Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.
The dramatic win improved Lincoln's record to 31-19-3 (65 points), good enough for third place in the USHL Western Conference. As you can see with the graphic below, the Stars are now only three points out of second place in the west, but also five points out of fifth place.
If the playoffs started today, Sioux Falls, Fargo, Lincoln, and Waterloo would be playing postseason hockey. Omaha would not. Only the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs.
I wasn't around a radio or computer last night, so I was unable to follow this game. If you were listening or watching, please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
After surrendering the first goal of the game to Force all-star forward Austin Ortega, the Stars ripped off FIVE unanswered goals over the course of the first, second, and third periods to take a commanding 5-1 lead.
Leading the way for the good guys was the line of Eric Scheid-Luke Johnson-Vinni Lettieri. Those three players accounted for five of Lincoln's six goals scored last night. Luke Johnson was the top point getter in the game with five points (1g, 4a) scored. Vinni Lettieri wasn't too far behind with four points (2g, 2a), and Eric Scheid broke out of his mini four-game slump with three points (2g, 1a).
So with 16 minutes remaining in the third period, the Stars had a 5-1 lead and I would think most thought they would cruise to a blowout victory. Wrong.
The Force did a 180 and scored four straight goals to send the game to overtime. Looking at the boxscore, it appears Fargo got some help from Lincoln thanks to some penalties. Fargo put a whopping 22 shots on goal in the third period in their furious rush to tie it up. The game-tying goal came with only 43 seconds remaining after the Force pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker.
Thankfully, Dominik Shine put the Stars on his back and scored a clutch goal 1:22 into the five-minute OT period to win it for Lincoln. Apparently, the puck either went through the net, or in and out of the net so fast that the officials didn't notice it at first. Shine and his teammates celebrated the goal even though it play was allowed to continue. After a break in the action, the referee conferred with the off-ice officials and Shine's goal was counted. I assume the off-ice officials looked at video available and were able to confirm it.
I've since heard from fans who were listening to the Fargo radio tandem (Mike Melbye did not travel with the team), and the Force radio guys also confirmed that the goal went into the net. If anyone out there was able to get video of Shine's OT goal, please let me know. You can email me at email@example.com.
Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 37 of 42 shots to record the win, his 19th of the season. Lincoln went 1-for-2 on the powerplay, while the Force went 2-for-7 with the man advantage. One again, a big disparity in powerplay chances between the Stars and their opponent.
Great four-point weekend for the Stars against two very good teams (Muskegon, Fargo). Lincoln will stay up in North Dakota for the next couple of days as they play the Force again this Tuesday.
Edit: Here's a .gif and a screen shot of Shine's OT goal from last night that I got from a USHL message board I frequent. It's hard to see the puck, but it certainly appears Shine's shot went through the net. Impressive.