5 Things: Jurecki, Marcellus Help Stars Sink Bucs
The Lincoln Stars (16-11-1-1) capped off their weekend on the road with a 5-2 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers at Buccaneer Arena on Saturday night. Here are five things that happened:
1.) THOMPSON STARTS IT OFF
Aidan Thompson scored a crucial insurance marker last night in Sioux Falls and he carried that type of effort into Saturday night's game in Des Moines. Following a few big collisions dished out by Gleb Veremyev, Thompson took the puck from the defensive zone and flew down the right wing.
Once he hit the right circle, Thompson snapped a shot by Remington Keopple for his eighth goal of the season. The goal came at 3:18, giving the visitors a tremendous boost of confidence thanks to the fast start.
Thompson picked up two points on Saturday, upping his point total to a team-leading 32.
2.) CAREER NIGHT FOR GRIFF
Griffin Jurecki one-upped Thompson with his eighth of 2021-22 with a rocket less than two minutes later. After a turnover by the Des Moines defense, Jurecki was posted up at the right circle and blistered a shot over the right arm of Koepple. Jurecki's goal at 5:08 was assisted by Mason Marcellus.
In the second period, it would be Marcellus and Jurecki connecting again. Jurecki was sprung on a mini-breakaway in the slot and picked up his ninth goal this season with a decisive release.
Jurecki would add an assist later in the game, marking the first time he's registered three points in a game in his USHL career. He was awarded the No. 1 Star and the Top Dog of the Game presented by The Canine Scrub.
3.) MASON JAR FULL OF ASSISTS
As prefaced above, Marcellus was a menace in the attacking zone. The 19-year-old matched Jurecki with three points (all primary assists) on Saturday. He kept the puck in at the blue line before Jurecki's goal in the opening frame and slid a tremendous pass up the ice around two defenders to set him up for his second.
He capped his night off with another helper, feeding Antonio Fernandez in the third period for his sixth goal of the year.
Marcellus is currently ranked sixth on the Stars in scoring (15 points) in his first USHL campaign. But, as Saturday showed, there's plenty of potential for the Quinnipiac commit to continue to build off of.
4.) KAIDAN RESPONDS
This week, Kaidan Mbereko was listed at No. 19 among North American goaltenders in the NHL Central Scouting's Midterm Rankings. Saturday was his first chance to improve his draft stock even further.
The Colorado College commit answered the bell, making 19 saves to pick up his seventh win of the year. He made two tremendous stops in the third period, one with his goal stick and another with his left pad.
Both plays showcased his athleticism and compete level: two factors that made the Stars front office jump at him when he was available in the first round of the 2021 USHL Entry Draft.
Following Cameron Whitehead's 33-save shutout on Friday, Mbereko turned in an impressive individual effort of his own to solidify Lincoln's two-headed monster in the net. In his last three starts, Mbereko is 2-1 with a goals-against average of 2.33.
5.) THEY DON'T ASK HOW
The cherry on top of Saturday's game came in the last half-minute of regulation when the Bucs pulled their goaltender in an attempt to generate more offense. Thompson brought the puck to the center ice logo, took a hit, but made a pass to a streaking Luke Johnson.
Johnson had a breakaway with the empty net, but unselfishly deferred to Patrick Raftery on his right, who tapped home his first career USHL goal at 19:36.
Raftery, a 10th round pick in the 2020 USHL Futures Draft, potted his team's fifth goal, closing out the sweep for Lincoln on the weekend. The entire Stars bench erupted after the 17-year-old forward scored. You couldn't find a single Stars player without a smile on their face as Raftery went down the line.
It was a fitting end to the game on Saturday which saw the Stars collectively stand up for one another, despite points of conflict and adversity. Lincoln took all four points in their weekend series on the road and will be looking to extend their winning streak to three next Friday.
The Stars host the Waterloo Black Hawks for Crossover Night as ten special guests, including Tom Osborne, will be in attendance! For more information, go to LincolnStars.com/CrossoverNight!
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United States Hockey League Stories from January 16, 2022
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- Storm Set for Road Matchup with Lancers - Tri-City Storm
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