Friday, September 5, 2014

USHL Atlantic Challenge recap: Lincoln 1, Cedar Rapids 4

Photo courtesy of Brandon Anderson
A four-goal 1st period was all that the Cedar Rapids Roughriders needed to cruise to a 4-1 victory over the Lincoln Stars at the first day of the 2014 USHL Atlantic Challenge.

Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.

I caught the majority of this game on FastHockey, and I'll post some quick thoughts below.  If you watched this game and would like to leave a comment below, please do so.

The first period was very odd.  I thought Lincoln came out and played their best hockey of the game during the first 5-7 minutes after the puck dropped.  They were aggressive with and without the puck, drew a couple of penalties, and did a good job cycling the puck while on the man-advantage.  They just weren't able to generate any quality, sustained chances on offense.

A goofy bounce off the glass behind Stars goaltender Cam Hackett at the 5:43 mark of the first period proved to be the momentum shift the Roughriders needed to take over the game.  CR forward Erik Foley's shot on goal was wide and bounced off the glass and right back in front of the net where Alec Marsh tapped it into the open net.  Despite controlling play up until that point, the Roughriders grabbed the 1-0 lead.

Cedar Rapids added three more goals in a five-minute span later in the first period to put the Stars behind an obstacle they would not be able to overcome.  The Roughriders led 4-0 at the first intermission and led 13-3 in shot on goal as well.

I thought the Stars responded well in the second period and seemed to play with a little more urgency compared to what I saw in the last 10-12 minutes of the first period.  However, there were times when players from both teams over-pursued the puck and got themselves out of position, which led to chanced going the other way.  That's to be expected in the preseason.

The Stars finally got on the scoreboard late in the third period when forward Patrick Polino threw the puck in front of Roughriders goaltender Ben Black and forward Miguel Fidler crashed the net and jammed the puck into the open net.

Shots were 34-22 in favor of Cedar Rapids in this game.  Stars goaltender Cam Hackett, who looked a bit shaky in the first period, played very well in the last forty minutes to stop 30 of the 34 shots he faced.

Lincoln went 0-for-3 on the powerplay, while Cedar Rapids went 1-for-4.  

There's a good reason the Stars did what they could to shedule as many preseason games as possible before the regular season begins on September 26th.  This is an extremely young team adjusting to a new teammates, a new head coach, and a new system.  Remember, it's a marathon not a sprint.  This game will be one of many learning opportunities for this team.

The Stars will be back in action Saturday afternoon at the USHL Atlantic Challenge when they face Team USA U-18 at 2:30pm CST.  You can watch all of the Atlantic Challenge games for free on FastHockey.  


Edit:  Here's a video from Stars photographer Brandon Anderson which includes some quotes from forwards Dominick Sacco, Miguel Fidler, and head coach Chris Hartsberg.

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