Saturday, February 19, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 2/18: Fargo 1, Lincoln 4

To quote "The Jeffersons":  "We're movin' on up!"

The Lincoln Stars continued moving on up the western conference standings with a 4-1 victory Friday night at the IceBox over the Fargo Force.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.  The win was Lincoln's second in a row overall, and fourth in a row at home.  With the big "W" and the two points, the Stars are now 21-16-4 (46 points) and are all alone in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is now only six points out of third place, and nine points out of first place in the west.  

The 4,314 in attendance watched both teams feel each other out in the first twenty minutes of the game, as Lincoln and Fargo went scoreless and combined for only seven shots on goal.  To me, it seemed like both teams put the neutral zone on lock-down, making it difficult for either team to generate any scoring chances.  The Force outshot the Stars 4-3 in the period.

In the second period, the Force got on the scoreboard first when forward Colton Hargrove one-timed the puck past Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock at the 8:36 mark to give Fargo the 1-0 lead.  It would be the only puck the Force would get past Murdock in the entire game.  The Stars would answer a little over minute later when forward Andrew Schmit scored to tie the game up at 1-1.  Brent Tate and Ryan Dzingel collected the assists on Schmit's goal.  Andrew Schmit wasn't done, as he scored at the 16:01 mark of the second period to make it 2-1 Stars.  Brent Tate and Ryan Dzingel again earned the assists on Schmit's second goal of the game, his third overall in the past two games.  The Force outshot the Stars 14-7 in the period, but the Stars held the 2-1 lead.

In the third period, it was all Stars as the black and blue added two more goals.  Jared Hanson would score first in the third when he wristed it past Force goaltender Ryan Massa at the 6:46 mark to give Lincoln a 3-1 lead.  Hanson's sixth goal of the season was assisted by defenseman Chris Casto and forward Austin Hervey.  Lincoln would wrap up the scoring ten minutes later in the period when forward Garrett Peterson scored on the powerplay from a nice feed from Eric Scheid to give the Stars the 4-1 lead.  Matt Prapavessis would earn the other assist on Petey's 16th goal of the season.  Lincoln would outshoot the Force 10-8 in the third, but Fargo outshot the Stars 26-20 overall.  Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock stopped 25 of 26 shots on net to record his 19th win of the season, second-most in the USHL.  Doc has now won five out of the last six games he has started in net for the Stars.  The Force were blanked on the powerplay, going 0-for-6, while the Stars finished 1-for-5 with the man advantage.

Wow....what another great team effort by the Stars tonight.  It may not have been as pretty as the win over the Green Bay Gamblers this past Wednesday night, but the Stars certainly fought hard and deserved the two points.  To me, it seemed like Force goaltender Ryan Massa never looked comfortable, and it showed when he lashed out more than a few times towards players on the Stars roster.  I'm not sure if the crowd or the Stars players got under his skin, but it was certainly entertaining to watch Massa implode.  The Force had a number of powerplay opportunities tonight, including a 5-on-3 PP, but the Stars' PK unit performed very well in killing every Fargo man-advantage.  The Stars' powerplay unit gets a lot of attention for being first overall in the USHL, but the PK unit is getting better and better.

Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye made a very good point after the game when interviewing head coach Chad Johnson about how this team is finding ways to win games in the second and third periods when earlier this season, they weren't.  Go back to the first few months of the season, and the Stars probably would have lost one or both of the games this week in the third period.  The Stars are playing with a killer instinct that just wasn't there earlier on in the season.  They are growing together as a team, and that's fun to watch as a fan.  Confidence is growing, and it's infectious.  

Saturday night on the road, the Stars will take on their arch-rival to the north, the Omaha Lancers.  The Lancers were surprisingly shutout at home Friday night by the Green Bay Gamblers, by a score of 3-0.  You have to figure that the Lancers will come out with a lot more energy and jam tomorrow night against the Stars.  Regardless of records, these games are always a war, so it will be interesting to see if the Stars can continue their recent good play against a team they are 2-0 against in their last two meetings.  I know a lot of Stars fans will be in attendance, so cheer loud for the black and blue and bring another two points back to Lincoln!

Go Stars.


Yeti said...

I'd really like to hear from all of you after these last two big wins at home! Please leave a comment! What has been the difference the last month and a half?

By the way, we will not be doing a live chat for the Omaha game.

nutz4puckz said...

Excellent game. This team is now starting to look a lot like the team we all knew that it could be, doing all the little things and finding a way! It's never going to be pretty, but style points don't mean a thing, just the two in the win column.

Good job tonight guys, find a way to get two more in Omaha and keep doing the "George Jefferson" and move on up!!

starstruck said...

Beginning to see a pattern of opponent's goaltenders imploding at the Ice Box - two in this one week alone (and both of them USHL All-Star goaltenders!). Such a contrast to Doc who goes about his business without the theatrics, often make improbable saves and never showing any indication of being rattled.

Really great to see the confidence and focus that has developed in this group of Stars. Last night was another awesome game by Doc & the whole team – looking forward to watching the success continue. Best of luck tonight guys – Go Stars!