Thursday, February 26, 2015

B³ Weekend Preview: Des Moines and Sioux Falls

The Lincoln Stars will take on the two teams fighting for the fourth spot in the USHL western conference playoff race this weekend with a Friday tilt in Des Moines, IA against the Buccaneers, and then a Saturday evening game at the IceBox against the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Puck drops at 7:05pm CST for each game.

If you you can't make it to either of the two road 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 come enter this weekend with a record of 14-25-5 (29 points) and are in last place in the USHL western conference.  Lincoln is 2-10-0 in their last twelve games played, and those two wins came in a shootout.  The Stars are 18 points out of fourth place (playoff eligible) in the west.  Click here to view the current league standings.

Lincoln is coming off an embarrassing 8-3 loss this past Wednesday night at the IceBox to the Sioux City Musketeers.  In cast you were wondering, I am not going to devote a recap article to that particular game.  I ran out of time to get that done tonight, so I'll mention it briefly here.

Click here to view the boxscore.  As bad as the score looks, I definitely think this was a game the Stars simply ran into a buzzsaw.  I'm not going to sugarcoat the loss at all.  It was bad.  Really bad.  But the Stars went head to head against what I think is the top team in the USHL right now, and it showed.  Lincoln was never in this game.

As good as Lincoln's goaltending has been this season, in the 8-3 loss it could have been a lot better.  I think this game is a good example of the kind of scores the Stars would see more of this season if their goaltending hadn't been so good.  I really think Hackett and Jones have done a lot to cover up some of the defensive issues this team continues to have night in and night out.  Basically, without Hackett and Jones, we'd see more of these kinds of lopsided losses.

In case you were wondering, the last time an opposing team put 8 goals on the Stars on their home rink was way back on March 9th, 2010 when the Waterloo Blackhawks beat Lincoln at the IceBox by a score of 8-6.  That 2009-10 Stars team gave up 8 goals at home in three different games.  That was definitely a season most Stars fans had to get psychological help for once it was over.

Okay, back to the two games this weekend....

Lincoln's opponent this Friday will be the Des Moines Buccaneers who occupy fifth place in the USHL western conference with a record of 18-16-11 (47 points).  The Bucs are only four points behind the fourth place Sioux Falls Stampede, but the 'Pede have two games in hand over Des Moines.

This will be the sixth of eight meetings between the Stars and Bucs this season.  Lincoln is 2-3-0 in the previous five games vs. Des Moines.  Three of the next four games for the Stars will be against the Buccaneers.  On March 6th and 7th the Stars will travel back to Des Moines to finish out the regular season series.

After a red-hot start to the season in which they went 9-3-1, the Bucs have cooled off considerable going 9-13-10 since then.  As I mentioned above, the Bucs are trying to stay relevant in the western conference playoff race but they are slipping a bit as of late.  The Stars can definitely play the role of spoiler in their game Friday night.

Saturday evening at the IceBox the Stars will host the Sioux Falls Stampede who sit in fourth place in the west with a record of 23-15-5 (51 points).  The 'Pede are currently riding a five-game winning streak and are 6-2-1 in their last nine games played.

This will be the second of four meetings between the Stars and the Stampede this season.  In their only other meeting, Sioux Falls picked up a 3-1 win at home on 1/23/15.  The 'Pede have an impressive 15-6-3 home record, but a pedestrian 8-9-2 record away from the confines of brand new Denny Sanford Premier Center.  Starting this Friday, the Stampede begin a grueling stretch of 10 straight road games.

Two big opportunities for the Stars to play the role of spoiler this weekend against two teams trying to wrap up a playoff spot in the west.  However, they'll have to play a lot better than they played this past Wednesday if they even want to think about picking up any points this weekend.

Thanks for reading.  Go Stars.

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