1 last season)
    Muskegon - 2  (up from 1 last season)
    Team USA - 2  (up from 1 last season)

    Okay, I'd like to hear from you now. Your thoughts on the new schedule?  Start planning those road trips!  Hopefully soon the USHL will release the game schedule for the 2013 Fall Classic West which will be held from September 11-12 in Sioux City, Iowa.

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Lincoln Stars release protected roster and affiliate list

    The official protected roster is here!  Thanks to the Stars for releasing this today.  Click here to view the press release from the official Lincoln Stars' website.   

    I'm going to list all of the players below (in no particular order), and then I'll give my opinions after that.  

    I'd like to hear what you think, so please leave a comment, or you can send me an email at  Here we go!

    30-player protected roster:
    G - Michael Bitzer  (Overager)
    G - Nick Schmit 
    G - Jacob Dittmer 

    D - Zach Frye 
    D - Zack Pittman
    D - Daniel Willett
    D - Luke Shiplo  (Import)
    D - Jared Kolquist  (Overager)
    D - Scott Dornbrock  (Overager)
    D - Tony DeVito
    D - Connor Chambers
    D - Cody Pettapiece  (Import)
    D - Nate Repensky  (Overager)

    F - Zach Aston-Reese
    F - Garrett Brossart
    F - Max Humitz
    F - David Parrottino
    F - Luke Voltin
    F - Dominick Sacco
    F - Daniel Kucerovy
    F - John Simonson  (Overager)
    F - Hunter Anderson
    F - Brandon Smith
    F - Tommy Marchin
    F - Thomas Carey
    F - Jonathan Desbiens  (Import)
    F - Magnus Hoff  (Overager - Import)
    F - Nicholas Monfils
    F - Michael Bunn
    F - Alex Forsberg  (Import)

    18-player affiliate list:
    F - Casey Linkenheld ('95)
    F - Parker Reno ('95)
    F - Gordie Helmuth ('96)
    F - Miguel Fidler ('96)
    D - Joshua Owings ('96)
    D - William Scherer ('96)
    D - Michael Prapavessis ('96)
    F - Tyler Nanne ('96)
    F - Grant Loven ('97)
    F - Colton Fletcher ('97)
    F - Zach Grzelewski ('97)
    F - August Von Ungern-Sternberg ('97)
    F - Keegan Ward ('97)
    F - Michael Floodstrand ('97) 
    F - Angus Scott ('97)
    D - Tyler Jutting ('97)
    F - Jared Bethune ('97)
    F - Tye Ausmus ('97)

    In regards to overagers (players born in 1993), the Stars have protected six of them above. Each USHL team can protect a maximum of four overagers next season, so two of those six (Bitzer, Kolquist, Dornbrock, Simon, Hoff, Repensky) will have to be cut before the start of the 2013-14 regular season.  Bitzer is a lock, so he for sure has one of those overager spots locked up.

    A lot can happen to the roster between now and opening night, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if the overager "problem" gets sorted out before the Fall Classic rolls around in late September.  If it doesn't, then potentially all six of the '93's will have some preseason games to impress the coaches one more time.

    I listed 25 players in my prediction article, and all 25 are on Lincoln's 30-player roster.  I missed Alex Forsberg, Cody Pettapiece, Nate Repensky, Michael Bunn, and Jacob Dittmer.  I had Dittmer on the affiliate list prediction, so I really didn't exlude him.  I believe the Stars will move Dittmer to the affiliate list before the season starts.  He will go back to Moorhead High School (MN) to finish his junior season for the Spuds.  Dittmer is definitely the goaltender of the future for the Stars, though.  But for the 2013-14 season, my bet is on Bitzer and Nick Schmit being the two netminders on Lincoln's roster on opening night.

    Of the 18 players listed on Lincoln's affiliate list, I predicted 15 of them correctly.  I missed Parker Reno, Tyler Nanne, and Michael Prapavessis.

    First big surprise is the addition of forward Alex Forsberg to the 30-player protected roster.  Forsberg is not a former draft pick of the Stars, nor was he at Lincoln's tryout camp last June.  In 2012-13, Forsberg (no relation to former NHL'er Peter Forsberg), played the first half of the season with the Prince George Cougars of the WHL.  According to this article, Forsberg requested a trade from Prince George halfway through the season.  Prince George could not find a suitor for Forsberg before the January 10th WHL trade deadline, so Forsberg left the team and finished the season with the Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL (Junior A).

