Sunday, March 31, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 4, Sioux Falls 1

The Lincoln Stars moved one step closer to clinching a spot in the 2013 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs Saturday night in Sioux Falls with a dominating 4-1 road victory over the first-place Stampede.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The win, which was Lincoln's third in a row, improved the Stars' record to 36-21-3 (75 points).  Lincoln is still firmly in third place in the USHL Western Conference, now only four points behind the second place Fargo Force (79 points).

The top two teams in each conference get home-ice for the first round of the playoffs, so those top two spots in the west are highly coveted.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

The Stars can clinch a playoff spot this Friday with a win, or overtime loss, against the Omaha Lancers at the IceBox.  Speaking of the Lancers, they are struggling as of late and could not make the playoffs for the first time in 23 straight seasons.  The Lancers and Stars play twice this next Friday and Saturday, so there's a lot riding on that weekend series.

I was not around a computer or a radio much last night so I didn't get an opportunity follow this game very well.  I didn't catch some of the radio broadcast very late in the contest.  If you were one of the lucky few in attendance, or watched from home, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on how this game played out.

The Stars got out to a 2-0 lead in the opening period thanks to goals from Phil Marinaccio and Dominik Shine.  Those two Lincoln goals were scored within three minutes of one another in the latter portion of the first period.

Neither team would find the back of the net in the second stanza, so the Stars took their 2-0 lead into the third period.

In the final twenty minutes, Zach Aston-Reese scored at the 3:10 mark to give the Stars a 3-1 lead.  The Stampede finally got on the scoreboard very late in the period after they pulled their goaltender while on the powerplay.  The Stampede goal ruined Jackson Teichroeb's shutout attempt with only 1:4 remaining in the game.

Dominik Shine scored his second goal of the game, an empty-netter, just fourteen seconds after the Stampede goal to complete the scoring.  Shine finished with two goals on the night (including the game winner), and was +3.  Zach Aston Reese finished with two points (1g, 1a) and was also +3 on the night.

Jackson Teichroeb was the number one star of the game, as he stopped 37 of 38 shots to record his fourth straight win, and his 15th overall.  Teichroeb was a BIG reason why the Stars went 2-0-0 this past weekend.  It's really nice to see Jackson find his groove, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Speaking of goaltending, the Lincoln Stars are 5-1-0 in the six games since they brought on goaltender coach Chris Holt to help Jackson Teichroeb and Michael Bitzer.  In those six games, Teichroeb and Bitzer have surrendered only 13 goals.  Coincidence?

As I mentioned above, the Stars are back at the IceBox this upcoming Friday for a huge tilt against the Omaha Lancers.  That is definitely a game you do not want to miss.

Go Stars.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 3, Sioux City 2

Vinni Lettieri scores in the first period
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars gutted out a 3-2 victory Friday night in Sioux City, IA over the Musketeers to claim two important points in franchise game #1,000. 

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The Stars are now 7-3-0 in their last 10 games played.

The win improved Lincoln's record to 35-21-3 (73 points), good enough still for third place in the USHL Western Conference.  The two teams below Lincoln in the standings, Waterloo and Omaha, both won last night.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.


Scoring for the good guys last night was Vinni Lettieri, Justin Woods, and Phil Marinaccio.  Lettieri led all Stars with two points (1g, 1a), and was +2 on the night.  Jackson Teichroeb once again stood tall in net, stopping 26 of 28 shots on goal to win his third straight game, and 14th overall.

It's a beautiful day here in Lincoln, and I have a ton of stuff to do, so I will try to update this article later today with a full recap.

The Stars are in Sioux Falls tonight to take on the first-place Stampede, who surprising lost at home last night to the Omaha Lancers.  Unfortunately, I think that means the Stars will face a pissed off Sioux Falls club tonight. 

Go Stars.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux City and Sioux Falls


The Lincoln Stars will embark on their last full road trip of the regular season this weekend when they travel to Sioux City, IA on Friday night to face the Musketeers, and then to Sioux Falls, SD on Saturday evening to battle the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Puck drops at 7:00pm CST on Friday, and at 7:05pm CST on Saturday.

If you can't make it to any of the road games this weekend, you can follow the boxscores on Pointstreak, lsiten to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the games online via FastHockey.com for a fee.

The Stars are currently 34-1-3 (71 points), and are in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.  The Stars are now six points behind the second-place Fargo Force, and five points ahead of the the fourth-place Waterloo Blackhawks.  The top four teams in each conference make the playoffs this season.  The Stars have six games remaining in the 2012-13 regular season.

First up for the good guys this weekend will be the Sioux City Musketeers, who have a record of 19-28-11 (42 points) and are tied with the Des Moines Buccaneers for last place in the USHL Western Conference.  This will be the eighth and final time that the Stars and Muskies face one another this season.  The Stars are 6-1-0 in the seven previous contests against Sioux City this season.  Their last meeting took place in Lincoln on 3/5/13 with the Muskies embarrassing the Stars by a score of 6-2.

This road game in Sioux City is a very historic one for the Lincoln Stars organization.  It will be the 1,000th regular season game in team history.  The Stars have a 595-324-80 all-time record in their previous 999 games in the USHL.  The BlueLine Booster Club, with some help from radio announcer Mike Melbye, organized a bus trip for fans wanting to experience game #1,000 in person.  I will be one of the 100+ people taking two buses up to Sioux City Friday night.  A lot of other Stars fans will be driving on their own up to this game, so there should be a very large contingent of Lincoln fans in attendance.  If you're interested in going to this game, make sure you call ahead and try to get tickets in Section 114 at the Tyson Events Center in SC.  I believe most, if not all, Stars fans will be sitting in 114.

On Saturday, the Stars will play Game #1,001 in Sioux Falls, SD against the first-place Stampede, who sport an impressive record of 42-14-4 (86 points).  Like the game against the Muskies, this will be the eighth and final time that the Stars and Stampede face one another this season.  The Stars are 2-4-1 in the seven previous contests against the 'Pede this season.

In my opinion, the Stampede are the best team in the USHL right now.  They are the only team in the USHL Western Conference to clinch a playoff spot.  Sioux Falls is riding a seven-game winning streak, and have won four in a row against the Lincoln Stars.  The Stars have only scored a total of three goals in their last three games against Sioux Falls.  The Stampede play Friday night at home against the Omaha Lancers, so let's hope that the Lancers tire out Sioux Falls in that game, but lose in regulation.

With six games remaining, the Stars are sitting comfortable in third place in the west...but they have not clinched a playoff spot.  Getting at least 2 points this weekend is a must.  3 points would be really nice, and 4 points would be just awesome.  The Stars can't afford to lose both games in regulation this weekend while the Waterloo Blackhawks and Omaha Lancers are nipping at their heels.

Go Stars.

