The Lincoln Stars enter November with one of the oddest schedules in the United States Hockey League.
Lincoln will play one game three straight weeks before ending the month with three games in seven days.
Coach Cody Chupp finds positives and negatives in having a long layoff between games.
“I think our feeling as a group is we are close, and for the staff it would be nice just to have an even schedule of two games a weekend and kind of get into a flow a bit,” Chupp said. “At the same time, it's good for us to be able to focus on one opponent and put all our eggs into that one weekend game.”
With the extra time between games, the first-year coach expects the Stars to be ready to play each and every night.
“There is no excuse for us not to show up, be ready to go and be full of energy and use it all in that one game,” Chupp added. “There are positives and negatives to it and at the end of the day we are trying to get better as a group every single day and not so much worry about who we are playing but how we are approaching our practice and preparation.”
Because of the altered schedule, Lincoln plans on keeping its practice regimen as if the Stars were playing two games each weekend.
“Our rest is scheduled more early in the week,” the coach said. “For instance, we went hard and competed Monday, with Tuesday being a very, very light day and back at it Wednesday. They've been on the ice every single day and at the same time I talk about getting better each and every day, you have to be careful and not just grind for an hour and a half every single day because the most important day is Saturday and what we do Saturday.”
The Stars start their November schedule in Sioux City at 7 p.m. Saturday, before hosting three straight home games against the Sioux Falls Stampede, Fargo Force and Tri-City Storm. The Nov. 11 and Nov. 22 games against the Stampede and Storm, respectively, will be free to those with a military ID.
Lincoln closed out the month of October on a four-game losing streak after starting the season 3-0. Still, Chupp has seen improvement in the past four games, with the Stars starting off the last two controlling the tempo.
“If you've watched our last three games, we have probably improved every single game,” Chupp said. “This past Saturday against Chicago with the chances we generated and the way we played in the first two, two-and-a-half periods was great hockey. When we made mistakes, they capitalized and that was the game. It could have very easily in my eyes been a 5, 6, 7-1 game at one point (In the Stars' favor). There are good things happening and for us it is about cleaning up the details that allowed Chicago to get their opportunities and at the same time staying focused on what makes us a great hockey team.”