|Phil Marinaccio scores on a breakaway in the 3rd period|
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.
With the loss, the Stars fell to 28-17-3 (55 points) and are still in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference. The Waterloo Blackhawks, Lincoln's opponent tonight (Saturday), beat Dubuque last night and now are in third place with 58 points.
The Omaha Lancers lost at home to the Sioux City Musketeers last night and are now in fourth place with 56 points. Click here to view the current USHL standings.
It looked great for the Stars in the first 10 minutes of this game. They came out strong, physical, and put good pressure on U-18 goaltender Thatcher Demko. The hard work paid off at the 10:16 mark of the first period when Phil Marinaccio scored a PP goal to give Lincoln it's only lead of the game.
After Marinaccio's goal, you could sense that Team USA finally got the jitters out of their system and started to take control of the game. What momentum the Stars had early on vanished after Marinaccio's goal, and the U-18's dominated the rest of the contest.
The U-18's scored the next four goals to take a 4-1 lead before Mike McKee scored a shorthanded goal at the 19:02 mark of the second period to bring the Stars to within two goals. The crowd was back into the game, and it looked like the Stars would be down only two goals going into the third period.
But with only 5 seconds remaining in the second period, the U-18's scored a PP goal and killed whatever momentum that Stars had going into the second intermission.
At the 19:03 mark of the third period, Phil Marinaccio scored his second goal of the game, this time a shorthanded breakaway tally, but it was a little too late. Lincoln outshot team USA 11-7 in the third period, but could only score the one goal.
Getting back to Phil Marinaccio, he has really performed well since he was obtained from the Cedar Rapids Roughriders for Ross Olsson. Marinaccio has scored 14 points (7g, 7a) in fourteen games for Lincoln, and arguably has been their best forward the past month or so.
Jake Wood fought Team USA's Sean Malone last night with only 4:53 left in the third period, so there's a good chance he'll be suspended for a game (or two) since players are not allowed to drop the mitts with less than five minutes remaining in the third.
Once again, Lincoln lost the special teams war last night. The U-18's went 3-for-7 on the power play and scored one shorthanded goal. So four of Team USA's five goals were due to special teams. Lincoln went 1-for-4 on the powerplay and surprisingly scored two shorthanded goals. The Stars have scored 10 shorthanded goals this season, which is tied for the most in the entire USHL.
Jackson Teichroeb stopped 28 of 33 shots before he was pulled at the conclusion of the second period. Michael Bitzer started the third period and stopped all 7 shots he faced. I felt bad for Teichroeb last night, as he really didn't get a lot of help from his teammates.
Team USA outshot Lincoln 40-27 last night. I can't remember when a team outshot the Stars by that large of a margin at home. Team USA had a whopping 33 shots on goal through the fist two periods. I think the U-18's eased up a bit in the third period, which allowed the Stars to outshoot USA in the third period.
I was really impressed with how good Team USA U-18 looked last night. They are as talented as advertised. It took them about 10 minutes to warm up, but once they did, they took control of the game and never let go. Speed kills, and that was definitely on display last night. The U-18's outskated, outshot, and outplayed the Stars. There wasn't any wasted effort from the U-18's. I'm never happy when the Stars lose, but it was kinda fun watching the youngsters of Team USA put on a clinic last night. Lincoln ran into a buzzsaw, so I don't think they should hang their heads today. Learn from it, and move on.
Because of the loss Friday evening, Saturday's game against Waterloo is huge. There are only 18 games left in the regular season, so every point right now is very important. I don't know if it's a "must win" tonight, but if Lincoln wants to play postseason hockey, they'll want to secure the two points against a team that is only three points ahead of them in the standings.
Be loud tonight! The players need us more than ever.