Thursday, November 25, 2010

B³ Postgame Recap 11/24: Omaha 6, Lincoln 2

Photo courtesy of Brandon Anderson
In what was the most anticipated home game of the season so far, the Lincoln Stars saw their six-game winning streak snapped by the Omaha Lancers by a score of 6-2.  The Lancers scored three goals in the second and third periods to cruise past the Stars and earn their eighth win of the season.  This was the first of eight regular season games the Stars and Lancers will play against each other.  With the loss, the Stars dropped to 8-6-0 (16 points, 5th place in the USHL Western Conference).  The Lancers improved to 6-5-2 (18 points, 4th place in the USHL Western Conference).

The Stars came out strong in the first period of this game, outplaying the Lancers for the most part and earning an early lead.  Halfway through the period, Stars forward Jared Hanson broke in on a 2-on-1 and wristed the puck top-shelf past Lancers goaltender Todd Mathews to give Lincoln the 1-0 advantage.  Dominik Shine collected the lone assist on Hanson's goal.  The rest of the first period was for the most part, uneventful, as the Stars out-shot the Lancers 13-9 in the first 20 minutes.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock and Mathews both had to make a number of very good saves on both ends of the ice to keep their teams in the game.  Unfortunately for the Stars and their fans, it was all Omaha in the last 40 minutes of the game.

In the second period, the Lancers got right back in the game early in the period when forward Seth Ambroz wristed a nasty shot past Mudock to tie the game up at 1-1.  The goal by Ambroz came 54 seconds into the second period.  At the 7:43 mark of the second period, the intensity of the game kicked up a notch as it got much more physical and chippy.  It all started at the 7:43 mark when Lancers forward Adam Chlapik was whistled for a fragrant hit from behind on Stars defenseman Frank Misuraca.  Chlapik received a double-minor for hitting from behind, and a game ejection.  Immediately after the hit, Stars forward John McCarron came to the aid of his teammate, tackled Chlapik, and started throwing punches.  Chlapik turtled, and allowed McCarron to beat on him a little bit until the linesmen separated them.  McCarron received a two minute minor for instigating, a five minute major for fighting, and a game ejection.  Personally, I was happy to see McCarron sticking up for his teammate, even though he was ejected because of his actions.

At the next faceoff after the McCarron-Chlapik "fight," Stars forward Brent Tate and Lancers defenseman David Mead dropped the mitts and fought, with Tate winning the decision.  After both players were sent to the penalty box, and the puck was dropped, Stars defenseman Ben Oskroba and Omaha forward Mitch Hughes dropped the gloves and exchanged punches, with Oskroba also winning this decision.  Needless to say, the crowd at the IceBox went nuts.  Despite all the extracurricular fisticuffs and excitement on the ice, it was the Lancers who capitalized with the man advantage.  Because of the penalties incurred by McCarron, the Lancers found themselves on the powerplay and were able to get their first lead of the game when forward Colin Markison scored to give Omaha the 2-1 lead.  Still not done in the second period, Lancers defenseman Ben Marshall scored three minutes after the Markison goal to give Omaha the 3-1 lead.  The Stars and Lancers weren't done trading punches in this period as Stars forward Dominik Shine and Omaha forward Stefan Demopoulos dropped the mitts with less than two minutes remaining in the second.  Demopoulos took exception to a Shine hit along the boards, and Shine was more than willing to give Demopoulos a beating.  Despite the fighting wins, the Stars found themselves down two goals going into the second intermission.  The Stars out-shot the Lancers 14-12 in the second period.

In the third period, it was all Lancers once again as Omaha scored three goals to only one for Lincoln in the final twenty minutes.  The Stars struck first, as forward Jake Lynes scored roughly two minutes into the third to give the Stars some life.  Assisting on the goal from Lynes was Josh Berge and Jared Hanson.  The Stars were within one goal at 3-2, and hoping to get back into the game.  However, after a number of penalties called on Lincoln, the Lancers took control of the game with two powerplay goals scored halfway through the period.  First it was Seth Ambroz scoring his second goal of the game to give the Lancers the 4-2 lead.  A little more than three minutes after the Ambroz goal, Stefan Demopoulos also scored on the powerplay to give Omaha a commanding 5-2 lead.  The Stars seemed to really fall apart in this period, and the Lancers took full advantage.  The Lancers finished the scoring in this game when forward Ryan Daugherty scored an empty-netter late in the period to extend the lead to 6-2.  The Lancers out-shot the Stars 16-9 in the third period, and overall in the game, 37-36.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock stopped 31 of 36 shots on net and suffered his first loss since 10/22/10.  Lancers goaltender Todd Mathews stopped 34 of 36 shots on goal to record his second USHL win.  

This was one of those games in which the Stars looked really good at the beginning of the game, but slowly lost control as it progressed.  At even-strength, I didn't think the Stars played that bad against Omaha, and it could be argued that they were the better team 5-on-5.  However, it was the Stars' penalty kill unit which really struggled.  The Lancers converted three of six powerplay opportunities, while the Stars went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.  Winning the fights is nice, and it certainly got the crowd energized, but it was the Lancers who made the Stars hurt where it counted, on the scoreboard.  I don't think the final score was indicative of how both teams played in this game, as I believe the Stars played very well at times.  Give credit to Omaha for taking advantage of opportunities given to them on the powerplay, as Omaha certainly played much better special teams compared to Lincoln.

The Stars will get a quick opportunity to rebound from the loss to Omaha when Lincoln plays Thanksgiving night in Sioux City against the Musketeers.  I will be posting pics and videos from the Omaha game very soon, so stay tuned for that.

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