Stars Beat Black Hawks 5-2, Take 1-0 Series Lead
LINCOLN, Neb. - The Lincoln Stars defeated the Waterloo Black Hawks 5-2 Monday night at the Ice Box and secured a 1-0 series lead in Round 1.
Killian Kiecker-Olson scored the first goal of the series 5:24 into the game, ripping a rebound past Emmett Croteau after the initial shot from Jo Lemay. Tanner Ludtke fed the puck to the right point before Lemay snapped a try on goal. Croteau kicked out the rebound but inadvertently sent it right to Kiecker-Olson, who perfectly placed the shot.
Kiecker-Olson scored 20 goals in the regular season. Lucas Wahlin made it 2-0 Stars 9:11 into the first period just after a Lincoln power play expired. Mason Marcellus and Gleb Veremyev were given the helpers. Wahlin, who scored a team-high 31 goals in the regular season, picked the top corner of the net after Marcellus hit him in the slot.
Croteau misread the pass due to the screen by Veremyev in front of him, causing the Black Hawks goaltender to push to the wrong side of the net. Wahlin made no mistake, doubling Lincoln's lead.
Henry Nelson joined the scoring brigade in the first period, cashing in with a shot from the left point that sneaked through Croteau after hitting a Waterloo player on the way through. The goal marked Nelson's first since January 8th and capped off Lincoln's strong first period.
Aidan Thompson notched his first career playoff point with the secondary assist on Nelson's goal. Marcellus received the primary helper, giving him two in Game 1. After one period, the Stars led 3-0 and outshot the Black Hawks 21-9.
In the second period, Garrett Schifsky struck back for the visitors, scoring 64 seconds in to shrink Lincoln's lead to two. However, Marcellus restored the Stars' three-goal cushion on the net shift, sliding a backhander through the five-hole of Croteau on a breakaway.
Marcellus scored eleven seconds after Schifsky, swinging momentum immediately back to the home side. Rookie defenseman Antonio Fernandez was credited with the secondary apple while Thompson collected another assist on Marcellus' goal.
Schifsky would add his second of the period at 15:05 on a 4-on-4, but the Stars kept a 4-2 lead heading into the third.
Kaidan Mbereko took center stage in the final frame of regulation, stopping all nine Waterloo shots that came his way. Mbereko made the save of the game late in the third with Waterloo's net empty, denying Jake Jeannette with a left-pad save for the ages after an extra pass in the slot from Gavin Lindberg.
Wahlin scored an empty-netter right as time expired, wrapping up his stat line with two goals, a plus-three rating and eight shots. Thompson recorded his third assist of the game on the buzzer-beater. Stars captain Dalton Norris also registered an assist.
Lincoln outshot Waterloo 38-32 and killed off all five Black Hawks power plays in Game 1. The Stars failed to score on four man-advantages of their own.
Mbereko stopped 30 shots, locking down the Black Hawks in his return to action after suffering a lower-body injury two weeks ago in Fargo. Croteau finished the night with 33 saves and a loss.
Lincoln took a 1-0 series lead with the 5-2 victory and has the chance to eliminate the Black Hawks with a win in Game 2 on Tuesday night in Lincoln. Puck drop is set for 6:00 p.m. CT.
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