Quick article here to give all of my readers a heads up. I'll make this brief.
I am going to be taking a vacation from the blog for the time being. I'm not sure when I'll start blogging again. It could be in a few weeks, or it could be next season. I'm just not sure right now. What I am sure of is that I need a break.
I will be taking a break from the blog's Facebook page also. That account will not be updated. I will update the blog's Twitter account sparingly.
However, I will continue to attend all of the home games, and will root on the Stars as usual.
Thanks as always for making this blog a part of your daily internet rounds. No matter what happens, I will always appreciate your patronage of the B³.
Happy Holidays. Go Stars.
12/29 Edit: I have decided to take the rest of this season off from the blog. I didn't want to keep my readers guessing on when I'd start blogging again. I will get back into it when the two drafts (Entry, Futures) roll around in early May. Best of luck to the players the rest of this season.
First of all, if you missed this game, you missed one heck of a battle between two quality hockey teams. It played out much like a playoff game. The atmosphere tonight at the IceBox was incredible.
I thought the Stars played very, very well in the first twenty minutes and looked to be more hungry than the Lancers. Omaha seemed to start a little slow, and it wasn't until the second period before they woke up.
Lincoln used their strong play in the first period to take a commanding 2-0 lead thanks to even-strength goals from Brandon Smith and John Simonson. Smith's goal, which came at the 12:50 mark of the first, was a great effort to grab a rebound in the slot before shooting past Lancers goaltender Cole Bruns. Simonson's goal, scored at the 17:25 mark, came on a beautiful 2-on-1 odd man rush with Magnus Hoff.
It was looking like the Stars would take the 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but Omaha native Gage Hough scored an even-strength goal with only 50 seconds remaining in the first period to pull the Lancers to within one goal.
After twenty minutes, the Stars led 2-1 over the Lancers. Lincoln outshot Omaha 12-10 in the first period.
In the second, the Lancers picked up the pace and outscored Lincoln 1-0 in the period. Omaha forward Luca Frigo scored a powerplay goal at the 11:47 mark of the second period to complete the scoring in regulation. Lincoln outshot Omaha 13-10 in the middle stanza.
Both teams really played it safe in the third period, and shots on goal were few and far between compared to the first two periods. Both teams had key penalty kills in the third period to keep the game tied up at 2-2. Shots were 9-3 in favor of Omaha in the third.
The Lancers and Stars put up two shots on goal a piece in the five-minute, four-on-four overtime period, but the puck stayed out of both nets.
In the shootout, after the first three shooters for each squad failed to capitalize, Luca Frigo scored for Omaha in the fourth round. Frigo's goal forced the next Lincoln shooter to score, or it would be all over. Stars forward Magnus Hoff calmly skated down and scored on Cole Bruns in the fourth round to force a fifth. Without Hoff's clutch shootout goal, this is a 3-2 Omaha win.
And in the fifth and deciding round of the shootout, after a big Michael Bitzer save on Lancers defenseman Steven Johnson, Stars forward David Parrottino scored the game-winner to send the IceBox into hysterics. From my seat, it looked like Parrottino went five-hole on Bruns, but he may have slipped the puck under his arm. I will post a video at the end of this article which has the entire shootout.
Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 29 of 31, including 4 of 5 Omaha shooters in the shootout. He was named the #1 star of the game, deservedly so.
Omaha went 1-for-4 on the powerplay while the Stars went 0-for-6.
Big, big win going into the holiday break for the Lincoln Stars. This should provide a huge boost of confidence. The season hasn't gone like they've wanted, but this win should give the team some much needed momentum heading into the two-week break. There's still a lot of the season yet to be played. Keep fighting. Keep battling. Keep grinding.
To all of the players on the Stars, safe travels home. Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.
Here's the video of the shootout, courtesy of my friend Mike B.
The loss dropped the Stars to 5-13-5 (15 points), and with Tri-City's win last night, Lincoln is now in seventh place in the USHL western conference. Click here to view the current USHL standings.
