Monday, September 30, 2013

Zach Frye named USHL Defenseman of the Week

Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Congrats to Lincoln Stars defenseman Zach Frye who was named the USHL Defenseman of the Week.  Click here to read the official USHL press release.  Here's an excerpt from the article:

The Spokane, Washington native was strong on the backend over the weekend, registering three assists and a plus-two on-ice rating in a pair of losses for the Stars. The fourth-year USHL defenseman, who is one of the team’s captains, recorded his first points of the season as he assisted on all three of Lincoln’s goals in the 6-3 loss to Cedar Rapids on Friday night.  He also posted a plus-two rating to tie for the team lead.  

Frye was held off of the scoresheet on Saturday, but had an even on-ice rating and threw four shots on goal in the 2-1 overtime loss to the Tri-City Storm.  The 19-year-old is coming off of his most productive season, having recorded 11 points (3g, 8a) and a plus-23 on-ice rating in 57 games during the 2012-13 campaign. 

Nice for the Stars (and Zach) to get some recognition so soon after the season started!  Zach had a big weekend, and will be counted on to have many more this upcoming season as one of the few returning vets on this team.  Nice job, Captain!

Congrats again to Zach!  Well deserved.

Edit: Speaking of Zach, here's video from 10/11 News that shows his fight from this past Saturday in Kearney against the Tri-City Storm. Thanks to the blog reader who sent me the link to this video! Zach really lands some big bombs.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Home Opener Video - Stars Hall of Fame

On their Facebook page, the Lincoln Stars were kind enough to post the video which was shown before the home opener this past Friday night.  I'm going to embed that same video below for fans to watch again, or for the first time if you were not in attendance.  The video, which highlights the new players inducted into Lincoln's Hall of Fame, ends at the 4:38 mark.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 1, Tri-City 2 OT Shootout

The Lincoln Stars tried to play the role of spoiler tonight at the Viaero Event Center for Tri-City's home opener, but the Storm squeezed out a 2-1 overtime shootout victory.  The win snapped Lincoln's 10-game regular season winning streak against the Storm, going back to the 2011-12 season.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars dropped to 0-1-1 on the season, but they did earn a point this evening.  The Storm improved to 1-0-0.

This "recap" will be very, very brief.  I was not in attendance, nor was I able to watch the game on FASTHockey.com.  I did listen to all of the radio broadcast, though.

Like Friday night, the Stars came out very strong and outplayed their opponent in the first period.  The Stars outshot TC 18-9 in the first twenty minutes, and were rewarded with a Jason Stephanik powerplay goal at the 9:56 mark of the period.  Lincoln took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

In the second, the Storm answered with a powerplay goal of their own at the 4:45 mark of the period to knot the game up at 1-1.  Tri-City outshot Lincoln 9-8 in the middle period.

Neither team would score in the third period, or the five-minute overtime period.  Both teams put 11 shots on goal in the third period, and TC outshot Lincoln 2-1 in overtime.

In the shootout, the first two shooters for Tri-City scored, but only one of three shooters for Lincoln found the back of the net.  Luke Voltin was the only player for Lincoln to score in the shootout.

Michael Bitzer stopped 30 of 31 shots in the loss.   Jacob Johansson stopped 36 of 37 to get the win.  Second straight night the Stars ran head first into a hot goaltender.

Lincoln went 1-for-4 with the man advantage tonight, while the Storm went 1-for-7.  For the first time in 5 preseason games, and 2 regular season games, the Stars surrendered a PP goal.  The Stars have killed 35 of 36 powerplay chances against them going back to the preseason, and the first two regular season games.

A bit of a slow start to the season, but it's still very, very early.  The USHL regular season is a marathon, not a sprint.  Although they haven't posted a win yet in the regular season, there are a lot of positives thus far for this young Stars squad.

The Stars will be back at the IceBox this Friday night when they will take on the 0-2-0 Des Moines Buccaneers.  There is a Husker volleyball game at the Devaney Center that same night (and time), so make sure you leave earlier than normal.  Traffic will be a mess.

Go Stars.

Snapshots of the Game: Cedar Rapids vs. Lincoln 9/27

A big thanks to my friend Starstruck and the "Shooting Star Photos" Facebook page for allowing me to link the video below. Starstruck was at the home opener last night and took some great photos from the game. Below is a video of some of the photos by Starstruck from last night.  You can also click here to see the photo album.

Make sure you follow "Shooting Star Photos" on Facebook, and also on Twitter for great stuff throughout the upcoming season.

B³ Postgame Recap: Cedar Rapids 6, Lincoln 3

Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
The Cedar Rapids Roughriders stormed into the IceBox on Friday night and spoiled Lincoln's home opener with a 6-3 win.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars dropped to 0-1-0 on the season.  They will attempt to get their first win of the 2013-14 regular season tonight (Saturday) in Kearney against the Storm.  More on that game later.

The Roughriders improved to 1-0-0 with the win in Lincoln.


Before the game kicked off, four new players were inducted into the Stars' Hall of Fame.  Those four players were:  (F) John Snowden, (F) Danny Irmen, (G) JP Lamoureux, and (F) Brandon Bollig.  Great to see all those four get the recognition they deserve.

After all the pregame festivities ended, we finally got down to the good stuff....the hockey.  I thought the Stars came out very strong and didn't seem to be affected by nerves at all.  They controlled play for most of the first period, and outshot the 'Riders 17-8.  However, the Stars found themselves down 2-0 at the midway point of the first period due to the opportunistic 'Riders who made the most of the few offensive chances they had.

Just when it looked like the 'Rider might take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, some good ole hard work and forechecking allowed the Stars to score with only seconds remaining in the opening period.  After a Zach Frye shot on goal was saved by Cedar Rapids goaltender Chris Birdsall, the rebound found it way to a falling Tommy Marchin just outside the crease who knocked the puck into the open net.  If you guessed Tommy Marchin to score the first goal of the season for the Stars, consider yourself a winner.

Marchin's goal was huge, and it gave the Stars the momentum they needed heading into the second period.  It also got the crowd fired up, as well.

As would be a common theme on the night, as soon as the Stars got the momentum on their side, the Roughriders would answer right back with a goal of their own.  A little over 8 minutes into the second period, a Cedar Rapids goal gave them a two-goal lead once again.  However, the Stars would pull to within one goal less than a minute after.  John Simonson's tally at the 8:52 mark of the second period gave the Stars new life, but it was short lived.

