Thursday, January 31, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux Falls and Des Moines


What's better than a full weekend of Stars hockey at the IceBox?  Lincoln will host the Sioux Falls Stampede on Friday night, and then the Des Moines Buccaneers on Saturday evening.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST each night.

If you aren't able 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.

The Stars are currently 22-13-3 (47 points), and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference, one point ahead of the fifth place Omaha Lancers.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

Up first for the Stars this weekend will be the aforementioned first-place Sioux Falls Stampede, who have a very impressive 28-10-1 (57 points) record.  This will be the fifth time the Stars and Stampede will face off against one another this season.  The Stars have a respectable 2-1-1 record in the four prior games against Sioux Falls.  These two teams will meet a total of 8 times during the 2012-13 regular season.

The Stampede are coming off a 5-3 road loss to the Omaha Lancers yesterday (Wed) which saw SF surrender five goals in the second period.  Despite the recent loss, the Stampede are an incredible 15-3-0 in their last eighteen games played.  I would have to believe the Stampede will be a very motivated group Friday night at the IceBox coming off the recent loss to Omaha.

The last time the Stars and Stampede locked horns, Sioux Falls stormed back from a 3-1 deficit in Lincoln to win in an overtime shootout by a score of 4-3.  In that particular game, I thought Lincoln was the best team in the first period, but Sioux Falls used a very strong effort in the second and third periods to mount the comeback.

On Saturday, the Stars will play a familiar foe in the Des Moines Buccaneers, who sport a record of 19-20-2 (40 points) and are in sixth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Like Friday's opponent, this will be the fifth time the Stars play the Bucs this season.  In their four previous matchups, the Stars have a 3-1-0 record and have outscored the Buccaneers 18-9.  These two teams will meet a total of 6 times this season.

Lincoln is just a few days removed from beating the Bucs in Des Moines by a score of 5-0.  In that game, Luke Johnson scored a hat trick, and Jackson Teichroeb stopped all 19 shots he faced to record the shutout.  The Bucs did not play well at all in that contest, so I'm sure they also will be very motivated this weekend to play the Stars again.  Like Omaha, the Bucs are fighting to stay in playoff contention in the western conference.

The Stars will begin a 3 game homestand this weekend before participating in the big outdoor game on Saturday, February 9th at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.  Lincoln does not play a game outside of Nebraska until February 15th when they go back to Des Moines to face the Bucs.  Big opportunity this weekend, and next, to put more points between themselves the Omaha Lancers.  As mentioned above, the Stars are only one point ahead of the Lancers in the race for fourth place in the west, and a final spot in the Clark Cup playoffs.

A reminder, the UNL mens basketball team has a game Saturday night at the Devaney Center starting at 6pm.  Plan accordingly.  The good news is the BB game starts an hour earlier than the Stars game, so hopefully that helps the potential traffic nightmare.  Thankfully, this will be the last time this season a Husker basketball game falls on the same day/time as a Stars home game.

Let's pack the IceBox this weekend!

Go Stars.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Video highlights of Lincoln's 5-0 win over Des Moines

Better late than never!  HUGE thanks goes out to Scott Thompson for recording, editing, and posting video highlights of Lincoln's 5-0 shutout win over Des Moines from this past Sunday.  Scott is a Bucs fan, and he does a great job of putting together video highlights from each Des Moines home game.  It's a lot of work, but Scott does a fantastic job, and I appreciate the time and effort he put into this.  If you're on Twitter, please give him a follow: @DMBucsHighlight

Monday, January 28, 2013

Snapshots of the Game: Fargo vs. Lincoln 1/26

Once again, huge thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Fargo-Lincoln game that was played this past Saturday.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Click the "Read More" link below to view all of the photos in this series

Huddle up!

Snapshots of the Game: Sioux City vs. Lincoln 1/25

Sorry for the delay getting these posted.  Just ran out of time over the weekend to get this done.  Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Sioux City-Lincoln game that was played this past Friday.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Click the "Read More" link below to view all of the photos in this series.

Michael Bitzer makes a huge glove save in the first period

Paul LaDue and Luke Johnson earn weekly USHL awards

Congrats to Paul LaDue and forward Luke Johnson who both received an award from the USHL today.  Paul was named "CCM Defenseman of the Week," while Luke shared the "CCM Forward of the Week" award.

Click here to view the official press release from the USHL.

Here's an excerpt from the above article linked above:

Luke Johnson, F, Lincoln Stars: The 18-year-old tallied four goals and an assist over the weekend, leading then Stars to a pair of wins.  On Friday night, he scored Lincoln’s first goal mid-way through the first period on the power play and assisted on Paul LaDue’s second period power play goal to help the Stars to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede.  After being held off of the score sheet on Saturday, the Grand Forks, ND native responded by recording his first USHL career hat trick, with a goal in each period, to lead the Stars to a 5-0 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers.  Johnson currently ranks fifth on the team in scoring with 26 points (11g, 15a) and is tops with 11 points on the power play (6g, 5a).


Paul LaDue, D, Lincoln Stars: The Grand Forks, ND native had a point in each of the Stars’ three games over the weekend.  On Friday, he scored a second-period goal on the power play and buried the deciding goal in the shootout to lead the Stars to a 3-2 shootout win over the Sioux City Musketeers.  He notched an assist in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Fargo Force and added another assist in Sunday’s 5-0 shutout over Des Moines.  LaDue is currently riding a four-game point streak, amassing three goals and two assists over that span, and is third on the team in points (32) and second in assists (22).



LaDue and Johnson (who are cousins) will both play for the University of North Dakota next season.  UND is getting two very good players.  It will be fun to watch both of them in the upcoming seasons.

Congrats once again to Paul and Luke!  Very well deserved.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 5, Des Moines 0

Luke Johnson got the hat trick, and Jackson Teichroeb stopped all 19 shots he faced to lead the Stars to a 5-0 road shutout win over the Des Moines Bucs on Sunday.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 22-13-3 (47 points) and earned four out of a possible six points this weekend.  More importantly, the Stars now have a three point lead over the Omaha Lancers (45 points) for fourth place in the western conference.  Only the top four teams from each conference make the playoffs this season.  Lincoln has one game in hand over Omaha.


Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

I was only able to listen to the radio broadcast of this game, so this recap will be brief.  I hope to post video highlights of this game courtesy of @DMBucshighlight later today, or tomorrow (Monday).

Luke Johnson scored the first two goals of this game, with one coming in the first period and one coming later in the second period.  The Stars would take a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.  Lincoln had a 17-14 lead on shots through 40 minutes.

In the third period, the Stars would erupt for three goals to complete the scoring.  Vinni Lettieri scored on a 5-on-3 Lincoln powerplay at the 8:48 mark to make it 3-0.  With exactly two minutes remaining in the game, Jimmy DeVito scored his 4th goal of the season to give Lincoln a 4-0 lead.