Note:  For those of you out there who are going on one of the two buses Friday afternoon, here are the particulars in case you forgot.  The buses will arrive at the North 27th Street Walmart at 2:30pm.  The buses will depart promptly at 3:00pm.  The buses will stop around 3:45p-4:00pm at the Sapp Bros truck stop in Omaha to pick up additional passengers.  The convoy will then travel to the Tyson Event Center in Sioux City.  If you ordered tickets, the booster club will disperse them once the buses have arrived at the TEC.  Alcohol is permitted on the bus, but the bus company only allows aluminum cans.  Due to limited space, please refrain from bringing very large coolers.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Snapshots of the Game: Omaha vs. Lincoln 3/23

A big thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Omaha-Lincoln game that was played last Saturday night at the IceBox.  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.

Brad Hawkinson reacts after scoring the game-winning, OT goal.  I love this photo!

Snapshots of the Game: Sioux Falls vs. Lincoln 3/22

Much thanks as always go out to Jeff White and Starstruck for letting me share their photos from the the Sioux Falls-Lincoln game from Friday night with you.  Make sure you check out Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photo" Facebook page, and Jeff White's "Depicted Image" Facebook page.  If you're on Facebook, make sure you "Like" their pages so you can be updated throughout this season with their work.

Click the "Read more" link underneath the photo below to see all of the snapshots in this series.

A break in the action after a Sioux Falls shot shattered a pane of glass behind the Lincoln net in the 2nd period

Saturday, March 23, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Omaha 2, Lincoln 3 OT

Brad Hawkinson reacts after scoring the GWG in overtime
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Brad Hawkinson scored the dramatic overtime game-winning goal tonight in front of a sold-out IceBox to propel the Lincoln Stars to a 3-2 OT victory over the Omaha Lancers.  The win snapped Omaha's five-game winning streak over the Stars this season.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The win improved Lincoln's record to 34-21-3 (71 points), good enough for third place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.


I'll try to update this blog article tomorrow when I have more time.  I wanted to get something up tonight in case any fans out there wanted to leave comments.

Scoring for the Stars tonight was Luke Johnson (PP), Dominik Shine, and of course Brad Hawkinson.  Jackson Teichroeb had a tremendous game tonight, stopping 30 of 32 for his 13th win of the season.  When the Stars were playing timid in the third period, and Omaha was swarming, Teichroeb was a calming presence between the pipes.  He's a big reason why the Stars got the two points.

Big, big win tonight against a hungry Omaha club fighting to make the playoffs.  The Stars really helped themselves with the two points tonight to further distance themselves from the fifth-place Lancers, and the fourth-place Waterloo Blackhawks (who lost 4-1 tonight to the Dubuque Fighting Saints).

Enjoy the win, folks!  Go Stars!

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux Falls 2, Lincoln 1

Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The visiting Sioux Falls Stampede scored a goal in the first and last minutes of the second period in route to a 2-1 victory over the Lincoln Stars Friday night at the IceBox.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars dropped to 33-21-3 (69 points) but they are still in sole possession of third place in the USHL Western Conference.

The Stars are now three points ahead of the fourth place Waterloo Blackhawks (66 points), who lost in OT last night to the second place Fargo Force (75 points).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Sioux Falls extended their winning streak to six games overall, and seven in a row on the road.



It looked good early on for the Lincoln Stars in this game.  They came out very aggressive  and peppered Stampede goaltender Charlie Lindgren with shot after shot.  Lincoln's effort was rewarded when Riley Bourbonnais batted a loose puck up and over Lindgren at the 2:31 mark of the first period to give the Stars an early 1-0 lead.  Paul LaDue and Phil Marinaccio picked up the assists on Riley's 24th goal of the season.

Little did the fans in attendance know that the Bourbonnais goal would be the only one scored by the Stars that night.  Lindgren stood on his head the rest of the game and led his team to victory.

Lincoln outshot Sioux Falls 14-9 in the first period, and took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Stampede tied the game up at 1-1 just 44 seconds into the second period when Thomas Forgione scored on a quick one-timer right out in front of Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer.  In his last four games against the Lincoln Stars, Forgione has scored 6 points (4g, 2a).

For the most part, I thought the Stampede controlled the play in the second period, which was opposite of the first period.  The Stars did have a great opportunity to tie the game in the second half of the second period when SF's Dennis Kravchenko picked up a double minor for high-sticking.

Unfortunately for the Stars, their powerplay woes continued tonight and they were barely able to put a shot on goal for most of the four-minute powerplay.  Give some credit to the Stampede for playing very aggressive on the penalty-kill, and not allowing the Stars to get the puck into the dirty areas in front of the net.  Most of the shots that came on the extended powerplay were from the perimeter, and were not high quality shots.

The dagger came with only 41 seconds remaining in the second period when Kravchenko scored the eventual game-winner for the Stampede.  Sioux Falls quieted the crowd and took the 2-1 lead into the second intermission.  The 'Pede outshot Lincoln 12-8 in the second period.

In the third period, both teams put 10 shots on goal, but neither squad would find the back of the net.  The Stars pulled Michael Bitzer for the extra attacker very late in the game in hopes of scoring that game-tying goal, but Lindgren (as he did all game long) shut the door.

Stars outshot the Stampede 32-31 overall.  Michael Bitzer stopped 29 of 31 in the loss, and Charlie Lindgren stopped 31 of 32 for the win.  Deservedly so, Lindgren was named the #1 star of the game.

It's not very often that the Stars have more powerplay opportunities in a game compared to their opponent, but that's what happened last night.  The Stars went 0-for-5 on the PP, while the Stampede went 0-for-3.

Overall, I didn't think the Stars played that bad in this game.  Other than the two hiccups in the second period, I thought Lincoln played a very solid game.  Yes, the powerplay looked pretty bad at times, but what's new.  Sioux Falls is a very, very good team (best in the USHL, in my opinion), so losing a close one to the Stampede isn't anything the Stars should hang their heads over.

The Stars brought up affiliate defenseman Parker Reno to play last night, which was a bit of a surprise in my opinion.  Reno was a draft pick of the Lincoln Stars in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft.  Reno just completed his senior season at Edina High School (MN), where his team won the state 2A championship.  Parker has committed to RPI (same as Riley Bourbonnais, Jimmy DeVito, and Jake Wood).  Reno was a finalist for Minnesota's "Mr. Hockey Award," given to the state's top senior high school hockey player.

Everything I've heard is that Reno will attend RPI this upcoming fall, so I was surprised that the Stars would bring up a player from their affiliate list who isn't planning on coming to Lincoln next season.  Last weekend, the Stars brought up affiliate forward/defenseman Tyler Nanne, who just happens to play for the same Edina team as Reno.  Nanne should be playing in Lincoln next season.  I figured that Reno wasn't interested in playing in Lincoln since he committed to RPI for this fall.  Chad Johnson stated on the radio that they are working on getting Reno to report to Lincoln this fall, so we'll have to wait and see how that plays out.    Reno is a big, rangy defenseman which a ton of upside.  He'd be a great addition to the team next season if he decides to defer his commitment to RPI until 2014.