This recap will be brief for a variety of reasons. First of all, I don't want to waste any time on trying to recap this sort of loss. Secondly, I only caught part of the radio broadcast and did not watch it on FASTHockey.
In the first period, the Sioux Falls scored three goals (two were on the powerplay), and outshot the Stars 19-8. Two of the three goals scored in the first period by the Stampede came from forward Griffen Molino.
In the second period, it was more of the same as the Stampede outscored the Stars 2-1 and outshot them 15-11. Griffen Molino potted his third goal of the game in the second period on a powerplay. The lone Stars goal in the middle stanza was scored by forward Dominick Sacco, his fourth of the season.
The Stampede outscored the Stars 2-1 in the third period as well, and outshot them 12-8. Griffen Molino scored his fourth goal of the game in the final period, again on the powerplay. So three of the four goals Molino scored against the Stars last night came on the powerplay.
In his past 24 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede, forward Griffen Molino had a total of 3 goals. Last night he scored four goals in sixty minutes. He probably wishes he could play the Stars every game.
The lone Stars goal in the third period was scored by Daniel Willett, on the powerplay. It was Willett's first goal of the season.
Michael Bitzer, who was appearing in his 23rd straight game for the Stars, was pulled from this game after surrendering the third Stampede goal. Lincoln backup goaltender Jacob Nehama, who had zero USHL experience coming into this game, relieved Bitzer for the rest of the contest. What a way to make your USHL debut: down 0-3 on the road on the small ice surface of Sioux Falls arena. Gotta feel for the kid on that one.
Bitzer stopped 12 of 15 before he was pulled, and Nehama stopped 27 of 31 for the remainder of the game. Stampede goaltender Arthur Brey stopped 25 of 27 in the win. Sioux Falls outshot Lincoln overall, 46-27.
The Stampede went 4-for-7 on the powerplay while the Stars finished 1-for-6.
I'm not sure where to start with this one. I've mentioned it before, but we've seen these kind of losses all season long. The Stars start out slow, get behind early, play undisciplined hockey, and lose the special teams war. It's a broken record that needs fixed. But how do you fix it?
Let's take a look at the Chicago Steel. Much like the Stars, they began this season with only a few returning players from the 2012-13 season. In their first ten games of the 2013-14 season, the Steel struggled mightily. They lost each of those ten games to start the season 0-10-0.
I'm not sure what the Steel did after that tenth game, but since then they are 10-5-1. They have climbed out of the eastern conference cellar and are beating teams above them in the standings. They are 8 points out of a playoff spot in the east. Meanwhile, the Stars are 18 points out of a playoff spot in the west.
The Steel are a great example of turning a season around and coming together as a team. I'm not sure what's going on with the Stars, but it almost seems they are regressing, not improving.
Regardless, I'll continue to support the players and hope they can find a way to turn this around. It starts tonight at the IceBox against the first-place Omaha Lancers. The Lancers will be a salty bunch tonight after losing a rare home game Friday night against the Waterloo Blackhawks.
The Lincoln Stars will play their last two games before the holiday break this weekend when they battle the Sioux Falls Stampede on Friday night, and the Omaha Lancers on Saturday. Friday's game will take place in Sioux Falls, while the tilt against the Lancers on Saturday evening will occur at the IceBox in Lincoln. 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.
