Monday, February 23, 2015

B³ Weekend Recap: 2/20 & 2/21

Chris Dodero reacts after his goal with 11 seconds remaining on Fri
Courtesy of Brandon Anderson Photography
The Lincoln Stars split a weekend home-and-home series against the Tri-City Storm with a 3-2 overtime shootout win on Friday at the IceBox, followed by a 3-1 loss in Kearney on Saturday.

Lincoln's win on Friday evening snapped a five-game losing streak.

2/20:  Tri-City 2, Lincoln 3 OT Shootout
2/21:  Lincoln 1, Tri-City 3

This recap will be brief.  I ran out of time to do this on Sunday, and I don't have a lot of time tonight to devote to it.  I did not watch the Saturday game, so I will be very, very brief with that recap.  If any of you folks out there watched the Saturday game, or were there in person, please leave a comment below and let me know how the boys looked.

With the split weekend results, the Stars now have a record of 14-24-5 (31 points) and are still in last place in the USHL western conference.  The good news is that Lincoln does not have the worst record in the league right now, as the Green Bay Gamblers occupy that spot with a record of 14-25-5.  Click here to view the current league standings.

Tri-City 2, Lincoln 3 OT Shootout

In what was probably their best overall effort in the last month or two, the Lincoln Stars snapped their five-game losing streak with a dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 OT shootout win over the Tri-City Storm this past Friday night at the IceBox.

I'm hesitant to call this a complete 60-minute effort by the Stars, because there were good stretches of the 1st period in particular that the Storm took control of this game.  However, it was a very strong effort against the hottest team in the USHL, and in the end, the Stars deserved the two points.

The Storm took at 1-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to a solid opening period and a 11-3 shot advantage.

Although they did not score in the second period, I thought the Stars performed very well in a period that lately has been a bit of a nightmare.  Lincoln outshot Tri-City 14-11 and the score remained 1-0 in favor of the Storm heading into the third period.

Just under seven minutes into the third period, Stars forward Ludvig Hoff got Lincoln on the scoreboard thanks to an incredible individual effort.  Hoff got possession of the puck in the neutral zone with a head full of steam before making a shifty move past a Storm defender and unleashing a rocket that beat TC goaltender Jared Rutledge.

The Storm found their legs after the Hoff goal and pressed the Stars hard until they were rewarded with a 2-1 lead at the 9:08 mark of the third period.

It was starting to look like Lincoln might lose their sixth in a row late in the third period with goaltender Cam Hackett pulled for the extra attacker, but forward Chris Dodero was the hero of the day as his goal with only 11 seconds remaining in regulation tied the game at 2-2.  Dodero, who was just re-acquired by Lincoln earlier in the week in the Joe Lappin trade, came up huge with a rebound goal after an intial chance by Biagio Lerario.

After a scoreless five-minute overtime period, this game was decided by shootout.  In the skills competition, the Stars received goals from Ludvig Hoff, Michael Gillespie, and Biagio Lerario (the game winner) while Cam Hackett stopped two of four Tri-City shooters to seal the victory.

Once again, Cam Hackett made all the saves he should have and many he probably shouldn't have to keep Lincoln in this game long enough to tie it up and win it in the shootout.  Hackett stopped 34 of 36 and was rightly named the #1 star of the game.

This was a fun game to watch live.  Tri-City is certainly the real deal, yet the Stars skated with them and played well enough to earn the two points.  We haven't seen a lot of these types of games so far this season at the IceBox, but this particular contest had a playoff feel to it.

Before I wrap this particular recap up, I want to get on my soapbox.  Stars forward Grant Jozefek was on the receiving end of a dirty elbow by Storm defenseman Jalen Schulz in the second period of this game.  If you'd like to see a replay of the hit, click here to view the Vine.  The quality of the video isn't the greatest, but you should be able to see Schulz take four good strides over the Jozefek before initiated contact first with his left elbow directly to Grant's head up against the boards.  Jozefek immediately went down and did not return to the game.  I've heard he is currently suffering from concussion-type symptoms.

This is exactly the kind of play the USHL is trying to remove from the game (as they should), but for some reason Schulz was only given a one-game suspension, which was basically an automatic suspension because Schulz picked up a game misconduct on the play (along with a five minute major for head contact).  The USHL will never clean up dirty, high hits like this without throwing the book at players like Schulz when they headhunt.

The lack of action by the league will also throw more fuel on the fire the next time these two teams meet.  I guarantee you that Jozefek's teammates will remember this hit the next time they play the Storm.  They'll be further upset because Schulz received a slap on the wrist.  The officials on the play agreed it was a dirty, unnecessary hit....why didn't the league?  Very, very disappointing.  This is the kind of shit that makes me want to stop following junior hockey and stick with college/pro.  Those leagues take it seriously.  It's obvious to me that USHL does not.  End rant.

Lincoln 1, Tri-City 3

As I stated above, I wasn't able to catch this game live nor have I watched the replay.  Based on the boxscore, it was another ugly second period that helped Tri-City overcome a 0-1 hole and score two goals to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.  The Storm added one more in the third to complete the scoring.

After putting a total of 8 shots on goal in the opening twenty minutes, the Stars combined for only 8 shots in the final forty minutes.

Cam Hackett stopped 36 of 39 in the loss.  I'm not sure what else you can ask from this kid.  I'd hate to think of where the Stars would be this season without Cam.  It's already not very pretty.  Without him, it would be plain ugly.

Would love to hear from those who caught this game on FASTHockey, or in person.  Please leave a comment below.

The Stars will be back in action this Wednesday with a midweek game against the top team in the West, the Sioux City Musketeers.  I'll post a quick preview article tomorrow about this game.

Later this weekend, the Stars will go on the road for a tilt against the Bucs in Des Moines, IA on Friday, then back at the IceBox on Saturday against the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Thanks for reading.  Go Stars.


Anonymous said...

Schultz should have received ten games.

Anonymous said...

Thought the team gave great effort all weekend. The Strom are a first place team with the best PP in the league. Guys up and down the line-up gave the best they could, Goaltending was exceptional.

Anonymous said...

No timetable for Jozefek's return yet. One eye almost swollen shut and still no feeling in portion of facial area. Facial X-ray results from earlier today pending. Sadly his attacker gets off unscathed. What a surprise, Schultz, who played Sunday, gets accessed a boarding penalty 2:26 into 1st period?

Anonymous said...

Tri-City ( The new Omaha)

Anonymous said...

Tri-City will continue to be Tri-City as long as they have one banner hanging inside their rink. No comparison to Omaha.

nutz4puckz said...

That's not great news for Grant. Hopefully he heals up and can be back out on the ice soon. Hate seeing any of these guys hurt and even more so on hits that are just so blatant and dirty. Just when you think they are getting that out of the league the league comes with a slap on the wrist. You'd have to figure that same hit in the NHL or college would get you at least 4 games.