Stars are back at the IceBox tonight for an even bigger tilt against the Omaha Lancers, who haven't played a game since last Friday, March 15th.  Hopefully they'll be a little rusty tonight.  The key for Lincoln in this game is to stay out of the penalty box.  Omaha has done very well on the PP against the Stars this season.  Lincoln can't afford to give up too many PP opportunities to the Lancers tonight and still expect to win.  If the Stars can play as disciplined tonight as they did against the Stampede, I think they'll be ok.

Go Stars.

Note:  Here are the totals from the jersey auction last night. The picture posted above shows the specially designed jerseys by Stars trainer Corey Courtney.  The Lincoln Stars raised a total of $44,650 for the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life."  Awesome!  We truly do have the best fans in the USHL!

Eric Schurhamer:  $1500
Garrett Brossart:  $1200
Riley Bourbonnais:  $1600
Max Humitz:  $1000
Daniel Willett:  $1350
Zack Pittman:  $1200
Phil Marinaccio:  $1150
Jake Wood:  $2100
Jackson Teichroeb:  $1200
Michael Bitzer:  $2300
Justin Woods:  $1800
Zach Frye:  $1950
Jimmy DeVito:  $3500
Zach Aston-Reese:  $1300
Brad Hawkinson:  $1600
Vinni Lettieri:  $1900
Luke Johnson:  $1900
Tommy Schutt:  $1400
Eric Scheid:  $1500
Will Suter:  $1500
Dominik Shine:  $4200
Mike McKee:  $3000
Paul LaDue:  $2200
Team Jersey:  $2300

Thursday, March 21, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Sioux Falls and Omaha

The Lincoln Stars will be back at the IceBox this weekend for two big home games against western conference foes as they fight to lock up a playoff spot in the west.  On Friday, the Stars will host the first-place Sioux Falls Stampede.  Saturday evening, the Stars will knock heads with the Omaha Lancers.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for each game.

If you are unable 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.

Lincoln has a record of 33-20-3 (69 points) and are in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Stars are only four points behind the second-place Fargo Force (73 points), and four points ahead of the fourth-place Waterloo Blackhawks (65 points).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

First up for the Stars this weekend will be the Sioux Falls Stampede who have a record of 40-14-4 (82 points) and have a firm grip on first place in the west.  The 'Pede have five in a row overall, and six in a row on the road.

This will be the seventh time the Stars and Stampede meet this season.  Their eighth and final meeting will take place on Saturday, March 30th in Sioux Falls.  Lincoln has a 2-3-1 record in their six previous contests against the Stampede.  Sioux Falls has outscored 21-14 in those six matchups.

The Stars will finish up the weekend homestand on Saturday night with a huge tilt against the Omaha Lancers.  The Lancers have a record of 32-24-0 (64 points) and are in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  As of right now, Omaha is on the outside looking in with regard to the western conference playoff race.  Only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs.

It's well documented how the Lancers have had Lincoln's number this season, and last.  These two teams have played a total of 15 games going back to the start of the 2011-12 season, and the Lancers have a record of 12-3-0.

Omaha has won five in a row over Lincoln coming into this weekend's game, which includes a 4-2 victory at the "Mutual of Omaha" outdoor game at TD Ameritrade Park on February 9th.  It seems like just about team in the west, other than the Stars, have had no problems beating Omaha this season.  The Lancers can't afford to lose this game and stay in the playoff race, so they will be ready to play.  I'm sure the Stars are sick and tired of losing to their arch rival, so you know they will be pumped up also.  This game should be another classic matchup between two teams who really hate one another.

Seems like every weekend we are all saying that these next couple of games are the most important the Stars will play this season.  It's a broken record.  Truthfully, every game is important at this point.  Last weekend, Lincoln exploded for 12 goals against Waterloo and Green Bay.  They probably played their best hockey of the season, so let's hope that continues this weekend.  Lincoln's foes last Friday and Saturday night were very tough, and it doesn't get any easier this weekend.

Considering what's on the line, and how important these two games are, it's important that we pack the IceBox and give the boys 100% support.  More than ever, the teams needsI believe both games are already close to selling out, so the atmosphere should be rocking.  Be loud and proud!

Go Stars.

Edit:  Don't forget that the Stars will be having their jersey auction tonight (Friday) after the game against the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Here's a quote from the Lincoln Stars website:  "On Friday, March 22nd vs Sioux Falls, the Stars will hold their annual "Jerseys Off Our Backs" Jersey Auction to benefit the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life". The team will wear specially designed, one-of-a-kind jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game in a live auction."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Congratulations to Will Suter!

Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Per his Twitter account, Lincoln Stars alternate captain Will Suter announced that he has committed to Bentley University this upcoming fall.

Bentley University is a private university located in Waltham, Massachusetts, which is 10 miles west of Boston.

Will is playing his second season with the Lincoln Stars.  In 102 games for the black and blue, Suter has scored 49 points (18g, 31a), 35  PIM's, and is +8.

I'm not sure you'll find another player in the entire USHL who works as hard as Will does each and every shift.  He's a great example for the younger players on this Stars team.  In my opinion, he's one of the best penalty-killers I've ever seen play here in Lincoln.  He's tenacious on the PK.


Hard work brought him back to Lincoln and the USHL after a brief stint in the NAHL in 2010-11.  He busted his butt at Lincoln's tryout camp in 2011 as a free agent, and eventually made the team.  One season later he was named an alternate captain for the Stars.  Will is a living example of hard work paying off in the long run.

Bentley University is getting one heck of a hockey player, and more importantly, one heck of a person.  Best of luck to Will next season in Boston!

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

Snapshots of the Game: Green Bay vs. Lincoln 3/16

I apologize for taking so long to post these photos.  I haven't had a lot of time to devote to the blog as of late.  A big thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Green Bay-Lincoln game that was played last Saturday night at the IceBox.  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.

Stars congratulate Michael Bitzer after the win

Saturday, March 16, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Green Bay 2, Lincoln 6

Eric Scheid scores a PP goal in the 2nd period
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars exploded for 5 goals in the second period in route to a dominating 6-2 win over the Green Bay Gamblers in front of a sellout crowd at the IceBox tonight.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The win improved Lincoln's record to 33-20-3 (69 points) , and they are still all alone in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  The two teams behind the Stars in the standings (Waterloo and Omaha), did not play tonight, so Lincoln really helped themselves by getting the two points tonight.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.


Scoring for the Stars tonight was: Eric Scheid (PP), Luke Johnson (PP), Phil Marinaccio, Riley Bourbonnais, Dominik Shine, and Justin Woods (empty-net goal). Paul LaDue and Vinni Lettieri both picked up 3 assists a piece.  Michael Bitzter stopped 23 of 25 shots on goal for his 21st win of the season.

