Posted 328 days ago ago by David Fine
Kearney, Neb. – The Tri-City Storm and the Lincoln Stars clash for a preseason game at the Viaero Center on Friday, September 2 at 7:05 p.m. Friday’s tilt is the Storm’s first game since winning the Clark Cup Championship in May. Tickets at the Viaero Center are $5 for the public and free for season ticket holders.
This is the only chance to see the Storm in the Tri-Cities until the home opener, September 30 vs. Sioux City, for Championship Night, presented by Viaero Wireless. The first 1,000 fans will receive a championship pennant and the Storm will honor last season’s championship team throughout the night.
Last season, the Storm beat the Stars, 5-2, in Tri-City’s only home preseason game.
Back for a second season
Head Coach Bill Muckalt enters his second year as Storm Head Coach. Last season, Muckalt instituted a balanced team; the Storm was seventh in goals for (3.05 GF/GM), seventh in goals against (2.73 GA/GM), third on the power play (20.8%) and sixth on the penalty kill (84.4%). The Storm won its conference with 73 points and a 28-15-10-7 record.
Also returning is Assistant Coach Taylor Nelson. The 28-year-old worked with all areas of the team last season, specifically the goaltenders. Former Storm netminder Jake Kielly had the best save percentage in Tri-City regular season history (.919) and went 9-2 in the playoffs. This season’s returning netminder is Dayton Rasmussen, who played in 15 games last season for the Storm and went 4-3-3-2 with a 2.52 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.
New to the squad is Matt Stewart, who accepted the job as Storm Head Coach on August 29. Stewart, 25, moved to Kearney after serving one season as an Assistant Men’s Hockey Coach at NCAA Division III Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
New and returning faces
The Storm returns ten players that were on the roster during the Clark Cup run. The forward returners are Alex Limoges, Joe Cipollone, Brian Hawkinson, Justin Dixson, Paul Washe and Monte Graham. At defense, Tri-City brings back Joey Matthews, Jack McNeely and Carver Watson. In net, Dayton Rasmussen takes the reins as starting netminder.
Wyatt Bongiovanni, 17, played 57 games with the Des Moines Buccaneers last season. Tri-City acquired the forward on August 19 in exchange for Collin Rutherford and a second round, Phase I draft pick in the 2017 USHL Draft. Last season, Bongiovanni had three goals and 14 points in 57 games for the Buccaneers.
The Storm has two players on the active roster born in the year 2000, defenseman Jace Foskey and forward Wyllum Deveaux. Foskey represented the USA and won the Five Nations Tournament last month in Frisco, Texas. Deveaux turned 16 years old on Wednesday, August 31 and spent the last two seasons with the Don Mills Flyers in Ontario, Canada.
Scouting the Stars
Lincoln fell in four games to Waterloo in the opening round of the Clark Cup Playoffs. In Game 4, Lincoln lost in double overtime, 4-3, after Ronnie Hein scored on the 70th Black Hawks shot of the game against goaltender Peyton Jones. The Stars have replaced Jones and Patrik Virtanen in net with Cayden Primeau and Josef Korenar. Primeau is 17 years old and the son of former Philadelphia Flyers forward Keith Primeau. Cayden’s older brother, Chayse, enters his first season with the Stars.
Lincoln returns eight players from last season’s club: four defensemen and four forwards.
Tri-City competed throughout most of the second half of the season for the Western Conference’s top spot. The Storm had 73 points edged the Stars for first. Lincoln went 33-24-2-1 for 69 points after starting the season 12-3-0-0. In the final 45 games, the Stars were 21-21-2-1, enduring a seven-game losing streak from January 2-16.
The Storm won the season series, 4-3-0-1, winning the last four games after dropping the first four. The clubs match nine times during the regular season.