And with only 13 seconds left in the game, Luke Johnson scored his third goal of the game to finish out the scoring.  It was Luke's first career USHL hat trick.

Lincoln finished 1-for-5 on the powerplay, while the Bucs went 0-for-6 with the man advantage.  From the sounds of it, the Stars' PK unit did a great job of shutting down Des Moines' PP unit.

As mentioned above, Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb stopped all 19 shots he faced to record his 10th win, and his third shutout of the season.  Great to see Teichroeb rebound after the Omaha loss last Friday night at the IceBox.

In a battle between the top two teams in terms of penalty minutes, there were a total of three fights.  Luke Johnson and Jimmy DeVito were both an assist away from getting a Gordie Howe hat trick.  Mike McKee was one goal away from the Gordie Howe hat trick.  Amazingly, the Stars and Bucs now have the same amount of penalty minutes: 1,108 (Lincoln has played three less games than Des Moines).

Gutsy effort considering the Stars were probably a bit tired and sore after playing both Friday and Saturday night.  Des Moines was well rested after not playing at all on Saturday, so credit Lincoln for coming out strong to get those two points.

The Stars will return home next weekend with a Friday night game against Sioux Falls, and a Saturday matchup with the Des Moines Bucs.  Another full weekend of hockey at the IceBox.  More on those two games later this week.

Check back later for those video highlights of this game.

Go Stars.

B³ Postgame Recap: Fargo 3, Lincoln 2

Riley Bourbonnais scores in the second period
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photo

Puck luck was definitely on Fargo's side last night at the IceBox, as the Force rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the third period to beat the Lincoln Stars by a score of 3-2.

Click here to view the Poinstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars fell to 21-13-3 (45 points) and are still in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference, one point ahead of the fifth place Omaha Lancers.  Speaking of the Lancers, they lost to the Waterloo Blackhawks last night (in Ralston) by a score of 8-1 (LOL).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.


Fargo got out to an early 1-0 lead in this game thanks to a Brendan Harms goal at the 5:03 mark of the first period.  The Stars could not clear the puck out of their own zone, and Force capitalized with their first goal of the game.

Fargo's one goal lead would last only 55 seconds as Dominik Shine responded with a rebound goal that had bounced off the back wall at the 5:58 mark of the first period.  Justin Woods picked up the lone assist on Shine's 14th goal of the season.  The score would remain tied at 1-1 going into the first intermission.  Lincoln outshot Fargo 9-8 through the first twenty minutes.

After a scoreless second period, which saw the Stars outshoot the Force 14-9, this game would be decided in the third period.

Newly acquired forward Riley Bourbonnais gave the home fans a lot to cheer about at the 3:19 mark of the third period when he received a pinpoint pass from Tommy Schutt, which sprung him on a breakaway.  Bourbonnais skated in alone before wristing the puck stick side past Fargo goaltender Cam Johnson to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.  The IceBox erupted.  Schutt and Paul LaDue collected the assists on Riley's 17th goal of the season, and his first as a member of the Lincoln Stars.

However, less than two minutes after Bourbonnais' goal, the Force would score on a strange play to tie the game up at 2-2.  Fargo's Alex Iaffalo skated the puck into the Lincoln zone before putting what looked like an innocent, bad angle shot on Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer.  Unfortunately, a Lincoln defenseman deflected the puck on goal instead of into the corner, and the shot got past Bitzer.  Fluke goal, for sure.

Fargo scored the game-winning goal while on a powerplay at the 9:18 mark of the third period.  Yet again, it was a long Force shot which was deflected by a Lincoln defenseman that found the back of the net.  Hard to blame Michael Bitzer for those last two goals.

Try as they might for the remainder of the third period, the Stars could not solve Force netminder Cam Johnson.  Fargo escaped the IceBox with a 3-2 victory, despite getting outplayed for the majority of the game, and getting outshot 31-23.

Michael Bitzer stopped 20 of 23 shots in the loss.  The Poinstreak boxscore I linked above is incorrect in that it shows Jackson Teichroeb playing in this game.  Cam Johnson stopped 29 of 31 shots for the win, and was awarded the #1 star of the game.

Lincoln went 0-for-3 on the powerplay (it was ugly once again), while Fargo went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.  Fargo's game-winning tally was a PP goal.

Honestly, I thought Lincoln played pretty damn well last night against Fargo.  Take away the two fluke defections, Lincoln probably wins the game and gets two points.  The Stars certainly played well enough to deserve at least one point, but that's hockey.  Sometimes the puck bounces your way, sometimes it doesn't.  Fargo is a good team, so there's no reason to hang your head after that kind of loss.

The weekend isn't over for the Stars, as they will face off against the Buccaneers in Des Moines today for a rare Sunday afternoon tilt.  Puck drops at 3:05pm CST.  The last time these two teams faced one another, the Bucs put a beating on Lincoln in Des Moines by a score of 6-2 on 12/22/12.  Here's hoping the Stars remember that loss and reverse the score against the Bucs this afternoon.

Go Stars.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux City 2, Lincoln 3 OT

Paul LaDue reacts after scoring the shootout winner
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photo
Paul LaDue scored the game-winning, overtime shootout goal to propel the Lincoln Stars to a dramatic 3-2 win over the Sioux City Musketeers at the IceBox Friday night.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 21-12-3 (45 points) on the season, and are still in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Omaha Lancers, who beat the Fargo Force last night by a score of 4-2, are only one point behind Lincoln in the western conference standings.

Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

First of all, this "recap" will be very short.  I've been fighting the flu the last week, so I did not make it to the game last night.  I was able to catch most of the game on the radio, however.  I want to apologize for not posting a weekend preview article like I normally do.  In my 3+ years of posting on this blog, I think that was the first weekend preview article I missed.  I just have very little energy to devote to the blog right now.

The Stars and Muskies each traded a goal in the first period, with Lincoln's Luke Johnson scoring a PP goal first at the 9:06 mark of the period.  Less than thirty seconds after Johnson's goal, Sioux City's Josh Erickson answered with a goal of his own to knot the game up at 1-1.  Shots were 12-6 in favor of Lincoln through one period.

In the second period, Stars defenseman Paul LaDue would score a PP goal with only 36 seconds remaining in the period to give his team a 2-1 lead going into the second intermission.  LaDue leads all USHL defensemen in scoring with 30 points (10g, 20a) through 36 games played.  His 112 shots also leads all USHL defensemen.

For the second straight game, the Stars took a 2-1 lead into the third period but could not close the deal.  Sioux City forward Trevor Olson scored the game-tying goal at the 8:48 mark of the third period.  Neither team would score after that, so we would go to overtime.

