The Lincoln Stars got off to a very good start to their three-game road trip with an impressive 5-2 victory over the Muskegon Lumberjacks tonight at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Michigan. Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore. The Stars scored two shorthanded goals against the Lumberjacks to cruise to their third straight win. With the victory, the Stars improved to 19-15-3 (41 points), and are now all alone in 6th place in the USHL Western Conference. The Stars are now only seven points out of third place, and eight points out of second place in the west.
The Stars started this game very strong and put a bunch of shots on Muskegon goaltender Joel Vienneau, but the rookie goaltender goaltender from Hurst, Ontario, Canada stopped all 11 Lincoln shots he faced. Similarly, Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock, who was starting his 14th straight game for Lincoln, stopped all 7 shots on net he faced in the first twenty minutes. It was a very fast-paced first period, as both teams played back-and-forth hockey without too many whistles.
In the second period, the Stars were finally rewarded for their hard work when Michigan native Dominik Shine scored at the 10:17 mark to give the Stars their first lead of the game at 1-0. Forwards Teemu Tiitinen and Andrew Schmit collected the assists on Shine's eighth goal of the season. A little more than three minutes after Shine's tally, Michigan native Brent Tate scored to give the Stars a quick 2-0 lead. Assisting on Tate's eighth goal of the season (his second in as many games) were forwards Andrew Schmit and Ryan Dzingel. The Stars weren't done pouring it on. Exactly one minute after Tate's goal, Michigan native "Big" John McCarron scored a shorthanded goal to give the Stars a commanding 3-0 lead over the Lumberjacks. Forward Garrett Peterson collected the lone assist on McCarron's first shorthanded goal of his USHL career. Muskegon would finally get on the board at the 15:33 mark, thanks to a little help from the zebra's, when Lumberjacks forward Matt Berry scored on a 5-on-3 powerplay to break the shutout and bring the 'Jacks to within two goals at 3-1. Just like the first period, the Stars outshot the Lumberjacks 11-7 in the second period.
The Lumberjacks creeped back into the game early in the third period when forward Matt Berry scored his second goal of the game at the 1:31 mark to pull Muskegon within one goal at 3-2. Just when it looked like the home team might mount a comeback, Stars forward Garrett Peterson provided the knockout punch when at the 12:17 mark he scored a shorthanded goal to give Lincoln a 4-2 lead. Forward John McCarron collected the assist on Petey's second shorthanded goal on the season. At the 18:51 mark, Stars forward Jared Hanson scored an empty-net goal to complete the scoring, and seal the victory for Lincoln. Forwards Brent Tate and Ryan Dzingel earned the assists on Hanson's fifth goal of the season. Stars outshot the Lumberjacks 8-5 in the third period, and 30-19 overall. Lincoln finished 0-2 on the powerplay, while Muskegon finished 1-for-6 with the man-advantage.
Big road win tonight and a well earned two points. From the sounds of it, the Stars dominated this game except for a few minutes early in the third period. The most unbelievable stat of the night, you ask? The Muskegon Lumberjacks, the most penalized team in the USHL by a longshot, were only whistled for two minors tonight against Lincoln. Shocker, eh? Credit the Stars PK unit and goaltender Kevin Murdock for killing some huge penalties tonight and keeping the Lumberjacks from getting back into the game. Speaking of Doc, he stopped 17 of 19 shots on goal to record his 17th win of the season (second most in the USHL). And how about the aforementioned Michigan natives on the team coming up huge in front of family and friends tonight? That must have been fun for all of them to play so well on home soil (ice).
The Stars return to action this Friday night when they will take on the Indiana Ice in Indianapolis, Indiana. Puck drops at 6:05pm CST. I'll post a weekend preview article tomorrow evening sometime. Stay tuned for that. Enjoy the win tonight!