Less than a minute after Simonson's goal, the 'Riders struck right back.  Three goals were scored in a 1:28 span in the second period, but two came from the Roughriders.  Lincoln trailed going into the second intermission, 4-2.  The Stars outshot the 'Riders 12-5 in the middle stanza, and 29-13 through two periods.

Just 28 seconds into the third period, Magnus Hoff scored on a breakaway for the Stars to pull the team to within one goal.  I was late getting back to my seat so unfortunately I missed this goal.  I mentioned this on Twitter last night, but we need to get a Norway flag and hang it somewhere inside the IceBox.  There is still a Latvian flag hanging in the SW corner of the rink, so I figured we should make Magnus feel at home with a Norway flag.  I'll work on that.

Anyway, the goal by Hoff would unfortunately be the last goal the Stars would get in this game.  Try as they might, they could not get a game-tying goal.  The Riders finished the third period pretty strong, and scored two goals to complete the scoring.  The final goal was a meaningless empty-netter with less than a second remaining on the clock.  Shots were 9-3 in favor of Cedar Rapids in the third period.

Total shots on goal ended up in Lincoln's favor, 33-22.  When it comes to shots on goal, it's quality over quantity.  In this game, the Stars had the quantity and the 'Riders had the quality.   Zach Frye finished as Lincoln's top point-getter with 3 assists.  John Simonson and Magnus Hoff both finished with two points (1 goal and 1 assist).

Michael Bitzer stopped 16 of 21 shots on goal in the loss.  It might not have been his best game, but at times he really didn't get a lot of help.  Chris Birdsall from Cedar Rapids stopped 30 of 33 shots on goal for the win.

Neither team would score a powerplay goal in this game.  Lincoln went 0-for-4, and Cedar Rapids went 0-for-2.  Amazingly, the Stars have yet to give up a PP goal through five preseason games, and 1 regular season games.  Lincoln's PK unit has stopped all 29 PP opportunities they have faced during those six games.

I highlighted him in the weekend preview article, and the Roughriders' Judd Peterson delivered with two goals.  He was also named the #1 star of the game.  The draft pick of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres looks to have a big year for Cedar Rapids this season.

Overall, I thought the final score was not indicative of how the Stars played last night.  Cedar Rapids is a veteran team, with 15 returners from last season.  Lincoln lost 98% of their goal scoring from last season.  The Stars have some room to improve, but I thought they played pretty well against a very good Roughriders club.  In my opinion, the Stars were the better team for two of the three periods last night.

Some quick comments that I posted on Twitter this morning:
  • Offensively, I thought the Stars forechecked really well and generated a lot of chances thru 2 periods. However, only 4 SOG in the 3rd period.
  • Great to see the Stars stay out of the penalty box, and their PK unit still has not given up a PP goal thru 5 preseason and 1 regular season game.
  • Too many costly turnovers, especially in their own zone, cost them the win. Those can be corrected. I'm sure nerves were high last night also.
  • I would have liked to see the Stars play the body more against the smaller CR team. Wear them down physically.
  • This might be one of the fastest teams the Stars have rostered in a long time. Guys like Lampasso, Monfils, and Hoff are speed demons.
Big opportunity tonight in Kearney to rebound and get the season's first win.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST.  Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance.  I'm hoping to be able to listen to the radio broadcast tonight.

Go Stars.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

B³ Weekend Preview: Cedar Rapids and Tri-City


The Lincoln Stars will open the 2013-14 USHL regular season schedule this weekend with their Friday night home opener against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, and then a Saturday road game in Kearney, NE against the Tri-City Storm.  Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for each game.

If you are unable to make it to any of the games this weekend, you can follow the boxscores online via Pointstreak, listen to Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye on 93.7 FM "The Ticket," or watch the games live on FASTHockey for a fee.

Up first for the Stars this Friday evening will be the visiting Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  Like the Stars, the 'Riders will play their first game of the 2013-14 season on Friday.  The USHL regular season officially began last Friday, but neither the Stars nor the Roughriders have played yet.

Cedar Rapids is coming off a disappointing 2012-13 season in which they finished with a losing record (25-30-9; 6th place in the eastern conference), and did not make the playoffs for the first time since their inaugural 1999-2000 season.

Last year, the Riders were a very young, inexperienced team.  They had the fifth-lowest scoring team in the USHL in 2012-13 with 188 goals in 64 games played.  On the other end of the ice, they were the fifth worst defensive team in the league in terms of goal allowed (221 goals against in 64 games).

So compared to what Cedar Rapids fans were used to, last season was an aberration and out of the norm.  Long time head coach Mark Carlson isn't used to being at the bottom of the standings, but his team should rebound strongly this upcoming season.  The 'Riders return a whopping 15 players from last year's team, and are considered to be one of the favorites in the eastern conference.  They will be lead on offense by forwards Judd Peterson (Buffalo Sabres draft pick) and Andrew Poturalski.

On Saturday evening, the Stars will travel west to the Viaero Event Center to participate in yet another home opener, this time for the Tri-City Storm.

Last season, it's safe to say that the Lincoln Stars owned the Tri-City Storm.  In nine regular season games against Tri-City during the 2012-13 season, the Stars went 9-0-0 and outscored the Storm 34-19.  In fact, the Stars are 10-0-0 in their last ten regular season games against the Storm, dating back to the 2011-2012 season.

Like the Roughriders, the Storm are also coming off a very disappointing 2012-13 regular season in which they went 22-35-7 and finished dead last in the USHL western conference.  I'm not sure the Storm were as bad as their record indicates last season, because they did seem to play the Stars pretty tough despite not winning any of the nine games against Lincoln.

Behind such talented youngsters as Chris Wilkie, Austin Poganski, Tory Dello, the Storm are hoping a recent youth movement will help them become more relevant in the USHL western conference in 2013-14.  

Wilkie, who is originally from Omaha, NE, was the #1 overall pick in the 2013 USHL Entry Draft and will be counted on to be a big point-getter for the Storm.  Chris Wilkie is a name some fans might remember, as he played one game for the Lincoln Stars in November of 2011.  The opponent that night?  The Tri-City Storm.  I believe Wilkie, who was playing for the Omaha AAA U-16 team at the time, was brought up for just the one game due to injuries on the Lincoln roster.

The Storm do not play this Friday night, so they will be rested and ready to go on Saturday evening when they host the Stars in their home opener.  Tri-City beat the Stars in Kearney by a score of 4-0 on 9/19 in Lincoln's last preseason game.  I'm hoping the Stars players still have that game fresh in their minds on Saturday and can get some payback.

