Saturday, October 27, 2012

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 4, Youngstown 1

On the strength of an efficient opening period, the Lincoln Stars remained undefeated on the season with a workmanlike 4-1 road victory over the Phantoms in Youngstown, Ohio Friday night.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

With the win, the Stars improved to 7-0-0 (14 points) and are still tied with the Waterloo Blackhawks for first place in the USHL Western Conference.  The Dubuque Fighting Saints (8-0-0) are the only team other than the Stars who are undefeated on the season.  Click here to view the current USHL standings.

I was able to watch this game on FastHockey, so I'll post my thoughts below.

The Stars came out very strong Friday night and controlled play for most of the first twenty minutes.  It didn't take long for Lincoln to get on the scoreboard, thanks to Daniel Willett's first USHL goal of his career just two minutes and six seconds into the first period.  Willett fired a puck from just inside the blueline that found its way past Youngstown goaltender Patrick Spano to give the Stars the early 1-0 lead.  Newly acquired forward Trent Samuels-Thomas and Luke Johnson each collected the assists on Willett's even-strength goal.

A little over six minutes after Willett's goal, the Phantoms would score their only goal of the game thanks to a strange bounce.  Luke Stork of Youngstown fired a puck at Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb, and it looked to me that it changed direction a few times before somehow finding the back of the net.  It was the definition of a fluky goal, but the Phantoms tally knotted the game up at 1-1.

With about 7 minutes remaining in the third period, Stars forward Will Suter fired what looked like an innocent shot from near center ice on Phantoms goaltender Patrick Spano.  What should have been a routine play ended up with Lincoln scoring its second goal of the game.  Spano made the save on Suter's long shot, but the juicy rebound went right to an opportunistic Tommy Schutt who buried the puck past the Youngstown goaltender to put the Stars back into the lead at 2-1.  Suter and Paul LaDue earned the assists on Schutt's second goal of the season, which was scored at even-strength.

The Stars were not done scoring in the first period.  With only 31 seconds remaining in the period, Stars forward Luke Johnson got the monkey off his back with his first goal of the season.  After a Paul LaDue shot that was initially saved, a streaking Luke Johnson took advantage of another rebound surrrendered by Spano to give the Stars a commanding 3-1 lead.  LaDue and Max Coatta picked up the assists on Johnson's even-strength goal.

Lincoln took the 3-1 lead into the first intermission in Youngstown.  The Phantoms outshot Lincoln 10-9 in the first twenty minutes, but the majority of those ten Youngstown shots were not high quality.

The Phantoms would outshoot the Stars again in the second period, 13 to 9, but neither team would find the back of the net.  The Stars held onto their 3-1 leading heading into the second intermission.

In the third, the only goal scored came by way of Dominik Shine on an empty net with only 6 second remaining in the game.  Try as they might, the Phantoms could not solve the Stars and Jackson Teichroeb in either the second or third periods.  Shine's unassisted, empty-net goal with six seconds remaining was the icing on the cake after another strong period by the Stars.

Phantoms outshot Lincoln overall, 32-28, but lose their sixth straight.  Neither team would win the special teams war Friday night as the Stars went 0-for-3 on the powerplay, while the Phantoms went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

Lincoln goaltender Jackson Teichroeb made it look easy once again, stopping 31 of 32 shots to record his fourth win of the season.  Although a majority of the 32 shots he faced weren't that challenging, Teichroeb did have to stand on his head a few times to fend off the Phantoms during the second and third periods.  Teichroeb improved to 4-0-0 on the season, with a 1.68 goals against average, and a .941 save percentage.

With his lone assist tonight, Will Suter has scored at least one point in each of the seven games the Stars have played this season.  Suter is now Lincoln's leading scorer with 10 points (4g, 6a) scored in 7 games played.  Suter is a great example of good things happening to someone who works hard every day.

Stars defenseman Paul LaDue, who pick up 2 assists against the Phantoms and was +3, now has 8 points (all assists) in seven games which is second-most for any defenseman in the USHL.  His plus/minus rating of +11 is tied for first overall in the league.

Very impressed with how the Stars playing Friday night.  Lincoln controlled play for most of the game, and deserved the two points.  I thought the Stars played great team hockey, and defensively did a tremendous job of keeping the Youngstown shots on goal contained to the outside.  Meanwhile, the forwards made the most of the opportunities present to them, especially in the first period.  Quality effort by everyone.

The Stars will finish up this long eastern road trip with a game against the Indiana Ice Saturday night.  The puck will drop at 6:05pm CST for the game against the Ice.  I won't be able to watch this game on FastHockey since I'm planning on driving up to Omaha on Saturday night to catch the Bemidji State vs. UNO game.  Because I'll be at the UNO game, I won't be able to provide updates on Facebook or Twitter either.

Go Stars.

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