After the loss, the Stars dropped to 14-6-1 (28 points) but are still tied for second place with the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL Western Conference. Lincoln still has the best winning percentage (.690) in the west, and are only one point out of first place. Click here to view the current USHL standings.
I wasn't at this game, but I did watch it on FastHockey. I'll post my thoughts below.
The shots may indicate that the Stars completely dominated this game, but that wasn't the case. Yes, there were good stretches of this game where Lincoln controlled the puck and put a ton of shots on Omaha goaltender Cole Bruns. But the Lancers won the special teams war (again), and took advantage of the few chances they had offensively.
Before the game was barely five minutes old, the Lancers already had a 2-0 lead thanks to a PP goal from Tucker Poolman, and even-strength goal from Tyler Moy. I believe Stars radio announcer Mike Melbye mentioned this last night, but Moy's goal was Omaha's first even-strength goal against the Stars this season in three games. Tells you how much better Lincoln is 5-on-5 compared to Omaha, but also how bad the Stars are specials teams wise compared to the Lancers.
The Stars showed some life late in the first period and it was Mike McKee who finally got on the scoreboard for Lincoln. After a Luke Johnson shot on goal, the rebound went to McKee who backhanded the shot into the open net. Johnson and Jake Wood picked up the assists on McKee's second goal of the season.
Stars trailed 2-1 at the first intermission, but outshot Omaha 10-6 in the first period.
Lincoln outshot Omaha 16-5 in the second period, but the Lancers were able to put two of those five shots past Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer to take a 4-1 lead heading into the second intermission. One of the two goals the Lancers scored in the second period came on the powerplay.
Lincoln outscored Omaha 2-0 in the third period, but it was not enough as the Lancers barely held on at the end to win this one by a score of 4-3. Luke Johnson scored the two Lincoln goals in the third period, and both came on the powerplay with Michael Bitzer pulled for the extra attacker.
Try as they might, the Stars peppered Bruns with shot after shot late in the third period, but they were unable to score the game-tying goal. Credit Bruns for playing his best game of the season against the Stars last night. He was a big reason why the Lancers were able to escape with two points.
Michael Bitzer stopped 13 of 17 shots in the loss. I'm sure this is one game Bitzer will want back as he didn't look very comfortable out there. Goaltenders will have the occasional off game, and I think this was one of those games for Bitzer. I'm sure he'll want to be in net next Friday night at the IceBox when the Stars host the Lancers. After his performance last night, he'll want some payback for sure.
This was your typical Stars-Lancers game with multiple fights. Here are video links to the three fights from last night, courtesy of Stars fan "Michelle," who was at the game. Click the text below in blue to watch each fight.
Trent Samuels-Thomas vs. Nicklas Folin
This fight was payback for Folin's cheapshot against Brad Hawkinson last week in Lincoln's 5-1 win over the Lancers. Hawk is still out with a neck injury. You can tell Folin doesn't want to fight and is just hanging on. Just my opinion, but Folin got off pretty lucky compared to what Hawk is dealing with right now. For some reason, this fight isn't noted on the Pointstreak boxscore. It's like it didn't happen.
Mike McKee vs. Eli Lichtenwald
I'm not sure what started this fight, but Mike rag dolls Lichtenwald for most of the scrap. McKee is so damn strong. Lichtenwald is 6'6", 211 pounds....so that's a big kid that Mike is tossing around.
Zach Aston-Reese vs. Frank Schumacher
This happened late in the third period after a nasty hit from behind from Schumacher on Jake Wood. Amazingly, the referee missed the call on Schumacher but ZAR came to the aid of his teammate. ZAR instigated the fight, but that's to be expected when you are defending a teammate. Since this fight occurred with less than 5 minutes remaining in the third period, both players will likely be suspended for one game.
Lincoln will have a busy week coming up with three games in four nights. First they will travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday to take on the Roughriders. On Friday and Saturday, the Stars will be back home with back-to-back games at the IceBox. The Omaha Lancers will visit on Friday, and the Sioux Falls Stampede on Saturday. Great opportunity coming up for the Stars to earn six points and vault to the top of the western conference standings.