If you are planning on attending the game in Kearney on Saturday night, make sure you order your tickets online at StormHockey.com and use the code "VIAERO" at checkout.  That way, you'll get your tickets at $10 a piece.  Not a bad deal there.  I'm sure "StarsNation" will invade the Viaero Event Center like normal.

As for the Stars, they only return a handful of players from last season and will be a much different looking team in 2013-14.  Although there are a LOT of new faces, the Stars acquired quite a few players with good USHL/NAHL experience.  They may be new to the Stars, but these players are not new to junior hockey.

It's hard to gauge how well this Stars team will be in 2013-14.  Considering the amount of turnover, especially at the forward position, there's a possibility this team could struggle to score goals early on.  I believe that goaltender Michael Bitzer will need to be Lincoln's best player on the ice during the first few months of the season while the forwards get a chance to gel with one another.  The defensive core of Frye-Pittman-Willett-Kolquist-Shiplo-Ivey-Vershay are very deep, and have a lot of good USHL experience.  

Before the game against the Roughriders on Friday night, the Stars will honor the next entries into their Hall of Fame.  It will be interesting to see who gets selected, and if any of them will be in attendance.  I'm not sure who will be selected, but I'm guessing you'll see four new players added to the Stars' Hall of Fame.

Are there two better words in the lexicon of Lincoln Stars hockey than "home opener"?  I'm not sure how much work I'll get done at my job tomorrow because I'll be thinking of the game all day long.  It's hard to believe that hockey season is finally here.

Before I end this rambling mess, please take a minute and think about how hard these young men have worked to get to this point in their hockey careers.  I pretty much said the same thing last season before the first game, but I think it bears repeating.  Well over 100+ players tried out for the Lincoln Stars way back in June at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, MN.  The players on this team have sacrificed so much, and have worked their asses off to earn a spot on the roster.  So cheer a little louder tomorrow night in honor of these young men who are here to play for your entertainment.  They deserve our praise and recognition.

See you all at the IceBox.  Let's get rowdy.  

Go Stars.

Who will score the first goal of the season this Friday night?

We're getting closer to the home opener on Friday night at the IceBox!  Quick blog post here to get your input.  Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye and myself thought it would be a good idea to reach out to the fans and find out who they think will score the first goal of the season.  Check out the poll question below.  Vote away!

Who will score the first goal of the 2013-14 season this Friday night at the IceBox when the Lincoln Stars take on the Cedar Rapids Roughriders?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stars hire Mick Berge as new assistant coach

Some big (but expected) news today as the Lincoln Stars hired a new assistant coach to work under newly appointed head coach Jimmy McGroarty.  Former Stars forward Mick Berge will assume the duties of assistant coach and director of scouting for Lincoln, effective immediately.

Click here to read the press release that was posted earlier today on the Stars' website.

Click here to read the press release from the NAHL's Minot Minotauros (the team Berge has coached for the last season).

Excerpt from the Stars' press release:
Berge played for the Stars from 2002-2005, and was a member of the Clark Cup championship team in 2003.  After his USHL career, Berge went on to play four years of collegiate hockey for Minnesota State University-Mankato. 

Excerpt from the Minotauros' release:
Minotauros Assistant Coach Mick Berge, has accepted the Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting position with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League.  Berge had started his second season on the Tauros’ bench at the NAHL Showcase last week.  Now Berge heads to Lincoln for their season opener on Friday.  Berge played in Lincoln for three seasons, amassing 35 goals and 82 assists. 
Berge was also quick to credit Head Coach Marty Murray with helping him advance; “Lincoln is an opportunity I can’t pass up.  Having played there for three years I’m excited to go back to where my junior career began. 

Expounding on the information posted in each of the press releases linked above, Mick is originally from Okalahoma City, OK and played a few years of professional hockey after his four years at the University of Minnesota-Mankato.  After his stint playing pro hockey, Mick was hired by the NAHL's Minot Minotauros before the 2012-13 season where he has been since now.

Backtracking to his college years at Minnesota-Mankato, Mick was known at the time as a UND killer.  He was a player that the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota had problems keeping in check.  Click here to read more about that.  Mick was an alternate captain at Mankato his junior season, and was named captain his senior season.

As many know, Mick is the older brother of Josh Berge, who also played/coached for the Lincoln Stars.

In the past week or so, I brought Mick's name up in conversation when talking about who Jimmy McGroarty and the Stars might hire.  So when this news dropped today, I wan't surprised.  Mick is a familiar name and face, and has some good coaching experience in the NAHL.  I'm sure he will be a great addition to the Stars' coaching staff.  Click here to follow Mick Berge on Twitter.

I'm going to embed a video below that Mick made when he was playing for the Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League (CHL).



Welcome back to Lincoln, Mick!

From KLKN Channel 8: Lincoln Stars Excited; Nervous for Season Opener

Little video here from the local ABC channel 8 news.  Click play below to check it out.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Your Captains!

Per the Lincoln Stars Twitter account, the team has announced the captains and alternate captains for the upcoming 2013-14 season.

The two co-captains are going to be defenseman Zach Frye (top left) and forward John Simonson (top right).  Both will wear the "C."  The two alternate captains are going to be defenseman Zack Pittman (bottom left), and defenseman Jared Kolquist (bottom right).  They'll wear the "A."

Very good choices, in my opinion.  Every one has quality USHL/NAHL experience.  Although they are newcomers to the Stars, Simonson and Kolquist are overagers and have been around hockey long enough to show good leadership I'm sure.  Frye and Pittman are two solid returning veterans from last season.  Two easy picks right there.

I got three out of four players correct from my "Guess the Captains" article.  Not too bad.

Don't forget to attend the "Meet the Stars" event this Wednesday at the Lincoln Meadows Social Hall .  Click here to read more about that.  If you can't make it to that event, check out our own "Meet the Stars" article that was posted earlier today.

B³ "Meet the Stars" 2013-14

We've done this here at the B³ for the past few seasons, so I thought we'd do it again for the fans out there who might not know a lot about this team and want to learn a little more.

Also, some folks out there might not able to make it to the "Meet the Stars" event this upcoming Wednesday evening, so I thought they might appreciate this.  It's nice to put a face to the names and numbers the fans see on the backs of jerseys.

This is a super long article with a lot of pictures, so click the "Read more" link below to read the entire article.  Thanks to the Lincoln Stars website for the player pictures.

Here we go!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lincoln Stars on Twitter

Back when I started this blog in February of 2009, I signed up on Twitter so that I could reach out to more hockey fans with the articles BT and I were writing.  At the time, I wasn't really sure what Twitter was all about, but four and a half years later I can say I'm a HUGE believer in it.  

