|Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos|
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With the loss, the Stars dropped to 0-1-0 on the season. They will attempt to get their first win of the 2013-14 regular season tonight (Saturday) in Kearney against the Storm. More on that game later.
The Roughriders improved to 1-0-0 with the win in Lincoln.
Before the game kicked off, four new players were inducted into the Stars' Hall of Fame. Those four players were: (F) John Snowden, (F) Danny Irmen, (G) JP Lamoureux, and (F) Brandon Bollig. Great to see all those four get the recognition they deserve.
After all the pregame festivities ended, we finally got down to the good stuff....the hockey. I thought the Stars came out very strong and didn't seem to be affected by nerves at all. They controlled play for most of the first period, and outshot the 'Riders 17-8. However, the Stars found themselves down 2-0 at the midway point of the first period due to the opportunistic 'Riders who made the most of the few offensive chances they had.
Just when it looked like the 'Rider might take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, some good ole hard work and forechecking allowed the Stars to score with only seconds remaining in the opening period. After a Zach Frye shot on goal was saved by Cedar Rapids goaltender Chris Birdsall, the rebound found it way to a falling Tommy Marchin just outside the crease who knocked the puck into the open net. If you guessed Tommy Marchin to score the first goal of the season for the Stars, consider yourself a winner.
Marchin's goal was huge, and it gave the Stars the momentum they needed heading into the second period. It also got the crowd fired up, as well.
As would be a common theme on the night, as soon as the Stars got the momentum on their side, the Roughriders would answer right back with a goal of their own. A little over 8 minutes into the second period, a Cedar Rapids goal gave them a two-goal lead once again. However, the Stars would pull to within one goal less than a minute after. John Simonson's tally at the 8:52 mark of the second period gave the Stars new life, but it was short lived.
Less than a minute after Simonson's goal, the 'Riders struck right back. Three goals were scored in a 1:28 span in the second period, but two came from the Roughriders. Lincoln trailed going into the second intermission, 4-2. The Stars outshot the 'Riders 12-5 in the middle stanza, and 29-13 through two periods.
Just 28 seconds into the third period, Magnus Hoff scored on a breakaway for the Stars to pull the team to within one goal. I was late getting back to my seat so unfortunately I missed this goal. I mentioned this on Twitter last night, but we need to get a Norway flag and hang it somewhere inside the IceBox. There is still a Latvian flag hanging in the SW corner of the rink, so I figured we should make Magnus feel at home with a Norway flag. I'll work on that.
Anyway, the goal by Hoff would unfortunately be the last goal the Stars would get in this game. Try as they might, they could not get a game-tying goal. The Riders finished the third period pretty strong, and scored two goals to complete the scoring. The final goal was a meaningless empty-netter with less than a second remaining on the clock. Shots were 9-3 in favor of Cedar Rapids in the third period.
Total shots on goal ended up in Lincoln's favor, 33-22. When it comes to shots on goal, it's quality over quantity. In this game, the Stars had the quantity and the 'Riders had the quality. Zach Frye finished as Lincoln's top point-getter with 3 assists. John Simonson and Magnus Hoff both finished with two points (1 goal and 1 assist).
Michael Bitzer stopped 16 of 21 shots on goal in the loss. It might not have been his best game, but at times he really didn't get a lot of help. Chris Birdsall from Cedar Rapids stopped 30 of 33 shots on goal for the win.
Neither team would score a powerplay goal in this game. Lincoln went 0-for-4, and Cedar Rapids went 0-for-2. Amazingly, the Stars have yet to give up a PP goal through five preseason games, and 1 regular season games. Lincoln's PK unit has stopped all 29 PP opportunities they have faced during those six games.
I highlighted him in the weekend preview article, and the Roughriders' Judd Peterson delivered with two goals. He was also named the #1 star of the game. The draft pick of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres looks to have a big year for Cedar Rapids this season.
Overall, I thought the final score was not indicative of how the Stars played last night. Cedar Rapids is a veteran team, with 15 returners from last season. Lincoln lost 98% of their goal scoring from last season. The Stars have some room to improve, but I thought they played pretty well against a very good Roughriders club. In my opinion, the Stars were the better team for two of the three periods last night.
Some quick comments that I posted on Twitter this morning:
- Offensively, I thought the Stars forechecked really well and generated a lot of chances thru 2 periods. However, only 4 SOG in the 3rd period.
- Great to see the Stars stay out of the penalty box, and their PK unit still has not given up a PP goal thru 5 preseason and 1 regular season game.
- Too many costly turnovers, especially in their own zone, cost them the win. Those can be corrected. I'm sure nerves were high last night also.
- I would have liked to see the Stars play the body more against the smaller CR team. Wear them down physically.
- This might be one of the fastest teams the Stars have rostered in a long time. Guys like Lampasso, Monfils, and Hoff are speed demons.