The Lincoln Stars surrendered a 3-1 third period lead before losing in an overtime shootout to the Sioux Falls Stampede Saturday night at the IceBox by a score of 4-3. The loss was Lincoln's fourth in a row, and it's second straight overtime shootout loss. In both of those games, the Stars had a lead going into the third period.
With the overtime loss and the one point, the Stars now have a record of 14-7-3 (31 points) and are tied for third place in the USHL Western Conference with the Fargo Force. Lincoln is only two points out of first place in the west, but also only five points out of seventh place. Amazingly, 7 of the 8 teams in the western conference have a record of .500 or better. Click here to view the current USHL standings.
Stars got on the scoreboard first in this game with some help from Stampede goaltender Charles Lindgren. Vinni Lettieri of the Stars fired a shot on net that Lindgren attempted to catch with his glove, but the puck squirted out and bounced out to a streaking Eric Scheid who one-timed the puck into the net.
Stars played very, very well in the first period and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Lincoln outshot Sioux Falls 12-5 in the first twenty minutes.
In the second period, the Stampede evened the score at 1-1 when Thomas Forgione got behind the Lincoln defense and went five-hole on Stars goaltender Jackson Teichroeb at the 6:35 mark.
I was out of my seat for the next three goals scored in this game, so I can't give a good account on how they were scored. Eric Scheid scored his second goal of the game at the 16:34 mark of the second period to give the Stars a 2-1 lead going into the third period. Scheid's 12th goal of the season was unassisted.
Early in the third period, Vinni Lettieri scored at the 4:43 mark to give Lincoln a 3-1 lead. Lettieri's goal was assisted by Paul LaDue and Eric Scheid. Less than three minutes after Lettieri's goal, Dennis Kravchenko scored for Sioux Falls to pull the 'Pede to within one goal.
With a Stars player in the penalty box midway through the third period, the Stampede would get the game-tying goal on a bang-bang play. Just three seconds into the powerplay, Thomas Forgione won a faceoff back to forward Kyle Schempp who fired a laser through a crowd and past Teichroeb glove-high into the open net. Just like that, Lincoln's 2 goal lead in the third period vanished.
Neither team would score in the 5 minute overtime period, so this one went to a shootout. The Stampede scored twice in three chances, while the Stars were held scoreless in two opportunities. After winning the first two games that went to a shootout, the Stars have lost three overtime shootout games in a row.
Jackson Teichroeb stopped 24 of 27 in the loss. It was Teichroeb's fifth loss in a row. Stampede goaltender Charles Lindgren stopped 31 of 34 in the win, which was his third in a row.
The special teams woes continued Saturday night for the Stars. Lincoln went 0-for-3 with the man advantage, while the Stampede went 1-for-6. Very, very rarely do the Stars have more powerplay opportunities compared to their opponents in a game. Part of that is playing better disciplined hockey, but also drawing more penalties to give your team more PP chances.
I said this on Twitter last night, but when you give up a 3-1 lead in the third period you probably deserve to lose the game. Honestly, I think the Stars were very lucky to get one point last night. The Stampede were the better team in the second and third periods. Jackson Teichroeb had to make a number of game-saving stops to keep the Stars in the game.
Earlier on Saturday, the USHL posted three new suspensions for the Stars because of incidents in the Omaha game the night before. According to the Pointstreak transaction page, Max Humitz, Jimmy DeVito, and Jake Wood were all suspended one game. I expected that all three would be out of the lineup against Sioux Falls, but DeVito did play last night. Only thing I can think of is that the Stars appealed DeVito's suspension, and won.
After starting the season winning its first 10 games, the Stars are 4-7-3 in their last 14 games played. 4 wins in their last 14 games played. Not exactly setting the world on fire, but there's no reason why this team can't win 10 in a row again. The talent is there. Special teams needs to improve big time. The offense has been a big stagnant as of late, also. Everyone on the team needs to play more disciplined on the ice. Lincoln has to regain that killer instinct that put away teams early on in the season when they had leads in the third period.
Lincoln will attempt to get back on track this upcoming weekend with a home-and-home series against the Des Moines Buccaneers. Friday night's game will take place at the IceBox, while Saturday evening's game will take place in Des Moines.