Sunday, May 6, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 0, Waterloo 5

The Waterloo Blackhawks used their team speed and the advantage of a larger ice surface to shutout the visiting Lincoln Stars in Game 3 of their best-of-five series by a score of 5-0.

 Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

The Stars are now facing elimination and must win Game 4 in Waterloo on Monday, April 7th to force a deciding Game 5 which would be held at the IceBox in Lincoln.  Click here to view the Pointstreak USHL playoff bracket.

Well, I watched this entire game on FastHockey and it was pretty ugly.  Not the best way to spend 2.5 hours and 8 bucks, but it gave me some perspective on how fast this Waterloo team really is.  It's scary how small, quick, and skilled the Blackhawks are, especially at the forward position.  They are the only team in the Western Conference with a larger olympic ice surface, and they use it to their advantage.  After the shutout win last night, the Blackhawks have now won 14 in a row at Young Arena.

At the start of the game, I thought the Stars came out and looked pretty good.  They were skating with the Blackhawks and created a number of good scoring chances that were saved by 'Loo goaltender Stephon Williams. But after the first Blackhawks goal, which was an unfortunate bounce after a blocked shot, it all went downhill for the Stars after that.

Waterloo was able to score three goals in the first, and one each in the second and third periods.  It seemed at times that the Stars were playing against the officials as well.  It wasn't until four minutes into the third period that the Stars received their first powerplay opportunity of the game.  The only positive that I could see from last night was how well the Lincoln penalty-kill unit looked.  Waterloo was only able to score one PP goal in eight opportunities, which included a three-minute 5-on-3 opportunity in the second period.

Try as they might, the Stars were unable to put any pucks past 'Loo goaltender Stephon Williams.  Although he didn't have to work too hard for the win last night, Williams did come up big a number of times.  Kevin Roy looked to me like he had a goal gift-wrapped up for him in the third period when he accepted a cross-crease pass and had half of an open net to shoot on, but Williams dove across and snagged the puck out of mid-air with his glove.  Waterloo outshot Lincoln 35-23 overall.

It's hard to be physical and play the body against a team that is so quick that you cannot catch them to hit them.  Add in the extra room because of the larger sheet of ice, and it's damn near impossible to play the style of hockey Lincoln can win with.  I know they'd like to get in their faces, play the body and slow them down, but I don't see how that's possible at Young Arena.  It can happen at the IceBox, as we all saw this past Friday night.

The Stars are staying in Waterloo today and hopefully will have some time to practice on the larger ice sheet before Game 4 tomorrow night.  The entire season comes down to that one game on Monday evening.  Do or die time.  Win, and fight another day.  Lose, and go home.  I have faith in this team!  It won't be easy, but they can beat Waterloo in their own barn.  They proved that already in the regular season.  Time to do it now in the playoffs.

Go Stars.

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