Thursday, September 5, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Lincoln Stars vs. Fargo Force (preseason)

The 2013-14 Lincoln Stars will begin the preseason schedule this weekend with two road games against the Fargo Force at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND.  Both games (Friday and Saturday) will begin at 7:05pm CST.

These will be the first and second of five preseason games the Stars will play in the month of September before Lincoln opens the regular season on Friday September 27th against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders at the IceBox.

As far as I know, there will be no local radio broadcast of either game.  However, you will be able to watch the games via FASTHockey.com for FREE.  More on that later in this article.

Earlier this week, the Stars released their training camp roster which consists of 27 players (2 goaltenders, 8 defenseman, 17 forwards).  Click here to view the roster.  Not included on that training camp roster is goaltender Jake Ireland, who is originally from Barrie, Ontario, Canada.  According to his Twitter account, Jake is in town hoping to land a spot on the team.

If there any other players in town trying to make the team and not included on the training camp roster, I am unaware of them.

The Stars will have to cut down to a 23-player roster before the start of the 2013-14 regular season on September 27th, so the coaches will use these next five preseason games to evaluate the players and determine who does and who doesn't make the final cut.

There are 8 defensemen listed on the training camp roster above, and I anticipate the Stars making one cut there before the regular season starts.  Historically, the Stars will roster 2 goaltenders, 7 defensemen, and 14 forwards during the regular season.

The Stars had their first team practice on Wednesday evening (in Omaha), so I wouldn't expect mistake-free hockey this weekend.  These are called exhibition games for a reason.  The Stars will only have a few practices together on the ice before the two preseason games this weekend against the Force.  I'm sure most of the players are in the beginning stages of getting to know their new teammates also, but the bus trip to and from Fargo should help with team bonding.

As for the Force, I don't have much of a scouting report.  Based on their 25-player protected roster, they are returning 9 players from last season.  Like the Stars, the Force appear to be strong in net as they return both goaltenders (Brendan Jensen, Cam Johnson).  Also like the Stars, Fargo lost a lot of scoring forwards from last year.  Fargo's top ten point getters from 2012-13 have moved onto college.  Of their top 15 scorers from last season, only two return.  Their top returning scorer is Kenny Gillespie (overager) who scored 20 points in 54 games in 2012-13.

In comparison, the Stars lost their top 15 point getters from last season.  Yes, you read that correct.  The top 15.  To say that Lincoln is reloading at the forward position is an understatement.  The top returning point getter from last season is defenseman Zach Frye who racked up 11 points in 57 games.  The top returning scoring forward for Lincoln is Garrett Brossart who netted 5 points (all assists) in 30 games last season.

So on paper, the Force and the Stars are very much alike.  Very strong in net, but not very deep up front.  However, with the acquisition of forwards with prior USHL experience like Luke Voltin, Christian Lampasso, Dominick Sacco, Dan Kucerovy, and Drew Callin , the Stars have made an effort to reload on offense.  I'd give the nod to Lincoln in terms of their core group of defensemen as well.

As I stated above, both games this weekend will be broadcast on FASTHockey.com for FREE.  If you don't already have a FASTHockey account, make sure to sign up for one so you can watch the games this weekend.  It does not cost anything to create an account.

I am planning on watching both games this weekend via FASTHockey, and will report back here to the blog with a recap article after each contest.  Stay tuned for that.

Go Stars.

Quick stats looking at Lincoln's training camp roster:

Average height:  5'11"
Average weight:  183 pounds
Tallest:  Hunter Anderson (6'4")
Shortest:  Daniel Willett (5'6")
Oldest:  Jared Kolquist (DOB 4/22/93 - 20 years old)
Youngest:  Keegan Ward (DOB 1/9/97 - 16 years old)

Famous dad's:  Both Keegan Ward and Connor Chambers have fathers who played in the NHL.  Ed Ward played a total of 278 NHL games between 1993-2001, for 5 NHL teams.  Shawn Chambers played a total of 625 NHL games between 1987-2000, for 5 NHL teams.  Shawn won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999.

State/Country breakdown:

Michigan:  6 players  (Ward, Humitz, Ivey, Marchin, Parrottino, Pittman,)
Minnesota:  6 players  (Anderson, Bitzer, Carey, Chambers, Kolquist, Voltin)
New York:  4 players  (Lampasso, Sacco, Vershay, Willett)
North Dakota:  3 players  (Brossart, Schmit, Simonson)
Wisconsin:  2 players  (Callin, Monfils)
California:  1 player  (Smith)
Pennsylvania:  1 player  (Kucerovy)
Washington:  1 player  (Frye)

Canada:  3 players (Desbiens, Shiplo, Ireland)
Norway:  1 player (Hoff)

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