I think it's a valuable social media tool, and I'll admit without any hesitation that I'm now a Twitter addict.  I usually have it always running either on my phone or my PC.  It's a great way to keep informed about what's going on in the hockey world, not just the USHL.  It's also fun to follow your favorite athletes, teams, comedians, actors/actresses, musicians, etc.  Just about anyone you can think of in the public eye has a Twitter account these days.


Anyway, I've posted a list of Twitter accounts below for all of the current players on the Stars who have an account.  Some of the players below tweet more often than others, but it's an interesting glimpse inside their daily lives.  I'm sure all of the players listed below would appreciate some new Twitter followers, so follow them if you have an account.  If you don't have a Twitter account, what are you waiting for?

Current Players:
Zach Frye:  https://twitter.com/#!/Fryzie21
Max Humitz:  https://twitter.com/#!/Maxhumitz21
Ryan Ivey:  https://twitter.com/IveytheKid
Daniel Kucerovy:  https://twitter.com/dmkuce10
Christian Lampasso:  https://twitter.com/dreadsy1
Nick Monfils:  https://twitter.com/nmonfils19
David Parrottino: https://twitter.com/dparrottino19
Zack Pittman:  https://twitter.com/ZackPittman1
Dominick Sacco:  https://twitter.com/Dominoochh
Nick Schmit:  https://twitter.com/nickyhockey94
Luke Shiplo:  https://twitter.com/Lshiplo24
John Simonson:  https://twitter.com/JohnSimonson15
Brandon Smith:  https://twitter.com/BrandonSmith_28
Jason Stephanik:  https://twitter.com/J_Stephanik
Wilson Vershay:  https://twitter.com/shaydoo
Keegan Ward:  https://twitter.com/ItsWardo
Daniel Willett:  https://twitter.com/dwillett4

Although he's not a player, it's a must to follow Mike Melbye, the voice of the Lincoln Stars.  Mike is kinda new to Twitter, but he's taken to it really well.  He will frequently post very interesting Stars statistics and trivia, which is cool for a stats geek like myself.

The last couple of years when I've posted this article, I also included the Twitter accounts for all of the former Stars who have one, but that list is so big now it would be silly for me to post it here in an article.  I'm tempted to have a separate page on this blog which lists all of the Twitter accounts for every current, or past Lincoln Stars player.  That's a project for later, I suppose.

Go Stars.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Meet the Stars" event sponsored by the BlueLine Booster Club

Just a reminder for all the fans out there, the BlueLine Booster Club's annual "Meet the Stars" event will be held this Wednesday, September 25th at the Lincoln Meadows Social Hall in Lincoln, NE from 6:00pm-8:00pm.

The Lincoln Meadows Social Hall  is located at 3235 N. 35th Street (35th and Cornhusker Highway area).  Click here for a Google Maps image of the Lincoln Meadows Social Hall if you need directions.


BlueLine Booster Club members will be allowed in at 6:00pm, and will be given a free team poster for the players to sign.  Non-members will be allowed in starting at 6:30pm.  Team posters will be available for purchase at $1 a piece for non-members.  Food (BBQ shredded pork & kettle chips for $9) and drinks (soda for $1) will be available for purchase.  There will be a cash bar, also.

Prizes will be given away from the Lincoln Stars, the BlueLine Booster Club, and the 104.1 FM "The Blaze" radio station.  Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye will emcee the event.

Hope to see you all there!  This is a great way to start the hockey season and fun way for the fans to interact with all of the players.  For more info about how you can join the BlueLine Booster Club, please click here to visit their website.

Go Stars.

Roster news; Stars add Jason Stephanik

Jason Stephanik
I wasn't expecting to update the blog with roster news on a Sunday, but that's what I'm doing.

Per the USHL's Hockey Ops Twitter account, the Lincoln Stars have added forward Jason Stephanik ('94) to their protected roster.  To make room for Stephanik, the Stars have released forward Drew Callin, and moved forward Dominick Sacco to the affiliate list.

From what I've read online, Stephanik picked up a scholarship offer from Quinnipiac University and was to start there this fall.  I don't know if he started at Quinnipiac but left shortly after or if he never enrolled at Quinnipiac.  Regardless, it appears he will be playing for the Lincoln Stars for the 2013-14 season.

Stephanik, who is originally from Monroe, NY, played the last two seasons for the New Jersey Hitmen of the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL).  Jason put up some good numbers for the Hitmen, scoring 93 points (43g, 50a) in 87 games the past two seasons.  He also has some good size (6'2", 188 pounds) to go along with his scoring prowess.

When looking for more information about Stephanik online, I ran across a number of scouting websites that highlighted Jason as a potential NHL draft pick.  However, he was not selected by any NHL teams in the 2013 NHL entry draft.

On paper, this looks like a great pickup by the Stars.  Stephanik has some good experience at the junior level, and is a proven goal scorer, which this Stars team needs.

Thoughts on this latest roster news?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Guess the Captains

I thought this might be a good topic to blog about since we are getting very close to the start of the 2013-14 USHL regular season.  As I mentioned in the previous article, the 2013-14 season begins tonight (9/20), but the Stars do not play their first regular season game until Friday, September 27th at the IceBox against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.

Since we now have a good idea on which players will be in the lineup on opening night, I figured I'd throw this article together to see what the fans think in regards to the captains next season.  In the past, Chad Johnson let the players vote on captains, but Jimmy McGroarty is the big chief once again and I'm not sure how he does it.  When he was head coach a few years ago, I thought I remember reading that he picked the captains.  I'm not 100% sure about that.

Last year, the Stars had two captains (Dominick Shine, Mike McKee) and two alternate captains (Will Suter, Paul Ladue).  One captain at forward, and one captain on defense (same with the alternate captains).  I assume the Stars will do that same thing this next season, but there's a chance they could go back to the more traditional system of one captain, and two alternate captains.

Returning "vets" from last season are:

D - Zach Frye
D - Zack Pittman
D - Daniel Willett
F - Max Humitz
F - David Parrottino

I am not including goaltender Michael Bitzer here because goaltenders are not allowed to be named captain, or alternate captain in the USHL.

This is certainly not a news flash, but compared to last season, the Stars do not return a lot of depth.  At this time last season, the Stars were returning 11 players with a lot of USHL experience.  This year, there are a LOT of new faces.  So because of that, I believe there is a very good chance this season that a first-year player will be given a letter to wear on his jersey.

