Eric Scheid scored in the overtime period tonight to give Lincoln a 3-2 win over the Sioux City Musketeers at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, IA. Lincoln is now 4-0-0 in four games against Sioux City this season.
With the win and the two points, the Stars improved to 19-9-3 (41 points) and are still in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference. Lincoln does have the third best winning percentage (.661%) in the west and have at least two games in hand over all three teams ahead of them in the standings. Click here to view the updated standings.
Just 18 seconds into this game, defenseman Zach Frye picked up an instigating minor, fighting major, and a game ejection after jumping SC defenseman Blake Heinrich. Frye was defending a teammate on the play after Heinrich threw a nasty elbow to the face of Zach Aston-Reese which was missed by the officials. Frye jumped Heinrich (rightfully so), but was booted from the game because of it. I don't have a problem with the penalties against Frye, after all, he was defending a teammate, but the officials missed a blatant hit to the head by Heinrich. So because Frye was ejected, the Stars basically played the entire game with only five defenseman in the lineup.
In the first period, the Stars played very sloppy and looked a bit sluggish. Another slow start by the Stars, but they turned it around later in the game. However, the Muskies took advantage of Lincoln's slow start with a a powerplay goal scored at the 13:38 mark of the first period. SC would take that 1-0 lead to the first intermission.
Late in the second period, the Stars and Muskies suddenly came alive and combined for three goals in a 1:47 stretch of the period. First it was Vinni Lettieri scoring on a rebound at the 15:57 mark to tie it up at 1-1-1. Eric Scheid and Luke Johnson collected the assists on Lettieri's 11th goal of the season.
21 seconds after Lettier's even-strength goal, the Muskies answered with a tally of their own at the the 16:18 mark of the second period. Lincoln would knot the game up again, this time at 2-2, at the 17:44 mark after a goal from Jake Wood with assists to Eric Scheid and Jimmy DeVito. This goal was reviewed by the officials as it barely got across the goal line. The score would remain knotted up at 2-2 going to the second intermission. The Stars outshot the Muskies 15-3 in the second period.
After a scoreless third period in which Lincoln outshot Sioux City 9-to-6, this game would go to overtime.
A little more than a minute into the 4-on-4 OT period, Lincoln forwards Tommy Schutt and Eric Scheid took advantage of a SC turnover and came into the Muskies zone on a 2-on-1. Schutt held onto the puck before firing a shot on net which was saved by SC goaltender Kyle Hayton. However, Hayton could not control the rebound which went right to a streaking Eric Scheid who wristed the puck into the open net past and outstretched pad of Hayton. Stars win 3-2.
It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. Lincoln started out slow, but they fought hard to earn the two points, which is the most important thing. I thought the Stars had some trouble getting the puck low, and generating offensive chances in the dirty areas in front of Hayton early on in this game. A lot of the early shots were from the perimeter, which were gobbled up easily by the SC goaltender. The Stars did a better job in the second, third, and overtime periods crashing the SC net and manufacturing quality scoring chances.
Lincoln's powerplay unit was....well, bad. I'm not sure how else to put it. 0-for-5 on the night, and it was a struggle by the PP unit to just keep the puck in the SC zone. I've seen Lincoln play ugly on the PP this season, but tonight was probably the worst. That has to get better if the Stars want to nail down a playoff spot.
Michael Bitzer didn't have to work too hard tonight to earn his 11th win of the season, as he stopped 18 of 20 shots. Thanks to Lincoln's defense, Bitzer only faced a total of 9 shots in the second, third, and overtime periods. If you're on the Stars, that's a stat to be proud of. Credit the Stars for blocking shots and limiting the amount of pucks that got through to Bitz.
The Stars were without forward Will Suter tonight who was ill and unable to play. Hopefully he's back in the lineup Saturday night. Garrett Brossart and Max Humitz were healthy scratches. Mike McKee is still serving his five-game suspension handed down by the league.
Lincoln's opponent Saturday night at the IceBox, the Youngstown Phantoms, beat the Chicago Steel tonight by a score of 3-2. They now have an 8-hour bus ride before arriving in Lincoln early tomorrow morning.