|Stars celebrate Zach Frye's third period goal|
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
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With the loss, the Stars dropped to 2-3-4 (8 points), while the 'Jacks improved to 6-4-1 (13 points). Lincoln dropped from 5th to 6th place in the western conference. Click here to see the current USHL standings.
Lincoln's powerplay unit got the home crowd cheering early on in this game when forward Brandon Smith batted a rebound past Muskegon goaltender Eric Schierhorn at the 2:53 mark of the first period. Zach Frye and Magnus Hoff picked up the assists on Smith's second goal of the season.
While the fans were still cheering Smith's goal which made it 1-0 Stars, the Lumberjacks answered quickly with a goal scored 41 seconds after to even the game at 1-1.
Muskegon outshot Lincoln 14-11 in the first twenty minutes, but the score remained tied 1-1 going into the first intermission.
The second period was mostly controlled by the Lumberjacks as they outscored Lincoln 2-1. The Jacks scored the first two goals of the second period to take a 2-1 lead, but John Simonson answered for the Stars late in the period. Simonson's fifth goal of the season come with only 1:21 remaining in the middle period, with assists going to Christian Lampasso and Jared Kolquist.
Shots were even at 13 a piece in the second period for both teams. Muskegon led 3-2 at the second intermission.
At the 6:18 mark of the third period, Stars co-captain Zach Frye scored a huge powerplay goal to even the game at 3-3. Frye wristed a shot from the blueline that somehow found its way past all of the traffic in front of him and past Schierhorn. Luke Shiplo and Luke Voltin earned the assists on Frye's first goal of the season.
It was looking like this game might go to overtime, but the Jacks scored on a goal-mouth scramble with less than 8 minutes remaining to take a 4-3 lead. Try as they might, the Stars could not get that game-tying goal. Lincoln had some very good opportunities late in the game to knot the game up on the powerplay, but they could not get the puck past Schierhorn.
Stars defenseman Zach Frye was whistled for a head contact major and game ejection late in this game. I didn't get a good look at the play, so I can't give my opinion. It seemed like most of the fans in attendance did not agree with the penalty. This was Frye's second head contact major penalty of the season, so I assume the USHL is going to want to look at the tape.
Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 32 of 36 shots on goal in the loss, while Eric Schierhorn stopped 28 of 31 for the win. Muskegon went 0-for-5 on the powerplay while Lincoln went 2-for-6.
Lincoln's penalty kill unit has been spectacular the past four games, as they've killed all 25 opponent PP opportunities they've faced.
I don't think the Stars played bad in this game, but I don't think they played great either. I thought Muskegon showed more quickness than Lincoln, and used that team speed to generate a lot of odd-man rushes on offense. Give credit to the 'Jacks for being the more aggressive team for 60 minutes.
The Stars are back on the road next weekend, albeit in the borders of the state of Nebraska. On Friday, the good guys will be in Kearney to face the Tri-City Storm. Saturday night, Lincoln will play their arch rival Omaha Lancers for the first time this season. That game will take place at the Ralston Arena in Ralston, NE.