After a scoreless five-minute OT period, this game would be decided by a shootout.  Those results are below:


Newly acquired Phil Marinaccio scored first, and Paul LaDue scored the game-winning shootout goal to seal the 3-2 victory for Lincoln.  Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped the last three shooters he faced after surrendering a goal on the first shooter (Lampasso).

Surprisingly, the Stars' PP unit actually put some pucks in the net, as Lincoln went 2-for-5 with the man advantage last night.  That's encouraging to see.  Sioux City was held scoreless on the PP, as they went 0-for-3.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 20 of 22 shots to record his 12th win of the season.  Good to see Bitz bounce back after last Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Omaha Lancers.

If anyone out there recorded video of the shootout, please let me know.  I've love to see it.

The Stars return to the IceBox tonight (Saturday) for a huge tilt against the Fargo Force, one of the hottest teams in the USHL right now.  Despite losing last night to Omaha, the Force are 13-3-0 in their last sixteen games played.  I'm sure they will be a salty bunch after losing to the Lancers last night, so the Stars will have their work cut out for them tonight at the IceBox.

Go Stars.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is tonight

Just a reminder, the USHL will be holding its 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects game tonight in Muskegon, Michigan.

The puck will drop at 6:15pm CST.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The game will be broadcast for free via FASTHockey.com.

 Click here to read more about how you can watch the broadcast tonight.  Here's an excerpt from the article:

Viewers can watch the online broadcast on the USHL Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey) or via the USHL FASTHockey channel at http://ushl.fasthockey.com  which supports most mobile phone and tablet devices. 

To view the USHL free game broadcast, fans must first register and create a free account on FASTHockey http://ushl.fasthockey.com.  Facebook users should “Like” the USHL Facebook page and log in to their FASTHockey account using the  “USHL on FASTHockey App” to watch the game.

Players from the Lincoln Stars who will participate in the prospects game are forwards Vinni Lettieri, Luke Johnson and defenseman Justin Woods.  All three Lincoln players will play on the Team West squad.  Luke Johnson was named as one of the two captains for Team West.

Click here to see the full rosters of Team East and Team West.

Tune in at 6:15pm CST tonight!  Good luck to Vinni, Luke, and Justin!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Omaha 5, Lincoln 2

The Lincoln Stars entered the third period at Omaha with a 2-1 lead but allowed four goals in the final period and fell 5-2 to the Lancers on Saturday night at the Ralston Arena and Event Center.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars fell to 20-12-3 (43 points) and are still in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference. The Lancers are now within one point of the Stars and the final playoff spot after getting the weekend sweep. Omaha has played two more games than the Stars though. To make things worse the three teams ahead of Lincoln in the standings - Sioux Falls, Fargo and Waterloo - all won and distanced themselves from Lincoln.

Click here to view the current USHL standings.

This recap won't be long. Yeti has been very sick and wasn't able to listen to Saturday's game, and I haven't felt great either and just followed the boxscore. Plus, this game doesn't appear to be one Stars fans will want to buy a DVD of.

Lincoln dominated the first period and came out of it with a 7-2 shot advantage and 1-0 lead on the scoreboard. Paul LaDue scored the only goal of the period with 2:37 left in the first period. Eric Scheid had the lone assist on the goal. The only penalty of the period was tripping on Daniel Willett, but Lincoln killed it off.

In the second period, Omaha had more chances thanks to Lincoln penalties. Mike McKee, fresh off his suspension, picked up a cross checking minor just 53 seconds into the period. The Lancers' advantage became 5-on-3 at the 2:25 mark as Justin Woods received a checking from behind penalty. Omaha was on the two-man advantage for 28 seconds, but the Stars killed both that and the following man advantage.

Unfortunately, the Stars let the Lancers tie the game 58 seconds after Woods got out of the box at the 5:23 mark. Nash Worden scored off of assists from former Star Trent Samuels-Thomas and Dominic Racobaldo past Michael Bitzer, who was also back from suspension and got the start in net.

But the Stars answered just 1:02 later when LaDue notched his second tally of the game. Willett and Zach Aston-Reese earned the helpers. Lincoln ended the second period with a shot advantage of 17-15, although Omaha outshot Lincoln in the second 13-10.

In the third period it was all Omaha. Drew Melanson scored off of assists from Ben Ostlie and Max Everson to make it 2-2 just 1:05 into the period.

Lincoln got its first power play of the game at the 5:58 mark, but the Stars were unable to capitalize. Kyle Osterberg then added to the Stars' woes with a goal at 10:20 to put Omaha up 3-2. Matthew Gaudreau assisted.

The nightmare got worse when Woods picked up a holding penalty at 14:45 and Connor Chatham scored 11 seconds into the power play for a 4-2 Lancer lead. Omaha scored three goals in its first eight shots of the third period. Not good. Jake Randolph added an empty netter with 17 seconds left to make it 5-2.

Pretty much the same old story when it comes to Lincoln and Omaha this year. Lincoln outshot Omaha 29-27, but Omaha won the special teams battle (1-for-4 on power play) and got better goaltending.

If you were at the game and would like to add some feedback about what you saw, please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you. You do not need to register to leave a comment.

If you're curious about the current "Good Life Cup" standings, here they are :

Lincoln (6-3-2; 14 points)
Omaha (6-4-0; 12 points) 
Tri-City (4-4-2; 10 points)

Lincoln is back at the IceBox for a pair of games next weekend. The Stars host Sioux City on Friday and Fargo on Saturday.

Go Stars.

B³ Postgame Recap: Omaha 3, Lincoln 2

Phil Marinaccio scores in the first period
Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Omaha Lancers beat the Lincoln Stars for the third straight time this season with a 3-2 win in front of a sellout crowd at the IceBox Friday night.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars fell to 20-11-3 (43 points) and are still in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is now only three points ahead of the fifth place Omaha Lancers.

Click here to view the current USHL standings.


This is going to be very, very short.  I've been sicker than a dog the last couple of days, so I did not attend this game.  I was able to catch the first period before falling asleep, so I missed all of the second and third periods.

Lincoln scored the first goal Friday night when newcomer Phil Marinaccio batted in a rebound past Omaha goaltender Alex Lyon at the 1:33 mark of the first period.  Luke Johnson and Zack Pittman picked up the assists on Marinaccio's first goal as a member of the Lincoln Stars.  Early on, it was looking like the Stars would dominate this game, but the Lancers stormed back with two goals later in the first period.

Omaha's first goal was a strange one.  Ryan Tait scored on a odd-angle past Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb who seemed very surprised it found the back of the net.  It looked like one of those shots that probably doesn't get in if Tait shoots it 100 times again, but puck luck was on his side this time.

Omaha defenseman Tucker Poolman scored later in the first period with a PP tally at the 15:58 mark of the period.  There was only 7 seconds remaining on Garrett Brossart's interference minor penalty when Poolman scored the go-ahead goal.

