|Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Photos|
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With the loss, the Stars dropped to 19-10-3 (41 points) and are in fourth place in the USHL Western Conference.
I'm not sure how much time I want to devote to recapping this game. The Phantoms simply outplayed the Stars in all facets of the game. They utilized their team speed to make Lincoln look very, very slow. The Stars gave up at least three breakaways last night (one of which ended with a Youngstown goal). Forwards for the Phantoms had no problem turning on the jets and beating Lincoln defenseman wide.
For the second straight game, the Stars went 0-for-5 on the powerplay. I cannot understand how the Stars can look so bad with the man advantage considering the talent they have on the roster. It's mind-boggling. Lincoln is 2-for-25 on the powerplay in their last seven games played. They currently have the fourth-worst PP in the USHL.
Over the past few years, the Stars have traditionally been a team that has some of the top penalty kill units in the league. After all, when you lead the league in penalty minutes year after year, you get used to playing on the PK. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened this year. The Stars have given up twice the amount of PP goals than they have scored PP goals themselves (33 to 16). They currently have the third-worst PK unit in the USHL.
The only highlight from last night's game was the goalie fight between Michael Bitzer and Sean Romeo. I will post a video of that fight at the end of this article, courtesy of blog reader Layla.
The silly penalties are still a problem. I know the players are probably very frustrated in these game that they don't play as well as they'd like, but they have to keep their cool. There was a penalty last night very late in the game that just wasn't smart at all. I'll leave it at that. A cross-check to the opponents neck/face is never a good idea, no matter how frustrated you are.
In my weekend preview article, I said that three points was a must this weekend. After not playing particularly well for either of the two games this weekend, I guess the Stars should feel lucky they got the two points. This team can play a LOT better than how they are playing now, so I'm not sure what's going on with the sloppy play. Special teams is a trainwreck. There have been some injuries as of late, but every team in the USHL has to deal with injuries during the season.
Speaking of injuries, per this tweet by the Lincoln Stars, forwards Dominik Shine and Luke Johnson were held out of last night's game due to injuries. Hopefully they both aren't serious. Will Suter was out for the second straight game due to illness. Mike McKee continues to serve his five-game suspension.
The Stars will have just a few days to lick their wounds after this loss before they are back at the IceBox this Tuesday to face the Waterloo Blackhawks, the same team that beat Lincoln by a score of 10-2 just a few weeks ago. Which Stars teams shows up for that game against the Blackhawks? The team that won 10 straight to start the season, or the team we saw last night at the IceBox. We'll find out soon enough.