|My view from the first row of Section 221 (click to enlarge)|
Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.
This was a league game, so the Stars fell to 24-15-3 (51 points) and are still in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference. The Lancers are now three points ahead of Lincoln with 54 points, and in fourth place. The third place Fargo Force have 55 points.
Only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs, so the Stars have some work ahead of them to catch up to Omaha and Fargo. Click here to view the current USHL standings.
As far as the game goes, pretty much par for the course when it comes to Lincoln vs. Omaha. I'm not sure if the Stars were just too wired up, or just nervous, but early on they hung goaltender Michael Bitzer out to dry. Omaha players were left wide open for non-contested shots on two goals that came on the PP. I think another was a partial breakaway. Before the game was 10 minutes old, it was already 3-1 Omaha. Bitzer was pulled for Jackson Teichroeb after giving up 3 goals on 4 shots. Omaha added one more goal before the end of the first period to take a 4-1 lead into the first intermission. At that point, the game was pretty much over.
Phil Marinaccio scored Lincoln's first goal at the 8:25 mark of the first period to pull the Stars to within one goal at 2-1. Marinaccio has now scored a goal in three straight games for Lincoln. In the second period, Omaha native Will Suter scored at the 6:47 mark to pull the Stars to within two goals at 4-2. Suter's goal would be the last goal scored by either team in this game.
I thought Lincoln was the better team in the second and third periods (they outshot Omaha 36-14 through those last two periods), but they couldn't solve Omaha goaltender Alex Lyon. The ice conditions didn't allow them to really get any quality shots on Lyon, though....so I don't know how many of those 36 shots were very good quality. Omaha played on the same crappy ice, so it's not an excuse for Lincoln. They outplayed Lincoln in the first period when the ice was at its best, and that's all they needed to win it.
Just like every game against Omaha this season, the Stars lost the special teams war (Omaha was 2-for-4 on the PP, Lincoln was 0-for-1), and the Lancers got better goaltending. The Lancers took advantage of their scoring opportunities, and the Stars did not.
The quality of the ice was bad to start, but it got worse as the game went on. Biggest problem (I assume) was the sun. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, so the sun was allowed to beat down on the ice. Soon it turned to slush, and eventually to water. It made for sloppy, unwatchable hockey. I felt bad for the players while I was watching this game. I'm happy that no players on either side were injured. The ice was that bad. Players were falling down all the time. Off ice officials tried to repair the ice at every whistle, but the sun was just too much. People on Twitter were soon calling the event "Battles on Puddles" or "Battles on Slush" instead of "Battles on Ice." In my opinion, this contest should have been an exhibition game, not a league game.
Looking back, I'm not sure I would pay $50 per ticket to do it again. A lot of people paid much more than that per ticket. Our experience inside the stadium wasn't the greatest.
We sat in the first row of 221, which allowed for some great views of the ice. But we had some drunk, asshole UNO fans sitting behind us that made watching the game unbearable. Once they noticed there were a bunch of Lincoln fans in front of them, they were relentless. Typical crap about Lincoln being goons, and their fans being hicks....stuff I've heard from Omaha fans in the past. After Marinaccio scored Lincoln's first goal, my wife stood up to clap...and a few of the guys yelled at her to sit down. So she turned around and gave it back, and they ended up calling her some choice words. The first period was brutal with the four Omaha goals. Each time the Lancers would score, they would get up right behind our ears and purposely yell and scream. Luckily, they spent most of the second and third periods getting up to buy beers, so they weren't around as much.
I'm not a big UND or UNO fan, so we decided not to come back for the college game after the USHL game. We also didn't want to sit in front of those idiots again. After hearing that UND beat UNO last night, I admit I had a smile on my face knowing those asshole UNO fans behind us went home with a loss. I know all UNO fans aren't like these idiots, but I've never had such a negative experience at a hockey game.
Best part of the day was tailgating with a bunch Stars fans before and after the game. Some family members of Stars forward Brad Hawkinson got me a nice gift before the game, which I posted here on Twitter. I met some other player parents and family members who read the blog, so that was great. I got to talk to Tino Lettieri, father of Stars forward Vinni. Tino was a former World Cup and Olympic soccer goalie for Canada. Interesting character, and he had some great stories. Very nice man. So the tailgating experience was awesome....just wish the other parts were as fun.
The announced attendance was 13,650 which did not beat the previous USHL record of 14,892 that was set by the Indiana Ice on February 12th, 2005. The 13,650 were tickets sold, definitely not butts in seats when the Lancers were playing the Stars. I doubt there was half of that 13,650 in the stadium when the USHL game was being played.
I'm going to include some videos below that were posted yesterday on the USHL's YouTube account. First video is a post-game press conference featuring Chad Johnson, Vinni Lettieri, Luke Johnson, and Paul LaDue. Second video is a one-on-one interview with Will Suter. Lastly is a one-on-one interview with newly acquired defenseman Eric Schurhamer.
I took some pictures (and video) which I'll try to post later today in a different article. I hope to post some photos from others who were at the game also.
In the meantime, I 'd really like to hear from those of you who attended this event. Please like a comment below! How was your experience? Would you attend again if this event was duplicated next year? If not, why?