After a scoreless second period, Omaha defenseman Dominic Racobaldo scored halfway through the third period in what would be the dagger, and the eventual game-winning goal.  Tommy Schutt would score later in the third period to pull the Stars to within one goal, but the Lancers hung on for the 3-2 win.

From what I've heard from friends who were at the game, both teams played relatively well, but the Lancers had better goaltending and took advantage of their scoring opportunities when they had them.  I was told that the Stars had more scoring chances compared to Omaha, but Alex Lyon was the difference maker.

Jackson Teichroeb stopped 23 of 26 in the loss, while Omaha's Alex Lyon stopped 38 of 40 shots and was named the game's #1 star.  Omaha went 1-for-4 on the PP, while Lincoln went 0-for-4.  Again, the Stars lose the special teams war against the Lancers.  That has plagued Lincoln this season.

Omaha improved to 4-1-0 in five games against the Lincoln Stars this season.  All four wins for Omaha have been by one goal.  Puck luck has certainly been on their side.

If you were at the game last night and would like to help with this recap, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear from you.  You do not need to register to leave a comment.

Stars will finish up their weekend home-at-home series against Omaha tonight in Ralston at 7:05pm CST.  Lincoln cannot afford to lost this game if they want to distance themselves from the Lancers in the standings.   Defenseman Mike McKee and goaltender Michael Bitzer will be back in the lineup, so that should help their chances.

Go Stars.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Omaha Lancers x2

This weekend, the Lincoln Stars will arguably play their biggest two games so far this season when they take on the Omaha Lancers in a home-and-home series.

Friday's matchup will take place at the IceBox in Lincoln.  Saturday's game will be held at the Ralston Sports and Entertainment Complex in Ralston, NE.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST for each game this weekend.


If you are not able to make it to the two games this weekend, you can follow the boxscores on Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7FM "The Ticket," or watch the games online via FASTHockey.com for a fee.

The Stars are currently 20-10-3 (43 points), and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.  Lincoln is 5-2-0 in their last seven games.

The Lancers come into this weekend with a record of 19-16-0 (38 points), and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Omaha is 3-4-0 in their last seven games.

This will be the fifth time this season that the Stars and Lancers have played one another.  In their four previous meetings, the Lancers have a record of 3-1-0, however two of their wins have come in the overtime shootout.  Three of the four games played between Omaha and Lincoln have been decided by only one goal.  The Stars and Lancers will play a total of 10 times in the 2012-13 season.

Since they last faced the Stars on 12/14/12, the Lancers have made a number of moves to shakeup their roster.  Gone are forwards Kenny Gillespie, Eli Lichtenwald, and defenseman Frank Schumacher.  In return, defenseman Dominic Racobaldo was acquired from Fargo, and forward Robbie Baillargeon from Indiana.

If you're curious about the current "Good Life Cup" standings, here they are :

Lincoln (6-1-2; 14 points)
Tri-City (4-4-2; 10 points)
Omaha (4-4-0; 8 points)

If you look at the current western conference standings posted below, you'll see that the top four teams (SF, FAR, WAT, LNK) have started to pull away from the bottom four teams (OM, DM, TC, SC).  There's still a lot of hockey yet to be played this season, but the playoff race has already begun.  Starting this season, only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs.


The Lancers have made the playoffs the last 22 seasons in a row.  As of right now, that streak is in jeopardy.  That's why these next two games are VERY important for both squads.  The Stars want those four points to distance themselves further from the bottom four teams, and inch closer to Waterloo and Fargo.  Omaha desperately needs those four points against the team they are trailing for that last playoff spot in the west.  So a lot is on the line this weekend.

The top two teams in each conference get home ice advantage when the playoffs start, so if you're a Stars fan, you should be rooting for the teams that Sioux Falls, Fargo, and Waterloo play from this point on the rest of this season.  Finishing in the top four is nice, but to take advantage of the home-ice atmosphere that the IceBox provides, the Stars will need to finish in the top two.  Again, there is still a lot of hockey yet to be played, but it's never too early to start thinking about the playoffs.

Getting back to the games this weekend, the Stars will be without defenseman Mike McKee and goaltender Michael Bitzer for Friday night's game only because of suspensions.  Both players will be available to play Saturday night in Ralston if needed.  So that means Jackson Teichroeb will start for sure Friday night at the IceBox.  Lancers goaltender Alex Lyon was in net Wednesday night against Cedar Rapids, so I assume he'll start for Omaha Friday also.

Jake Wood and Jimmy DeVito will be back in the lineup also after they both served a one-game suspension this past Tuesday in Lincoln's 4-2 win over Waterloo.  As for injuries, the only one I'm aware of is Dominik Shine.  I'm hoping he'll be back in the lineup soon.

These two games this weekend will be the last that each team will play against one another until the big outdoor game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on February 9th, 2013.  Hard to believe that game is only a few weeks away.

Nothing better than the Stars and the Lancers knocking heads in back to back games.  Should be fun.  See you all at a sold out IceBox Friday night.

Go Stars.

Snapshots of the Game: Waterloo vs. Lincoln 1/15

As always, much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Waterloo-Lincoln game this past Tuesday.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Click the "Read More" link below to view all of the photos in this series.

Salute to the crowd after the big win

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Waterloo 2, Lincoln 4

Vinni Lettieri scores what would end up being the GWG
Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Payback is a b*tch!

The Lincoln scored four unanswered goals tonight at the IceBox to beat the visiting Waterloo Blackhawks by a score of 4-2.

Click here to view the Poinstreak boxscore.  With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 20-10-3 (43 points) and are only one point behind the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL Western Conference (with two games in hand).  Click here to view the current league standings.


I've got to get up early for work so this recap will be very brief.  I'll try to update this article with a full recap sometime tomorrow (Wed) night.

Scoring for the good guys tonight was Tommy Schutt (PP), Brad Hawkinson, and Vinni Lettieri (two goals). Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb was the player of the game has he stopped 38 of 40 shots on goal to record his 11th win of the season.

Outstanding, 60-minute effort tonight by a shorthanded Lincoln Stars squad against one of the top teams in the USHL right now.  After Lincoln fell behind 2-0 in this game, the players could have easily lost their cool and let the Blackhawks roll right over them.  But credit the Stars for fighting like hell to get back into the game in the first period, and then outplaying the Blackhawks the rest of the way to win it.  They should all be very proud of their effort tonight.

The Blackhawks are a scary team while on the powerplay, but I thought Lincoln was the much better team five-on-five.  I'm sure the Stars were very motivated tonight after losing 10-2 to Waterloo a few weeks ago.  Funny how mortal the Blackhawks can look when they aren't awarded 15 powerplays in one game. ;)

Again, I'll try to update this article more tomorrow.  If you'd like to leave a comment, please do so!

Go Stars.

