The Lincoln Stars began the season at the Ice Box with a shutout, and Derek Schaedig earned his first USHL shutout in Lincoln's home finale to the regular season with a 32-save performance in a 2-0 victory over Tri-City on Saturday.
Tomas Vomaka also recorded a 32-save shutout in the Stars' season opener Oct. 6 at the Ice Box, a 1-0 victory over Muskegon.
“It's really surreal — Tomas has been supporting me all year long,” Schaedig said. “It's still kind of crazy.”
Not only did Schaedig blank the Storm, he did so against former teammate and counterpart Jake Barczewski. Both played for the North American Hockey League's Janesville Jets last season.
“At this point there are only so many games left, and I'm just trying to enjoy every one,” the Chelsea, Michigan, native said.
It was Schaedig's first start in net since March 17, a 2-1 overtime win over Des Moines, as the goaltender picked up his fourth consecutive victory.
Josiah Slavin gave Schaedig an early lead to work with in the first period, slipping the puck past Barczewski 8 minutes, 31 seconds into the opening frame.
From there the game turned gritty, chippy and defensive as neither team was able to get past the opposing goalie. Ashton Calder finally gave the Stars breathing room with his 13th goal of the season midway through the third period.
A total of 22 penalties were called between both teams, with 18 penalties coming in the final two periods. Even Schaedig and Barczewski were called for minor penalties in the contest. Schaedig was called for tripping after taking out a Storm player battling for a loose puck in the first period, and the Tri-City goaltender was called for roughing in the third frame.
“It's tough to get a flow in a game like that when every time you turn around there is a penalty, coincidental (penalties) or whatever it may be,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “We talk all the time about establishing our 5-on-5 game — establishing our pressure — it's a difficult task in a game where there is a lot of special teams played. Tonight what I think I was most proud of was our groups competed all the way to the end.”
Despite the loss for Tri-City, the Storm clinched the final playoff spot after Sioux City lost in regulation Saturday.
Lincoln travels to Omaha on Friday, before closing out the regular season Saturday against the Storm.
Free parking, all-you-can-eat food and lower ticket prices.
Lincoln Stars owner Ryan Schiff wanted to give fans the best bang for their buck with Saturday's announcement that the team has been promoting for months.
“We came up with an idea a couple months ago as we were looking at our tickets prices,” Schiff said. “Where we are going in the future and what we are trying to accomplish here — we thought a lot about how we can become the best valued priced ticket in Lincoln, and the best value entertainment in Lincoln, really.
“We came up with an idea of all-you-can-eat hockey. It's going to be all-you-can-eat (and) all-you-can-drink-fountain drinks.”
The news also included free parking, $15 ticket prices for mezzanine seating, $20 for the North Zone and $25 for club-level seating. Season ticket holders of 5-, 10- and 15-game packages, and group packages of 10 or more are eligible for the all-you-can-eat dinner items including hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, along with all the fountain drinks the Stars concession stands normally offer.
“The idea is between that, and offering free parking to all of our fans, a family of four can come to our games for 60 bucks and leave their wallet at home. There is literally nothing left to buy.”
The team had to clear numerous hurdles. An agreement was made to get the free parking that helped steer the Stars in the recent announcement. Stars business manger Deb Tremain, senior director of marketing Jessica Framke, and food and beverage manager Mollie Mertens helped Schiff spearhead the idea.
“We think between the hockey that we play, and the excitement in (the Ice Box) and this deal, we are the best value entertainment in Lincoln," said Schiff, who lives in Chicago. “I would challenge anybody to find a place were you can take a family of four to dinner and enjoy your entertainment like you can at the Ice Box.
“We feel like people are going to leave here saying, 'Wow, what an unbelievable value.'”
Fans who purchase a season ticket or renew a current one by May 30 will be entered for five bonus prizes, including being named the Stars season member of the game, an invitation to the Stars "War Room" during the upcoming USHL draft, an all-expense paid VIP experience with the Vegas Golden Knights, being a Stars color commentator for one game and a chance to be invited to the team selection during the 2018 Stars Main Camp.
Saturday's game against Tri-City included the fan bonuses, which will continue through playoff games this season.