Friday, October 18, 2013

B³ Postgame Recap: Lincoln 2, Team USA U-18 1 OT Shootout

Against arguably the most talented team in the USHL, the Lincoln Stars got their first win of the season in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 overtime shootout road victory over Team USA U-18.

I've been waiting to post that sound clip for awhile now.

Click here to view the Poinstreak boxscore.

I did not watch this game on FASTHockey, so this recap will be brief.  I did listen to most of the game on the radio.  If you were lucky enough to watch this game in person, or if you caught the FASTHockey broadcast, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your opinions.

It wasn't looking good early on for the Stars when at the 5:37 mark of the first period, U-18 forward Sonny Milano scored an even-strength goal to give the NTDP a 1-0 lead.  Little did anyone know at the time, but that would be the only Team USA shot on goal that would get past Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer on the night.

Lincoln played the U-18's very tough in the first period, outshooting them 7-6, but the NTDP took at 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

A scoreless second period saw the NTDP outshoot Lincoln 13-8.  Both goaltenders made some big saves in the middle period.

In the third, the Stars spent a lot of time in the penalty box, but their penalty kill unit came up huge.  On the night, the Stars killed all four Team USA powerplays they faced.

Very late in the game, with Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer pulled for the extra attacker, the hero was forward Max Humitz who picked a clutch time to score his first career USHL goal.  With only 1:08 remaining on the clock, Humitz put the puck past USA goaltender Edwin Minney to knot the game up at 1-1.  Jason Stephanik and Zach Frye picked up the assists on Humitz's goal.

After sixty minutes, this contest would go to overtime.  The NTDP outshot Lincoln 15-6 in the third period, and 34-22 overall.

After a scoreless five-minute overtime, these two teams went to a shootout. Going into this game, the Stars were 0-2 in shootouts, but that would change against Team USA.  Lincoln forwards Brandon Smith and Johnson Simonson both scored, and Michael Bitzer stopped both Team USA attempts against him to seal the victory.

Huge props go out to Michael Bitzer who stopped 37 of 38 shots on goal for the win.  It's a shame he wasn't named one of the three stars of the game, but I guess Team USA felt a little butt hurt afterwards.  Bitzer had gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, but we all knew he would turn it around.  He deserves a lot of praise for keeping his team in the game.

Huge, huge road win against a very good U-18 squad.  As I stated in the weekend preview article, this U-18 team was 5-0-0 in five games against USHL teams coming into this game.  In those five victories, Team USA outscored their opponents 26-6.  So this win should be a big confidence booster for the Stars.

Lincoln will now head further east to Youngstown, OH to take on the Youngstown Phantoms at the Covelli Center on Saturday evening.  Puck drops at 6:05pm CST.  The Phantoms lost Friday night at home to the Indiana Ice by a score of 3-1.

Go Stars.

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