Because of so many new players, maybe the smart thing would be to rotate some of the captains and alternate captains early on.  With so many new faces, maybe you distribute the wealth, so to speak, and allow a number of players the opportunity to wear a letter.  Having said that, wearing a letter is not the be all, end all.  As a friend told me today, "You don't need to wear a letter to be a leader."

So looking at the returning players from last season, who would you guess is given the captain, and alternate captain titles?  Pick two captains, and two alternate captains.  You can leave your guesses in the comment section below.  I'd also appreciate if you'd comment as to why you think your guesses are deserving.

Here are my guesses:

Captain:  Zach Frye
Far and away, Zach has played the most games (107) in a Stars uniform than any current player on Lincoln's protected roster.  This will be Zach's fourth season in Lincoln, so he is very well known to the fans.  I think most think of his style of play as being a physical, shutdown d-man, but I think his offensive game is a bit underrated.  Hoping to see him more on Lincoln's PP this upcoming season.  Like Mike McKee last season, Frye is definitely more valuable on the ice than he is sitting in the penalty box.

Captain:  John Simonson
He may not have any USHL experience, but John Simonson is a veteran of junior hockey, having played 120+ games with the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).  John is considered an "overager" in the eyes of the USHL because he was born in 1993.  Each USHL team can roster a maximum of four overagers each season, so automatically Simonson will take on a leadership role on this team because of his age and experience.

Alternate Captain:  Zack Pittman
Although he is still very young, Pittman is a grizzled vet on Lincoln's blueline after playing 56 regular season games in 2012-13.  Going into last season, Pittman was a unknown to most fans.  I'm not sure most expected him to play so many minutes as a '95, but Pittman eased into his role as a shutdown d-man and played it very, very well.  Considering his position is very hard for a young rookie in the USHL, his +24 rating in 56 games was exceptional.  I'm a big fan of this kid, and hope to see him wearing a letter this season.

Alternate Captain:  Christian Lampasso
When the Stars made the trade with Sioux City to bring in Lampasso, I have to admit I was pretty excited.  As a Stars fan, you occasionally get to see some kids come to the IceBox and play great against Lincoln.  You might catch yourself saying, "Man, I wish we had that kid on our roster."  That's Lampasso for me.  He's a bit on the small side, but he's fearless.  Great wheels, and soft hands around the net.  Although he doesn't have a ton of USHL experience, he did play 53 games last season with the Des Moines Bucs and the Sioux City Musketeers.

So those are my predictions.  Now I'd like to hear from the readers out there.  Which players are your team captains?  Please leave a comment below.  You do not need to register to leave a comment.  Thanks!

Go Stars.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 0, Tri-City 4 (preseason)

The Lincoln Stars completed the 2013 preseason schedule with a 4-0 shutout loss to the Tri-City Storm at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, NE on Thursday night.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

This recap will be very, very brief.  I did not watch this game on FASTHockey, but I did listen to the online radio broadcast.

Scratches for Lincoln were  Christian Lampasso, Luke Voltin, Brandon Smith, Keegan Ward, Zach Frye, and Nick Schmit.  More on Lampasso's absence later in this article.

From the sounds of it, the Stars played pretty well in the first period, but the Storm scored two quick goals early on to take a 2-0 lead.  A goal from Chase Berger at the 5:50 mark, and a tally from Robbie Payne at the 7:30 mark gave the Storm the early lead.

Despite outshooting the Storm 18-6 in the first twenty minutes, the Stars trailed 2-0 at the first intermission.

In the second period, it was more of the same as the Storm increased their lead to 3-0 at the 7:26 mark thank to a goal from Dan Labosky.  Try as they might, the Stars could not put the puck in the net and trailed 3-0 at the second intermission.

The Storm would shut the door on the Stars in the third period as well, and put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal with 1:32 remaining in the contest.

Shots were 35-26 in favor of Lincoln.  Both teams were blanked with the man advantage.  Tri-City went 0-for-3 on the powerplay, while Lincoln went 0-for-4.

Speaking of special teams, here's an interesting statistic:  the Stars did not give up a powerplay goal against in any of their five preseason games.  They killed all 27 PP opportunities against them.  That's incredible.

Storm goaltender Hayden Lavigne played all of the first period, and half of the second, stopping all 20 shots he faced.  TC netminder Jacob Johansson played the second half of the second period and all of the third period.  Johansson stopped all 15 shots he faced.

Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer played all sixty minutes in this game.  Bitz stopped 22 of 25 in the loss.  Per the Pointstreak boxscore, Jake Ireland was listed as the backup.

The Stars will finish the 2013 preseason with a 2-3-0 record.  Lincoln won the first two preseason games, and lost the last three.

Even though the 2013-14 USHL regular season starts this Friday, the Stars don't play their season-opener until Friday, September 27th at the IceBox against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  So the team will have the next week or so to get some good practice in, and hopefully find a new assistant coach.

I want to give a shout out to the Tri-City Storm organization for honoring the mother of Christian Lampasso before the game tonight with a moment of silence.  For those who didn't see the tweets today, Christian's mother passed away earlier this morning.  I can't imagine what Christian is going through right now.  I thought it was a very nice gesture of the Storm to do what they did before the game tonight, so props to them.

Thoughts and prayers go out to Christian and the Lampasso family.  "Stars Nation" is behind you, young man.

Go Stars.

Updated 23-player protected roster and affiliate list

As expected, the USHL released the 23-player protected rosters for all teams today.

Click here to see those rosters.  I will post Lincoln's 23-player protected roster below.  These will be the players that will start the 2013-14 regular season.  The actual protected roster is 23 players, but coaches are allowed to move players to and from the affiliate roster during the first part of the season.  Lincoln did this last year as well.  It allows teams to keep more than the 23 players in town and ready to play.

Anyway, here is the updated roster.  I'll post a few thoughts below, also.

23-player protected roster:
G - Michael Bitzer  (Overager)
G - Nick Schmit 

D - Zach Frye 
D - Zack Pittman
D - Daniel Willett
D - Jared Kolquist  (Overager)
D - Luke Shiplo  (Import)
D - Ryan Ivey
D - Wilson Vershay

F - Max Humitz
F - David Parrottino
F - Luke Voltin
F - Christian Lampasso
F - Dominick Sacco
F - Daniel Kucerovy
F - John Simonson  (Overager)
F - Hunter Anderson
F - Brandon Smith
F - Tommy Marchin
F - Jonathan Desbiens  (Import)
F - Magnus Hoff  (Overager - Import)
F - Nicholas Monfils
F - Keegan Ward 

17-player affiliate list:
F - Thomas Carey ('95)
F - Drew Callin ('95)
F - Gordie Helmuth ('96)
F - Miguel Fidler ('96)
D - Joshua Owings ('96)
D - William Scherer ('96)
D - Michael Prapavessis ('96)
F - Tyler Nanne ('96)
F - Grant Loven ('97)
F - Colton Fletcher ('97)
F - Zach Grzelewski ('97)
F - August Von Ungern-Sternberg ('97)
F - Michael Floodstrand ('97) 
F - Angus Scott ('97)
D - Tyler Jutting ('97)
F - Jared Bethune ('97)
F - Tye Ausmus ('97)

The names not included above that were on Lincoln's training camp roster are (D) Connor Chambers, and (F) Garrett Brossart.  