I will update this article with a full recap sometime on Sunday when I have more time.  In the meantime, please leave a comment below!

Huge weekend as the Stars picked up all four possible points to distance themselves from Waterloo and Omaha.  The Stars picked a perfect time to score 12 goals over the course of two games.  Hopefully they can keep that momentum going into next weekend when they face Sioux Falls and Omaha at the IceBox.

Go Stars.

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 6, Waterloo 4

Five different players scored for Lincoln Friday night at Young Arena in Waterloo, as the Stars cruised by the Blackhawks by a score of 6-4.  If this game were made into a horror movie, it would be called "Silence of the Cowbells" starring Eric Scheid, Michael Bitzer, and Luke Johnson.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

Lincoln finished with a 3-1-0 record in four games against Waterloo this season, so the Stars won the regular season series against the 'Hawks.

The big road win improved Lincoln's record to 32-20-3 (67 points) and they are now all alone in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Stars are two points ahead of the fourth place Waterloo Blackhawks (65 points), and three points ahead of the fifth place Omaha Lancers (64 points).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I wasn't around a PC or radio for most of this game, so this recap will be very short.  If anyone out there watched or listened to the game, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear from you.

My first thought after looking at the boxscore, and noticing that Kenny Anderson was one of the refs was, "How did Waterloo not have 15 powerplay opportunities in this game?"

The Stars got out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to Paul LaDue's 11th goal of the season at the 2:44 mark of the first period.  Waterloo would answer with two goals of their own later in the first period to close out the scoring in the first twenty minutes.

Waterloo took the 2-1 lead into the first intermission, and outshot Lincoln 12-5 in the first period.

From what I've been told, the second period of this game was pretty crazy.  Waterloo got on the scoreboard first and increased their lead to 3-1 with a goal at the 8:53 mark.  After that, it was all Lincoln.  The Stars scored the next three goals to take a 4-3 lead into the second intermission.

Eric Scheid scored first at the 12:11 mark to pull Lincoln to within one goal.  Dominik Shine would score at the 15:48 mark to knot the game up at 3-3.  Scheid would add his second goal of the period at the 18:19 mark to give Lincoln it's second lead of the game at 4-3.  Scheid's second goal came on the powerplay.

Lincoln outshot Waterloo 14-13 in the second period.

Waterloo came out strong in the third period and put 18 shots on goal, but Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 17 of those and Lincoln scored two more goals to secure the two points on the road.

After Waterloo scored early in the third period to tie the score at 4-4, Stars forward Luke Johnson scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal at the 7:54 mark to give Lincoln a 5-4 lead.  Zach Aston-Reese would add the icing on the cake with a very pretty goal just 16 seconds after Johnson's tally to give the Stars a 6-4 lead.

Waterloo outshot Lincoln 43-27 overall, but the Stars had the better goaltending.  Michael Bitzer stopped 39 of 43 for his 20th win of the season.  Waterloo goaltender Eamon McAdam stopped 21 of 27 in the loss.    The Stars went 1-for-2 on the powerplay (only two PP opportunities, refs?), while Waterloo went 1-for-5 with the man advantage.

Huge, huge win Friday night at Young Arena in Waterloo....a place where the Stars traditionally have had a hard time winning games.  Lincoln lost 10-2 the last time they played in that rink, so I'm sure the players were pumped up to have a better showing and prove they can win on the big ice sheet at Young Arena.  Not having USHL referee clown Tommy Albindia on the ice probably helped, also.

Very proud of the players and coaches for the big win last night.  They will have another quality opponent tonight at the IceBox with the Green Bay Gamblers who beat the Omaha Lancers last night in Ralston by a score of 6-1.  Tonight's tilt should be an awesome game in front of a sellout crowd.  Can't wait.

Go Stars.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Waterloo and Green Bay

The Lincoln Stars will certainly have their hands full this weekend when they take on the Waterloo Blackhawks on the road on Friday, and the Green Bay Gamblers at the IceBox on Saturday.  The puck will drop at 7:05pm CST for both contests.

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 31-20-3 (65 points), and are tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for third place in the UHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.  Lincoln, Waterloo, and Omaha (one point behind the Stars and Blackhawks) are all fighting for two playoff spots in the west.

First up for the good guys this weekend will be the Waterloo Blackhawks, who sport a record of 31-19-3 (65 points) and as mentioned above, are tied with the Stars for third place in the USHL Western Conference.  This will be the fourth and final time the Stars and 'Hawks play one another in the 2012-13 regular season.  Lincoln is 2-1-0 in the three prior games against Waterloo this season.

You only have to glance at the standings to understand how important this game is.  If Lincoln can get the two points, they'll be all alone in third place and will have won the season series against Waterloo.  If the Stars and 'Hawks are tied at the end of the season, the tie-breaker is the head-to-head regular season record.  So this is a huge, huge game.

The last time Lincoln took on the Blackhawks at Young Arena in Waterloo, IA, the Stars were blown out by a score of 10-2 on New Year's Eve.  Thanks to Tommy Albindia, the Blackhawks were awarded a whopping 15 powerplay opportunities, and scored on 8 of them.  Let's hope "Tommy Boy" isn't officiating the game fight night in Waterloo.

Saturday evening, the Stars will be back at the IceBox to face the Green Bay Gamblers who sport a record of 32-17-3 (67 points).  Like the Muskegon Lumberjacks who visited the IceBox last Friday, the Gamblers will play the Stars only one time in the 2012-13 season.

The Gamblers have dominated the USHL the past 4 season or so.  Green Bay has won the Anderson Cup (top regular season record) three of the last four seasons, and are the reigning Clark Cup champions.  The Gamblers won the Clark Cup in 2009-10, also.

While the Dubuque Fighting Saints have gotten all the hype and publicity in the eastern conference this season, the Gamblers have quietly put together a solid season. However, the 2012-13 campaign didn't start well for GB.  They stumbled out of the gate with a lackluster 1-7-2 record in their first 10 games this season.  For the first month of the season, they occupied last place in the east.  They have really turned it around since and have to be considered one of the top 3 or 5 teams in the entire league.

Four points up for grabs this weekend against two very good hockey clubs.  Getting two points is a must to stay relevant in the playoff race, in my opinion.  Finishing the weekend with 3-4 points would be ideal, but that won't be easy.  The Stars will have to find a way to stay out of the penalty box in both games, but especially in Waterloo since the Blackhawks' PP unit is deadlier than smallpox in the middle ages.  Staying out of the box in Waterloo might be easier said than done depending on the officiating crew.

Go Stars.

