|Stars celebrate Biagio Lerario's first goal of the game|
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.
With the loss, the Stars fall to 0-1-0 on the young season. Click here to view the USHL regular season standings.
Before I get into the action on the ice, I just want to say a few things about the pregame festivities.
First off, I thought all of the upgrades inside the IceBox looked great. Fresh paint, new banners, updated bathrooms, new counter tops in the concession stands, etc. I thought it all looked great. You could tell the staff have worked very, very hard on the upgrades. They should be proud of their work.
Secondly, I thought the home opener video which was played before the game was awesome. It looked very professional to me, and it got the crowd pumped up. I'm hoping the Stars will put that video on YouTube.
Lastly....let there be light! Wow. I knew the Stars had installed new lighting above the ice, but I wasn't expecting it to be that bright. It was great. I've been going to Stars games since 1996, so in a way, it almost felt like I was watching a game in a different rink last night. Two thumbs up.
On to the game....
It was definitely a back-and-forth first period although I thought the Stars were the better team. Lincoln forward Biagio Lerario got the scoring going with an even-strength tally at the 9:54 mark. On that play, a point shot by defenseman Ryan Cook was initially saved by TC goaltender Alec Dillion, but the rebound went right to Lerario who fired it into the open net. Good play by Lerario to go to the net in anticipation of a rebound.
As would be the theme for the night, Tri-City responded quickly with a goal of their own after the Lerario goal. Just one minute after the opening goal of the game, Kevin Kerr of Tri-City darted to the net behind the Lincoln defensemen before firing a shot glove high past goaltender Cam Hackett to knot the game at 1-1.
Later in the first period, Biagio Lerario got his second goal of the period with a nice individual effort. Lerario collected a loose puck in the neutral zone, avoided a big check by a TC player at the blueline, and entered the Storm zone on a 2-on-1. Lerario skated in on Dillion, went to the backhand, and roofed it to give Lincoln a 2-1 lead which they would take into the first intermission.
Early in the second period, a strange play in the Storm offensive zone allowed the Stars to take a 3-1 lead. TC defenseman Gordi Meyer, who was just to the left of goaltender Alec Dillion, tried a cross ice pass to a teammate but the puck deflected off of the skate of Stars forward Ludvig Hoff and into the net. It was a poor decision by Meyer to attempt the pass, and Dillion was obviously not paying attention on the play. Puck luck was certainly on Lincoln's side for that goal.
An ill-timed Lincoln penalty less than a minute after the Hoff goal allowed the Storm to score a PP and kill any momentum the Stars may have had at the time. I can only imagine that as a head coach, Chris Hartsburg had to have been frustrated with the penalty considering Lincoln had Tri-City on the ropes with a 3-1 lead. But the Storm PP goal by Garrett Gamez gave his team life and quieted the raucous IceBox crowd.
With only 16 seconds remaining in the second period, Tri-City scored an even-strength goal to tie the game at 3-3 going into the second intermission. I've always been of the opinion that goals scored in the last minute of a period are killers, if they're scored against your team. They can suck the life out of a team going into the next period.
In the third, the only goal scored was the game winner by Storm forward Chris Wilkie on a nice wrister that looked like it went glove high. Wilkie's goal, which came with 7:13 remaining was an even-strength tally and gave his team the 4-3 lead. The Stars pulled goaltender Cam Hackett with a minute remaining for the extra attacker, but they were not able to score the equalizing goal.
Shots were 31-24 in favor of Tri-City. Lincoln had 12 shots on goal in the first period, but combined for a total of 12 shots on goal in the last two periods. Tri-City went 1-for-2 on the powerplay, while Lincoln was 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
Stars goaltender Cam Hackett stopped 27 of 31 shots on goal in the loss. Storm netminder Alec Dillion stopped 21 of 24 in the win.
Unfortunately, a kneeing major by Stars defenseman Ryan Cook nearly started a line brawl situation as the horn sounded at the end of the third period. The officials sent the Stars immediately to the locker room, so the team was not allowed to gather around center ice for their salute to the crowd. In all of the games I've attended at the IceBox over the years, I don't know if I've ever not seen the Stars salute the crowd. But considering the situation, I understand why the officials got the Stars off the ice quickly.
Overall, I was happy with how the Stars began this game but not how they finished. I thought Lincoln looked very lethargic and tired in the third period, while the Storm got better each period. Give full credit to Tri-City, as they played much more aggressive than Lincoln last night, especially on the forecheck. They forced the Stars to make some bad decisions which led to goals.
After the game, head coach Chris Hartsburg was interviewed by Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye, and you could tell he wasn't happy. It was refreshing to hear a coach tell it like he saw it and not try to sugarcoat it. I wasn't used to that. At one point during the interview, Hartsburg said he needs to figure out which players want to be here, and which players who don't. I thought that was an interesting comment. It should be an intense week of practice for the Stars.
Only one game for the Stars this weekend, so the next opportunity to bounce back will be Friday, October 3rd at the IceBox against the Sioux City Musketeers. On Sunday, October 5th, Lincoln will take on the Waterloo Blackhawks at the IceBox for a rare 4:05pm Sunday afternoon puck drop. More on those two games later next week.
Thanks for reading. Go Stars.