Thursday, December 30, 2010

B³ Postgame Recap 12/29: Lincoln 4, Green Bay 7

The Lincoln Stars fell behind early on the road last night in Green Bay and couldn't recover as the Gamblers rolled up the Stars by a score of 7-4.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the loss, the Stars dropped to below .500 (11-12-1, 23 points) for the first time since early November.  Lincoln is also riding a five-game losing streak.  In those five games, the Stars have been outscored 26-8.  With the loss to the Gamblers last night, and Des Moines' victory over the Youngstown Phantoms, the Stars are now all alone in last place in the USHL Western Conference.  In a little over one month's time, the Stars have dropped from second place to last place in the west. 

The Stars were apparently still in holiday break mode at the start of this game, as the Gamblers scored three quick goals in the first five minutes of the game to give themselves a commanding 3-0 lead.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock surrendered all three goals (on seven shots), and was pulled after the third GB goal in favor of Lukas Hafner.  The Stars woke up a bit in the first period, and forward Ryan Dzingel was able to get on the board to pull the Stars within two goals at 3-1.  Ben Oskroba and Andrew Schmit earned the assists on Dzingel's eighth goal of the season.  At the first intermission, the Gamblers lead comfortably by a score of 3-1, and they outshot the Stars 13-10 in the first 20 minutes.

In the second period, the Stars finally came to life and played more like they wanted to be there.  Garrett Peterson scored first in the second period at the 4:28 mark, with assists going to Sam Alfieri and Teemu Tiitinen, to pull the Stars within one goal.  A little over five minutes after Petey's goal, Ryan Dzingel potted his second goal of the game, this one on the powerplay, to even the score at 3-3.  Brent Tate and Garrett Peterson collected the assists on Dzingel's goal.  Suddenly, the Stars were dominating the the play and taking it to the Gamblers.  However, the Gamblers stormed back later in the second period to recapture the lead.  Two GB goals, scored in the last eight minutes of the game, restored the Gamblers' two goal lead at 5-3.  At the second intermission, Stars were down 5-3, and were outshot 10-8 in the period.

In the last 20 minutes of the game, the Stars scored first at the 12:51 mark when Sam Alfieri buried the puck against his former team to give the Stars some life, and pull them back within one goal, at 5-4.  Richard Coyne and Teemu Tiitinen earned the assists on Alfieri's third period goal.  That was as close as the Stars would get in the third period, as the Gamblers scored two goals late in the period (one was an empty net goal) to give GB the 7-4 victory.  The Stars outshot GB 11-7 in the third, but were outshot overall, 30-29.  Both teams went 1-for-4 on the powerplay.  Lukas Hafner stopped 19 of 22 shots, and earned the loss in relief of Kevin Murdock.  

I think the final score isn't indicative of how well the Stars played in this game, although that's not to say they played great.  Obviously in the first part of the opening period, the Stars weren't in the game mentally, and the Gamblers took advantage of that.  Instead of going into a hole and letting the Gamblers roll over them at that point, the Stars showed a lot of heart by scoring the three straight goals to tie it up.  But like we've seen in the past month, mental mistakes cost them at the end of the second period which allowed GB to regain the momentum.  It's cliche, but you really have to play the whole 60 minutes.  You can't take a shift or even a period off in this league and expect to win.  Certain teams might be able to do that in midget major, or high school, but not at this level.  The talent is there on the roster, but mentally they just aren't consistent.   Lincoln is in a huge rut right now, and they need to figure out how to get out of it before they get buried in the western conference standings.

Great to see Stars defenseman Matt Prapavessis back in the lineup, who played his first game since 11/13/10.  As mentioned earlier on the blog, Stars captain Josh Berge was placed on the 45-day injured reserve list on 12/28/10, so he will be out until at least February.  I believe Josh is still suffering from symptoms related to a concussion he received a few weeks ago.  We'll have to see if the coaches plan on filling that roster spot for the time being, or if they keep it open.  The opportunity exists to call up a player on the Stars' affiliate list, if they choose to.

The Stars return to the ice this Friday night (New Year's Eve) when they take on the Cedar Rapids Roughriders on the road.  Puck drops at 7:05pm in CR.  Like the Gamblers, the 'Riders are one of the top teams in the league right now, so the Stars will have yet another difficult road game in store for Friday night.  I'll have a preview article up for that game sometime tonight, or early tomorrow.

Go Stars.

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