Edit:  Per the Lincoln Stars' Twitter account, the team has hired former AHL and NHL netminder Chris Holt as its new goaltending coach.  Click here to read the tweet.  Click here to view Chris Holts' Wikipedia page.  This news certainly came out of left field, but it's nice to see the team hire a goaltending coach.  The timing of the hiring is a bit strange, coming at the end of this season.  Holt spent the 2012-13 season playing in Russia for a KHL team.  Assuming his season is over, which I think it is, the timing of this hire makes a little more sense.  Chris does have a Nebraska connection as he played for UNO from 2003-05.

Here's a video of some analysis Chris Holt did back in December after watching some Stars games:



Here's a video of an interview Chris Holt did a few years ago while playing in the KHL:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Fargo 4

A late third period comeback was not enough Tuesday night in Fargo as the Lincoln Stars fell to the Force by a score of 4-2.  The Stars finished their regular season series against Fargo with a 4-4-0 record in 8 games.  The Force finished with a 4-2-2 record.

Click here to view the Pointstreak.

The loss dropped the Stars to 31-20-3 (65 points), and with Waterloo's 4-1 win over the Chicago Steel last night, the Blackhawks are now tied with Lincoln for third place in the USHL Western Conference.

The Stars are currently five points behind the second place Force, and three points ahead of fifth place Omaha.  The Lancers play tonight (Wed) at home against the Tri-City Storm.  Click here to view the USHL standings.

I did not watch this game on FASTHockey, but I did listen to the radio broadcast.

In the first period, with about 8 minutes remaining, it appeared that Lincoln would take an early 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Jimmy DeVito.  However, after the goal was initially called as good, it was later ruled that Fargo goaltender Brendan Jensen was interfered with.  DeVito's goal was disallowed and the score remained at 0-0.

In the second period, Fargo got on the scoreboard first with a goal from Austin Ortega at the 8:13 mark.  About a minute and a half after Ortega's goal, with the Force up 1-0, Stars forward Eric Scheid was whistled for a 5 minute major penalty for charging into Fargo goaltender Brendan Jensen.  The Force capitalized on the long PP with a goal from Alex Iafallo at the 13:09 mark.

I've since seen video of Scheid's penalty, and it was a very bad call.  Eric got around a Force defenseman wide using his speed, and was driving towards the net before he was pushed from behind at the last minute causing him to knock into Jensen.  Scheid was able to put a shot on goal, but it was saved.  I like to think I can be objective about calls against the Stars, and in my opinion, the play was not a penalty....and certainly wasn't worth a major penalty.

Regardless, the Force had all the momentum after the Iafallo PP goal and took the 2-0 lead into the second intermission.  Fargo outshot Lincoln 15-6 in the second period, largely due to the PP's they had.

Fargo increased their lead to 3-0 later in the third period with a goal from Dominic Toninato at the 12:51 mark.  Things were looking bleak for the Stars, but forward Tommy Schutt gave his team some life with a goal scored less than a minute after Toninato's tally.

Later in the third period, with Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer pulled for the extra attacker, Vinni Lettieri scored at the 18:03 mark to pull Lincoln to within one goal.  Suddenly, the Stars were in this game.

However, try as they might, Lincoln could not get that game-tying goal.

Austin Ortega potted an empty net goal with less than one minute remaining to finish out the scoring.  Lincoln put 17 shots on goal in the third period, but could only get two shots past Jensen.

Fargo outshot the Stars 41-35 overall.  The Force went 1-for-4 on the powerplay while Lincoln went 1-for-5.  Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 37 of 40 shots in the loss.  Force goaltender Brendan Jensen stopped 33 of 35 for the win.

Lincoln has surrendered 83 shots on goal in their last two games, both of which were against Fargo.  That's a lot of pucks for Michael Bitzer to stop.  From talking to other Stars fans who watched this game online, it sounded like Fargo had quite a few breakaway chances in this game which were all stopped by Bitzer.

The Stars dressed only five defensemen in this game due to an injury to Zach Frye, and a one game suspension to Mike McKee.  Frye was hit in the head last Friday by Muskegon's Cameron Darcy, and has not played since.  The good news is that Darcy, who wasn't whistled for a penalty at the time, has since been given a four-game suspension by the USHL.  So obviously that was a missed call by the referee that night.

Lincoln will head out to Waterloo this Friday night to face the Blackhawks for the final time in the regular season.  After losing their first meeting (in Waterloo) by a score of 10-3, the Stars have reeled off two dominating wins against the Blackhawks to take a 2-1-0 series lead.  Both teams are tied with 65 points in the west, so this will be a huge game.  On Saturday, Lincoln will be back at the IceBox to battle the Green Bay Gamblers.

Go Stars.

Monday, March 11, 2013

B³ Pregame Report: Lincoln Stars vs. Fargo Force 3/12

The Lincoln Stars will be back at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND this Tuesday when they battle the Fargo Force for the last time in the 2012-13 regular season.  Puck drops at 7:05pm.

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

The Stars are currently 31-19-3 (65 points), and in third place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is only three points behind the second place Fargo Force.  Click here to view the current USHL standings. 

As I just mentioned, Fargo is in second place in the western conference with a record of 31-16-6 (68 points).  They are 16-7-3 at home this season, and 7-2-1 in their last ten games played.  Lincoln is responsible for two of those three losses (one in regulation, one in overtime).

The Force and Stars have met seven times so far this season, and Lincoln holds a 4-3-0 record.  The Stars have beat the Force the last two times they have played.

Lincoln is coming off a wild and crazy 6-5 OT win this past Saturday over the Fargo Force in which Stars captain Dominik Shine scored the OT game-winner.  The Stars had a 5-1 lead in that game, but allowed the Force to storm back with four unanswered goals to send it to overtime.

It was great to see the Stars bear down in the OT period and get the two points, but it was also very disappointing to see the team give up a four-goal lead in the third period.  The Stars went into a shell in the third, and played not to lose, allowing the Force to control the pace of the game.

Per Pointstreak, Stars defenseman Mike McKee picked up a one-game suspension due to his actions in Saturday's game at Fargo, so he will not be in the lineup for this game.  Tough loss, especially since defenseman Zach Frye is still dinged up after getting an elbow to the head last Friday night against Muskegon.  I'm not sure if Frye has been cleared to play or not.  If he has not been cleared, the Stars will be down to only five defenseman for the Tuesday tilt against Fargo.

This game is going to be a tough one for sure.  The Force will definitely be fired up after losing at home this past Saturday.  Hopefully the Stars can get out to a quick lead and hold it.

Go Stars.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 6, Fargo 5 OT

The Lincoln Stars had a 5-1 third period lead in Fargo last night, then gave up four straight Force goals before winning the game in overtime by a score of 6-5.  Stars captain Dominik Shine scored the game-winning OT goal.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The dramatic win improved Lincoln's record to 31-19-3 (65 points), good enough for third place in the USHL Western Conference.  As you can see with the graphic below, the Stars are now only three points out of second place in the west, but also five points out of fifth place.

If the playoffs started today, Sioux Falls, Fargo, Lincoln, and Waterloo would be playing postseason hockey.  Omaha would not.  Only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs.


