Stars Grab Point, Fall in Shootout in Sioux Falls
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The Lincoln Stars (10-4-1-1) picked up a point, but fell 3-2 in the shootout against the Sioux Falls Stampede at Denny Sanford Premier Center on Friday night.
Lincoln was flat to begin the opening frame and Sioux Falls took advantage, striking at 8:24. Blake Humphrey's shot from the slot solved a screened Kaidan Mbereko, giving the Stampede a 1-0 lead. Dalton Norris tied the game at one goal apiece with his sixth goal of the season at 18:00. Noah Laba established offensive zone possession on a Stars power play and dropped it to Luke Johnson, who lost the handle of the puck as it drifted along the blue line.
Jo Lemay rescued the puck, drove down the left wing and looked for Johnson in the slot area to set up a play. However, Johnson never got the pass, but Norris did at the right circle. The Stars captain's shot eluded the left arm of Isak Posch as Norris racked up his fifth power-play goal of 2021-22. Norris leads all USHL defensemen in PPGs; he's one behind the overall lead, held by three USHL forwards.
After one period, the Stars and Stampede were tied 1-1 with both teams firing seven shots on goal.
In the middle frame, Lincoln continued their sluggish play, leading to several odd-man rushes for the Stampede. Mbereko came up with an unbelievable glove save on Maddox Fleming, robbing the forward under five minutes into the frame with a glove save on a partial 2-on-0.
Shortly after Mbereko's theatrics, Cal Thomas' shot from the deep slot was re-directed by a Stars player into the net, re-establishing the Stampede's one-goal lead. The goal came at 5:16. The Stars only mustered four shots on goal in the second period and went into the intermission down 2-1.
The third period was more of the same, but Lincoln started to push back with offensive zone retrievals and forechecks. Luc Laylin drew a minor penalty on Jack Reimann for roughing with under six minutes to play in regulation, sending the Stars on a crucial man-advantage.
Johnson scored 12 seconds into the power play, knotting the game up at two. The play was set up by three players up top on Lincoln's PP group: Mason Marcellus, Lemay and Norris. The three exchanged quick passes until Norris hit Johnson in the slot, who drove the net and beat Posch for his team-leading sixth goal of the year (tied with Norris). Johnson's goal at 14:49 helped force overtime, despite Lincoln's poor play in the early going.
Mbereko made nine saves in overtime, keeping the Stars in the game despite a 4-on-3 power play for two minutes in the extra frame. Marcellus almost ended the game with a one-handed poke following a pass from Norris, but Posch made a save with his right toe.
A shootout was required, but Marcellus, Lucas Wahlin and Lemay failed to score. Garrett Pinoniemi scored the lone goal as the Stampede secured the extra point.
Mbereko made 28 saves in the loss while Norris, Lemay and Johnson all ended up with multi-point nights. Lincoln will travel to Omaha tomorrow night for a 6:05 p.m. puck drop at Ralston Arena.
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