Sunday, October 14, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 4, Tri-City 1

It's a weekend sweep!

The Lincoln Stars scored three unanswered goals in the third period Saturday night in Kearney to break a 1-1 tie, and beat the Tri-City Storm by a score of 4-1.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 4-0-0 on the year (8 points), and are one of only two remaining USHL teams who are still undefeated on the season.  The other undefeated team is the Dubuque Fighting Saints, who are 5-0-0.  The Stars are tied for first place in the USHL Western Conference with two other teams, but have a better winning percentage.  Click here to view the updated USHL standings.

Unfortunately, I was unable to watch this game in person, or on FASTHockey.  I did listen to most of the game on the radio, so this recap will be very brief.  If there were any Stars fans who made the roadie to Kearney last night and would like to give their opinions on the game, please leave a comment below.  You do not need to register to comment.  You can leave an anonymous comment if you so desire.

Unlike Friday night, the Stars did not start this game in a 0-2 hole in the first period.  I'm sure the coaches emphasized coming out strong on the road in the first period so not to put the team in a hole early on.  Neither team would score in the first period, but the Stars outshot the Storm 10-9 through the first twenty minutes.

In the second period, both teams would score a goal a piece, with Lincoln getting on the scoreboard first.

Stars co-captain Dominik Shine, nice and rested after sitting out Friday's game due to a one-game suspension handed down by the league, scored just 29 seconds into the second period to give Lincoln the 1-0 lead.  Shine's goal came on the powerplay after a Tri-City penalty that came very late in the first period and carried over into the second period.  Eric Scheid picked up the lone assist on Shine's third goal of the season in three games played.

The Storm would answer back later in the second period when TC forward Brian Ward scored at the 11:45 mark of the second period to knot the game up at 1-1.  The score would remain 1-1 going into the second intermission.  Tri-City outshot Lincoln 11-9 in the second period.

In the final period, it was definitely all Lincoln.  As mentioned above, the Stars would score three unanswered goals in the third period to cruise to the 4-1 win and the weekend sweep of the Storm.

Eric Scheid would end up with the eventual game-winning goal with his tally scored at the 13:20 mark of the third period to break the 1-1 tie.  Max Humitz earned the lone assist on Scheid's fourth goal of the season in four games played.

Less than two minutes after Scheid's even-strength goal, Jake Wood would add an insurance goal to give the Stars a 3-1 lead.  Paul LaDue picked up the only assist on Wood's second goal of the season.

With only 38 seconds remaining in the game, Will Suter would put the icing on the cake with an empty-net goal to increase the lead to 4-1.  Mike McKee picked up the lone assist on Suter's fourth goal in four games played.

Lincoln outshot the Storm 19-10 in the third period, and 38-30 overall.  The Stars went 1-for-2 on the powerplay, while the Storm went 0-for-2.  It was nice to see the Stars stay out of the penalty box, and beat the Storm on their own rink playing up-tempo hockey.

A day after committing to play college hockey for Bemidji State University, Michael Bitzer "celebrated" by stopping 29 of 30 shots to record his second win of the season.  From the sounds of it, Bitzer had to make a number of highlight reels saves to keep the Stars in the game.

Lincoln certainly has a "two-headed monster" between the pipes so far this season.  When you look at the stats, both Jackson Teichroeb and Michael Bitzer have almost identical numbers:

Jackson Teichroeb:  2-0-0, 1.44 goals against average, .942 save percentage in 125 minutes played
Michael Bitzer:  2-0-0, 1.50 goals against average, .950 save percentage in 120 minutes played

The Stars are now 2-0-0 in the "Good Life Cup" standings, while the Tri-City Storm are 0-1-1.  Click here to read more about the "Good Life Cup" competition between the three Nebraska USHL teams.

The Stars were down to five defensemen last night because of injuries to Vincent Muto and Zach Frye.  I guess I should quantify that by saying I'm assuming Muto and Frye are injured.  I don't recall hearing anything on the radio last night about why Muto and Frye were scratched, but I assumed they were dinged up.  Frye played very well Friday night at the IceBox, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist.  Frye played the entire game Friday night, so I was surprised to see him not in the lineup last night.  Muto missed Friday night as well, so I just assumed he was injured as well.

Because of the shortage at defense, Stars forward Brad Hawkinson was Lincoln's sixth defensemen last night.  Hawk is one of those players who is very, very steady and extremely smart.  It shows a lot about his game that the coaches would look to him to play that position, as he's done a few times already early this season.

Tommy Schutt, Michael Bunn, and David Parrottino were the other scratched players.  Schutt is an everyday player, so I assume he's dinged up if he missed both games this weekend.  Bunn and Parrottino are both recovering from offseason injuries, and are currently on the 45-day injured reserve list.  The Stars will get better when those two are healthy and back in the lineup.  As well as Lincoln is playing right now, they could be playing even better when the team gets 100% healthy, which might be impossible to do, considering the length of the USHL regular season.

The Stars are back at the IceBox this upcoming Friday and Saturday nights when they host the Fargo Force in a weekend series.  This will be a nice opportunity for the Stars to take advantage of some home cooking, and put some points between them and a quality western conference opponent in the Fargo Force.

Go Stars.

Edit:  The Tri-City Storm Facebook page has posted video highlights from the game last night.  They actually include all goals scored by the Stars, unlike the weak Omaha Lancers.  I was able to embed the video below, but for some reason the size of the video is very small.  Click here to go directly to the Storm Facebook page to watch the video in a larger format.

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