The Lincoln Stars will face off against the top two teams in the USHL western conference this weekend when they take on the Sioux City Musketeers at home on Friday, and the Buccaneers in Des Moines, IA on Saturday.
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 Stars enter the weekend with a record or 3-5-1 (7 points) and are in last place in the USHL western conference. Click here to view the current league standings.
Lincoln's first opponent this weekend, the Sioux City Musketeers, sport a record of 8-3-1 (17 points) and are in first place in the USHL western conference. The Muskies have the 2nd best record in the entire USHL, behind only the eastern conference leading Cedar Rapids Roughriders (9-1-0).
This will be the third time the Stars and Muskies will face another this season. The Stars are 1-1-0 against Sioux City in those previous two games, including a 4-3 OT shootout victory at the IceBox on 10/3/14. In their last meeting on 10/25/14 in Sioux City, the Stars lost by a score of 5-3. Since winning that game against the Stars on 10/25, the Muskies are 0-2-0 and have been outscored 9-3.
Lincoln's second opponent this weekend, the Des Moines Buccaneers, are the surprise team of the USHL, by far. They currently occupy second place in the USHL western conference with a record of 7-3-1 (15 points). This will be the first of eight meetings between the two clubs. These same two teams will play each other next Tuesday, October 11th at the IceBox.
Coming into this season, the Bucs hired a new head coach (Dave Allison) after a disappointing 2013-14 season in which they finished in sixth place in the west, and out of the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.
Many hockey pundits who follow the USHL expected this Bucs team to struggle out of the gate. When I saw them play at the 2014 USHL Fall Classic this past September in Sioux City, they looked like hot garbage. Seriously, this team looked incredibly bad. So bad, they gave up 16 goals against in only two games played at the Fall Classic. I had them pegged for last place in the western conference, without a doubt.
However, once the games actually counted, the Bucs turned it around quickly. In their first seven games of the 2014-15 regular season, Des Moines bolted out to an impressive record of 6-0-1. To be honest, I wasn't sure if their hot start was just luck at first. However, this team is for real and other USHL clubs cannot take them for granted.
The Bucs' goaltending duo of Ryan Ruck (4-3-0, 3.01 gaa, .912 save %) and Ryland Pashovitz (3-0-1, 1.71 gaa, .924 save %) have certainly been a big part of their hot start.
Don't forget that the Stars' home game on Friday night against the Sioux City Musketeers will be their annual jersey auction to benefit the American Cancer Society. So make you stick around after the game and help donate to a great cause.
Sorry for the abbreviated weekend preview. I've been sick this week, so I haven't had a lot of energy to devote to the blog. I doubt I'll be healthy enough to watch the Friday night game in person, but I'll be watching on FASTHockey.
Thanks for reading. Go Stars.