I wasn't around a radio or computer last night, so I was unable to follow this game.  If you were listening or watching, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

After surrendering the first goal of the game to Force all-star forward Austin Ortega, the Stars ripped off FIVE unanswered goals over the course of the first, second, and third periods to take a commanding 5-1 lead.

Leading the way for the good guys was the line of Eric Scheid-Luke Johnson-Vinni Lettieri.  Those three players accounted for five of Lincoln's six goals scored last night.  Luke Johnson was the top point getter in the game with five points (1g, 4a) scored.  Vinni Lettieri wasn't too far behind with four points (2g, 2a), and Eric Scheid broke out of his mini four-game slump with three points (2g, 1a).

So with 16 minutes remaining in the third period, the Stars had a 5-1 lead and I would think most thought they would cruise to a blowout victory.  Wrong.

The Force did a 180 and scored four straight goals to send the game to overtime.  Looking at the boxscore, it appears Fargo got some help from Lincoln thanks to some penalties.  Fargo put a whopping 22 shots on goal in the third period in their furious rush to tie it up.  The game-tying goal came with only 43 seconds remaining after the Force pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker.

Thankfully, Dominik Shine put the Stars on his back and scored a clutch goal 1:22 into the five-minute OT period to win it for Lincoln.  Apparently, the puck either went through the net, or in and out of the net so fast that the officials didn't notice it at first.  Shine and his teammates celebrated the goal even though it play was allowed to continue.  After a break in the action, the referee conferred with the off-ice officials and Shine's goal was counted.  I assume the off-ice officials looked at video available and were able to confirm it.

I've since heard from fans who were listening to the Fargo radio tandem (Mike Melbye did not travel with the team), and the Force radio guys also confirmed that the goal went into the net.  If anyone out there was able to get video of Shine's OT goal, please let me know.  You can email me at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 37 of 42 shots to record the win, his 19th of the season.  Lincoln went 1-for-2 on the powerplay, while the Force went 2-for-7 with the man advantage.  One again, a big disparity in powerplay chances between the Stars and their opponent.

Great four-point weekend for the Stars against two very good teams (Muskegon, Fargo).  Lincoln will stay up in North Dakota for the next couple of days as they play the Force again this Tuesday.

Go Stars.

Edit:  Here's a .gif and a screen shot of Shine's OT goal from last night that I got from a USHL message board I frequent.  It's hard to see the puck, but it certainly appears Shine's shot went through the net.  Impressive.




Saturday, March 9, 2013

Snapshots of the Game: Muskegon vs. Lincoln 3/8

I've been slacking as of late with posting photos from the past few games.  My apologies for that.

As always, a big thanks go out to Starstruck for allowing me to share her pictures from the Muskegon-Lincoln game that was played Friday night at the IceBox.  Make sure you follow Starstruck's "Shooting Star Photos" page on Facebook to be updated throughout the season.  I'm going to post some links below to albums posted by "Shooting Star Photos" of previous games.  Make sure you check those out.

Sioux City vs. Lincoln (3/5)
Lincoln vs. Fargo (3/2)
Lincoln vs. Fargo (3/1)

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

Jackson Teichroeb

B³ Postgame Recap: Muskegon 2, Lincoln 5

Stars celebrate the big win over Muskegon
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars scored five unanswered goals to start the game Friday night at the IceBox to beat the Muskegon Lumberjacks by a score of 5-2.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 30-19-3 (63 points) and are now all alone in third place in the USHL Western Conference thanks to Cedar Rapids' 2-1 win over Waterloo (61 points) Friday night.  Even better, Tri-City beat Omaha last night by a score of 6-3.

Click here to view the current USHL standings.



This game was pretty much over just 11 seconds in when Dominik Shine scored on an odd-man rush to put the Stars up 1-0.  Before some fans had a chance to even find their seats, the IceBox was already rocking and the Lumberjacks didn't know what hit them.

Other goal scorers for the Stars last night was Zach Aston-Reese (PP), Phil Marinaccio, Will Suter, and Riley Bourbonnais.  The line of Shine-ZAR-DeVito was once again Lincoln's best last night.  Shine and ZAR both finished with two points a piece.

Jackson Teichroeb played very well in net, stopping 24 of 26 for the win.  Lincoln went 1-for-2 on the powerplay, while Muskegon went 0-for-2.

The Stars have a tough game ahead of them tonight when they have to drive all the way up to Fargo, ND to take on the Force.  The Force will be plenty rested as they did not play last night.

Go Stars.

P.S. Section C did a great version of the "Harlem Shake" last night at the IceBox.  The Lincoln Stars' official Facebook page posted video of it, which I will include below.  Despite this particular internet fad being played out (in my opinion), I thought Section C did a great job.  It looked great from the other side of the IceBox.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Muskegon and Fargo

The Lincoln Stars will face an unfamiliar foe, and a very familiar foe this weekend when they battle the Muskegon Lumberjacks at the IceBox on Friday, and the Fargo Force at Sheels Arena on Saturday.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for each game.

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 29-19-3 (61 points), and are tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for third place in the UHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.  Lincoln, Waterloo, and Omaha are all fighting for two playoff spots in the west.

First up for the black and blue this weekend will be the Muskegon Lumberjacks, who sport a record of 27-15-10 (64 points) and are in second place in the USHL Eastern Conference.  This will be the only time the Stars and 'Jacks play one another in the 2012-13 regular season.

Amazingly, this will only be the second time that the Muskegon Lumberjacks will have played at the IceBox in Lincoln.  Their last visit to the IceBox came way back on April 1st, 2011.  In that particular game, Stars forward John McCarron scored two goals (including the game winner) and one assist to power Lincoln to a 5-4 win over Muskegon.

The 'Jacks finished the 2010-11 season in fifth place (their first season in the USHL), and finished in eighth place at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season.  Despite their struggles the past few seasons, Muskegon is playing very well this year and are one of the top teams in the eastern conference.  They were a rough and tumble team during their first two seasons in the league, finishing with 1591 penalty minutes in 2010-11 (tops in the USHL), and 1394 penalty minutes in 2011-12 (second most in the USHL).

This season, the 'Jacks stopped playing undisciplined hockey and started winning games.  Funny how that can happen.  Their team MVP has been without a doubt overager goaltender Kevin Lindskoug.  The '92 import from Sweden has an impressive record of 21-11-6 with a 2.32 goals against average and a .928% save percentage.  His 21 wins ranks as fourth best in the USHL, his 2.32 goals against is second best, and his .928% save percentage is tops in the league.

On Saturday, the Stars will have to get back on the bus for a quick road game in Fargo against the Force.  Fargo is currently in second place in the USHL Western Conference with a record of 31-16-5 (67 points).  Lincoln is 3-3-0 in six games against the Force this season.  Lincoln will play the Saturday night game in Fargo, and then will return to Scheels Arena for their last regular season meeting next Tuesday (3/12).  In their last meeting last Saturday (3/2), the Stars beat the Force by a score of 3-2.

