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Lincoln Stuns Dubuque to Sweep Weekend

December 2, 2023 - United States Hockey League (USHL) - Lincoln Stars News Release


The Lincoln Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit five minutes into the game to defeat the Dubuque Fighting Saints, 7-4, on Saturday night at ImOn Arena.

Lincoln (6-13-0-2) earned its first weekend sweep of the season by scoring at least twice in each period and getting 31 saves in relief from Yan Shostak. Blake Montgomery scored twice and added an assist while Justin Mexico and Juan Copeland both scored their first USHL goals.

A goaltending change 5:17 in after the first media timeout altered the course of the game as the Stars scored seven of the game's final nine goals. Lincoln's penalty kill went 5-for-5 to stymie a Dubuque (14-5-1-2) squad that entered the evening with the most power-play goals and the second-best power-play percentage in the USHL.

"Our confidence in regards to guys not letting the moment get the best of them has really taken a big step," head coach Rocky Russo said. "You're on the road against the no. 1 team in the East and you're in their building. We could have folded up tonight, gotten a split on the weekend and went home and said 'hey, that's not a bad weekend. You lost to the no. 1 team in the East and put up a fight.' The difference is we weren't going to be satisfied with that."

After the Fighting Saints took the early 2-0 lead on two of James Reeder's three goals of the night the Stars answered 2:57 after Reeder's second tally when Keaton Peters one-timed a feed from the far wall by Kai Janviriya for his sixth goal of the season, each of which have come in the last five games. Jack Pechar poked home the rebound of his own initial shot at the 17:53 mark to send the two teams to their locker rooms tied up, 2-2, after 20 minutes.

Mexico gave the Stars their first lead of the game 3:55 into the second, redirecting an Ethan Weber shot from the right point. Mexico and Copeland became the second and third Stars skaters, respectively, to score their first USHL goals this weekend after Martin Masa netted his first on Friday night at Cedar Rapids.

"I think our culture has been better," Mexico said, "in the locker room and on the ice. Every guy is pushing one another to be better and that's kind of the consensus of a good group right there, just bettering everyone on the ice no matter who you are."

The Fighting Saints evened the game up at the 8:47 mark before a frantic stretch nearly six minutes later. The two teams combined to score three goals 1:04 apart late in the second with the first two coming from the Stars in 25 seconds. Copeland scored on a two-on-one rush off a feed from Montgomery before Adam Kleber followed up his own shot for the eventual game-winning goal and his fourth of the season. Reeder sent the hats onto the ice 39 seconds after Kleber's tally but it was the last Fighting Saints goal of the night.

"I think we started out soft," Copeland said. "We were making soft plays. We were kind of playing a skilled game like they do but they didn't want to be hit, they didn't want to be physical and we brought that aspect. They kind of started to shy away and it opened up a lot of ice for us."

Montgomery added insurance on a breakaway goal at the 11:06 thanks to a stretch pass by Ryan Spinale and then scored an empty-net goal 7:43 later to ice the game. The two-goal effort marked Montgomery's second multi-goal game and in each of the four games that he has scored he has recorded multi-point games.

The Stars have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and have taken three of their last four games. Lincoln hosts Fargo this weekend in a rematch of last season's Western Conference Finals. Purchase tickets for all three games for the price of two with a December Weekend Package at lincolnstars.com.


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