Sunday, January 30, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 1/29: Fargo 3, Lincoln 2 OT

Courtesy of Jeff White
It was another heartbreaker for the home fans last night at the IceBox, as the visiting Fargo Force came back from a one-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime, and then won the game in the extra period to defeat the Lincoln Stars, 3-2. Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  With the loss, the Stars dropped to 16-15-3 (35 points), and are still all alone in eighth place in the USHL Western Conference.  However, the Stars are only two points out of sixth place (last playoff spot), and seven points out of fourth place in the cutthroat western conference.  Every point is important at this point in the season.

The Stars came out very strong in the first period Saturday night and took it right to the Force.  Much like the second period Friday night against the Indiana Ice, the Stars controlled the play in the first twenty minutes against Fargo, but could only get one goal past the opposing goaltender.  While on the powerplay, Stars forward Dominik Shine received a pretty pass from forward Andrew Schmit in the offensive zone, and buried the puck glove-high past Fargo goaltender Ryan Massa.  Shine's PP tally at the 14:26 mark of the first period gave the Stars the early 1-0 lead.  Schmit and defenseman Cole Martin collected the assists on Shine's seventh goal of the season.  The Stars put a lot of pressure on Massa in the first period, but Shine's tally was the only goal of the period.  At the first intermission, the Stars led 1-0, and had out-shot the Force 11-6 in the period.

In the second period, it was all Fargo, as the Force came out of the locker room looking like a different team, and dominated play.  The Force out-shot the Stars 12-3 in the second, but like the Stars in the first period, Fargo was only able to score one goal.  Force forward Nick Oliver scored at the 15:34 mark of the second period to even the game at 1-1.  Lincoln goaltender Kevin Murdock did a great job keeping his team in the game with timely saves while the Stars offense really struggled to get into any kind of rhythm.  At the end of two periods, the score was knotted up at 1-1.

The Stars powerplay unit clicked again early in the third period when defenseman Matt Prapavessis ripped a shot from near the blueline past Massa to give Lincoln a 2-1 lead.  Prapavessis' goal at the 5:22 mark of the third period was assisted by forward Garrett Peterson.  The one goal lead for the Stars would not last long, as Force defenseman Garrett Haar scored on the powerplay less than five minutes after Prapavessis' goal to even the score at 2-2.  Each team would have their share of scoring chances in the final ten minutes of the third period, but neither squad would capitalize.  We would see overtime.  At the end of regulation, the score was tied up at 2-2, and the Force had out-shot the Stars 10-6 in the third period, and 28-21 thru the first sixty minutes.

In overtime, the Force did a great job with puck posession, as the Stars were never able to get a shot on goal.  Fargo was rewarded early in the five-minute overtime period when defenseman Brandon Carlson slapped the puck from the blueline passed a screened Kevin Murdock to give the Force the comeback 3-2 overtime victory.  Carlson's overtime-winner was his first goal of the season.  From my seat, it looked like Murdock never saw the puck.  Doc stopped 27 of 30 shots in the loss, while Ryan Massa wasn't as busy as he stopped 19 of 21 shots to earn the win.  The Stars powerplay unit went 2-for-5, while Fargo's PP unit went 1-for-5.

This was a game I really thought the Stars could get two points out of and salvage the home weekend, but it just didn't happen.  I thought the Force played well enough in the second, third, and overtime periods to earn the victory.  Lincoln came out with their hair on fire in the first period, but I didn't see that sense of urgency in the final two periods, or in overtime.  The competition this weekend was tough, but at times, the Stars dominated both teams.  However, the consistency of play just wasn't there for a full 60 minutes against either team.  The Stars would look like world beaters for one period, and then would disappear into a shell the next period.  That lack of a killer instinct will have to change if they expect to put some wins together, and dig themselves out of the western conference "cellar."  As competitive as the western conference is this season, there will most likely be two pretty good teams on the outside looking in when it comes to playing post-season hockey.

The Stars will return to play next weekend with another two games at the IceBox, this time against the same foe, the Sioux Falls Stampede.  It will be a huge weekend against a team ahead of the Stars in the western conference.  We'll highlight that matchup later in the week.

Go Stars.

No comments: