The Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is the home of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. It seats nearly 10,500 people, and Lincoln Stars affiliate Zach Urdahl planned on sitting in one of those seats to watch his potential future team play a weekend series against the Gamblers.
Instead, Urdahl suited up for the Stars on Friday and Saturday, scoring twice to help lead a comeback effort Friday, though the Stars ultimately fell 4-3 in a shootout.
The next night, Urdahl, a Wisconsin commit, did not score in the Stars' 7-3 victory, but was one of many new faces that made an impact.
“It's great to have a young guy in and get his feet wet in the USHL,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “One thing we tell our young guys, our affiliate players, the more you can be around us in practice, especially in gamelike situations like that, it just benefits those guys moving forward and benefits our relationship with them.”
Though Urdahl impressed the coaching staff, the Eau Claire North High (Wisconsin) hockey player will not be back for the rest of the season.
“The way it works in Wisconsin is those guys are allowed to play two games per year as affiliate players and not lose their ability to play for his high school team,” Chupp said. “Zach and his family reached out and mentioned they were coming to the game to get a chance to sit down with us a bit.
“With the situation we are in, in the season, we decided to just reach out and ask him if he wanted to play and he accepted the opportunity and was great. It gives him a great benchmark going back into high school and the summer of where he needs to be successful on a daily basis in the USHL.”
In the 7-3 victory over the Gamblers on Saturday, something clicked for Lincoln.
The Stars went 4-for-5 on the power play and only the crossbar kept Lincoln from a perfect 5-for-5. Newly acquired Brock Bremer added the Stars' first hat trick in more than a calendar year. Josiah Slavin last accomplished the feat, Dec. 16, 2017 against Des Moines at the Ice Box.
“I was relieved,” Bremer said. “People don't say it, but you score the second one and you think about the third one. It was pretty quick after the second one and it was exciting.”
In five games played with the Stars since being acquired from Muskegon, Bremer has four goals and three assists and his only USHL hat trick. Hunter Skinner, who joined Bremer in the trade with the Lumberjacks, has five assists in five games. Both players came from a program fighting for the Anderson Cup (awarded to the team with the most points at the end of the season) and a Clark Cup.
“We are still high-energy,” Skinner said. “There is no giving up here, and I think that is what I love best about these guys. They are always going to work hard and give their best.”
The Stars host Cedar Rapids at the Ice Box at 7 p.m. Wednesday.