|Stars mob David Parrottino after his shootout game winner|
Courtesy of Shooting Star Photos
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The win and the two points improved Lincoln's record to 6-13-5 (17 points), and they are in seventh place in the USHL western conference.
Click here to view the current USHL standings.
First of all, if you missed this game, you missed one heck of a battle between two quality hockey teams. It played out much like a playoff game. The atmosphere tonight at the IceBox was incredible.
I thought the Stars played very, very well in the first twenty minutes and looked to be more hungry than the Lancers. Omaha seemed to start a little slow, and it wasn't until the second period before they woke up.
Lincoln used their strong play in the first period to take a commanding 2-0 lead thanks to even-strength goals from Brandon Smith and John Simonson. Smith's goal, which came at the 12:50 mark of the first, was a great effort to grab a rebound in the slot before shooting past Lancers goaltender Cole Bruns. Simonson's goal, scored at the 17:25 mark, came on a beautiful 2-on-1 odd man rush with Magnus Hoff.
It was looking like the Stars would take the 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but Omaha native Gage Hough scored an even-strength goal with only 50 seconds remaining in the first period to pull the Lancers to within one goal.
After twenty minutes, the Stars led 2-1 over the Lancers. Lincoln outshot Omaha 12-10 in the first period.
In the second, the Lancers picked up the pace and outscored Lincoln 1-0 in the period. Omaha forward Luca Frigo scored a powerplay goal at the 11:47 mark of the second period to complete the scoring in regulation. Lincoln outshot Omaha 13-10 in the middle stanza.
Both teams really played it safe in the third period, and shots on goal were few and far between compared to the first two periods. Both teams had key penalty kills in the third period to keep the game tied up at 2-2. Shots were 9-3 in favor of Omaha in the third.
The Lancers and Stars put up two shots on goal a piece in the five-minute, four-on-four overtime period, but the puck stayed out of both nets.
In the shootout, after the first three shooters for each squad failed to capitalize, Luca Frigo scored for Omaha in the fourth round. Frigo's goal forced the next Lincoln shooter to score, or it would be all over. Stars forward Magnus Hoff calmly skated down and scored on Cole Bruns in the fourth round to force a fifth. Without Hoff's clutch shootout goal, this is a 3-2 Omaha win.
And in the fifth and deciding round of the shootout, after a big Michael Bitzer save on Lancers defenseman Steven Johnson, Stars forward David Parrottino scored the game-winner to send the IceBox into hysterics. From my seat, it looked like Parrottino went five-hole on Bruns, but he may have slipped the puck under his arm. I will post a video at the end of this article which has the entire shootout.
Stars goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 29 of 31, including 4 of 5 Omaha shooters in the shootout. He was named the #1 star of the game, deservedly so.
Omaha went 1-for-4 on the powerplay while the Stars went 0-for-6.
Big, big win going into the holiday break for the Lincoln Stars. This should provide a huge boost of confidence. The season hasn't gone like they've wanted, but this win should give the team some much needed momentum heading into the two-week break. There's still a lot of the season yet to be played. Keep fighting. Keep battling. Keep grinding.
To all of the players on the Stars, safe travels home. Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.
Here's the video of the shootout, courtesy of my friend Mike B.