Thursday, November 7, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Omaha

The Lincoln Stars will take on two of the hottest teams in the USHL this weekend when they face off against the Sioux City Musketeers on Friday, and the Omaha Lancers on Saturday.  Friday's game in at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City will begin at 7:00pm CST.  Saturday evening's contest will take place at the IceBox in Lincoln, beginning at 7:05pm CST.

If you are unable to make it to any of the games 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.

Up first for the good guys will be the red hot Sioux City Musketeers, who have won 8 in a row and have a record of 9-2-1 (19 points) and are in second place in the USHL western conference, only two points behind the first-place Omaha Lancers.

The Muskies are 6-0-1 in seven home games so far this season, so this will be a huge test for the Stars who are 1-2-2 in five games away from the IceBox.  

Saturday at the IceBox, it will be World War III when the Stars host the Omaha Lancers.  Omaha is in first place in the western conference with a record of 10-2-1 (21 points).  The Lancers won the first meeting of the season against the Stars last Saturday night in Ralston with a 4-1 decision.

Going back to the start of the 2011-12 season, Omaha has won 14 of 18 regular season games against the Lincoln Stars.  They have definitely had Lincoln's number the past couple of years.

There were a few roster moves this week involving defensemen.  First, d-man Wilson Vershay announced on Twitter he is no longer on the team.  From what I've been told he was not traded to a different team.  Vershay only played two regular season games after he was originally acquired from the Waterloo Blackhawks for a third round futures pick in 2014.  I'm not sure if he left the team because he was upset at not playing, but Waterloo still has Lincoln's draft pick and the Stars don't have anything to show for it.

Secondly, per the USHL's Hockey Ops Twitter account, the Stars acquired defenseman Patrick Gazzillo ('95) off of the waiver list from the Omaha Lancers.  Gazzillo played 14 games for the Chicago Steel during the 2010-11 season before spending the 2011-12 season with the Chicago Fury U18 squad.  The Steel drafted Gazzillo must have liked what they saw from Gazzillo in 2010-11, because they selected him in the third round of the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.  Last year, Gazzillo played 59 games for the Soo Eagles of the NAHL where he scored 10 points (2g, 8a) along with 73 PIM's and was +20.

Gazzillo initially was protected by the Omaha Lancers in the preseason where he played three exhibition games, one of which was against the Lincoln Stars at the 2013 USHL Fall Classic.  In that particular matchup, Gazzillo got into a fight with Lincoln's Hunter Anderson.  Although he's a bit undersized (5'10", 180 pounds), Gazzillo seems like a player that will not back down and is more than willing to drop the mitts.  I've been told that he was hurt during the preseason for Omaha and was placed on the injured reserve list.  I'm not sure if he's 100% healthy right now, or if he will play this weekend.

With Zach Frye out for two more games due to suspension, the Stars will be down to five defensemen if Gazzillo doesn't play this weekend.  Normally, teams will dress and play six defensemen per game, so if Frye and Gazzillo are both out, they'll be a bit shorthanded on the blueline against SC and Omaha.

Sorry for the short weekend preview.  I've been traveling for work this week and just haven't had much time to devote to the blog.  I plan on watching the Sioux City game on FASTHockey, and will of course be in attendance on Saturday for the Omaha tilt.  Wouldn't miss that game for the world. 

Go Stars.

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