Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lincoln Stars' preseason schedule

Thanks to information released by other teams, I have pieced together the preseason schedule for the 2013-14 Lincoln Stars.

Lincoln will play a total of five preseason games in the month of September, all against western conference foes.  No preseason games will be played at the IceBox, unfortunately.

Here is the list of preseason games the Stars will participate in:

Friday, September 6th:
Lincoln Stars vs. Fargo Force  @7:05pm CST (at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND)

Saturday, September 7th:
Lincoln Stars vs. Fargo Force  @7:05pm CST (at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND)

Wednesday, September 11th:
Lincoln Stars vs. Des Moines Buccaneers @1:00pm CST (USHL Fall Classic West at Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, IA)

Thursday, September 12th:
Omaha Lancers vs. Lincoln Stars @4:00pm  CST (USHL Fall Classic West at Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, IA)

Thursday, September 19th:
Lincoln Stars vs. Tri-City Storm @7:05pm CST (at Viaero Event Center in Kearney, NE)

Go Stars.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stars acquire forward Drew Callin from Des Moines

Late Monday night, the USHL's Hockey Ops Twitter account announced that the Lincoln Stars had acquired '95 forward Drew Callin from the Des Moines Buccaneers for future considerations.

Click here to read the tweet.  I assume "future considerations" means a draft pick going to the Bucs contingent on Callin making the team.

Callin (6'2", 185 pounds) was originally selected by Des Moines in the 14th round of the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.  The native of Middleton, WI played in 25 games for the Bucs last season, scoring 6 points (3g, 3a), added 8 penalty minutes, and was -10.

Before being called up by the Bucs in December of 2012, Callin was the team captain of the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U18 team where he scored 39 points (22g, 17a) in 35 games.  From what I can tell, Drew is uncommitted to a college.

I'm not sure I've ever seen the Lincoln coaches this active trade-wise in the summer months.  It makes me wonder, why so much activity?  Do they not believe the depth is there from the players returning from last season and those who were protected after the tryout camp?  As of now, there will be a lot of players battling it out for only 23 spots on the roster.

In the past five days, the Stars have acquired two forwards (Christian Lampasso, Drew Callin), and one defenseman (Wilson Vershay).  We'll have to wait and see if more roster moves are coming.

Go Stars.

Stars acquire defenseman Wilson Vershay from Waterloo

Photo: Dan Hickling
More roster news from the Lincoln Stars.

As I reported last night on Twitter, the Stars have acquired '95 defenseman Wilson Vershay from the Waterloo Blackhawks.  Click here to see the official tweet from the USHL Hockey Ops Twitter account.

Lincoln traded a 3rd round pick in the 2014 Phase 1 (Futures) draft for the rights to Vershay.

Wilson was a 2011 futures pick of the Waterloo Blackhawks.  He is a big kid at 6'3", 210 pounds.

The past few seasons, Vershay has played prep hockey in Buffalo (his hometown) for Nichols School.  While at Nichols in 2011-12, Vershay was teammates with former Stars futures draft pick Sean Malone, who last season played for Team USA U-18 and will start at Harvard this fall.  I've been told that Wilson was named an alternate captain during his junior year at Nichols, and was captain of the team during his senior season (2012-13).

Vershay has been described to me as a big, physical defenseman who is a good skater for his size has a bomb of a slap shot.  He is a right-handed shot who plays more of a shutdown role on the blueline.  In 2011, Vershay was invited to the NTDP Final 40 Camp, which is the tryout camp for the players that are selected for the next year's NTDP U17 team.  You don't get invited to that particular camp unless you are one heck of a player.

I've been told that Brown University showed interest in Vershay a few years ago, but as of today, he has not committed to a college.  Wilson was drafted by the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2011 OHL Priority draft, but it appears he is interested in playing in the USHL and keeping his college eligibility.

This was a very interesting move because I thought the Stars were pretty set in terms of the defensemen coming in this season.  Lincoln returns Zach Frye, Zack Pittman, Daniel Willett from last season, and they also acquired USHL vets Jared Kolquist (from Sioux City) and Luke Shiplo (from Des Moines).  Free agents defensemen Scott Dornbrock, Tony DeVito, and Connor Chambers were protected by the Stars as well.

So with the addition of Vershay, the Stars will likely bring in 9 defenseman during the preseason and will have to cut down to 7-8 by the start of the regular season.  Should be quite the battle next month to see who makes the team.

