Sunday, February 10, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Omaha 4

My view from the first row of Section 221 (click to enlarge)
The four Lancer goals scored in the first period Saturday afternoon at the Mutual of Omaha "Battles on Ice" outdoor game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha was all they needed to beat the Lincoln Stars by a score of 4-2.

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, 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?

Go Stars.


lincolnfan said...

thanks for the recap, Yeti. i don't mean to come on here and complain and fill the blog with negativity, but i have to say i was disappointed. i guess i wasn't really sure what to expect. our seats were about center ice, which was pretty far away from the actual rink. because there were so many empty seats, after the first period we decided to move over more in one of the corners behind one of the goals which was a little better. still, it seemed we were so far away from the action it was hard to get into the game and really see what was going on. looking around, i'm not sure there really was a "good" seat in the entire park...

on the original diagram, the ice looked like it was going to be closer to home plate, so i don't know why they put the ice in the middle of the field... they could have moved it so much closer so people would have had a better view. it was as if they put it in the middle because they were expecting a sell-out... however, we paid $70 a ticket for our seats... why should the people in the far away sections who paid $40 a ticket get the same view as us? it would have made a lot more sense to put the ice as close as they could to home plate so people in the sections around there could get a good view. even if there were 13,000 people there, we all could have easily condensed into just a few sections around the ice. it would have made for a much better atmosphere and view. of course, there's nothing like the home game atmosphere at the Ice Box.

as far as the ice quality goes... maybe it was somewhat poor planning. it seems they were surprised it didn't hold up in 50 degree temps. maybe they should have tested it more or something, i don't know. either way, both teams agreed to play this game outside, knowing it was the first ever USHL outdoor game... they both played in the same conditions, so fair is fair. we had kind of already decided we weren't sticking around for the college game... i probably would have been upset if we were and found out there was going to be a 2.5 hour delay.

alright, enough of my whining. on the flip side, i was very impressed with TD Ameritrade Park ... very nice facility, and we sat by some really nice fellow Stars fans. the concession stands were nice, clean restrooms, and plenty of hallway space for walking around.

but i guess i really doubt i would pay that much money to do this again, unless i know for certain they're going to position the ice better and fix the on-ice issues. i can forgive them for a lot of this though, since it's the first time they've done it. they'll have to work out these issues though, and make it more economical.. perhaps make the tickets cheaper by ticketing the games separately, assuming they couple it with a college game again. it was an experience and an interesting game, but overall, not impressed and i left feeling kind of disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Wow-another typical screw job by the USHL refs. HOw do you board someone that falls down before you hit him (McKee). And Reeses boarding call was terrible-they were both fighting for the puck. Talked to a lot of UND fans-much nicer and a hell of a lot more knowledgable than UNO or Prancers fans. They all thought the refs screwed us the first period. Everyone there knew the only big scoring chances were going to come before the ice turned to slush. That being said this has to be the worst coached Stars team I've seen in 5 years. Way too much talent on this team to be playing like this. The UND fans I talked to wondered if the team even ran any systems or just skated around chasing the puck! They also wondered why none of our forwards tried to pass to the backside guy for a wide open net goal. We basically come down the ice and shoot the puck hoping for a rebound. Not many rebounds at this level of hockey. Guess I'm kind of dissapointed with the way this season is going downhill. And of course like Yeti I absolutely hate losing to Omaha. That being said-not sure if there weren't more Lincoln fans there than Lancer fans.

Anonymous said...

We are huge stars fans and rather big UND Sioux fans as my husband and I are both from North Dakota but now live in Lincoln. We were fortunate to have suite tickets through my husbands work so I can't complain about our seat or even other fans. I was a little surprised to see the positioning of the ice on the field, not quite what I remembered seeing on the seating chart. I will say by the time night had fallen and the downtown skyline appeared it made for an awesome scene from our suite.

What I am commenting on was the college game was much better to watch. They ended up delaying it another half hour but once the sun was no longer beating down on the ice you could see the ice firm up again. The college game had much more speed both from players and the puck zipping around the board.

Was really good to see all the UND fans (which I think clearly outnumbered and outcheered UNO fans), I talked to a few and some had travelled a long distance to watch this game. One group was from Minot, ND which is nearly 10 hours, not sure I am that big of a UND fan to travel that far.

I would attend another outdoor game in a heartbeat given the seats we had!

Anonymous said...

I was glad to be a part of the first outdoor hockey game in Nebraska. Not often we see things like this and I say thanks to all the teams and groups involved in putting this together. It was a significant expense and I'm thankful to have been part of it.

The best seats were definitely in the 200's and 300's, if not for the wind. I think that some of the people who bought lower bowl tickets got the shaft, but at least the stadium folks didn't have problems with people moving around.

It's a really nice ballpark and facility and a great place to watch a baseball game. and I have to give it to MECA and Omaha Sports. These guys have done it right, and the Downtown Lincoln folks need to see how it's done and do it here with the new arena.