Stars acquire Phillip Marinaccio from Cedar Rapids

More trade news!

Per Lincoln's Twitter account, the Stars have traded '94 forward Ross Olsson to the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in exchange for '93 forward Phillip Marinaccio.


In 30 USHL games this season, Phillip has scored 17 points (8g, 9a) along with 16 PIM's.  Marinaccio started the 2012-13 season with the Chicago Steel before being traded to the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in late November of last year.  In 44 games with the Steel during the 2011-12 season, Marinaccio scored 38 points 10g, 28a) along with 18 PIM's.  Marinaccio's teammate on that 2011-12 Steel team is current Stars forward Jimmy DeVito.

Marinaccio is a native of Vaughan, Ontario, Canada and is a 2013 commit to Bemidji State University (as is current Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer).  Phillip counts as an import since he is from Canada, but the Stars had room for one import after they released Brent Wold last month.  The other three imports on the Stars' roster are Jackson Teichroeb, Jake Wood, and Mike McKee.

I think this is a good trade for both teams.  Olsson gets to start over with a new team and hopefully gets more playing time.  Marinaccio gives Lincoln more scoring depth and is a player with some good USHL experience under his belt.  Win, win.

Best of luck to Ross in Cedar Rapids!  Sorry to see him go, but hopefully this change of scenery will help his development.  We all appreciate his time and effort spent in a Lincoln Stars uniform.

I do not know if Marinaccio will be in Lincoln tonight for the game against the Blackhawks.  It would be nice if he was, along with Riley Bourbonnais.  We'll find out soon enough.

Monday, January 14, 2013

B³ Pregame Report: Waterloo Blackhawks vs. Lincoln Stars

The Lincoln Stars will be looking for some payback Tuesday night at the IceBox when they host the Waterloo Blackhawks.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm.

If you can't make it to the game Tuesday evening at the IceBox, You can follow the boxscore online via Pointstreaklisten to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the game on FASTHockey for a fee.


The Stars are currently 19-10-3 (37 points), and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is only six points our of second place, but just seven points out of seventh place in the wild, wild western conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

This will be a short recap article.  I ran out of time tonight to get this done.

The Blackhawks are in third place in the USHL Western Conference with a 22-12-0 record (44 points).  This will be the second of four meetings between these two teams this season.  Just a few weeks ago on New Year's eve, the Blackhawks scored 8 powerplay goals in route to a 10-2 blowout over the Stars in Waterloo, IA.  It was an ugly game, for sure. 

Waterloo will be without two of their top forwards in this game due to injury.  Justin Kloos (44 points in 27 games) and Zach Stepan (43 points in 27 games) were both injured in a 1/5/13 game against Cedar Rapids. That's the good news if you're a Lincoln Stars fan.  The bad news is the Blackhawks still have plenty of offensive weapons in Taylor Cammarata (53 points in 29 games), Vincent Hinostroza (43 points in 29 games), and J.T. Stenglein (33 points in 28 games).  Stenglein was just acquired by the Blackhawks last week in a trade with the Sioux City Musketeers.

The Stars will have a number of key players missing from their lineup also for the game against Waterloo.  Mike McKee and Jimmy DeVito will be out due to suspension.  DeVito was given a one-game suspension for picking up his sixth fighting major of the season this past Saturday against Youngstown.  McKee will be serving the fourth of his five-game suspension that he picked up because of actions in Lincoln's 10-2 loss to Waterloo last month.

Lincoln could also be without forwards Luke Johnson and Dominik Shine due to injury.  I don't want to go into too much detail, but if what I heard is correct, both could be out of the lineup for more than a few games.  I'd rather not talk about injuries until the Stars release that information themselves.  Will Suter missed both games last weekend due to illness, so hopefully he's back in the lineup against Waterloo.

The big news this week was the acquisition of forward Riley Bourbonnais from the Sioux City Musketeers.  Click here to read more about that trade.  Considering the amount of players that could be out of the lineup for the Stars, lets hope Riley is in the lineup Tuesday night.

See you all at the IceBox.  Go Stars.

Snapshots of the Game: Youngstown vs. Lincoln 1/12

Sorry for the delay getting these pictures up.  Much thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Phantoms/Stars game this past Saturday.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.

Click the "Read More" link below to view all of the photos in this series.

Michael Bitzer skates out during the opening lineups

Stars acquire Riley Bourbonnais from Sioux City

According to the Lincoln Stars' Twitter account, the team has acquired forward Riley Bourbonnais from the Sioux City Musketeers.  Bourbonnais ('93) is 5'10", 190 pounds and is from Rochester, NY.

In 86 USHL games (split between Cedar Rapids and Sioux City), Bourbonnais has scored 70 points (33g, 37a).  Bourbonnais has committed to Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for 2013, so he will be with Lincoln for the rest of this season only.  Current Stars Jimmy DeVito and Jake Wood will also attend RPI in 2013.


In return for Bourbonnais, the Stars traded a first round entry draft pick, a second round entry draft pick, and affiliate defenseman Stuart Pomeroy ('95).  The two entry draft picks are for the upcoming 2013 USHL Entry Draft, which is held in the spring.  Pomeroy was drafted by the Stars in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft in the second round.

Bourbonnais started his USHL career with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in 2011-12, and was traded to Sioux City in November of last year.  Since he began with the Musketeers, Bourbonnais scored 15 points (9g, 6a) in 16 games with 26 PIM's and a -6 rating.

Maybe it's just me, but this trade seems like overpayment.  No offense to Bourbonnais (because he is a skilled player), but two high draft picks AND an affiliate player for a forward who is gone after this season is a high price to pay, in my opinion.  I understand that draft picks can be busts just as much as they can be booms.  However, it wasn't too long ago that the Stars drafted a kid by the name of Kevin Roy in the first round.  But what do I know, I'm just an idiot with a blog.  The coaches obviously felt like this was a good trade to make at the time, so we'll have to wait and see how it pans out.

I find it interesting that the Stars did not trade any players back to Sioux City in this deal.  I assume that means a current player will have to be traded, dropped, or moved to the injured reserve list to make room for Bourbonnais.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Youngstown 5, Lincoln 2

Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Making their only appearance at the IceBox this season, the Youngstown Phantoms snuck into Lincoln Saturday night and dominated the Stars by a score 5-2.  The loss was Lincoln's first at home in regulation since 11/16/12.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars dropped to 19-10-3 (41 points) and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.

I'm not sure how much time I want to devote to recapping this game.  The Phantoms simply outplayed the Stars in all facets of the game.  They utilized their team speed to make Lincoln look very, very slow.  The Stars gave up at least three breakaways last night (one of which ended with a Youngstown goal).  Forwards for the Phantoms had no problem turning on the jets and beating Lincoln defenseman wide.