The Lincoln Stars currently have a record of 5-12-5 (15 points) and are in sixth place the USHL western conference. Click here to view the current USHL standings. Friday's opponent, the Sioux Falls Stampede, have a record of 16-6-2 (34 points) and are currently in second place in the USHL western conference. Sioux Falls is 6-1-1 in their last 8 games at home. They have outscored their competition 34-19 in those eight home games. This will be the third time the Stars and 'Pede will play one another. Sioux Falls is 2-0-0 in the two prior games against Lincoln this season. Saturday's opponent, the Omaha Lancers, have an impressive record of 20-3-2 (42 points) and are currently in first place in the USHL western conference. This is hard to say without wanting to punch the closest thing colored orange, but the Lancers have the best win-loss record in the USHL, and it's not even close. Their winning percentage is .840, while the second best is .750 (Dubuque Fighting Saints). Omaha is 6-1-1 in their last 8 games on the road. They have outscored their competition 33-21 in those eight road games. This will be the third time the Stars and the Lancers will play one another. Omaha is 2-0-0 in the two prior games against Lincoln this season. Needless to say, the Stars have their hands full this weekend with the Stampede and the Lancers. Both opponents are playing outstanding hockey right now, so the Stars will need to play their best in order to get some much needed points this weekend before they head home for the holiday break. It would be nice to head into the break with some momentum after a big win or two this weekend. Fingers crossed. Some roster news was announced today as the Stars traded forward Jason Stephanik to the Sioux Falls Stampede. In return for Stephanik (and a 6th round Phase I Futures pick), the Stars received a 3rd round Phase I Futures draft pick, a 6th round Phase II Entry draft pick, and "future considerations." Click here and here to read the tweets announcing the trade by the USHL's Hockey Ops Twitter account. Stephanik got out to a quick start for the Stars when he was initially acquired by the team after he left Quinnipiac University this past fall. In his first 8 games in a Stars uniform, Stephanik scored 5 points (2g, 3a). However, he only scored 1 point in his last 10 games for Lincoln. Hopefully the change of venue gives him the jumpstart he needs to get back on track and obtain a college scholarship offer. Best of luck to him (just not against the Stars). The loss of Stephanik should open up a spot on the Stars' roster, which I would assume the team will want to fill with a forward. It will be interesting to see who the coaches decide to call up or obtain to fill that open spot. Be prepared for another parking mess this Saturday night for the Omaha Lancers game. If the Huskers volleyball team wins their playoff game Friday night, they will play again Saturday night at "The Bob" starting at 8:00pm. So it may not be too bad of a mess for Stars fans heading to the game, but if the volleyball game and the hockey game release at the same time, it might not be fun getting out of the fairgrounds area. Go Stars.
Quick article to report some news that was tweeted this evening by Lincoln Stars defenseman Zach Frye.
Stars co-captain Zach Frye has committed to play his collegiate hockey at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Click here to read the tweet.
Although he didn't mention it in his tweet, I assume Zach will attend the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF) starting the fall of 2014. UAF is located in (bone chilling cold) Fairbanks, Alaska. The UAF Nanooks play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
Frye is currently in his fourth season with the Lincoln Stars, having played a total of 120 games so far for the black and blue going back to the 2010-11 season. In those 120 games, Zach has accumulated 25 points (5g, 20a), 346 penalty minutes, and is +25.
Zach will join former Stars Matt Friese, Richard Coyne, and Justin Woods at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
Congrats to Zach! Very well deserved. Zach is definitely one of those kids who leaves it all on the ice and never takes a shift off. He will be missed next season for sure.
The big win and the two points improved Lincoln's record to 5-12-5 (15 points) and they are still in sixth place in the USHL western conference, 3 points behind the fifth place Buccaneers. Click here to view the current USHL standings.
This will be short recap. I listened to the radio broadcast, but I did not watch the FASTHockey video feed.
For the 16th time in Lincoln's 22 regular season games thus far, the opponent scored the first goal. At the 5:28 mark of the first period, the Bucs scored an even-strength goal to take a 1-0 lead.
Lincoln responded about three minutes later when John Simonson scored a powerplay goal at the 8:30 mark to knot the score at 1-1. The Pointstreak boxscore which I have linked above mistakenly has Magnus Hoff scoring Lincoln's first goal. Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye was very adamant that Simonson scored the goal.
The score would remain at 1-1 going into the first intermission. Lincoln doubled up the Bucs in shots, leading 16-8 after one period.
In the second period, it was pretty much all Des Moines as they outshot Lincoln 18-6 and outscored them 2-1. The Bucs scored the first two goals of the second period to take a commanding 3-1 lead, but a Stars scored late in the period gave Lincoln new life.