I'm a bit surprised that Brossart was not protected.  He was one of only a few returning forwards from last season.  I assume that he will either get picked up by a different USHL team, or play in the NAHL, where he was drafted by the Bismark Bobcats earlier this year.

Chambers was the only defenseman on Lincoln's training camp roster that did not have prior USHL experience, plus he was undrafted.  So unfortunately, the odds were against him to begin with.

Forwards Drew Callin and Thomas Carey have been moved to the affiliate list.  I assume that they will still be allowed to stay in town for the first part of the season (or maybe longer), and will be moved to and from the main protected roster when needed by the coaches.  If I recall correctly, the Stars did pretty much the same thing last season with Garrett Brossart, and Max Humitz.

So those are you Lincoln Stars!  I will be posting our own "Meet the Stars" article here in the next week or so, along with information about the real "Meet the Stars" event, sponsored by the BlueLine Booster Club.  Also, I will be posting a "Guess the Captains' article soon.

Thoughts on the roster?  

Go Stars.

B³ Pregame Report: Lincoln Stars vs. Tri-City Storm 9/19 (preseason)

The Lincoln Stars will wrap up the 2013 preseason this Thursday evening with a road game in Kearney, NE at the Viaero Event Center against the Tri-City Storm.  Puck drops at 7:00pm CST.

If you can't make it to Kearney on Thurday night, you can watch the game online via FASTHockey ($).  You can also follow the boxscore online via Pointstreak.

You can listen to a live audio stream of the game here, courtesy of the Tri-City Storm.

The Stars have a preseason record of 2-2-0, having gotten out to a 2-0-0 start before losing their last two games, both played at the USHL Fall Classic.  In their last game, the Stars gave up 3 third period goals and lost to the Omaha Lancers by a score of 5-3.

For the Storm, they have a 1-3-0 preseason record with their lone win coming against the Waterloo Blackhawks (5-3) on the second day of the USHL Fall Classic last week.  In their last game, played this past Friday in Des Moines against the Bucs, the Storm were waxed by a score of 7-1.  In that particular matchup, both teams combined for a whopping 269 penalty minutes.  What a gongshow.

Tri-City has been a team that the Stars have had a lot of success against the past season or so.  In fact, the Stars have won the last 10 meetings between these two teams, dating all the way back to April 6th, 2012.  The last time Lincoln lost to Tri-City was Saturday, February 25th, 2012, when the Storm beat the Stars 3-2 in OT, despite being outshot 45-24.  Lincoln went 9-0-0 in nine regular season games against Tri-City during the 2012-13 regular season.

It will be interesting to see who is, and who isn't in the lineup for Lincoln in this game against Tri-City.  Per the USHL, all teams had to cut down to 23 players by 11:59pm today (Wednesday).  Per this tweet, the USHL will post the 23-player rosters of all teams on Thursday, at 3:00pm CST.  So I would assume that the Stars will not be able to bring their full training camp roster to the game against the Storm in Kearney.  But we'll have to wait and see how that works out.

With Chad Johnson's resignation today, I would guess it will be Jimmy McGroarty and trainer Corey Courtney behind the bench for the Stars against the Storm.

Wishing I could make the trek out to Kearney on Thursday night, but I won't be able to make it.  I doubt I will watch it on FASTHockey, either.  Hopefully there will be a radio stream to follow.  If not, I will follow the Poinstreak boxscore and will report back here with a recap afterwards.

Go Stars.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chad Johnson steps down as Lincoln's head coach

Big news today out of Lincoln as head coach Chad Johnson has resigned.

Click here to read the official press release from the Stars.  I will quote the entire release below.

Before I post the release below, I just want to wish Chad all the best.  I hope he can get his health issues figured out soon.  I had the chance to interact with Chad in person a few times over the years, and he was always very, very nice to me.  He was always willing to stop and chat.

Wishing him all the best going forward.  Here's the press release:

The Lincoln Stars announced today that Jimmy McGroarty has been named Head Coach and General Manager of the team, replacing Chad Johnson, who has resigned for personal and health reasons. 

Johnson compiled a record of 116-71-12 during his three seasons with the Stars, including a USHL Western Conference regular season championship in 2011-12.

“Chad has indicated to us that he’d like to return to Fargo so that he can be closer to his family, and address some health issues before they become more serious,” said Stars’ President Jim Pflug.  “Chad came in under difficult circumstances, and along with Jimmy McGroarty, helped restore the winning attitude that our organization is known for.  He’s a great coach and friend, and we appreciate the sacrifices he’s made on our behalf.  We’re sorry to see him leave the Stars organization, but support his decision 100%.”

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to lead the Stars over the past three seasons,” said Johnson.  “It was truly an honor for me to do something I love in front of the best fans in the league, and I really appreciate the support they’ve shown me.  I’ll especially miss the interaction with the players, and wish them (and the Stars organization) nothing but the best.”

McGroarty led the Stars for three seasons from 2007-2010 with an 84-75-21 record and two USHL Playoff semi-final appearances. 

“In Jimmy, we have a proven coach with 10 years of experience in the USHL.  He’s been extremely loyal throughout his career with us, and he’s ready to lead this team.  The players respect him, I know they’ll play hard for him, and he’ll give us everything he has to compete for a Clark Cup Championship,” said Pflug. 

“I strongly believe that life offers you second chances, and I’m thankful to the Stars for this opportunity,” said McGroarty.  “In my years of coaching in the USHL, I’ve had the privilege to work with three of the top coaches in the league’s history (Mike Hastings, Steve Johnson, and Chad).  Each had their own style, and I’ve learned a lot from all of them, but the one thing that I’ll take from Chad is his ability to maintain a calm confidence on the bench while defending his players in every situation.  I’m a passionate and emotional coach that hates to lose, and I plan to make the most of this second chance.”

McGroarty expects to name an assistant coach within the next few days. 