Lincoln is coming off an disappointing 6-2 home loss to the Sioux City Musketeers this past Tuesday.  The Stars couldn't stay out of the penalty box in that lopsided loss, and surrendered three PP goals to the Muskies.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the next seven games will be a huge test for the Stars.   Lincoln will play Muskegon, Fargo (x2), Waterloo, Green Bay, Sioux Falls, and Omaha in the next seven games.  Those teams have a combined record of 180-101-23.  This Stars squad has shown throughout this season that they have the talent to beat the top teams in the USHL.  Hopefully we can see that Stars team very frequently the next couple of weeks.

On a side note, the BlueLine Booster Club still has spots available on the bus that will be going up to Sioux City, IA for the Friday 3/29/13 game against the Musketeers. This will be game #1,000 in Lincoln Stars franchise history. You may have heard Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye talking about this recently on air.  Melbye really wants to get as many Stars fans up there for this historic game.

The cost to ride the BlueLine Booster Club bus to Sioux City on 3/29 is $25, and if you get a ticket through the club, it will cost an additional $10.  If you don't want to ride in the bus but you still want to go to the game, you can buy just the tickets from the BLBC booth.  It sounds like two full buses will be making the trip up there.  There aren't a lot of seats still available from what I've been told, so make sure you stop by the BLBC booth Friday night to sign up.

Go Stars.

P.S. Just a friendly reminder for those of you planning on attending the Stars game Friday night at the IceBox. The NE boys state high school basketball tournament is being played at the Devaney Center, so the area around the IceBox will be a parking nightmare tomorrow. Give yourself plenty of time. Watch out for those out of town drivers, too.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Sioux City 6, Lincoln 2

Jimmy DeVito scores in the third period
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Lincoln Stars lost to the Sioux City Musketeers for the first time in seven games this season with a 6-2 blowout Tuesday night at the IceBox.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The loss dropped the Stars to 29-19-3 (61 points), and they are still tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for third place in the USHL Western Conference.

Click here to see the current standings.



Coming into this game, the Stars had two games in hand over the Omaha Lancers (60 points) and one game in hand over the Fargo Force (65 points).  So this particular game was a perfect opportunity for the Stars to earn some extra points to distance themselves from Omaha, and get a little closer to Fargo.  That obviously didn't happen.

I really don't have a lot of time to devote to this recap.  It was an ugly game all around.  In the waning minutes of this game, radio announcer Mike Melbye said, "The Stars are going to lose a game they can't afford to lose."  That pretty much says it all.

In many ways, this game played out just the opposite of last week's game between Sioux City and Lincoln.  In last Tuesday's 8-5 Stars win at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Lincoln took advantage of some undisciplined play by the Muskies and capitalized with 4 powerplay goals.  Yesterday, the Muskies took advantage of the undisciplined Stars and scored 3 powerplay goals in route to the 6-2 win.

Same old song, unfortunately.  Undisciplined play, poor special teams, and zero sense of urgency from the Stars.  I'd like to think that the team spends time in practice on the PP and the PK, but after watching how bad it has been most of this season, I have to wonder if it's being coached at all.

Regardless, this is one of those games the Stars have to put behind them and focus on what's ahead.

Looking at the schedule, it's not going to be easy for the Stars as they face Muskegon, Fargo (x2), Waterloo, Green Bay, Sioux Falls, and Omaha in the next seven games.  Those teams have a combined record of 180-101-23.  There are only 13 games left in the regular season, so hopefully the Stars can play with a little more consistency.  Improving on the undisciplined play and special teams would help also.

Go Stars.

Monday, March 4, 2013

B³ Pregame Report: Sioux City Musketeers vs. Lincoln Stars

For the second straight Tuesday, the Lincoln Stars will take on the Sioux City Musketeers in an important mid-week tilt.  This week, the game will be played in Lincoln, NE at the IceBox.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST.

If you can't make it to the IceBox,  you can follow the boxscore 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 sport a record of 29-18-3 (61 points), and are tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for third place in the USHL Western Conference, one point ahead of the fifth place Omaha Lancers (60 points).  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Sioux City is in last place in the USHL Western Conference with a record of 14-24-11 (39 points).

The Stars are 6-0-0 in six regular season games against the Musketeers this season.  Lincoln has outscored SC 28-14 in those six contests.  Lincoln goaltender Michael Bitzer is 5-0-0 against Sioux City, with a .907 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average.  These two teams will meet a total of eight times in the 2012-13 season.

The last time the Stars and Muskies will meet this season is on Friday, March 29th, which happens to be game #1,000 in Lincoln Stars franchise history.  More on that game later in this article, and the bus trip planned for those who'd like to watch it in person.

Just this past Tuesday, the Stars scored seven goals in the first two periods in Sioux City to beat the Musketeers by a score of 8-5.  Offensively, the Stars looked very good in that game.  Surprisingly, their powerplay unit accounted for four of the eight goals scored that night.  Defensively, however, it wasn't pretty.

As I mentioned last week, based on their six previous contests, you'd think that this would be an easy win and two points for the Stars.  That's not the case.  Although they've traded away some of their top talent for draft picks (e.g. Riley Bourbonnais), the Muskies are actually playing better hockey right now compared to a month or two ago before the fire sale.

The Muskies enter this tilt riding a two-game winning streak, both against the Omaha Lancers.  What's crazy is that Sioux City has won three in a row against the Lancers, a team that has won five in a row against Lincoln.  Meanwhile, Lincoln has won all six games against the Muskies this season.  Omaha can't beat the bottom dwellers (SC, Tri-City) of the west, but they have Lincoln's number.  The Stars haven't lost a game against SC or TC, but can't seem to beat the Lancers.  Strange season for sure.

The Stars coming off a gutsy 3-2 road victory over the Force in Fargo in which Michael Bitzer stopped 24 of 26 in the win.  I'd expect to see Bitzer in net Tuesday night at the IceBox, especially considering his record (5-0-0) against SC this season.

Win this game, and the Stars are all alone in third place in the western conference, and only two points out of second place (home ice in the first round of the playoffs).

Go Stars.

Note:  Here's another quick plug for the Lincoln Stars' BlueLine Booster Club.  The booster club is organizing a bus trip to Sioux City, IA for the Friday 3/29/13 game against the Musketeers. This will be game #1,000 in Lincoln Stars franchise history. You may have heard Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye talking about this recently on air.  Melbye really wants to get as many Stars fans up there for this historic game.

The cost to ride the BlueLine Booster Club bus to Sioux City on 3/29 is $25, and if you get a ticket through the club, it will cost an additional $10. The BLBC needs 45 people to sign up by 3/8/13 for the bus to go. If you are interested, sign up in the BLBC booth either Tuesday night, or on Friday night.