Jonathan Desbiens scored a powerplay goal with only 8 seconds remaining in the middle period to pull the Stars to within one goal. The tally also gave Stars some momentum going into the third period where they outscored the Bucs 2-1 to force overtime.
Lincoln's Luke Voltin opened the scoring in the third period with an even-strength goal against his former team at the 6:00 mark to even the score at 3-3. However, two and a half minutes later the Buccaneers responded with a powerplay goal to retake the lead at 4-3.
With roughly seven minutes remaining in regulation, John Simonson scored his second goal of the game for the Stars to knot the game up at 4-4. Simonson's ninth goal of the season also came on the powerplay, giving him two PP goals on the night. Five of Simonson's nine goals this season have been scored on the PP.
Shots were 10-7 in favor of Lincoln in the third period, however the Bucs lead 33-32 in that department through sixty minutes.
In the overtime period, the Bucs outshot Lincoln 9-0, but Michael Bitzer and company stood tall and forced the shootout.
Dan Willett scored the only goal in the shootout, while Michael Bitzer stopped all three Bucs shooters he faced to give Lincoln the 5-4 OT victory.
Speaking of Bitzer, he stopped 38 of 42 for the win. Bitzer has played in EVERY game for the Stars this season. That's 22 games. Poor guy deserves a break but I'm not sure that's going to happen anytime soon. Bitzer's backup, Jacob Nehama, has zero USHL experience so I'm guessing the Lincoln coaches will continue to ride Bitzer going forward. Hard to imagine where this team would be without Bitzer between the pipes.
Lincoln won the special teams war as they went 3-for-6 on the powerplay while the Bucs went 1-for-6. Nice to see the Stars on the winning side of that battle. Too often this season that hasn't been the case.
Really proud of the Stars after this win. This season isn't going as well as they had hoped, yet they battle every game and will not quit. Against the Bucs, they faced a 3-1 deficit in the second period but kept their composure and continued to fight back. They should be very proud of their effort.
Looking ahead to next weekend, the Stars will be in Sioux Falls, SD on Friday to take on the Stampede, and then back home on Saturday evening for a huge tilt against the Omaha Lancers. Lincoln will be taking on the top two teams in the west next weekend, so it will be a big test for them. More on those two games later in the week.
It didn't take long for the Muskies to get on the scoreboard in this game as Jared Thomas scored on a partial breakaway at the 2:52 mark to give Sioux City an early 1-0 lead.
The Stars outshot Sioux City 8-6 in the first period, but the Muskies took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission. I thought the Stars played very timid in the first twenty minutes, while the Muskies played a little more aggressive.
In the second period, the fur flew at the 4:55 mark when Stars forward John Simonson scored a powerplay goal at the 4:55 mark to tie the score at 1-1. Fans at the IceBox flooded the rink with tons of stuffed animals after Simonson's 7th goal of the season, which leads the Stars.
Less than two minutes after Simonson's tally, Muskies forward Jared Thomas scored his second goal of the game, this time on the powerplay, at the 6:47 mark of the middle period. Thomas' shot, which Stars Michael Bitzer appeared not to see because of a screen, found a hold glove high.
The turning point in this game, in my opinion, came towards the end of the second period. With the Muskies leading 2-1, the Stars were awarded a four-minute powerplay with 4:07 remaining in the period. Lincoln had a perfect opportunity here to grab control of the game with a PP goal, along with momentum heading into the third period. But the Muskies killed the entire four-minute PP, and maintained their 2-1 lead going into the second intermission.
In the third, Sioux City used the momentum coming off of that big penalty kill to score a goal only 33 seconds into the period to take a 3-1 lead.
Lincooln's David Parrottino scored at the 4:00 mark to pull the Stars to within one goal, but that's as close as the Stars would get.
Once again, the Stars outshoot their opponent, this time 29-22, but lose. Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 19 of 22 in the loss while Muskies netminder Kyle Hayton stopped 27 of 29 for the win.
Lincoln went 1-for-3 on the powerplay while Sioux City went 1-for-2. A big positive in this game is that the Stars were able to play disciplined hockey and stayed out of the penalty box.