This is obviously a big loss for the Stars.  Chad has been a part of the program for a good amount of time, going back to his days as an assistant under Steve Johnson in the late 19990's, all the up to his most recent stint as head coach.

I've always felt that Chad provided a calming influence behind the bench.  It's no secret that Jimmy McGroarty is more of an emotional coach, so I thought Chad was a good "yin" to Jimmy's "yang," if that makes sense.

It's no secret that Chad's family, including his young son, lived in North Dakota, so Chad spent a lot time time commuting back and forth.  I can certainly understand why he would want to be closer to home to be able to watch his son grow up.  I'm sure it was very hard for him the past few years to be away for so long.

It will be interesting to see who Jimmy McGroarty hires as his new assistant, especially on such short notice.  The timing of this resignation wasn't the greatest, with the USHL regular season starting this weekend.  Most hockey clubs are just about in full swing, so I don't know how difficult it will be to pry another coach from a team.  Luckily for the Stars, their regular season doesn't begin until next Friday, September 27th, so the new assistant coach will have a little bit of time to get adjusted before the games start counting for real next weekend.

Although his last season as Lincoln's head coach did not end well, I think most Stars fans can agree that the players would skate through a brick wall for Jimmy McGroarty.  He's very much a player's coach, from what I understand.  There's no doubt that Jimmy is a very good recruiter and a GM, having brought in players like Jimmy Hayes, David Reekie, Lyon Messier, Kirt Hill, Ryan Kretzer, and Chris Forfar while he was head coach of the Stars.  I've heard that his connections in the hockey world are vast (especially in Canada), and his mind is a steel trap in terms of hockey players (past and present) in other leagues.  He has also been described to me as a very hard worker.

With an almost a brand new roster, Jimmy and the new assistant coach will certainly have their work cut out for them.  It's time for the rest of us to get on board, and support this team with all that we have.

Thoughts on this news?  I'd love to hear from all of you out there.  Comments are wide open, but please be respective of the rules when commenting.  Thanks.

Go Stars.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln Stars vs. Omaha Lancers 9/12 (Fall Classic)

Once again, a big thanks to blog reader Starstruck and the "Shooting Star Photos" Facebook page for allowing me to link the video below. Starstruck was at the Fall Classic earlier this week and took some great photos from both games. Below is a video of some of the photos taken during the Omaha game.

 Make sure you follow "Shooting Star Photos" on Facebook, and also on Twitter for great stuff throughout the upcoming season.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Snapshots of the Game: Lincoln Stars vs. Des Moines Buccaneers 9/11 (Fall Classic)

Big thanks to blog reader Starstruck and the "Shooting Star Photos" Facebook page for allowing me to link the video below. Starstruck was at the Fall Classic earlier this week and took some great photos from both games. Below is a video of some of the photos taken during the Des Moines game.

 Make sure you follow "Shooting Star Photos" on Facebook, and also on Twitter for great stuff throughout the upcoming season..
 

Friday, September 13, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Omaha 5, Lincoln 3 (Fall Classic)

Tommy Marchin (L) and Brandon Smith (R) celebrate with David Parrottino
after his 3rd period goal. Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
A three-goal third period propelled the Omaha Lancers to a 5-3 victory over the Lincoln Stars on the last day of the 2013 USHL Fall Classic (West) preseason tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars' preseason record is now 2-2-0.  Omaha improved to 1-1-0.

Lincoln will play their last preseason game on Thursday, September 19th in Kearney, NE against the Tri-City Storm.


Scratches for Lincoln in this game were Jake Ireland, Daniel Willett, Dominick Sacco, John Simonson, Garrett Brossart, and Drew Callin.  Goaltender Nick Schmit played the first two periods against Omaha, and Michael Bitzer played the third period along with the overtime period.

Early in this game, the Stars looked pretty good and were able to get on the scoreboard first thanks to a powerplay goal by forward Nick Monfils at the 6:07 mark of the first period.  After getting a pass from forward Max Humitz, Monfils put his head down and drove hard to the front of the Omaha net and jammed the puck past Lancers goaltender Atte Tolvanen.

The Stars would hold that 1-0 lead for the rest of the first period, and into the second period.  Omaha outshot Lincoln 12-9 in the first twenty minutes.

Omaha outscored Lincon 2-0 in the second period, and for the most part took over the game at that point.  The Lancers would score those two goals early in the middle stanza, less than a minute apart, to flip the momentum to their side.

After the two Omaha goals, both teams fought it out on the ice, literally.  Two fights and 58 penalty minutes later, the second period ended with the Lancers holding a 2-1 lead.  Omaha outshot Lincoln 9-6 in the second period.

Omaha quickly snuffed out any attempt at a comeback by the Stars with two goals scored within the first 5:08 of the third period.

With Omaha in front by a score of 4-1, Stars forward David Parrottino scored off of a faceoff in the Omaha zone to pull the Stars to within two goals.  Parrottino snapped a shot glove-high past the Lancers goaltender into the open net for his first preseason goal.  Brandon Smith collected the lone assist on Parrottino's even-strength goal.

Late in the third period, with the Stars trailing 4-2, Lincoln pulled goaltender Michael Bitzer for an extra attacker.  However, the Lancers quickly scored an empty-net goal to complete the scoring in regulation.  Lincoln outshot Omaha 15-8 in the third period, and overall, 30-29.

Like every preseason game so far this month, the USHL required these two teams to play a five minute 3-on-3 sudden death overtime period after regulation.  As I have stated previously, the league is testing this new 3-on-3 OT period to see if it is something they want to use in the regular season.  Last season, teams played five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime hockey when teams were tied after regulation.

In the OT period, Stars forward Luke Voltin scored an unassisted laser at the 1:59 mark to finish out the game.  Voltin's shot looked like it buzzed the Omaha goaltender's head before finding the back of the net.

Much like every Omaha-Lincoln game last year, the Stars could not stay out of the penalty box in this game.  Stars went 1-for-3 on the powerplay, while Omaha was blanked, going 0-for-7.  Lincoln's penalty kill unit so far this preseason has been lights out. They've been shorthanded 24 times, and have not given up a powerplay goal.  Not one PP goal.

Nick Schmit played the first forty minutes of this contest and stopped 19 of 21 shots.  Michael Bitzer played the third period, including the overtime session, and stopped 7 of 10 shots.  The Pointstreak boxscore linked above is wrong in that they show Schmit playing the entire game.