    Forsberg is a former #1 overall pick in the 2010 WHL Entry Draft, and was considered by many at the time to be a potential first round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.  Alex hasn't achieved those lofty predictions (he was not selected in the 2013 NHL Draft), but it's obvious the kid had oodles of talent.  In the articles linked above, he seems to want to stay in Canada, so I don't know how interested he is in playing in Lincoln, NE for a USHL team.  I assume the Stars' coaches know something we don't if they included Alex on the 30-player roster.  If he wasn't interested, and if the coaches hadn't reached out to him, why bother protecting him?

    Forsberg was the big surprise for me, but there are a few other minor surprise additions.  First is forward Michael Bunn, who abruptly left the Stars in the middle of the 2012-13 season.  Bunn injured his knee in Lincoln's 2012 tryout camp which delayed his start with the Stars last year.  However, in his very first game in a Stars uniform, Bunn scored a hat trick against the Des Moines Bucs.  Bunn scored four goals in ten games for the Stars before he left the team and went back home to North Carolina.  Bunn has since tried out for the Conneticut Oilers (EHL-Tier III), along with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, so I was a bit surprised to see him listed here.

    Another minor surprise is defenseman Nate Repensky, whom the Stars drafted last May in the 2013 USHL Entry Draft.  Repensky attended Lincoln's tryout camp this past June, and looked pretty good in my opinion.  He's an overager (born in 1993), and played last season for the Bismark Bobcats of the NAHL.  I was told that he wasn't protected by Lincoln after their tryout camp in June.  A week or so after Lincoln's tryout camp, Repensky tried out for the Sioux City Musketeers.

    Defenseman Cody Pettapiece was a recent draft pick of the Lincoln Stars, but was a no-show at Lincoln's tryout camp.  I didn't list him in my predictions article mainly because he wasn't at Lincoln's camp in June.  Last season, Pettapiece played for the Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL, the same team that Alex Forsberg finished the season playing for.  Pettapiece is a University of Alaska-Fairbanks commit (2014).

    Defenseman Parker Reno made Lincoln's affiliate list, but everything I've heard indicates he will attend RPI this fall.  He's a former draft pick of the Stars, and played in two regular season games last season for Lincoln.  I'd be shocked if he doesn't start at RPI this fall.

    Just my guess, but I think some of the 30 players protected above are a shot in the dark by the Lincoln coaches.  Before this season, USHL teams were only allowed to protect 25 players on the main roster.  Now that teams are allowed to protect up to 30, coaches have a little more leeway to gamble on a few players that in previous years they would have not have.

    Lincoln will likely bring 30+ players to the Fall Classic tournament in Sioux City, Iowa in September, so more than just the 30 players listed above on the main protected roster will get their opportunity to impress the coaches one more time.  After the Fall Classic, the Stars will cut down to 23 players, and that group of 23 will start the 2013-14 regular season.

    Thoughts on the roster?  Are there any names you expected to see protected that weren't?  Anyone you are particularly excited to see next season?  I'd love to hear your opinions.  Comments are wide open!  You do not need to register to leave a comment, but BT and I will moderate each comment before it is posted.  Thanks.

    Tuesday, July 9, 2013

    List of Lincoln Stars players at 2013 NHL Development Camps

    While we're waiting for the protected roster and affiliate list to be released by the Stars, I thought I'd post a list of former Stars who are attending NHL development camp in the upcoming weeks.  Most of the information I posted below came from Joe Meloni's great blog post on College Hockey News.

    For this particular list, I only noted players who played in at least 20 games for the Lincoln Stars.  If I've omitted anyone below, please let me know.  You can leave a comment or send me an email at  This list could change, as NHL teams such as Carolina, Colorado, New Jersey,  Pittsburgh, and St. Louis have not released their development camp roster yet.

    Anaheim Ducks
    Kevin Roy, F, Northeastern

    Boston Bruins
    Chris Casto, D, Minnesota-Duluth

    Detroit Red Wings
    Dominik Shine, F, Northern Michigan
    Jared Coreau, G, Northern Michigan

    Edmonton Oilers
    John McCarron, F, Cornell

    Los Angeles Kings
    Paul LaDue, D, North Dakota

    New York Islanders
    Mike Dalhuisen, D, Quinnipiac

    Ottawa Senators
    Michael Sdao, D, Princeton
    Ryan Dzingel, F, Ohio State

    San Jose Sharks
    Brodie Reid, F, Northeastern

    Friday, July 5, 2013

    Predicting the Stars' 25-player protected roster and affiliate list

    I've done this the past three seasons, so I figured I'd do it again this year.  It's interesting to compare my predictions against what the official roster looks like once it is released.  A reminder, each USHL team has until 7/10/13 to submit their protected roster to the league.  I've been told by the league that USHL teams can initially protect up to 30 players on the 7/10 deadline, but I only have listed 25 players below.  