Despite the loss, I thought the Stars played relatively well in this game and for the most part outplayed the Muskies for the majority of the contest. However, how Lincoln lost this game plays out like a broken record. It seems as if we've witnessed a ton of these kinds of games at the IceBox this season. The Stars fall behind early, outshoot their competition, score a goal or two to get close, but in the end fall just short. Also, they lose the special teams war. It's a broken record that just continues to skip and skip.
The Stars will be back in action tonight in Des Moines where they will knock heads with the Buccaneers, who are coming off a 3-2 home win over Tri-City on Friday night in which they were outshot 55-29 by the Storm. I'll be listening to the radio broadcast of the Stars-Bucs game and will provide live updates on Twitter later this evening.
Edit: A big middle finger to the UNL parking idiots for forcing fans entering in the east lot to park a mile away despite their being tons of open spots just east of the IceBox. That long walk back to the car after the game in the bitter cold was not fun at all. Also, it was nice of the UNL parking idiots to turn off all of the lot lights after the Husker volleyball ended so that Stars fans could walk back to their vehicles in the dark. As a Stars fan I guess I should be used to it by now, but it is still frustrating to be treated like crap by the UNL parking idiots even though they are quick to take our money. /rant
The Lincoln Stars will be back in action this weekend with two games against western conference divisional foes ahead of them in the standings. On Friday night at the IceBox, the Stars will host the Sioux City Musketeers. On Saturday evening, the Stars will be back in Des Moines (again) to face the Buccaneers. Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for each contest.
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. Unfortunately this will be a very short weekend preview article. I've been traveling for work this week and haven't had much time to devote to the blog. The Lincoln Stars currently have a record of 4-11-5 (13 points) and are in sixth place the USHL western conference. Click here to view the current USHL standings.
The top four teams in each conference make the playoffs, and Omaha, Sioux Falls, Waterloo, and Sioux City are running away from the bottom four teams in the west (Des Moines, Lincoln, Tri-City, Fargo). It's odd to see such a division between the top four and bottom four this soon into the season. With Sioux City holding a 14 point lead over them in the standings for that last playoff spot, the Stars really need to get on a big winning streak to get back into the playoff hunt.
On Saturday, the Stars will once again take on the Buccaneers in Des Moines, IA. The Bucs enter this weekend with a 7-12-1 (15 points) record, good enough for fifth place in the western conference, two points ahead of the Stars.
In an odd scheduling quirk, the Stars' last three road games have been against the Bucs in Des Moines. The fourth straight road game will also be in Des Moines this Saturday night. I'm sure by the end of this game, these two teams will be sick of one another.
Earlier this week the Stars were dealt some bad news as the USHL handed down a very lengthy suspension to defenseman Zach Frye. With one of the longest suspensions I've ever seen the league give out to a Stars player, Frye was suspended a total of 7 games. According to the league, the suspension was due to a head contact hit during a game against Waterloo at the IceBox on 11/23/13. What's interesting is that Frye was not whistled for a penalty on the play. So I'm assuming the Waterloo coaches asked the league to look at the game tape.
Losing Frye, who eats up a tons of minutes and is a co-captain, really hurts the team. Much like Mike McKee last season, the Stars need Frye on the ice not sitting in the stands. Because he had a prior suspension for head contact, I think the league really wanted to make an example of Frye. Right or wrong, they really dropped the hammer on him. The next game Frye will be allowed to play in is a December 31st tilt against....guess who....the Waterloo Blackhawks.
Also, the 2013-14 Lincoln Stars trading cards will be available for the first time tomorrow (Friday) night at the IceBox. You can get trading cards in the BlueLine Booster Club booth located just inside the south entrance of the IceBox. I will include a quick preview picture below of some of the cards. Click the photo below to enlarge it.
Lincoln Stars defenseman Jared Kolquist has committed to play his collegiate hockey at Merrimack College. Click here to read more from Mike McMahon.
