By Richard Roeder
The Lincoln Stars open the USHL season on the road Friday, September 27th, 2002, taking on the defending Clark Cup champion Sioux City Musketeers. The bus ride continues the next night, as the Stars travel across Nebraska to take on the Tri-City Storm. The Stars home opener is Friday, October 4th, when the team that bounced the Stars in last year’s playoffs, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, come to town.
Lincoln returns 10 players from last season’s 43-15-3 team that was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in their history. The Stars return some solid skill at forward led by Ryan Potulny (23-34-57), Dan Irman (17-36-53) and Luke Erickson (23-24-47). Captain John Snowden (32-12-44) returns and will be expected to lead the Stars as far as he can. New offensive firepower to watch are Chris Porter (Shattuck St. Mary’s), Ben Gordon (International Falls HS), and Brent Borgen (Mahtomedia, MN).
Lincoln returns only two veterans on the blueline. Ethan Graham (3-10-13) and Mike Eikman (3-9-12) are expected to provide steady, sturdy play. Newcomers Michael Nesdill (US National Team), Robbie Bina (Bismark Bobcats) and a host of other new defensemen will go a long way in determining how the Stars fare this year. The Stars are stocked in net as they currently have three experienced net minders, Philippe Lamoureux (20-8-1, .917) and Nate Zieglemann (20-4-1, .906) return from last year’s squad and joining them is USHL veteran Ross Cherry (Tulsa Crude). Cherry was picked up in the dispersal draft this past off-season and creates a welcome situation for head coach Steve Johnson. Speculation among Stars fans runs rampant about how long Lincoln will carry all three, and who will be the odd man out.
Look for a typical Stars start, with the team starting slowly, improving throughout the year and ending with a possibility of a serious run at the Anderson and Clark cups.