|Blake Christensen trades punches with an Omaha player|
Courtesy of Brandon Anderson Photography
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The loss dropped the Stars back down to last place tie with Waterloo in the USHL western conference with a record of 5-7-2 (12 points).
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I really, really liked the way the Stars started this game. They were buzzing around the Omaha net and put some quality shots on Lancers goaltender Hayden Hawkey. I mentioned this on Twitter, but based on what I saw in the first period, I wouldn't have expected that the Stars would have lost the game 4-1.
Neither team would find the back of the net in the first twenty minutes. Shot totals were 12-7 in favor of Omaha in the first period, but the Stars had to kill a five-minute major for boarding which was whistled on forward Miguel Fidler. Lincoln's PK unit did a great job killing that long major and momentum really seemed to be on their side at that point in the first.
As well as I thought Lincoln played in the first period, for the most part, it was all Omaha the final two periods of this game.
The Lancers scored two in the second, and two in the third period (including an empty-netter). Down 3-0 late in the third period, the Stars spoiled Hawkey's shutout attempt thanks to a powerplay goal by Lincoln forward Ludvig Hoff.
Shots were 27-22 in favor of Omaha in this game. Stars goaltender Cam Hackett stopped 23 of 26 shots in the loss. Omaha goaltender Hayden Hawkey didn't have to work too hard to get the win, stopping 21 of 22 shots.
Lincoln went 1-for-4 on the powerplay while Omaha went 0-for-3. I thought Lincoln's PK unit did a great job in this game, however the PP unit still is a mess. They did get the one goal, but otherwise I thought it looked very disorganized. I haven't seen a lot of improvement in terms of the PP unit so far this season. It flat out looks terrible. The Stars had plenty of PP opportunities in the third period to get back into this game, but many times couldn't even get the puck into the Omaha zone.
I know a lot of Stars fans were upset at the officiating last night, but the Lancers definitely deserved to win this game. They made some adjustments in between the first and second periods and out-muscled the Stars during the last forty minutes. The Lancers were bigger, stronger and wanted it more than Lincoln. From my seat it seemed like the Stars wilted as the game progressed due to Omaha's physical play and intense forecheck. Lincoln had no answer. Omaha simply ground them down.
It certainly doesn't get any easier for the Stars as their next two games are against the top two teams in the USHL right now. This upcoming Wednesday (day before Thanksgiving) at the IceBox, the Stars will host the red-hot Cedar Rapids Roughriders, who have the top record in the USHL at 14-2-0.
Then on Thanksgiving day in Sioux City, the Stars will take on the Musketeers, who are tops in the western conference with a record of 12-4-1. Some tough games ahead, but all games at this point are tough. There are no easy games in the USHL.
Thanks for reading. Go Stars.