Jared is an overager (born in 1993) this season, so he will attend Merrimack starting the fall of 2014. Merrimack College is located in a suburb north of Boston, MA. The Merrimack Warriors play in the Hockey East conference.
The Stars acquired Kolquist this past offseason in a trade with the Sioux City Musketeers. In 20 games for Lincoln this season, Kolquist has accumulated 7 points (1g, 6a), 32 SOG, and 22 penalty minutes. Kolquist was named an alternate captain at the beginning of the season.
Down 0-3 to the Buccaneers, the Lincoln Stars scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead late in the third period, but Des Moines responded with a game-tying goal with 2:16 remaining before winning the game 5-4 in a shootout.
The overtime shootout loss gave the Stars one point, and their record now is 4-11-5 (13 points). The Tri-City Storm and the Fargo Force both lost last night, so the Stars actually jumped up to sixth place in the USHL western conference with the one point earned against Des Moines. Click here to view the current USHL standings.
I listened to the radio broadcast of this game, so this will recap will be brief. I don't feel comfortable writing about how good or bad the team played unless I've watched them in person or on FASTHockey.
As I stated above, the Stars fell behind quickly in this game and trailed 3-0 at the first intermission. The Bucs scored one powerplay goal, and two even-strength goals in the first twenty minutes of the game. Des Moines outshot Lincoln 17-9 in the first period as well.
Whatever switch the Stars forgot to turn on in the first period, it was definitely flipped on in the second. The first of four unanswered Lincoln goals was scored shorthanded by Brandon Smith at the 5:53 mark. Jonathan Desbiens followed that up with an even-strength goal at the 9:12 mark. The game tying tally, which was also scored at even-strength, came from Magnus Hoff at the 12:51 mark.
So in a 6:58 span in the middle period, the Stars scored three goals and clearly had momentum on their side. Lincoln put an incredible 23 shots on goal in the second period, as opposed to 15 for Des Moines.
In the third period, Stars defenseman Luke Shiplo, who played for the Bucs last season, picked a great time to score his first goal as a member of the Lincoln Stars as he put his team up 4-3 with an even-strength tally at the 8:55 mark. The improbable comeback was now a one-goal lead for the Stars, which they held until late in the period.
The Bucs stopped the bleeding with a huge, game-tying goal, which came shorthanded, with only 2:16 remaining in the third period. Just like that, momentum switched back over the Bucs.
After playing to a 4-4 regulation tie, this game would go to overtime. Neither teams scored in the 4-on-5 OT period, despite both club having a PP opportunity.
In the shootout, three Bucs scored while only two scored for Lincoln giving Des Moines the win and the two points. The Stars are now 2-3 in the five shootouts they've participated in this season.
Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer and Bucs netminder Ryan Ruck both put up the same exact numbers last night with 45 saves on 47 shots on goal. Considering the amount of shots on goal, it doesn't sound like either team played particularly well defensively. It was definitely a shooting gallery.
Des Moines went 1-for-5 on the powerplay while the Stars went 0-for-7. Lincoln is now 0-for-14 on the powerplay in their last three games combined.
Tough loss for sure, but credit the Stars for not giving up when they were down 0-3. With how this season is going, it would have been easy for them to just quit playing after the first period and let the Bucs roll over them. But they battled back and showed a lot of heart. You have to focus on the positives and try to build on them, and I hope that's what the Stars do with this game.
Based on some tweets I read from players, the Stars had a 3:00am bag skate early this morning when the team returned to Lincoln. Ouch. If you don't know what a bag skate is, what the movie "Miracle," or click here.
The Stars will be back in action this week with a Friday night home game at the IceBox against the Sioux City Musketeers. On Saturday, the Stars will travel to Des Moines (again) for a tilt against the Bucs. I'm sure by now those two teams are sick of one another. Looking ahead, Lincoln's schedule coming up is very, very tough. The combined record of all of the teams the Stars play in the next 10 games is 81-37-7.
Edit: Video highlights of this game are embedded below, courtesy of Scott Thompson.