For the second straight game, the Stars went 0-for-5 on the powerplay.  I cannot understand how the Stars can look so bad with the man advantage considering the talent they have on the roster.  It's mind-boggling.  Lincoln is 2-for-25 on the powerplay in their last seven games played.  They currently have the fourth-worst PP in the USHL.

Over the past few years, the Stars have traditionally been a team that has some of the top penalty kill units in the league.  After all, when you lead the league in penalty minutes year after year, you get used to playing on the PK.  Unfortunately, that hasn't happened this year.  The Stars have given up twice the amount of PP goals than they have scored PP goals themselves (33 to 16).  They currently have the third-worst PK unit in the USHL.

The only highlight from last night's game was the goalie fight between Michael Bitzer and Sean Romeo.  I will post a video of that fight at the end of this article, courtesy of blog reader Layla.

The silly penalties are still a problem.  I know the players are probably very frustrated in these game that they don't play as well as they'd like, but they have to keep their cool.  There was a penalty last night very late in the game that just wasn't smart at all.  I'll leave it at that.  A cross-check to the opponents neck/face is never a good idea, no matter how frustrated you are.

In my weekend preview article, I said that three points was a must this weekend.  After not playing particularly well for either of the two games this weekend, I guess the Stars should feel lucky they got the two points.  This team can play a LOT better than how they are playing now, so I'm not sure what's going on with the sloppy play.  Special teams is a trainwreck.  There have been some injuries as of late, but every team in the USHL has to deal with injuries during the season.

Speaking of injuries, per this tweet by the Lincoln Stars, forwards Dominik Shine and Luke Johnson were held out of last night's game due to injuries.  Hopefully they both aren't serious.  Will Suter was out for the second straight game due to illness.  Mike McKee continues to serve his five-game suspension.

The Stars will have just a few days to lick their wounds after this loss before they are back at the IceBox this Tuesday to face the Waterloo Blackhawks, the same team that beat Lincoln by a score of 10-2 just a few weeks ago.  Which Stars teams shows up for that game against the Blackhawks?  The team that won 10 straight to start the season, or the team we saw last night at the IceBox.  We'll find out soon enough.

Go Stars.

Friday, January 11, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 3, Sioux City 2 OT

Eric Scheid scored in the overtime period tonight to give Lincoln a 3-2 win over the Sioux City Musketeers at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, IA.  Lincoln is now 4-0-0 in four games against Sioux City this season.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 19-9-3 (41 points) and are still in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln does have the third best winning percentage (.661%) in the west and have at least two games in hand over all three teams ahead of them in the standings.  Click here to view the updated standings.

Just 18 seconds into this game, defenseman Zach Frye picked up an instigating minor, fighting major, and a game ejection after jumping SC defenseman Blake Heinrich.  Frye was defending a teammate on the play after Heinrich threw a nasty elbow to the face of Zach Aston-Reese which was missed by the officials.  Frye jumped Heinrich (rightfully so), but was booted from the game because of it.  I don't have a problem with the penalties against Frye, after all, he was defending a teammate, but the officials missed a blatant hit to the head by Heinrich.  So because Frye was ejected, the Stars basically played the entire game with only five defenseman in the lineup.

In the first period, the Stars played very sloppy and looked a bit sluggish.  Another slow start by the Stars, but they turned it around later in the game.  However, the Muskies took advantage of Lincoln's slow start with a a powerplay goal scored at the 13:38 mark of the first period.  SC would take that 1-0 lead to the first intermission.

Late in the second period, the Stars and Muskies suddenly came alive and combined for three goals in a 1:47 stretch of the period.  First it was Vinni Lettieri scoring on a rebound at the 15:57 mark to tie it up at 1-1-1.  Eric Scheid and Luke Johnson collected the assists on Lettieri's 11th goal of the season.

21 seconds after Lettier's even-strength goal, the Muskies answered with a tally of their own at the the 16:18 mark of the second period.  Lincoln would knot the game up again, this time at 2-2, at the 17:44 mark after a goal from Jake Wood with assists to Eric Scheid and Jimmy DeVito.  This goal was reviewed by the officials as it barely got across the goal line.  The score would remain knotted up at 2-2 going to the second intermission.  The Stars outshot the Muskies 15-3 in the second period.

After a scoreless third period in which Lincoln outshot Sioux City 9-to-6, this game would go to overtime.

A little more than a minute into the 4-on-4 OT period, Lincoln forwards Tommy Schutt and Eric Scheid took advantage of a SC turnover and came into the Muskies zone on a 2-on-1.  Schutt held onto the puck before firing a shot on net which was saved by SC goaltender Kyle Hayton.  However, Hayton could not control the rebound which went right to a streaking Eric Scheid who wristed the puck into the open net past and outstretched pad of Hayton.  Stars win 3-2.

It wasn't pretty, but it was a win.  Lincoln started out slow, but they fought hard to earn the two points, which is the most important thing.  I thought the Stars had some trouble getting the puck low, and generating offensive chances in the dirty areas in front of Hayton early on in this game.  A lot of the early shots were from the perimeter, which were gobbled up easily by the SC goaltender.  The Stars did a better job in the second, third, and overtime periods crashing the SC net and manufacturing quality scoring chances.

Lincoln's powerplay unit was....well, bad.  I'm not sure how else to put it.   0-for-5 on the night, and it was a struggle by the PP unit to just keep the puck in the SC zone.  I've seen Lincoln play ugly on the PP this season, but tonight was probably the worst.  That has to get better if the Stars want to nail down a playoff spot.

Michael Bitzer didn't have to work too hard tonight to earn his 11th win of the season, as he stopped 18 of 20 shots.  Thanks to Lincoln's defense, Bitzer only faced a total of 9 shots in the second, third, and overtime periods.  If you're on the Stars, that's a stat to be proud of.  Credit the Stars for blocking shots and limiting the amount of pucks that got through to Bitz.

The Stars were without forward Will Suter tonight who was ill and unable to play.  Hopefully he's back in the lineup Saturday night.  Garrett Brossart and Max Humitz were healthy scratches.  Mike McKee is still serving his five-game suspension handed down by the league.

Lincoln's opponent Saturday night at the IceBox, the Youngstown Phantoms, beat the Chicago Steel tonight by a score of 3-2.  They now have an 8-hour bus ride before arriving in Lincoln early tomorrow morning.

See you all at the IceBox tomorrow night!

Go Stars.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Youngstown


The Lincoln Stars will wrap up the first half of the 2012-13 USHL regular season this weekend when the take on the Musketeers in Sioux City on Friday night, and then the Youngstown Phantoms at the IceBox in Lincoln on Saturday evening.  Puck drops at 7:00pm CST Friday night, and at 7:05pm CST on Saturday.

If you aren't able to make it to the games this weekend, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreaklisten to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the game live on FASTHockey for a fee.