This bus trip can only happen if the club gets at least 45 people to sign up.  I'm planning on doing it, so I hope you all consider it as well.  This should be a great opportunity to hang out with other Stars fans, and support the boys in Sioux City during a very important game in Lincoln's franchise history.  I've been told that alcohol IS allowed on the bus.  Again, this can't happen if the club doesn't get at least 45 people.  So make sure you stop by the BLBC booth either on Tuesday or Friday this week to sign up.  Thanks.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 3, Fargo 2

Phil Marinaccio's 3rd period shot finds the back of the net
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Lincoln Stars head coach Chad Johnson guaranteed a win Saturday night, and his team came through with a hard-earned 3-2 road victory over the Fargo Force at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 29-18-3 (61 points) and are once again tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for third place in the USHL Western Conference.



Lincoln really helped themselves by winning last night as both Omaha and Waterloo both lost yesterday evening.  The Lancers lost (again) to the last place Sioux City Musketeers by a score of 6-2, and Waterloo lost also by a score of 6-2 to the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.

Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I was unable to watch this game via FASTHockey, so this recap will be brief.  I did listen to the radio broadcast.

Like Friday night, Fargo got out to a quick 1-0 start when Austin Ortega scored at the 5:13 mark of the first period to give the Force a 1-0 lead.  That lead would only last 7 seconds, thanks to Stars forward Riley Bourbonnais.

At the 5:20 mark, before the Force fans in attendance could finish applauding after the Ortega goal, Bourbonnais scored his fifth goal as a member of the Lincoln Stars to tie this game up at 1-1.  Jake Wood picked up the lone assist on the goal.  Bourbonnais has five points (4g, 1a) in his last four games played.

The score would remain at 1-1 going into the first intermission.  Each team put six shots on goal in the first twenty minutes of the game.

The Stars came out very, very strong in the second period and outshot the Force 19-7.  The only goal scored in the second came from the stick of Tommy Schutt, who scored at the 4:20 mark to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.  Garrett Brossart collected the lone assist on Schutt's ninth goal of the season.  Lincoln would take that 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

In the final stanza, Fargo evened the score at 2-2 with a goal from Alex Iafallo just one minute and twenty seven seconds into the third period.

The game-winning goal came at the 10:36 mark of the third period when a Phil Marinaccio shot squeaked past Cam Johnson and barely over the goal line.  Marinaccio has scored 7 points (3g, 4a) in his last five games played.  Since being acquired by the Lincoln Stars, Marinaccio has 19 points (8g, 11a) in 18 games played.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer, who grew up just outside of Fargo, stopped 24 of 26 shots on goal in the win, which was his 18th of the season.  From the sounds of it, Bitzer had to make a number of big saves late in the game after the Force had pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker.

Both teams went 0-for-2 on the powerplay.  Lincoln outshot Fargo 36-26 overall.  In the two road games in Fargo this weekend, the Stars put a whopping 78 shots on goal.  If it wasn't for a red hot Cam Johnson in Friday's game, the Stars would be coming home with four points instead of two.

Huge road win for the good guys to even up the weekend series against the Force.  They should all be very proud of their effort.

The Stars will be back in action in just a few days when they host the Sioux City Musketeers at the IceBox on Tuesday night.

Go Stars.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Fargo 4

A late third period comeback proved not to be enough Friday night at Sheels Arena in Fargo, ND, as the Lincoln Stars fell by a score of 4-2 to the Fargo Force.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The loss dropped the Stars to 28-18-3 (59 points), and with Omaha's 5-1 win over Des Moines last night, Lincoln slipped back down to fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

This game turned south for Lincoln right off the bat as the Force scored just 35 seconds into it.  Due to some Stars forwards not backchecking, a Force rush turned into an odd-man opportunity and Dominic Toninato scored on an uncontested wrister past Lincoln goaltender Jackson Teichroeb.  Fargo had a lead 35 seconds into the game and never trailed.

The Force took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.  Fargo outshot Lincoln 11-9 in the first twenty minutes.

Once again early in the next period, the Force would add their second goal of the game.  57 seconds into the second period, Fargo's Dave Gust threw the puck on net and past Teichroeb to give the Force a 2-0 lead.

At the 7:23 mark of the second period, Fargo would take a 3-0 lead with Tyler Rehm's wrister from the faceoff dot.  After surrendering the third Fargo goal, Jackson Teichroeb was pulled in favor of Michael Bitzer.

Force took the 3-0 lead into the second intermission.  Lincoln put a ton of offensive pressure on the Force in the second stanza, but they could not get any pucks past Fargo goaltender Cam Johnson.  Each team put 18 shots on goal in the second period.

The Stars finally got on the scoreboard later in the third period when Luke Johnson fired a shot high on the short side of Cam Johnson to pull Lincoln to within two goals.

With Michael Bitzer pulled for the extra attacker late in the game, Tommy Schutt collected a rebound and fired it into the open net from the slot to pull Lincoln to within one goal.  All of a sudden, this was a hockey game with 1:39 left in the contest.

However, the goals were too little, too late.  The Force scored an empty-net goal with 53 seconds remaining to put the icing on the cake.

Shots were 42-36 in favor of the Lincoln Stars.  Lincoln went 0-for-1 on the powerplay while Fargo went 0-for-3.  Jackson Teichroeb stopped 15 of 18 shots on goal in the loss.  Michael Bitzer stopped all 17 shots he faced after relieving Teichroeb in net.  Fargo goaltender Cam Johnson turned out to be the player of the game, as he stood on his head and stopped 40 of 42 Lincoln shots on goal.

Offensively, I thought the Stars did enough to win this game.  However, you can't just put a ton of shots on net and expect to win games.  Defensively, as we've seen many times this season, the Stars didn't play consistent enough to deserve against the Force.  Fargo had numerous breakaways, and like I mentioned above, Stars forwards were not backchecking at times which led to many Fargo scoring chances.

Stars head coach Chad Johnson said that the team sort of picked up playing like they did from the Tuesday game against Sioux City.  In that contest, the Stars didn't play that great defensively, and allowed the Muskies to score 5 goals.  Unlike in the SC game, the Stars were unable to score 8 goals to mask their defensive inefficiencies.

Speaking of Stars head coach Chad Johnson, he had some interesting things to say during his postgame radio interview with Mike Melbye.  You could tell Chad was very upset with what he saw from his team.  He stated that Michael Bitzer will start tonight (Sat), and that Bitzer could start the rest of this season.  He was not happy at all with Jackson Teichroeb.  It was surprising to hear him single out a player like that after a game.  I'm not sure I've ever heard him do that before.

Also, Chad Johnson threw out a guarantee with this quote:  "We're not leaving out of here (Fargo) without a win tomorrow night."  Hopefully that motivates the team to a win tonight, and doesn't give the hometown Fargo Force any bulletin board material.

Go Stars.