I want to give some props to a couple of forwards who stood out to me this weekend.  I thought Nick Monfils and Christian Lampasso had a great Fall Classic.  Monfils is an undrafted free agent who played well enough at Lincoln's tryout camp this past June to earn a spot on the protected roster.  As we've seen over the years, it's very difficult for an undrafted free agent to make the Stars, but I think Monfils has a very good shot at making the team.  He's a smaller forward, but he's incredibly fast and isn't afraid to put his head down and drive to the net.  Good hands, too.  Lampasso is how I remembered him last season.  Like Monfils, he's a bit on the smaller side but fearless.  Looking forward to watching him this next season.  I think Lampasso will be a fan favorite for sure.

I was informed by the USHL yesterday that all teams will have to cut down to 23 players on Wednesday, September 18th.  Currently, the Stars have 28 players on their training camp roster, so 5 of those players won't be with the team when they open up the 2013-14 regular season on September 27th against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.  If my calculations are correct, the Lincoln coaches will likely cut one goaltender, one defensemen, and three forwards.  I would not want to have to make those decisions.

Considering the Stars play their last preseason game on September 19th, one day after the roster cut deadline, I assume Lincoln will not be able to bring their full training camp roster to Kearney.  I guess we'll have to wait and see how that plays out.  Maybe the Stars will get permission from the league to make the cut down to 23 after that game on the 19th.

Go Stars.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 3, Des Moines 4 (Fall Classic)

On the opening day of the USHL Fall Classic West tournament in Sioux City, Iowa, the Lincoln Stars fell to the Des Moines Buccaneers by a score of 4-3.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss, the Stars fell to 2-1-0 in the 2013 USHL preseason.  Des Moines improved to 2-0-0.

The Stars will play Thursday afternoon against the Omaha Lancers to complete their Fall Classic experience.  More on that later.

Scratches for Lincoln in this game were David Parrottino, Thomas Carey, Connor Chambers, Nick Schmit, Dan Kucerovy, & Brandon Smith.  Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer played the first half against the Bucs, and free agent invite Jake Ireland (from Canada) started the second half.

The Bucs came out very strong in the first period, while the Stars played very sluggish I thought.  Des Moines peppered Michael Bitzer early and often in the first period.  Bucs forward Patrick Grasso gave his team a 1-0 lead at the 9:53 mark of the first period thanks to some good work down low in front of Bitzer.

Shortly after the goal by Grasso, the Bucs were awarded a penalty shot, but Bitzer came up huge with a big save to keep the Stars in the game.

I thought Lincoln played better in the second half of the first period, but they were unable to solve Bucs goaltender Billy Christopoulos.  Bucs took at 1-0 lead into the first intermission and led 13-6 in shots on goal.

In the middle stanza, Lincoln outshot Des Moines 12-10, but again they were not able to figure out the Bucs' goaltending tandem of Billy Christopoulos and Merrick Madsen.  On the other end of the ice, Des Moines increased their lead to 2-0 after an odd-man rush resulted in a goal from Bucs forward Marcel Kurtch.  On the play, a bad turnover by the Stars on their own blueline led to a Des Moines 2-on-1.  Des Moines' Jake Jackson made a very nice play to pass the puck to a streaking Kurth who one-timed it past Stars goaltender Jake Ireland.

Right before the goal by Kurth, Ireland came up huge with a big save on a Bucs breakway shortly after he entered the game in relief of Michael Bitzer.  Ireland certainly didn't get a lot of help from his teammates in that second period.

Bucs took at 2-0 lead into the second intermission, leading on shots as well, 23-18.

A little over six minutes into the third period, Lincoln finally got on the scoreboard thanks to some hard work down low from forwards Keegan Ward and Christian Lampasso.  After getting a pass from defenseman Zach Frye in the Bucs' offensive zone, Keegan Ward sent a pretty cross-crease pass to a wide open Christian Lampasso who looked to knock it out of mid air and into the Des Moines' net.  Ward and Frye picked the assists on Lampasso's even-strength goal.

With the Stars trailing by one goal, the Bucs came right back three minutes after Lampasso's goal to increase their lead to 3-1.  After a Bucs shot was initially saved by Ireland, the rebound went right to a wide open Sandis Zolmanis just outside the crease who easily backhanded the puck into open net.  What momentum the Stars had after the Lampasso goal was quickly extinguished after the Zolmanis tally.

Very late in the game, trailing by two goals, the Stars pulled goaltender Jake Ireland for the extra attacker.  A loose puck in the Bucs' zone was gobbled up by Lincoln forward Hunter Anderson who quickly turned and fired it past Merrick Madsen to pull the Stars to within one goal.  Anderson's unassisted goal came with only 32 seconds remaining in the game.

However, the late rally fell short when the Bucs scored an empty-net goal with only .8 seconds remaining in regulation.  After sixty minutes, the Bucs led 4-2.

Like every preseason game so far this month, the USHL required these two teams to play a five minute 3-on-3 sudden death overtime period after regulation.  As I have stated previously, the league is testing this new 3-on-3 OT period to see if it is something they want to use in the regular season.  Last season, teams played five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime hockey when teams were tied after regulation.

Just 8 seconds into the overtime period, Stars forward Dominick Sacco raced down the left wing and fired a rocket past Bucs goaltender Merrick Madsen to give Lincoln's its third goal of the game.  Christian Lampasso picked up the lone assist on Sacco's OT goal.

Des Moines outshot Lincoln overall, 36-31.  Michael Bitzer stopped 17 of 18 in the first half of the game, and Jake Ireland stopped 15 of 17 in the second half.

Neither team would score on the powerplay in this game.  Lincoln went 0-for-4 with the man advantage, while the Bucs went 0-6.  So far this preseason, Lincoln's PK unit has been stellar, stopping all 18 PP opportunities against them in the last three games combined.

I'm not sure why, but Stars head coach Chad Johnson was not behind the bench during this game.  Associate head coach Jimmy McGroarty and trainer Corey Courtney coached the team.

Overall, I thought this was a sloppy game played by both teams, but that's to be expected this early on.  That's why we play these preseason games, to get better.  Lincoln has been practicing about a week, and the players are still getting to know one another.

Lincoln will look to rebound Thursday afternoon at 4:00pm CST when they take on the Omaha Lancers.  The Lancers lost earlier on Wednesday at the Fall Classic to the Sioux Falls Stampede by a score of 4-3.  Omaha outshot Sioux Falls 36-17 in that game, and didn't look that bad considering it was their first preseason game.

I will post live updates from the Omaha-Lincoln game tomorrow on Twitter, so follow along if you can.  I will post a recap article sometime very late on Thursday when I get back to Lincoln.

Go Stars.