The Stars are currently 18-9-3 (39 points), and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

Lincoln's first opponent this weekend, the Sioux City Musketeers, have a record of 6-19-7 (19 points) and are firmly entrenched in last place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Stars are 3-0-0 in three games against the Muskies this season, and have outscored them 9-2 in their last two meetings.  This will be the fourth of eight contests between Lincoln and Sioux City this season.

To say the Muskies are struggling this season is an understatement.  Other than Team USA, who have played five less games than Sioux City, the Muskies have the worst record in the USHL.  Scoring, goaltending, special teams...it's all been bad.  Having said that, the Muskies have played the Stars pretty tight in two of their three games this season.  They are 5-8-2 at home at the Tyson Event Center, but an abysmal 1-11-5 on the road.

Earlier this season, Muskies GM and head coach Brett Larson made a number of trades to better his team in hopes they could raise their sinking ship.  That didn't happen.  In fact, this past week Larson traded a number of players away to winning hockey clubs like Waterloo and Green Bay in return for draft picks.  The recent moves indicate that the Muskies are already preparing for next year and have given up on making the playoffs this season.  Gone are J.T. Stenglein and Tanner Pond, and in return the Muskies get draft picks to build for next season.  It would not surprise me if Sioux City continues to move some of their more high-profile players to teams who are wanting to add pieces in hopes for a long playoff run.

The Youngstown Phantoms currently have a record of 14-16-0 (28 points), and are in seventh place in the USHL Eastern Conference.  This will be second and last time the Stars and Phantoms will meet this season.  Back in October of last year, the Stars beat Youngstown in their own barn by a score of 4-1.

The Phantoms have been and up and down team this season.  Some nights they look great, other nights not so much.  They have one of the top young forwards in the USHL in Austin Cangelosi, but not much scoring depth after that.  They have the league's worst powerplay unit (12.95%), although Lincoln isn't much better at 15.09%, good enough for 13th "best" out 16 teams.

One familiar name in the Phantoms' lineup is forward Markus McCrea, who played for the Lincoln Stars last season.  In 51 games for Lincoln in 2011-12, McCrea scored 18 points (8g, 10a) to go along with 99 PIM's.  McCrea, who was a victim of the USHL overager rule and was not protected by Lincoln this past offseason, has had a very productive first half of the season already for Youngstown.  In 29 games for the Phantoms, McCrea has scored 15 points (9g, 6a) with 89 PIM's.  So McCrea has already scored more goals in only 29 games with the Phantoms than he did in 51 games for Lincoln last season.  I'm sure Markus will be pretty motivated to play well against the team that left him unprotected.  If he's in the starting lineup Saturday night, I hope the home fans give him a good round of applause for his time in a Stars uniform.

The Phantoms have to be cursing the USHL schedule makers coming into this weekend.  I almost feel sorry for them as they will play Friday night in Chicago against the Steel before having to hop right back on the bus afterwards to drive 8 hours to Lincoln.  That's brutal.

In my opinion, four points are definitely attainable this weekend.  Anything less than three points will be a disappointment.  The Muskies haven't played well against Lincoln this season for the most part, and they have traded away a lot of key players for draft picks.  The Phantoms will be a tired bunch after playing Friday night in Chicago, so the Stars should have their way with a Youngstown team suffering from bus legs. The Stars are 4-0-0 this season again both teams, and have outscored them 18-6.  On paper, this should be an easy four points, but that's why they play the games.

Hard to believe we are already at the halfway point of the regular season.  32 games played, 32 more to go. The USHL season is certainly a marathon and not a sprint.  There's still a lot of hockey yet to be played.

Go Stars.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Outdoor game is only one month away!

It's hard to believe, but the "Mutual of Omaha: Battles on Ice" outdoor game between the Lincoln Stars and the Omaha Lancers is only one month away.  One month!

When:  Saturday, February 9th, 2013.  Stars vs. Lancers will start at 12:35pm CST.  UND vs. UNO will begin after the USHL game.

Where:  TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE (artist's rendering of what TD Ameritrade Park will look like is pictured on the left)

How much:  Prices start at $30 per ticket which will get you into both games (Stars vs. Lancers and UND vs. UNO).  Tickets went on sale last October, but there are still seats available.  Click here for more info.

Here are some old news articles if you wanted to brush up on the particulars of this game:

Lincoln Stars article here.
USHL.com article here.
Omaha.com article here.
UNO Mavs article here.

Stating the obvious here, but I am really looking forward to this game.  My tickets are in the first row of Section 221, if I recall correctly.  Should be a good view of the ice to take some pictures, and maybe even some video.  I'm hoping the weather cooperates and it isn't too crappy.  Overcast, with temps in the 30's (no wind) would be perfect.  I'd prefer it not to be sunny to cut down on the glare.

I'd love to hear from all of you that plan on going to this event!  Please leave a comment below.  It would be nice if all of the Stars fans that plan on going could meet in one place to tailgate before and maybe after the game.  That is if tailgating is allowed.

Go Stars.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Tri-City 2, Lincoln 3

Courtesy of Shooting Stars Photos
The Lincoln Stars improved to 5-0-0 against the Tri-City Storm this season with a 3-2 win tonight in front of a sellout crowd at the IceBox.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 18-9-3 (39 points) and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is only 6 points out of first place, and have the third-best winning percentage (.650) in the west.

 Click here to view the current USHL standings.


All of Lincoln's three goals were scored in the first period.  Tommy Schutt, Paul LaDue (PP), and Eric Scheid all found the back of the net for the good guys.

Schutt's goal came very early in the first period, at the 1:04 mark.  Schutt broke in alone on Storm goaltender Johan Mattson, and roofed the puck glove-high to score his first goal in 17 games played.  Nice to see Schutt get that monkey off his back with a big goal.  Schutt's even-strength goal was unassisted.

A little over a minute after Schutt's goal, the Storm would knot the game up at 1-1 after an even-strength goal from John Hrabovsky.

The Stars would take the lead again later in the first period after Paul LaDue's point shot found the back of the net on the powerplay at the 9:03 mark.  Justin Woods collected the lone assist on LaDue's sixth goal of the season.  LaDue leads the USHL in defenseman scoring with 25 points (6g, 19a) in 30 games played.

The eventual game-winning goal would be scored by Lincoln's Eric Scheid, with a lot of help from Vinni Lettieri, at the the 14:08 mark of the first period.  Lettieri did a great job on the forecheck, pressuring a Storm defenseman into losing control of the puck, and Scheid capitalized by scoring on the turnover right in front of Mattsson.  Great individual effort by both Lettieri and Scheid on the goal.

The Stars took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission and never looked back, thanks to some timely saves by Lincoln goaltender Michael Bitzer.  Bitz stopped 26 of 28 shots on goal to record his 10th win of the season.   The Storm would score midway through the third period to make it interesting, but the Stars shut the door after that.

