Friday, January 6, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 1/6: Sioux Falls 3, Lincoln 4

Choo Choo!  Ride that train!

The Lincoln Stars broke in 2012 with an exciting 4-3 victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede Friday night at the IceBox.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 18-9-2 (38 points) and are still all alone in first place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Omaha Lancers, whom the Stars will play tomorrow night, are right behind Lincoln in second place with 36 points.

The Stars came out in the first period and really played inspired hockey.  You could tell they wanted to put the pressure on the Stampede early, and it worked when Lincoln forward Luke Johnson scored at the 1:21 mark of the first period to give the Stars an early 1-0 lead.  Stars forward Bob Kinne did a great job on the play by taking the puck hard to the net, and at the last minute passing it to a wide open Johnson who tapped it into the Sioux Falls net.  Kinne and Logan Smith earned the assists on Johnson's 8th goal of the season.

Later in the first period the Stars would strike again when forward Kevin Roy batted the puck past Sioux Falls goaltender Stephon Williams to give Lincoln a 2-0 lead.  Roy's goal, which came at the 16:45 mark of the first, was his 22nd of the season.  Much like the first goal, the Stars simply crashed the net and Roy took advantage of a loose puck and knocked it by Williams.  Paul LaDue and Brent Tate collected the assists on Roy's goal.

When it looked like the Stars might take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, Sioux Falls' Ian Mansfield scored with just under two minutes remaining to pull his team to within one goal.  At the end of the first period the Stars had a 2-1 lead, and outshot the Stampede 16-9.

In the second period, only one goal was scored and that came on a Sioux Falls powerplay at the 7:41 mark.  Stampede defenseman Ed McGovern slapped a shot from near the blue line that found its way past Stars goaltender Charles Williams and into the Lincoln net.  It appeared from my seat that Williams was screened on the play.  I thought the Stars seemed to ease off the gas pedal in the second period, which allowed Sioux Falls to get right back into the game.  At the second intermission the score was tied up at 2-2.  Stars outshot the Stampede 10-9 in the period.

In the third, Kevin Roy worked his magic once again with his league-leading 23rd goal of the season at the 6:21 mark of the period.  I have to admit, I was on my way back from the bathroom when this goal was scored so I missed it completely. :)  Matt Friese and Brandon Carlson collected the assists on Roy's second goal of the game.  The Stars held a 3-2 lead late in the third period until the Stampede struck again.

Ian Mansfield scored his second goal of the game for Sioux Falls at the 17:51 mark to knot it up at 3-3.  With only two minutes remaining in regulation, it appeared that Mansfield's goal would force overtime.  However, the Stars line of Zach Aston-Reese, Bob Kinne, and Teemu Tiitinen had other ideas.  Only 21 seconds after Mansfield's goal, Bob Kinne scored on a goal-mouth scramble to give Lincoln a 4-3 lead, and the eventual win.  Aston-Reese collected the puck in the Stampede zone along the boards, and quickly passed the puck to the front of the net where Kinne jammed it past Stephon Williams and into the net.  Teemu Tiitnen and Aston-Reese earned the assists on Kinne's game-winning goal.

Lincoln goaltender Charles Williams stopped 26 of 29 shots on goal to record his sixth win of the season for the Stars.  Sioux Falls' Stephon Williams stopped 30 of 34 shots in the loss.  Lincoln outshot Sioux Falls overall 34-29.  The Stampede finished 1-for-2 on the powerplay while the Stars went 0-for-1 with the man advantage.

Another quality win by the Stars in front of a fired-up crowd of over 4,000 at the IceBox.  I thought Lincoln did a very good job of crashing the net and scoring dirty goals against SF.  The line of Aston-Reese-Kinne-Tiitinen was by far the best line of the game as they generated a ton of offensive chances.  Great start to 2012, and I hope it continues tonight in Omaha against the Lancers.

Go Stars.

Edit:  Some bad news unfortunately to go along with the good news from last night.  Stars defenseman Colton Saucerman tore the ACL in his left knee in Lincoln's 7-6 OT win over the Des Moines Bucs last weekend, and is out for the remainder of this season.  Saucerman will return home to Colorado to have the surgery on his knee, and then will return to Lincoln to heal up and support his teammates.  Tough break for a good kid.  The Stars are definitely going to miss his presence on the ice and in the locker room.  I really hope this injury doesn't affect his scholarship offer to Northeastern University.  Best wishes in his recovery.

Also, Stars affiliate player Alex Schoenborn recently signed with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL).  Click here to read more.  The WHL is considered major-junior, so Schoenborn will lose his eligibility to play collegiate hockey at the NCAA level.  Schoenborn ('95) was a first round Futures Draft pick of the Stars in 2011.  Tough to lose a kid like Schoenborn who I'm sure the Stars had high hopes for.  I hope he doesn't regret his decision to go the major-junior route and not play college hockey.  Major-juniors is considered the fast track to the NHL, so I suppose Schoenborn was advised to go that route instead of the USHL and college.  Schoenborn was called up by the Stars earlier this season and played in three games.

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