Saturday, March 3, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap 3/2: Cedar Rapids 5, Lincoln 2

The Stars saw their six-game home winning streak come to an end last night at the IceBox as the visiting Cedar Rapids Roughriders beat Lincoln by a score of 5-2.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the loss the Stars dropped to 27-15-4 (58 points) and are still in second place in the USHL Western Conference.  The first place Omaha Lancers, who beat Tri-City last night by a score of 6-1, are now three points ahead of the Stars.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

Lincoln came out very strong in the first 12 minutes of the first period and dominated play, but Roughriders goaltender Jake Hildebrand was up to the task.  Hildebrand, the former Sioux City goaltender, came up huge with some big saves in the opening minutes when the Stars were swarming the net.

Just when it looked like the Stars might get that important first goal of the game, the Riders scored at the 12:47 mark of the period to take a 1-0 lead.  Whatever momentum the Stars had quickly disappeared after that first Cedar Rapids goal, and the buzzing crowd went silent.

Lincoln outshot CR 12-8 in the first period, but found themselves down 1-0 at the first intermission.  I thought Lincoln outplayed the Riders for the first 12 minutes of the game, but the Riders came back and played well to end the period.

The Stars got on the scoreboard at the 6:39 mark of the second period when Markus McCrea sniped the puck past Hildebrand to knot the game up at 1-1.  Jared Hanson and Matt Friese collected the assists on McCrea's 7th goal of the season.  Lincoln put more pressure on the Riders and Hildebrand in the second period, but could only score the one goal.  Stars outshot Cedar Rapids 16-9 in the second period.

In the third period, it was pretty much all Cedar Rapids as they outscored the Stars 4-1 in the final twenty minutes of regulation.  In particular, it was the "Davey Middleton and Jake Hildebrand Show" for the Roughriders as those two teamed up to put the game out of reach for the Stars.  Middleton provided the offense with four points in the third period (hat trick, and one assist), while Hildebrand stood tall in net and stopped 10 of 11 shots that came his way.

The only shot to get past Hildebrand was a goal from Luke Johnson at the 9:00 mark of the third period to tie the game at 2-2.  Dominik Shine and Kevin Roy earned the assists on Johnson's 13th goal of the season.  I think a lot of Stars fans in attendance, including myself, thought after Johnson's game-tying goal the Stars would put it into an extra gear and find a way to win the game.  That just didn't happen.

Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb stopped 20 of 24 shots in the loss, while Riders netminder Jake Hildebrand stopped 37 of 39 to record the win.  Stars went 0-for-1 on the powerplay.  Cedar Rapids did not have any powerplay opportunities.

Give credit to the Roughriders for having the better goaltending last night, and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them to score goals.  I thought the Stars may have outplayed Cedar Rapids for parts of the game, but a lot of the Lincoln shots on goal seemed to catch Hildebrand right in his chest.  Some of the saves he made were spectacular, but a lot were ho-hum shots that he gobbled up after they hit the logo on his chest.

I guess if you would have told me before the game that the Stars would not commit one penalty and still lose, I would have told you that you're nuts.  I don't think I've ever watched a game at the IceBox in which the Stars didn't have one penalty whistled against them.  Referee Brandon Schmitt let both teams play, which was great, but I think the back-and-forth pace definitely favored the quicker CR team.  The Riders were whistled for one minor penalty, and that was it.  

Lincoln will be back in action tonight in Des Moines to face the red-hot Buccaneers.  It will be interesting to see how the Stars respond after the loss last night.  If Lincoln wants to finish at the top of the western conference standings, they can't afford to lose two in a row while the Lancers continue to win games.  Lincoln's goaltending must improve also, as it has been less than consistent for the past few months.

Go Stars.

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