Lincoln outshot Tri-City overall, 29 to 28.  Tri-City went 0-for-5 on the powerplay while the Stars went 1-for-3 with the man advantage.

Overall, I thought the Stars played pretty well coming off the embarrassing 10-2 loss this past Monday in Waterloo to the Blackhawks.  Lincoln came out strong in the first period and outplayed/outshot Tri-City.  Storm goaltender Johan Mattson struggled a bit in the first period, and the Stars took advantage of that.  Mattsson played well in the second and third period, but it was a little too late....the damage was already done.

What I didn't really like from last night was the Stars going into a shell in the third period and playing not to lose.  I thought Lincoln could have put a boot to the throat of the Storm in the third period, but that didn't happen.  They didn't seem to want to put pressure on the Storm, and instead laid back and played prevent defense.  It could have turned out bad, but the Stars held on for the win.  A lot of credit goes to Bitzer for making some big saves in that third period.

The Stars were without a number of key players Saturday night which included defenseman Mike McKee (suspension), Dominik Shine (team suspension?), and defenseman Zach Frye (injury).  Lincoln played with only 5 d-men last night because of McKee and Frye being out of the lineup.  Despite the fact that they played shorthanded, I thought Lincoln's d-corp played very, very well.

The Stars will be back in action next weekend with a Friday night road game in Sioux City against the Musketeers, and than a Saturday evening home game at the IceBox against the Youngstown Phantoms.

Go Stars.

Friday, January 4, 2013

B³ Pregame Report: Tri-City Storm vs. Lincoln Stars

The Lincoln Stars will look to get back in the win column Saturday night at the IceBox when they host the Tri-City Storm.  The Stars will only play the lone Saturday game this weekend.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST.

You can follow the boxscore online via Pointstreaklisten to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the game on FASTHockey for a fee.


The Stars are currently 17-9-3 (37 points), and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is only four points our of first place, but just six points out of seventh place in the wild, wild western conference.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

The Tri-City Storm come into this game with a record of 14-13-4 (32 points) and are in sixth place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Storm are 2-1-2 in their last five games, and have gone to overtime in three of their last four games.

This will be the fifth time the Stars and Storm will face one another this season.  The Stars are 4-0-0 in four games against the Storm this season and have outscored them 12-4.  These two teams just met last week, with Lincoln winning it by a score of 2-1 in overtime at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, NE.

In that 2-1 overtime win by Lincoln, goaltenders Michael Bitzer and Johan Mattsson combined to stop 88 of 91 shots on goal.  Both netminders stood on their heads to keep their respective teams in the game, but in the end, Paul LaDue of the Stars scored in the overtime period to give Lincoln the win and the two points.

I'm not sure if we'll see Mattsson between the pipes for the Storm this Saturday or not.  He was injured against Omaha on 12/29/12, and hasn't played since.  According to the Poinstreak roster, the Storm currently have three goaltenders on their roster:  Mattsson, Christian Frey, and Justin Quale.  Quale has played every minute for the Storm since Mattsson was injured, so there a possibility we could see him start for TC on Saturday.  Then again, Mattsson could be healthy, or maybe Christian Frey starts.  Regardless, not one of those three goaltenders have ever beaten the Stars.

The Storm play Friday night in Cedar Rapids, IA against the Roughriders, so hopefully they will be a little worn out from that game when they play a rested Stars team Saturday evening.

As for the black and blue....

The USHL handed down more suspensions today, this time for incidents that occurred in Lincoln's 10-2 road loss to Waterloo this past Monday.  Defenseman Mike McKee was suspended five games, and associate head coach Jimmy McGroarty was suspended four games.  McKee picked up a spearing major and game ejection in the game against Waterloo, so I assume that's what he was suspended for.  McKee is also a "repeat offender" in the eyes of the league, so I'm sure they considered that when levying the suspension.  McKee has been suspended for a total of 11 games already this season.

In regards to the suspension to associate head coach Jimmy McGroarty, I did not exactly see what happened, but I assume he said a few choice words about the calls that were being made that USHL referee Albindia didn't appreciate.  Again, just speculation on my part.

With just the one game this weekend, I think it's vital for the Stars to pick up the two points.  Every other western conference team plays twice this weekend (Des Moines plays three times), so Lincoln will need those two points to stay in the upper half of the western conference standings.

Go Stars.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Four Stars named to USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

Forwards Luke Johnson, Vinni Lettieri, Ross Olsson, and defenseman Justin Woods were all named to the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game today.

Click here to read the official press release from the USHL.

Here's an excerpt from the USHL.com article:

The United States Hockey League announced the 40 players selected to compete in the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game presented by CCM to be held on January 23rd at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Michigan.

It is the second season for the event which will showcase many of the top players in the USHL who are eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft.  A total of 27 players selected are in their first year of eligibility for the NHL Draft. 

The selection process was completed in cooperation with USHL General Managers, NHL scouts and team personnel, and NHL Central Scouting.

All 16 USHL Member Clubs have at least one player selected to participate in the event.  The Waterloo Black Hawks lead with five players chosen while the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Lincoln Stars, Muskegon Lumberjacks, Sioux City Musketeers, and Tri-City Storm each have four players from their organizations named to the roster.

Congrats to Luke, Vinni, Ross, and Justin!  Great to see our younger, up-and-coming players recognized by the USHL, and the NHL.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Michael Bitzer named USHL Goaltender of the Week

I'm a little late with this news today, but congrats to Lincoln Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer who was named the USHL Goaltender of the Week.  Click here to read the official USHL press release.  Here's an excerpt from the article:

Michael Bitzer, G, Lincoln Stars:  The 19-year-old was in net for both the Stars weekend victories.  On Friday, he made a season high 40 saves in a 2-1 overtime win against Tri-City.  The Moorhead, MN native was then perfect on Saturday, stopping all 23 shots to propel the Stars to a 5-0 victory over Sioux City and earn his first USHL career shutout.  In just over 124 minutes of action during the weekend, Bitzer posted a 0.48 goals-against-average and .984 save percentage. 

 He has won each of his last three starts, having only allowed two goals in that span, and is a winner of six of his last eight starts.  The first-year USHL goaltender leads the League in both GAA (1.90) and SV% (.926).

Second straight week that a member of the Lincoln Stars won a weekly award from the USHL.  Last week, Michael Bunn was named forward of the week.

Great to see the league give some recognition to Bitzer, which is way overdue, in my opinion.  There have been a few times already this season that I thought Bitzer should have won or at least shared the goaltender of the week award, but this was his first.

Glad to see Bitzer's hard work pay off with wins, and now this award.  Personally, I think he's Lincoln's top goaltender right now and should be getting the majority of the starts.  Hopefully this is the first of many weekly awards for Bitzer.

Congrats again to Michael!  Well deserved.