Two late period goals for the Tri-City Storm left the Lincoln Stars with a sour 3-2 defeat to end the 2017 home finale Thursday at the Ice Box.
Tyler Ward capitalized on a 5-3 advantage to tie the game with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first period after Hunter Johannes gave the Stars a 2-1 lead.
It was the second power-play goal for the Storm, with the first coming off a controversial goal 2 minutes, 2 seconds into the contest after Ronnie Attard's tally looked to be carried into the zone offsides. The goal stood, giving the Storm the early 1-0 lead.
“I thought two teams played really well, but at the end of the day they weren't allowed to decide (the game) amongst players,” Stars' head coach Cody Chupp said. “Two 5-on-3 's (Tri-City advantages) were the difference, and it is frustrating.
“We've had a lot of conversations among our players and league officals, head of officials, about our penalty struggles. I would be the first to place the blame on myself and the players, but after tonight that is not something I am going to do.”
Lincoln answered quickly and looked strong out of the gate after the holiday break, getting a power-play goal from Eero Teravainen 29 seconds after Attard's goal.
After a back-and-forth contest for the next five minutes, Johannes gave Lincoln the 2-1 lead with his first USHL goal.
“It was awesome, I just let it come when it would come,” Johannes said. “I've been trying to work on my physical game and it was good for me to get (a goal) today.”
Tyler Madden gave the Storm the eventual game-winning goal with 31 seconds left in the second period and give the Storm the momentum heading into the third period.
After Lincoln gave up two early power-play goals in the first period, the Stars shut down Tri-City's next six advantages.
“There was a lot of calls, (but) the good thing is we have a good (penalty) kill,” Johannes said. “We also have a good goalie in net, so that really helps us.”
The Stars finish out 2017 with road trips to Waterloo on Friday and Sioux City on Saturday and look to get back on track to start the New Year.
“We have to try and get the points this weekend,” Johannes added. “It's to bad we didn't get them (Thursday), but we have to forget about the game and go get the points that we can.”