Wednesday, December 28, 2011

B³ Postgame Recap 12/28: Lincoln 5, Fargo 3

The Lincoln Stars began the post-holiday break with a quality road win tonight over the Fargo Force by a score of 5-3.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 16-8-2 (34 points) and are now in sole possession of first place in the USHL Western Conference.  The second place Omaha Lancers have 32 points.  Click here to view the USHL standings.

I was able to catch this game on FASTHockey, and I'm glad I did.  The Stars played very physical, fast, and dominated play for much of the game.  The only thing I will say is that at times the Stars played a bit too physical, and took some undisciplined penalties (which led to two Fargo powerplay goals).

The good guys got on the scoreboard first when defenseman Paul LaDue scored at the 6:19 mark of the first period to give the Stars an early 1-0 lead.  With the puck in the Fargo zone, LaDue pinched on the play and after getting a pass from Kevin Roy, Paul skated to the front of the net and stuffed the puck past Force goaltender Zane Gothberg.  Roy earned the lone assist on LaDue's third goal of the season.

The Force would answer later in the first period when Gabe Guertler scored a very odd goal to knot the game at 1-1.  Guertler, who was behind the net, backhanded the puck off of Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb and into the open net.  It appeared that the puck may have went off Teichroeb's mask.

At the end of the first period the score was tied up at 1-1.  The Stars dominated the first twenty minutes, out-shooting the Force 15-5.

Despite only putting a total of 5 shots on goal in the second period, the Stars managed to score two goals to take a 3-1 lead.  As a Fargo penalty was ending, Stars forward Brent Tate found himself with the puck along the boards in the Force end.  Tate fired a pass across the ice to a wide-open Tommy Schutt who fired the puck glove-high past Gothberg to give Lincoln a 2-1 lead at the 11:33 mark of the second period.  Tate and Colton Saucerman collected the assists on Schutt's fifth goal of the season.

Less than four minutes after Schutt's goal, Stars forward Kevin Roy intercepted a lazy Fargo pass and skated in alone on Fargo goaltender Zane Gothberg.  Roy deked one way, went to the backhand, and roofed the puck into the open net to give Lincoln a 3-1 lead.  Roy's 21st goal of the season, which leads the USHL, was unassisted.  Stars took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.  Fargo outshot the Stars 7-5 in the second period.

Whatever momentum the Stars had coming into the final period disappeared quickly when Fargo scored on the powerplay a little over one minute into the third.  Fargo's Taylor Richart fired a blueline wrister past a screened Teichroeb at the 1:11 mark to cut the Lincoln lead to 3-2.  The penalty-kill woes continued for the Stars later in the period when Force forward Dave Gust scored at the 12:45 mark of the third period to tie the game up at 3-3.  Just like that, the Force came back from a two-goal deficit in the third period and were smelling blood in the water.

However, the Stars would answer quickly when Tommy Schutt scored his second goal of the game just 26 seconds after Fargo's third goal to give Lincoln the lead again, this time at 4-3.  This goal was a little hard to follow.  Schutt won a faceoff in the Fargo end and quickly fired a shot that snuck by a surprised Gothberg.  The Fargo crowd was stunned.  Schutt's unassisted tally turned out to be the game-winning goal.

With Fargo netminder Zane Gothberg pulled for the extra-attacker, Stars forward Jared Hanson scored an empty-net goal to seal the Lincoln victory.  Matt Friese earned the only assist on Hanson's goal.  Stars won their second in a row in Fargo against the Force.  Lincoln outshot the Force overall 27-19.

Lincoln goaltender Jackson Teichroeb stopped 16 of 19 shots on net to record his 12th win of the season.  Fargo goaltender Zane Gothberg stopped 22 of 26 shots in the loss.  Fargo finished 2-for-6 on the powerplay, while the Stars went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.  Austin Farley, Fargo's leading scorer, was held scoreless and was -4 on the night.

Very impressed with the overall effort tonight.  With the team coming off the holiday break, I was a bit worried that they might come out and play flat and uninspired.  That was definitely not the case.  The Stars bullied the Force on their home ice, and took advantage of the offensive opportunities given to them.  Credit also goes to the team for limiting the Force to only 19 shots on goal in their own rink.  All-around quality win over a team that had won four out of their last five games coming into this matchup.

Stars continue their road swing with two more games this weekend.  On Friday night, Lincoln will travel to Des Moines, Iowa to battle the Buccaneers for the first time this season.  On New Years Eve (Saturday), the Stars will take on the Musketeers in Sioux City.  I'll highlight those two games late Thursday night.

Go Stars.

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