With the loss, the Stars dropped to 14-7-1 (29 points) and remain in third place in the USHL Western Conference. Click here to view the current USHL Standings.
This recap is going to be very short. I only listened to the radio broadcast, so I can't comment on how the Stars looked. It's probably good that I didn't spend money to watch this game on FASTHockey.
The Roughriders scored one PP goal in each of the first two periods to take a 2-0 lead going into the second intermission. After a virtually quiet first period, referee's Curtis Marouelli and Peter Schlittenhardt (porn name?) warmed up their whistles in the second stanza and sent damn near every Stars player on the roster to the penalty box at some point.
Very late in the third period, Stars forward Vinni Lettieri scored his seventh goal of the season to give Lincoln some life, trailing by only one goal. However, just 22 seconds after Vinni's goal, the Roughriders netted an empty net goal to seal the 3-1 victory. Coming into this game, the Roughriders had given up at least 3 goals in 12 straight games. Tonight they give up only one.
Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 26 of 28 shots in the loss. Lincoln went 0-for-5 on the powerplay, while Cedar Rapids went 2-for-9 with the man advantage. Once again, the Stars lose the special teams war. Seems like a broken record this season.
I wasn't watching, so I don't know how many of the penalties whistled on the Stars were legit or not. The Roughriders have had the reputation over the years to "sell" penalties, so it wouldn't surprise me if some of the calls against Lincoln were bogus. The Roughriders were awarded SIX powerplay opportunities in the second period alone. Having said that, the Stars seem to implode and commit dumb penalties when they get behind a few goals.
Cedar Rapids Roughriders goaltender Steve Michalek, who came into this game with a 4.17 goals against average and a rock-bottom save percentage of .852%, stopped 25 of 26 shots to record his second win of the season.
Stars forward Dominik Shine was injured in the third period tonight and was helped to the locker room where he stayed for the remainder of the game. According to this tweet, Shine fell face-first into the boards and was bleeding from the mouth. Chad Johnson said after the game on the radio that Shine received stitches due to his injury. Sending good vibes his way in hopes he returns to the ice very soon.
Stars are back in action this weekend with back-to-back games at the IceBox. Lincoln will host the Omaha Lancers on Friday night, and the Sioux Falls Stampede on Saturday night. Two good teams come to the IceBox this weekend, so it will be a good test for the Stars. Hopefully the team can forget this loss tonight and focus on those two upcoming contests against western conference foes. I'll post a weekend preview article late tomorrow night.
Edit: I forgot to mention this last night when I was putting together this article, but per Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye, the team traded forward Trent Samuels-Thomas to the Omaha Lancers. Melbye didn't mention what the Lancers traded in return for TST. Very odd move, in my opinion. Lincoln traded a 5th round draft pick in late October to the Des Moines Bucaneers for TST. In 10 games with Lincoln, Samuels-Thomas scored 4 points (all assists) to go along with 10 penalty minutes. The last few weeks, TST was a healthy scratch more often than he played. I'm not sure why it didn't work out for him in Lincoln, as he was a player I was really excited about getting when the trade with Des Moines was first announced. Hopefully this move isn't one that will come back and bite Lincoln in the rear later on this season. I'm not a big fan of trading players to a rival team like the Omaha Lancers.