    Teams also will submit an 18-player affiliate roster, which consists of  two players born in 1995, six players born in 1996, and ten players born in 1997.  Players protected on the affiliate roster can only be former draft picks of that particular team, and not undrafted "free agents."

    Here are my predictions.  I'm just a fan who follows the team, so this is just my educated guess.  I'm in no way affiliated with the Stars.  I have received some insider info on some of the players, and others are just wild guesses on my part after watching the tryout camp.  Some players have stated on Twitter that they made the team, so I use that info also.  The players listed below are in no particular order.

    25-player protected roster:
    G - Michael Bitzer (Overager)
    G - Nick Schmit 
    D - Zach Frye 
    D - Zack Pittman
    D - Daniel Willett
    D - Luke Shiplo (Import)
    D - Jared Kolquist (Overager)
    D - Scott Dornbrock (Overager)
    D - Tony DeVito
    D - Connor Chambers
    F - Zach Aston-Reese
    F - Garrett Brossart
    F - Max Humitz
    F - David Parrottino
    F - Luke Voltin
    F - Dominick Sacco
    F - Daniel Kucerovy
    F - John Simonson (Overager)
    F - Hunter Anderson
    F - Brandon Smith
    F - Tommy Marchin
    F - Thomas Carey
    F - Jonathan Desbiens (Import)
    F - Magnus Hoff (Overager - Import)
    F - Nicholas Monfils

    18-player affiliate list:
    F - Casey Linkenheld ('95)
    F - Taylor Maruya ('95)
    F - Gordie Helmuth ('96)
    F - Miguel Fidler ('96)
    G - Jacob Dittmer ('96)
    D - Joshua Owings ('96)
    D - William Scherer ('96)
    F - Brenden Dunning ('96)
    F - Grant Loven ('97)
    F - Colton Fletcher ('97)
    F - Zach Grzelewski ('97)
    F - August Von Ungern-Sternberg ('97)
    F - Keegan Ward ('97)
    F - Michael Floodstrand ('97) 
    F - Angus Scott ('97)
    D - Tyler Jutting ('97)
    F - Jared Bethune ('97)
    F - Tye Ausmus ('97)

    Because the affiliate list is age specific, and can contain only draft picks, a lot of USHL teams will fill that specific roster up with players they know will make the team next season so they can protect more players (and free agents) on the main 25-player roster.  Players on the affiliate roster can be brought up to play for the Stars at any point in the regular season.

    As we've seen in seasons past, the Stars will likely bring players from both the main protected roster and the affiliate list to the USHL Fall Classic in September.  After the Fall Classic, the Stars will have to cut down to 23 total players on the main roster, and that group will start the 2013-14 regular season.  I've stated this before, but a lot can happen to the roster between the 7/10 deadline and opening night of the regular season.  This is just a very small step towards that final cut of 23.

    A reminder, each USHL team can only roster four "overagers."  For this upcoming season, any player born in 1993 is considered an overager.  Also, each team can roster a maximum of four "imports."  Imports are players who were not born in the USA.  

    Regarding the overagers, my predictions above are a shot in the dark.  I have no clue who the four '93s are going to be next season.  There are five overagers listed in my predictions, so one of those five players would have to be cut before opening night.  I'd have to think the only lock is goaltender Michael Bitzer.  That leaves Magnus Hoff, John Simonson, Jared Kolquist, and Scott Dornbrock fighting for the remaining three overager spots.

    Again, these are just my opinions, and in the grand scheme of things, my opinions don't mean much at all.  They are just one fan's observations.  I'd appreciate any feedback!  Feel free to leave a comment below, or email me at  Thanks for reading.

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    Stars' Luke Johnson selected by Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 NHL Draft

    Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
    Quick article this morning to congratulate Lincoln Stars forward Luke Johnson who was selected by the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks yesterday in the 2013 NHL Entry draft.  Luke was drafted in the fifth round, 134th overall.  Luke was the only player from last year's team selected yesterday in the draft.

    In 112 games for the Stars from 2011-13, Luke scored 101 points (39g, 62a) along with 84 penalty minutes and was +39.

    Beginning this fall, Luke will begin his college career at the University of North Dakota, where his dad (former Stars head coach Steve Johnson) and his uncle (current Stars head coach Chad Johnson) both played their college hockey at.

    Luke's cousin is Stars defenseman Paul LaDue, who will also be attending the University of North Dakota this fall.  This was pointed out to me by a friend on Twitter yesterday, but LaDue was drafted last year by the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, and this year Luke was drafted by the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.  Pretty cool.

    Congrats again to Luke and his family!  I'm sure they were all very excited to see him drafted by such a great organization.  Best of luck to him in the future from everyone here at the B³ and Stars Nation!