It was great to be a part of the tailgates, and simply just having on a Stars jersey got you a cold one, or an offer for some grub, and at the very least some high-fives from people you see at the Ice Box but may not know them by name. Another reason Stars fans are the best!

As for the game, not sure what's up with Lincoln and their defense. It leaves me scratching my head how many times our goalies are left on an island.

Despite having some great things, and having lived there for a short time, I'm not a fan of most things Omaha and some of the behavior of a few UNO fans reinforced that. I had little love for UNO to begin with, and less now. I mean I sure didn't expect rainbows and lollipops, but some of the crap was unfounded. Frankly, if it weren't for Stars and especially UND fans, that stadium would've looked like pre-game batting practice. So, Omaha – you're welcome.

I have some affection for UND, and those guys are like Nebraska (as in UNL, the real one) in the way they travel. I now need a Sioux jersey and was glad when UNO got their butt handed to them by hockey fans who can bring it. I know, I shouldn't probably feel that way, but my dislike of Omaha runs deep.

Shame about the ice though. Both teams really deserved better, and Lincoln was the better team in periods 2 & 3. But the score is the score and they get the W. (Lettieri got robbed, BTW)

For all the hype about hearing how the ice can hold up in 60 degrees, it's almost like there was a distinct lack of competence with that system. We left before the great coolant leak, about the time when the UND-UNO game should've ended. The product started to overshadow the event.

It was a great idea and overall, I'd think I'd give it a passing grade if I were the event organizers. IF they were to do it again, I think there should've been more run-up to it and some more pre or post-game festivities to make it an event.

The best part was that it was a fun afternoon being around friends and fellow fans, and getting outside for the day, with Hockey to boot! Better than any day at work.

Brandon Anderson said...

Just a quick comment on the positioning of the ice. talking to the ice crew during the game they had to put the ice where they did due to the fact that they couldnt remove the pitchers mound.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Yeti. Good to hear you comment on the fans. My wife and I had a great time despite drunk UNO fans behind us as well. Your recap touched on something I've been thinking about all season: Considering our (Stars fan's) pre-game cheers and post-goal goaltending taunts, I understand how we have the reputation that we have. But, having attended every Stars/Lancers game this season (at the ice box and in Ralston), I've never seen Stars fans be anything but courteous to Lancers fans at the Ice Box. I've also never made it out of Ralston without, at least, a snide comment in my direction. Having said that, I have met plenty of great Lancers fans in Ralston and in Lincoln. The reputation is just kind've funny.

Anonymous said...

We were in section 115 ($70 tickets) and noticed the same thing about the rink being moved out past the pitchers mound from what we saw in the original seating chart. After the first period we sat at the rear of section 113 since there was nobody around. It was a lot colder out of the sun but the viewwas a whole lot better.

The facility was pretty nice and they had great chicken tenders and fries.

I think the ice demonstrated a real lack of either knowledge or testing or both by the people responsible for setting it up and maintaining it. Regardless of the temperature and the sunshine they either should have known how to better handle those circumstances or know when they couldn't handle it and adjust times accordingly, apologize. or something. If they wouldv'e delayed the start to 6ish for the whole event and played until midnight it would've been a lot more fun in my opinion.

My wife and I liked the old school outfits worn by the on ice officials (even though we think the referees wear orange and black on their sleeves as proof of their bias towards Omaha). We also enjoyed the sound of skating and puck movement that you could hear through the PA system.

We should do this in Memorial Stadium with the Stars broadcast crew in charge.

Grampee said...

Would like to thank the Hawkinson family from points North , East, South and West, as well as the Suter's for their wonderful hospitality on Saturday. I'd also like to thank Mr. Lettieri for the amazing sausages he brought with him as well as the cigar.

The sting of losing to Omaha was tempered by the good times around their camper. Would also like to thank Yeti for all of his efforts on this blog.

I'd also suggest that while this may be a place to discuss a game etc it may not be the proper venue to vent specific frustrations about coaches and players. The Stars publish their email addresses on their might be better for you to avail yourself of two cents...

I, too, hope that the USHL continues this type of forum...for our game it was just one of those perfect storms that conspired against the conditions. But the boys had fun despite losing.

Grampee said... a PS...I was told that the ice at the practice session was near perfect...

Yeti said...

Thanks to everyone who have left comments thus far! Much appreciated. Nice to hear your opinions of the event/game.

Anonymous said...

I dont usually leave comments, but the Best Fans, maybe you would be held in a higher regard if you showed some respect and faced the ice when the Lancer starting line names are announced.
Good luck in chasing a play off spot for the rest of the season.....

Yeti said...

Anonymous at 4:53pm,

Not all of us turn around and face the other way when opposing teams are introduced. I for one do not do that. So your anonymous, drive-by comment isn't very fair since it generalized an entire fan base.

And since I assume you are an Omaha fan, I will wish you luck as well as your team chases that same playoff spot for the rest of this season. Last time I checked, the Stars are only a few points behind Omaha and have two games in hand.