|Brandon Smith celebrates after his 2nd period goal|
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
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With the OT loss and the one point, the Stars dropped to 0-2-3 (3 points) on the season and are tied for last place in the western conference with the Des Moines Buccaneers. Sioux Falls improved to 5-2-0 (10 points) and are in a first place tie with the Omaha Lancers, who are 5-0-0.
After Friday night's 5-1 loss to the Waterloo Blackhawks, the Stars had a great opportunity to come out strong and prove they are a better team than what they showed the previous night, and that is exactly what they did in this game.
Although Sioux Falls outscored Lincoln 1-0 in the first period, and outshot them 8-3, I really thought the Stars were the better team 5-on-5. In fact, for the entire game, I thought the Stars were the better team at even-strength. However, much like Friday night, the Stars could not win the special teams war, and that's what would limit them from picking up two points.
Early in the second period, with a 1-0 lead over the Stars, Stampede forward Zeb Knutson scored a PP breakaway goal to put his team up 2-0. Instead of crawling into a shell and letting the first-place Stampede to roll over them, the Stars battled back and took back control of the game with three goals scored in less than three minutes late in the second period.
Stars forward Brandon Smith started the comeback with a powerplay goal at the 16:53 mark of the middle period. A Luke Shiplo shot bounced off the back and right to Smith who was in the right time at the right place to notch his first career USHL goal. A 1:29 after Smith's PP tally, Stars captain John Simonson scored another powerplay goal to knot the game up at 2-2. Simonson leads all Stars in goals with 3 through five games played.
The IceBox was alive with excitement after the Simonson goal, and the fans would make it even louder when Jonathan Desbiens scored with only 23 seconds remaining in the second period to give Lincoln it's first lead of the game at 3-2. Desbiens followed up his own shot on an odd-man rush with a rebound goal, his first of his USHL career.
Stars took the 3-2 lead into the second intermission. Shots were 16-16 through two periods.
In the third, the Stars outshot the Stampede 9-7, and outplayed them for the most part, but Sioux Falls once again took advantage of a powerplay opportunity. At the 7:41 mark of the third, the Stampede scored their third PP goal of the game to tie the score at 3-3.
In the overtime period, Stars forward Jason Stephanik picked up a slashing minor at the :39 second mark, and it only took the Stampede 18 seconds to score with the man advantage and win the game. Tough way to lose this one, but the Stars have to be proud of their effort. They took on a team that most pundits say will win the western conference, and they outplayed them for the most part.
Michael Bitzer stopped 20 of 24 shots on goal in the loss, while Stampede goaltender Art Brey stopped 22 of 25 to get the win.
As mentioned above, the Stampede got the two points tonight because they took care of business with the man advantage. Lincoln did pretty well on the powerplay Saturday night, going 2-for-5, but the Stampede did even better, going 3-for-7. Lincoln's two opponents this weekend, Waterloo and Sioux Falls, went a combined 7-for-16 on the powerplay. That will have to improve if the Stars want to start putting up wins. You can outplay a team 5-on-5, but if you can't stay out of the penalty box, and can't stop the opposing teams' PP, then you aren't going to win too many games.
Lincoln will head out on a long road trip next weekend in search for their first win of the season. On Friday, the Stars will be in Ann Arbor, MI to take on the Team USA U-18 squad. On Saturday, Lincoln will be in Youngstown, OH to battle the Phantoms. Neither team is a pushover, especially the U-18 squad, so the Stars will have their hands full once again.