Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Click here to view the Poinstreak boxscore.
The Stampede will now advance to the USHL Western Finals where they will face the winner of the Fargo-Waterloo series. The Force and Blackhawks are tied up at two games a piece in their best-of-five first round series.
Tough way to end the season by being shutout, but the Stars battled all game long and should be very proud of their effort tonight, and in this series.
Not a ton of highlights to cover in this article. The Stars came out to start the first period very sluggish, similar to how they played the majority of Game 4 in Lincoln last Saturday night. The Stampede controlled play, and put a ton of shots on Michael Bitzer.
Sioux Falls outshot Lincoln 15-5 in the first twenty minutes, but Bitzer stood tall and blanked the 'Pede. The five shots the Stars put on SF goaltender Charlie Lindgren in the first period hardly tested him.
I'm not sure what happened in the Stars' locker room in between the first and second period, but the good guys came out very, very strong in the middle period. For the first 16 minutes of the second, Lincoln absolutely dominated the period. At one point in the second, they had outshot Sioux Falls 19-3. But like Bitzer, Charlie Lindgren stood on his head and stymied very Lincoln scoring attempt.
Sioux Falls finally broke out of their slump in the last four minutes of the second, but they also were kept off the scoreboard. Through the first two periods of this game, shots were even at 24-24. Both Bitzer and Lindgren were battling back and forth in a classic goaltender's duel.
The team that scored first in Games 1-4 won that particular game, so going into the third, I think most thought that if a goal was to be scored in the final period, it would probably end up being the game-winner. Unfortunately for the Stars, that proved to be true.
Just 1:19 into the third, Stampede forward Ryan Siiro carried the puck into the Lincoln zone and attempted to send a shot on net, but it was blocked by Stars defenseman Mike McKee. Puck luck had the rebound bounce off McKee and go right back on the stick of Siiro who fired it again. This time, the puck went high stick-side past Bitzer to give the Stampede a 1-0 lead. That's all Sioux Falls would need to win this game, and the series.
Lincoln had plenty of chances in the third period to tie the game, with three different powerplay opportunities, but the 'Pede and Lindgren held the Stars scoreless. Despite have three PP chances in the third, the Stampede still outshot Lincoln 18-10 in the third period.
The Stars pulled Bitzer late in the game for the extra attacker, but they were unable to get that crucial game-tying goal. With 41 seconds remaining, the Stampede scored an empty-net goal to seal the 3-2 series win.
Stampede outshot the Stars 42-34 overall. Lincoln went 0-for-4 on the powerplay, while Sioux Falls went 0-1 with the man advantage. I want to give big props to Lincoln's PK unit. Sioux Falls went 0-for-14 on the PP in this series. I said before this series started that Lincoln would need to improve on the PP and the PK to have a chance to win. The PK unit looked great. The PP unit, however, was a bit schizophrenic. They looked good at times (Game 3), and ugly at times (Games 4 and 5).
Tough way to lose the series, especially after the Stars were up 2-1 after three games. Game 4 in Lincoln last Saturday night was a lost opportunity to use home ice advantage to their favor.
What more can you say about Michael Bitzer in the series against Sioux Falls. He finished with a 2-2 record, and a 1.01 goals against average along with a .972 save percentage. Incredible numbers for a goaltender on the losing end. He was the main reason why the Stars still had an opportunity to win this series late in Game 5.
Amazingly, the Stars were only shutout one time this season...and it was this game. A total of 69 games (regular season and playoffs), and only shutout once. Crazy. I couldn't believe it when I looked it up.
After the game, I was looking forward to Chad Johnson talking about each player like he and Jimmy have normally done in years past, but his postgame radio interview was brief and seemed rushed. Not sure what the deal was there. Normally, the coach will take a good amount of time after the season ends to mention each player on the roster, how they improved, and what they brought to the team. Also, I was hoping Chad would talk about which players are coming back next season, but he seemed to dodge that question for some reason. Not sure why. If you missed the postgame radio interview, click here to listen to it.
Just a quick note for all of the players who wore the Lincoln Stars uniform this past season. Thank you very much for providing us with great hockey all season long. We are very appreciative of all of the blood, sweat, and tears you shed over the course of 64+ games for our entertainment.
For all of the parents who read this blog, thank you so much for sending your sons to Lincoln. It was an honor watching them play.
I will type out a 2012-13 season recap article sometime this weekend. I'll talk about the season that just wrapped up, and also what's ahead. Even though the season is over, I will still be busy here at the B³. The USHL Futures and Entry drafts are on May 6th and 7th, and then Lincoln will hold its tryout camp at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis from June 6th-9th. There's a lot to review, so stay tuned for that article.
As always, thanks for reading.
Video "highlights" are posted blow.
Posted by Yeti at 10:30 PM