Thoughts on the trade?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stars acquire forward Christian Lampasso from Sioux City

Some big news this evening as the Lincoln Stars pulled off a trade with the Sioux City Musketeers.  Yay!  We have something to talk about!

The Stars acquired forward Christian Lampasso from the Muskies in return for defenseman Nate Repensky (a 2013 draft pick of the Stars), and a 5th round conditional draft pick in the 2015 futures draft.

Click here to see the tweet which announced the trade from the USHL's "Hockey Ops" Twitter account.

In 53 games last season with both the Des Moines Buccaneers (13 games) and the Sioux City Musketeers (40 games), Christian scored 24 points (15g, 9a), was +10, and added 38 penalty minutes.  Lampasso started the 2012-13 season with the Bucs where he got off to a very hot start, scoring 10 points (8g, 2a) in 14 games before he was traded to Sioux City in early December of 2012.

Originally, Christian was drafted by the Green Bay Gamblers in the 2010 USHL Entry Draft, but shortly after his rights were traded to the Buccaneers.

I'm a big, big fan of this trade.  I noticed Lampasso quite a bit last season when the Muskies battled the Stars.  He's a bit on the small side (5'9", 165 pounds), but he plays much bigger than that.  More importantly, he has soft hands and along with his speed, is more than capable of being a top 6 forward for the Stars this upcoming season.

Everything I've heard about Lampasso from Sioux City and Des Moines fans has been positive.  For the most part, I've been told Christian is a very hard worker on the ice, gives 100% each shift, and has speed to burn.  So, think of Lampasso as a Will Suter type of player....but with dreadlocks.  :)

This is definitely a kid who isn't afraid to get his nose dirty in the corners, and will drop the gloves when needed.  Last season, Lampasso had a tilt with Stars forward Dominick Shine at the IceBox on 1/25/13.  I will post that video below.

Considering the amount of forwards the Stars lost from last season, I think this was a smart pickup by the Stars.  Lampasso will provide much needed depth and USHL experience to an existing group of forwards that desperately needs it.

Click here to follow Christian on Twitter.

Your thoughts on the trade?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Zach Aston-Reese Moving On To Northeastern

Zach Aston-Reese
The Lincoln Stars were dealt some bad news today when Husky Hockey News tweeted that forward Zach Aston-Reese will enroll at Northeastern this fall.  ZAR was originally set to play one more season for Lincoln this upcoming season, but a few things happened to change that.

First, Northeastern LOI (letter of intent) signee Mike Szmatula wanted to be released from his LOI obligation to play at Denver instead under his old Dubuque (USHL) coach Jim Montgomery, who took the Denver job after the Fighting Saints won the Clark Cup. But Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan took a stance and decided not to release him from the signed LOI.

After a month or two of consideration, Szmatula decided to honor his LOI and attend Northeastern in the fall.  While the Szmatula drama was being played out, and it looked like he would not enroll at NU this fall, ZAR's name came up quite frequently on Twitter as Szmatula's replacement.

However, on the same day that Szmatula decided to play for Northeastern, the Huskies lost junior forward Ludwig Karlsson to the NHL (Ottawa Senators).  So the NU coaches were quickly forced to fill a hole on their roster with a forward, and they filled it with Zach Aston-Reese, who originally committed to Northeastern in October of 2011.

ZAR is ready for the college game, especially after dominating the league toward the end of the last USHL regular season and the playoffs. ZAR led the Stars with three goals and five points in the playoffs, and he was also a team-best +3. He had nine goals and 21 assists in the regular season and was +14. ZAR played 2.5 seasons with the Stars after joining the team midway through 2010-11.

His loss is huge considering he was by far Lincoln's top returning scorer from last season and one of only three returning forwards. The others are Max Humitz (18 games, two assists) and Garrett Brossart (30 games, five assists). In short, the Stars were already inexperienced at forward, but are now extremely inexperienced up front. Forward David Parrottino, on Lincoln's protected list, also played some games in Lincoln last year but did not finish the year here. If you are doing the math at home, the Stars scored 217 goals last season and only 7 of those goals came from players protected by the Stars right now (Zach Frye 3, Daniel Willett 2, Zach Pittman 1, Parrottino 1).

Best of luck to Zach at Northeastern! His game should translate well into the college game. He's earned it and it's been fun watching him develop in Lincoln into a man amongst boys. I look forward to tracking his progress at Northeastern.