Sunday, February 26, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 2/25: Lincoln 2, Tri-City 3 OT

Courtesy of Brandon Anderson Photography
One night after winning their sixth straight home game, the Stars lost their sixth straight on the road with a 3-2 overtime defeat to the Tri-City Storm in Kearney, NE.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the OT loss and the point, the Stars are now 26-14-4 (56 points) and are still in sole possession of second place in the USHL Western Conference.  Lincoln is three points behind the first place Omaha Lancers (59 points), but have two games in hand.  Click here to see the current USHL standings.

Despite outshooting the Storm by a whopping amount of 13-2 in the first period, it was the Stars who found themselves down 1-0 going into the first intermission.  Six seconds after a minor penalty to Jared Hanson expired, Joshua Henke scored for TC at the 17:04 mark to give the Storm their first goal of the game on only their second shot of the game.  Lincoln outplayed the Storm in just about every facet in the first period, but they could not solve TC goaltender Adam Wilcox, which would become a familiar theme for the game.

Just 50 seconds into the second period, a breakdown in the Stars' defensive zone allowed the Storm to score a quick goal and get a 2-0 lead.  TC forward Brian Ward scored the goal on the Storm's fourth shot of the game.  Four shots, two goals for the Storm.  Not a bad average.

Lincoln stormed back after the second Tri-City goal with two goals of their own to finish out the scoring in the second period.  First at the 4:56 mark of the second period, defenseman Ralfs Freibergs scored an even-strength tally on a goal-mouth rebound to pull the Stars to within one.  Logan Smith and Will Suter collected the assists on Freiberg's 8th goal of the season.

Later in the period, the Stars knotted the game up at 2-2 when forward Bob Kinne sniped a beautiful shot glove-high past TC goaltender Adam Wilcox.  Mike McKee earned the lone assist on Bob Kinne's fifth goal of the season.  At the end of two periods, the score was tied up at 2-2, and Lincoln led in total shots, 28-16.

In the third period, the Stars really put the pressure on the Storm and outplayed them by far, but neither team would score a goal.  Lincoln would outshoot the Storm 17-7 in the third period.

The turning point of the game came late in the third period when Stars forward Dominik Shine was whistled for a double minor high-sticking penalty.  Shine's high stick drew blood, so the Stars would have to kill four minutes of the penalty.

Lincoln did a great job of killing 2:55 worth of the penalty in regulation, when it was five-on-four.  TC barely sniffed at the net.  However, once regulation ended and the game went into overtime, the Storm then had a four-on-three situation on the ice.  TC had much more room and space to work with 4-on-3 in the OT session, and it was Brian Ward who capitalized with a very nice shot from the top of the faceoff circle which beat Stars goaltender Charles Williams glove-high.

Tough one to watch, for sure.  I really thought that the Stars would eventually win this game if they kept playing like they had earlier.  Lincoln simply ran into a hot goaltender last night.  If it wasn't for Adam Wilcox, the Storm probably would have lost the game 6-2.  Wilcox should have been given the first, second, and third stars of the game for his performance.

Tri-City gave up the puck numerous times in their own zone due to the pressure put upon them by the Lincoln forwards, and the Storm very rarely sustained offensive pressure in the Stars' zone.  For most of the night, the Storm skated in, got one shot off, the Stars got possession of the puck and Lincoln was going the other way.

Give credit to TC though for capitalizing on the PP opportunity late in the game to seal the victory.  They took advantage of the 4-on-3 situation and made the most of it.

The call on Shine was a good one, so I can't complain about that.  What is a little disappointing is that the Stars only had 24 seconds of powerplay time the ENTIRE game.  Yes, you read that correct.  24 seconds.  Granted, the referee (Andy Howard) kept his whistle in his pocket for most of the night, but there were a few non-calls on TC that should have been whistled.  I'm sure there were some plays that could have gone the other way too in favor of TC.  It is what it is.  All I know is that the Storm weren't angels all night.  You can't play hockey for 60+ minutes and only get called for one minor penalty (not counting the coincidental fighting majors).

The Stars will have one more chance at payback against the Storm on April 6th at the IceBox.  That will be the final time the two teams will meet in the regular season.  I'm sure the loss last night left the Stars hungry to battle the Storm again, but they'll have to wait until April for that.

The Stars will have to figure out how to win away from home pretty quick if they want to stay near the top of the western conference standings.  Five of their next six games are on the road, so hopefully the team can get that first road win of 2012 soon, and start a winning streak.

Lincoln will be busy this week with three games in four nights, the first coming this Wednesday against the Stampede in Sioux Falls, SD.  After that, the Stars will be back at the IceBox on Friday to play the Cedar Rapids Olympic Diving Team Roughriders.  On Saturday, the Stars will travel to Des Moines, IA to take on the Buccaneers.

Go Stars.

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