Saturday, January 7, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 1/7: Lincoln 2, Omaha 5

The Lincoln Stars dropped a 5-2 decision to the Omaha Lancers in an entertaining game at the Civic Auditorium in Omaha on Saturday night before 4,155 fans. Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The loss dropped Lincoln to 18-10-2 (38 points), while Omaha improved to 18-10-2 (38 points). Obviously, both are atop the Western Conference standings right now. Waterloo is six points behind with 32 after defeating Dubuque 4-2.

This game was dominated by special teams play, which Omaha fared better with in the end. Only two of the seven combined goals were scored even strength. Both teams came out with good energy to start the game, but Omaha lit the lamp first. Anthony Hamburg scored a powerplay goal 9:33 into the first period to put Omaha up 1-0.

After that, Lincoln turned on the jets. The Stars applied pressure and were rewarded at the 11:58 mark. Brent Tate slammed home a rebound from close range to tie the game 1-1. Kevin Roy and Brad Hawkinson earned the assists on Tate's seventh goal of the season. Lincoln dominated the rest of the period and had quite a few near misses, including a Teemu Tiitinen chance when he skated in alone, but Omaha goalie Alex Lyon made some really big saves throughout the game, including on that one. Lincoln outshot Omaha 10-8 in the first period.

In the second period, Omaha's Jimmy Murray scored a powerplay goal at 8:18 to break the deadlock. Then Ken Babinski tallied at 14:32 to make it 3-1. Despite being down two goals, Lincoln outshot Omaha 16-9 in the second for a two-period advantage of 26-17. Sadly though, the Lancers clicked on special teams. By the end of the second, Omaha was 2-for-4 on the power play, while Lincoln was 0-for-4. I thought Lincoln was the better team when it was 5-on-5, but the Stars couldn't muscle any pucks past Lyon.

In the third period, things got very chippy and interesting, and referee Christopher Pitoscia, who had called a decent game through two periods, got a little whistle happy. The Stars were called for three minors in the first nine minutes of the period, while Omaha somehow avoided any penalties during that very physical time of the game.

Early in the period, Omaha put a close shot on Lincoln goalie Jackson Teichroeb, and Teichroeb appeared to make a save and fall down as he was sitting halfway in the net. No one could see where the puck was, and the red light never came on, but Pitoscia decided to award Omaha a goal, despite Lincoln players' adament displeasure. Pitoscia went to review the controversial goal, and to his credit, waived it off.

But the penalties finally caught up with the Stars soon after. Ken Babinski finally made the Stars pay with a powerplay goal at 9:37 to make it 4-1. It was Babinski's second goal of the game. At one point in the second period I looked up and the shot total was Lincoln 26, Omaha 12. By about this time in the third period, it was Omaha 28, Lincoln 26. That goes to show how Omaha controlled the puck for a long period of time. Tough to apply pressure when you're constantly killing penalties.

But the Stars didn't give up. Lincoln earned a power play at 10:22 after Michael Ferrantino was (finally) called for diving. Ferrantino skated up to Ralfs Freibergs, and Freibergs gave him a little shove, and Ferrantino went sprawling. It was a rewarding call, but long overdue. Omaha's players may want to find a new skate sharpener, because a lot of them seemed to be skating on dull skates, which caused them to fall over a lot.

On a 5-on-3 powerplay because of an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Omaha coach Michael Zucker, Roy scored his league-leading 24th goal off of assists from Zach Aston-Reese and Tate at 10:47. Aston-Reese had gathered a misfired shot from the point, and centered it to Roy between the circles. Roy picked his spot and ripped it home and brought the Lincoln fans to their feet.

With momentum on its side, Lincoln once again owned the 5-on-5 play. The Stars appeared to cut Omaha's lead to 4-3 on a goal by Luke Johnson, but inexplicably, Pitoscia waived it off. Johnson skated down the right side, and roofed a shot from the baseline over Lyon's near-post shoulder. After the puck hit the net, a mass of players fell into Lyon. Pitoscia skated in from the other side of the ice and said no goal. The Lincoln players were in disbelief, and Chad Johnson was furious. I didn't get a chance to hear Melbye's comments, but I'm sure he was less than thrilled. I didn't see any high stick redirect the puck, so I don't know if that's what Pitoscia called. Anyone who listened to the broadcast may be able to clarify. From my vantage point at that end of the rink, I have no idea why it was waived off. Unlike Omaha's disallowed goal, this puck clearly hit the roof of the net before the goalie was interfered with, if that indeed was the call.

After that, the Lancers seized momentum and had plenty of chances to put more goals in, but Teichroeb made some pretty incredible last-ditch saves. Omaha added a late emptynet goal by Tanner Lane to take the 5-2 win.

Omaha finished 3-for-7 on the powerplay, while Lincoln was 1-for-6. Teichroeb stopped 34-of-38 shots, while Lyon saved 34-of-36. These teams are pretty even, so it seems whoever wins the special teams battle will take the win. I thought the Stars played well and deserved better than the final score indicated, but Omaha put their chances away while Lincoln didn't.

The Stars will now have four straight home games, starting with Sioux City next Friday and Omaha on Saturday. Lincoln will be seeking revenge against both teams who have beaten them recently. The Stars don't leave the state to play a game until Feb. 4 when they travel to Waterloo. Big chance for the Stars to string together some wins at home.

2 comments:

Yeti said...

Thanks for the recap, BT. I really appreciate it. I wasn't in attendance, and I didn't watch or listen to the broadcast, so it's nice to hear a first-hand report.

Sounds like Lincoln simply lost the special teams war. I'm a little concerned about the Stars' penalty kill as of late. Omaha's PP percentage wasn't the best coming into this game, yet they managed to score three PP goals. Over the past five games, the Stars have given up a total of 8 PP goals. That has to improve. It starts with playing more disciplined.

The good news is that it sounds like the Stars were the better team tonight at even-strength.

Charlie said...

If you have the means, please think about making a donation to The Jack Jablonski Fund. Jack is the Benidle-St. Margaret's (Minnesota) high school player who was hit from behind and paralyzed wo weeeks ago.

For a link to Jack's Fund and for more information about Jack and the reverberations his injury is causing, please see http://www.hockeybias.com/hockey-news-past/Jack-Jablonksi-News-Summary.html

Both a former Benilde student and current Benilde student have each written songs in honor of Jack. They can be found here and also have links to The Jack jablonski Fund:

http://www.hockeybias.com/hockey-news-past/2012/January/In-Our-Hearts-song-by-Willie-Falk-For-Jack-Jablonski-video.html

http://www.hockeybias.com/hockey-news-past/2012/January/-We-ll-Watch-Over-You-by-Rob-Shaver-Ryan-Etten-Lyrics--video.html