Saturday, April 21, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Fargo 2, Lincoln 1 OT

The Lincoln Stars fell to to the visiting Fargo Force last night at the IceBox in the opening game of their second round Clark Cup playoff series, losing 2-1 in overtime.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The Stars have now lost six straight playoff games, and all of those six losses have come against the Fargo Force.  Click here to view the Pointstreak playoff bracket.

Right off the bat last night, the Stars looked like they were going to cruise to another home victory.  Just 50 seconds into the game, Kevin Roy found Jared Hanson wide open in front of the Fargo net and Hanson buried a one-timer to give the Stars an early 1-0 lead.  Roy's pass from near the boards along the goal line was a thing of beauty.  Matt Friese also assisted on the only Stars goal of the night.

I thought Lincoln dominated play in the first period, and played with a sense of purpose I didn't see in the second and third periods.  Fargo goaltender Zane Gothberg made a number of big saves in that first period to keep his team in the game.

Late in the third period, Fargo defenseman Brian Cooper scored on a seeing-eye dribbler from the blueline that got past Stars goaltender Charles Williams and into the net.  It wasn't pretty, but Cooper's goal seemed to jump-start the Force.  At the first intermission the scored was knotted up at 1-1.  Lincoln outshot Fargo 13-8 in the first period.

Neither team would find the back of the net in the second and third periods.  I thought Fargo was clearly the better team in both of those periods.  Whatever energy the Stars had in the first period vanished in the second and third periods.  Give credit also to the Force for clogging up the neutral zone and limiting the number of quality chances the Stars had against Gothberg.

A little over 5 minutes into the sudden death overtime period, Force forward Gabe Guertler took advantage of a Stars turnover deep in their zone, and drove hard to the net before passing it across the top of the crease to a wide open Alex Iafallo.  Iafallo one-timed the puck into the open net for the win.  There wasn't much Charles Williams could do on the play.

In a rarity, the Stars were outshot at home, 28-26.  Charles Williams stopped 26 of 28 shots on goal in the loss.  I thought Chuck played a heck of the game, and made some huge saves in the second and third periods when his teammates were asleep.  You aren't going to win to many games when you only score one goal at home, and Charles did his part to keep the Stars in the game.  Fargo goaltender Zane Gothberg, who really wasn't tested much in the second and third periods, stopped 25 of 26 shots for the win.

Overall, just a poor effort by the Stars last night.  I expected a lot more energy through the 60 minutes that I only saw in the first 20 minutes.  They definitely weren't physical enough either.  I hate to say it, but at times they looked scared.  It seemed like some players were on auto-pilot during the second and third periods.  Gotta give props to the Fargo coaches and players.  They outcoached and outplayed the Stars in what was their fifth game in eight days.  They certainly didn't look tired last night, and the Stars had no excuse for looking lethargic.

Needless to say, the game tonight (Saturday) at the IceBox is a "must win."  Lincoln does not want to go down 0-2  heading up to Fargo for the two games in their rink.

Go Stars.

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