|Michael Bunn (bottom right) scores his 2nd goal of the game|
Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.
With the win, the Stars improved to 15-7-3 (33 points), and are now tied for second place in the USHL Western Conference. Click here to view the current league standings.
Unfortunately, something came up at the last minute and I was not able to attend this game. It certainly sounds like I missed a good one, too. I was able to catch a little bit of the game on the radio, but that's it. So I will apologize in advance for the short length of this recap. I would really appreciate any comments left by fans who were at the game.
From the sound of it, the Stars came out a bit sluggish in the first period and were outplayed by the Bucs. Des Moines outshot Lincoln 8-5 in the first twenty minutes, and outscored the Stars 1-0. Bucs forward Joseph Gambardella took advantage of a Stars giveaway and scored very early at the 2:38 mark to give Des Moines a 1-0 lead. It would be the only puck to get past Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer the rest of the night.
In the second and third periods, it was all Lincoln. I don't know what was said by whom in the Stars' locker room during the first intermission, but the Stars dominated the last two periods of the game. In the second period in particular, the game turned into the "Jimmy DeVito and Michael Bunn Show." Amazingly, both players scored two goals a piece in the second period, and both were 33 seconds apart from one another. I'm going to post a quick picture below taken right from the Pointstreak boxscore to illustrate the four goals scored in the second period.
That has to be incredibly rare. DeVito and Bunn score exactly 33 seconds apart twice in the same period, with both goals at times ending with :19 and :52. I'm not sure you could duplicate that again in a million games played.
Lincoln outshot Des Moines 14-6 in the second period, and led 4-1 going into the second intermission. Compared to the first period, this game turned 180 degrees.
In the third period, the Stars would add two more goals to finish out the scoring and snap their four-game losing streak in a big way. Vinni Lettieri scored a PP goal very early in the third period, at the :58 mark, to make it a 5-1 game.
With less than a minute remaining, forward Michael Bunn, playing in his first game as a member of the Lincoln Stars, scored his third goal of the game to complete the hat-trick.
I'm sure a lot of fans last night at the IceBox were asking themselves, "Who is Michael Bunn, and where has he been all season long?" Bunn is a native of Wake Forest, North Carolina and was drafted by the Lincoln Stars this past spring in the 16th round of the 2012 USHL Entry Draft. Before coming to Lincoln, Bunn last played hockey for Culver Military Academy, located in Culver, IN. The Stars have had very good luck with players coming from the Culver program, such as Michael Sdao, Cory Hibbeler, David Gerths, and Andrew Schmit.
Bunn participated in Lincoln's tryout camp this past June in Minneapolis where he impressed a lot of folks in attendance, especially myself. He was easily the fastest player there, and used that speed a number of times to score goals and create offensive opportunities. During one of the last few days of camp, Bunn was hit by current Stars defenseman Justin Woods and unfortunately tore his ACL on the play. So since June, Bunn has been working very hard to rehab that knee and get back into shape. Very happy to hear he had such a great first game, but also disappointed I couldn't see it in person.
Not to be overshadowed by Bunn, Jimmy DeVito scored two goals Friday night and Justin Woods racked up 4 assists. In his previous 15 games, DeVito had been held scoreless. Jimmy adds more to the team than just goals, but it was nice to hear he was able to break out of his goal-scoring slump. Justin Woods came into the game last night with just 3 assists in 18 games, so he really exploded with the four assists (and was +2).
Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 21 of 22 shots on goal to record his seventh win of the season. Bitzer is now 7-3-1 on the season, with a 1.91 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.
Even better, the Stars stayed out of the penalty box for the most part Friday night and actually won the special teams war. Lincoln went 2-for-3 on the powerplay, while the Bucs were held scoreless, going 0-for-3 with the man advantage. No penalties last night for Mike McKee? Amazing that the officials let him play his game. Also, very happy to see Dominik Shine's name in the boxscore last night. I had heard some rumors that he might not be back in the lineup until after the holiday break.
Hopefully the big win against the Bucs gives the team a boost of confidence going into the game tonight in Des Moines. Beating the same team in back-to-back nights will not be easy. Buccaneer Arena isn't the most friendly place to play, either. However, the Stars have historically played well in that barn over the years. Getting four points this weekend would be huge going into the short holiday break.
P.S. - Apparently during the game last night at some point, a puck was broken in half. In all my years of playing and watching hockey, I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like that. Just my luck to miss it last night. Referee Steve Reneau tweeted a picture of the broken puck last night on Twitter, and I'll include that pic below.