Saturday, April 21, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Fargo 2, Lincoln 3

The Lincoln Stars played a full 60 minutes Saturday night to beat the Fargo Force by a score of 3-2 at the IceBox, and evened up their series at 1-1.  Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The five game series between the Force and the Stars is now a three game series.  The next two games will be played in Fargo, ND.  If the series requires a fifth and deciding game, it will be played in Lincoln on Saturday, April 28th.  Click here to view the Pointstreak playoff bracket.

Game two didn't start too well for the Stars as the Force scored just four minutes into the game to grab an early lead.  Gabe Guertler of the Force scored his second goal at the playoffs at the 4:14 mark.  However, the Stars would answer less than a minute laster.

Stars defenseman Dax Lauwers ripped a shot from just inside the blueline which found the back of the net after it deflected off the glove of Force goaltender Zane Gothberg.  The goal was Dax's first career USHL in  116 games played for Lincoln.  Chad Johnson mentioned this after the game, but you had to figure that Dax's first USHL would be a big one, and it certainly was last night.  Really happy to see Dax score that goal in front of the home crowd, and it came at such a crucial time in the game.  Brent Tate and Jared Hanson assisted on Dax's goal.

The Stars weren't done scoring in the first period.  At the 12:44 mark, Kevin Roy picked up a Force turnover just outside the offensive zone, skated in on a two-on-one, and buried a stick-side wrister past Gothberg to give Lincoln a 2-1 lead.  Roy really made it look too easy, and Gothberg didn't have a chance on the laser shot by Kevin.  Brent Tate collected the only assist on Roy's first USHL playoff goal.  Lincoln took the 2-1 lead into the first intermission.  Stars outshot Fargo 9-5 in the opening period.

In the second period, both teams would score one goal a piece.  Just like in the first period, the Force would score first and the Stars would answer less than a minute later.  Early in the second, the Stars were unable to clear the puck out of their zone and the Force took advantage of a tired Lincoln squad with a goal scored by Neil Goff.  As the Force were celebrating tying the game at 2-2, the Stars struck just 42 seconds later.

Stars forward Brad Hawkinson picked the pocket of Force defenseman Justin Wade behind the Fargo net, and then passed the puck to a streaking Zach Aston-Reese who beat Gothberg to give the Stars the lead again, this time at 3-2.  ZAR's goal, hist first career USHL playoff tally, would turn out to be the game-winning goal.  Brad Hawkinson picked up the lone assist.  Stars outshot Fargo 12-10 in the second period.

Instead of playing not to lose like on Friday night, I thought the Stars came out very strong in the third period Saturday night and played much better with the lead.  Try as they might, the Force had some very good chances in the third to tie the game, but Lincoln goaltender Charles Williams was up to the task.  CW3 made some huge saves throughout the game, including a Fargo breakaway in the second period, and a Force three-on-one in the third period.  Lincoln outshot Fargo 12-9 in the third period, and overall, 33-24.

Both teams were held scoreless on the powerplay.  Fargo went 0-for-3 while the Stars went 0-for-4.  Charles Williams stopped 22 of 24 shots on goal to record his first career USHL playoff win.  Zane Gothberg stopped 30 of 33 in the loss.

Swagger.  The Stars played with swagger they didn't have the night before. They also did a good job of getting into Fargo's head with some physicality. Lincoln plays their best when they can intimidate teams, and I think that happened last night. Two evenly matched teams, though. I'd be very surprised if this series doesn't go the distance.

Nice to finally get that first playoff win against Fargo and get the monkey off their back.  The Stars and Force will meet for game three of this series on Wednesday, April 25th in Fargo, ND.  The Stars will be having a watch party for the Wednesday game at Qdoba in downtown Lincoln.  I'm hoping the Stars post more info about this event soon.  As soon as they do, I'll post it here as well.  It's been awhile since the Stars did a watch party for a road game, and I'm really looking forward to this event.

Go Stars.

Edit:  I wanted to quickly mention that I was recently interviewed by Ryan S. Clark, reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead newspaper.  Ryan asked me about the atmosphere at the IceBox.  Click here to read the article.  Thanks again to Ryan for reaching out.  Ryan does a great job of following the Force, and the USHL in general.  If you're on Twitter, make sure you give him a follow.

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