Saturday, December 20, 2014
Click here to view the Pointstreak boxscore.
With the win and the two points, the Lincoln Stars improved to 8-12-3 (19 points) on the season. The Stars are four points ahead of the eighth place Waterloo Blackhawks and six points behind the sixth place Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL western conference. Click here to view the current league standings.
I mentioned this on Twitter last night, but the Stars have 8 wins in 23 games so far this season, and 3 of those 8 wins have come against the top team in the USHL western conference, the Sioux City Musketeers. Hopefully the Stars can bottle the magic they have against the Muskies and use it against the rest of the USHL once they come back from the holiday break.
This was wild and crazy game. I didn't watch it live, but I did catch the replay on FASTHockey. A total of 12 goals were scored, with an even amount of four goals being scored between the two teams in each of the three periods.
In what was their best period of the game I thought, the Stars outscored the Muskies 3-1 in the opening twenty minutes and never relinquished the lead. Lincoln outshot Sioux City 13-10 in the first period.
The Stars got on the scoreboard first thanks to Stars forward Angus Scott, who scored his first career USHL goal at the 6:18 mark. On the play, Lincoln forward Ethen Frank (I'll post more about him later) skated the puck into the SC offensive zone and fired a backhand shot that went wide. The puck rolled around the corner and immediately to a streaking Angus Scott who fired a rocket that beat Muskies goaltender Collin Olson high stick side to give Lincoln an early 1-0 lead.
Less than three minutes after Scott's first goal, the Musketeers scored on the powerplay to knot the game at 1-1. The first three goals scored by Sioux City in this game came on the powerplay. Coming into this game, the Stars had not given up a PP goal in four straight games.
Lincoln bounced back to take a 2-1 lead at the 12:24 mark of the first period thanks to some hard work down low by forward Biagio Lerario. The scoring opportunity started with intense pressure around the Sioux City net initiated by Miguel Fidler. Fidler fired a shot on goal that was stopped by Olson, but in the resulting scramble in front of the net, Fidler skated behind the net and was able to jam the puck free to Lerario who fired it quickly into the open net.
With less than four minutes remaining in the first period, the Stars increased their lead to 3-1 thanks for a powerplay goal by forward Joe Lappin. Grant Jozefek skated the puck into the zone before stomping on the brakes and threading a pass between the circles to a streaking Dominick Sacco. The puck deflected off of Sacco's stick and right to Joe Lappin who one-time a shot high stick side past Olson.
Five minutes into the second period, the Musketeers scored another powerplay goal to pull to within one goal. However, the Stars got the two-goal lead back less than a minute later thanks to a powerplay goal scored by Dominick Sacco. On the play, a shot from just inside the blueline by defenseman Ryan Jones was deflected by Sacco and through the legs of Collin Olson to give Lincoln a 4-2 lead.
After killing a SC penalty in which the Muskies had quite a ton of shots on goal that were saved by Cam Hackett, Angus Scott picked up his second goal of the game to regain a three goal lead over the Muskies. Scott got the play started by doing a great job being aggressive with the forecheck in the Sioux City zone. Scott forced a turnover and the puck eventually found its way to Patrick Polino. Polino fought to get a shot on goal, and the rebound went to Scott who was left unguarded in front of the Muskies' net. Scott quickly tapped the puck into the open net to give Lincoln a 5-2 lead.
Sioux City goaltender Collin Olson was pulled after Scott's second goal in favor of backup netminder Cam Gornet. Olson finished with 12 saves on 17 shots on goal. Incredibly, because Gornet ended up giving up the sixth Lincoln goal, Olson did not pick up the loss.
Sioux City scored their third powerplay goal of the game at the 11:55 mark of the second period to pull to within two goals. The score would stay 5-3 in Lincoln's favor until the end of the second period. Due to a number of penalties against them, the Stars played shorthanded most of the second period. Lincoln goaltender Cam Hackett had to make a number of big saves in the second period to keep the Muskies from getting any closer.
Five minutes into the third period, Sioux City scored an even-strength goal (the only 5-on-5 goal they scored against Lincoln) to pull to within one goal. At the time, the Muskies seemed to have momentum on their side and were really putting a lot of pressure on Cam Hackett.
However, a clutch goal scored by Stars forward Miguel Fidler gave Lincoln a 6-4 lead and pretty much killed all of the momentum the Muskies may have had at the time. The play started in the Muskies' offensive zone with a pass by Joe Lappin to Miguel Fidler who was just outside the Sioux City crease. Fidler fired a forehand shot on net that was saved by Gornet, but the rebound was gobbled up by Fidler who by now was on his knees. Miguel quickly gained possession of the rebound and fired a backhand shot on his knees which got past Gornet. This was a pretty goal, and it would turn out to be the eventual game-winner. Fidler does his best work in the dirty areas around the opposing net. He's a prototype power forward who is very hard to knock off the puck once he has it.
The icing on the cake came late in the third period when Patrick Polino scored an empty-net goal with 1:12 remaining to finish out the scoring for the Stars. Polino was outworked two Sioux City players to get possession of the puck and was mugged on his way down the ice before shooting the puck into the empty net. Terrific individual effort by Polino on the play to make it 7-4 Lincoln.
With less than a minute remaining, Sioux City scored a late, powerplay goal but this game was over after Fidler's tally to make it 6-4. Lincoln wins this one by the score of 7-5.
Shots were 39-21 in favor of Sioux City, but I really have to question their accuracy after watching this game. There's not doubt that Lincoln only had a handful of shots in the second period, but I can guarantee they had more than 4 shots on goal in the third period. Regardless, I'll take shot quality over shot quantity any day of the week. They may not have had a ton of chances in the second and third periods of this game, but the Stars were certainly opportunistic when they had those chances.
I mentioned him above, but Stars forward Ethen Frank ('98) was called up by the team to play in this game. Frank was originally selected by the Lincoln Stars in the 2014 USHL Futures Draft last spring. The Omaha native normally plays for the Omaha AAA U16 team. Through 44 games, Ethen has racked up 92 points (45g, 47a) for the Omaha AAA U16 squad. He's a special talent, no doubt. Ethen has already committed to play college hockey at Western Michigan University starting the fall of 2017. I'm not sure if the call up is permanent or not, but Frank is definitely a player we'll see more of. Although it was his first USHL game, I thought Frank looked very good. He should have picked up an assist or two against the Muskies, but the Sioux City scorekeepers missed it.
Although he gave up five goals, I thought Cam Hackett had a solid game as he stopped 34 of 39 shots on goal. Four of the five goals he gave up were on the powerplay. As I mentioned above, Cam made some big saves in the last two periods of this game to keep the Muskies from creeping back into it.
Lincoln finished the game 2-for-4 on the powerplay, while Sioux City went 4-for-8 with the man advantage.
Overall, a quality road effort against a very good Sioux City team. They should be proud of their effort. Just have to clean up some issues on the PK, but otherwise Lincoln was the better team 5-on-5.
The Stars will take the next week off for the holidays, but they'll be back in action on Saturday, December 27th against the Omaha Lancers. That game will take place at the Ralston Arena in Ralston, NE.
Thanks for reading. Go Stars....and Happy Holidays!
Posted by Yeti at 2:53 PM