The bad luck has to change at some point, right?
Not even a sellout crowd of 4,350 fans at the Ice Box could help the Lincoln Stars in a 5-3 loss Saturday to the Omaha Lancers. It was Lincoln's first sellout of the season.
The Stars forced the Lancers to pull starting-goaltender Jon Mor, before Akira Schmid came into relief and held the Stars scoreless for the final 21 minutes, 9 seconds of play, and two empty-net goals sealed the Stars' loss. It's the fourth time this season the Stars have chased a starting goalie from the net and has come out with a loss.
Lincoln's own netminder, Jacob Mucitelli, played strong but even he had his own string of bad luck.
Omaha's Daniel Hilsendager scored his first of the season with a puck that had eyes from the Lincoln red line to give the Lancers a 1-0 lead. It was the second consecutive game the Stars have allowed a Lancers first goal of the season. Rhett Pitlick scored his first of the season in his first USHL game Friday in the Lancer's 2-1 victory over Lincoln at Ralston Arena. Mucitelli finished with 28 saves in a solid effort.
“It's just one of those things,” Stars' head coach Cody Chupp said. “95 times out of 100 (Mucitelli) is going to make those saves and the one from the goal line 99 times out of 100 he's going to make the save.
“I feel bad for him and I feel bad for our guys, because two nights in a row we put good efforts together. Were we perfect? No. Our puck play has to continue to improve and our puck IQ is the biggest thing there. When were simple and quick in transition and we get to go play in the offensive zone good things happen for us.”
The bad bounces fell hard on the offensive side as twice Mor came away unscathed in crucial parts of the game. A Hunter Skinner slap shot from the offensive blue line drew iron, and a wide open net for Steven Agriogianis broke Mor's stick and stayed out as the 6-foot-2 netminder dove back across the crease.
“I thought we did a lot of things right through the majority of the game,” Chupp said. “They had a good push in the third (period) playing with that (3-2) lead. We came out and were able sustain some really good chances in the first period and we missed the net on some chances.
“When momentum is going your way and you are sustaining chances and creating pressure for yourself, the (Hilsendager) goal that went in is a heart breaker.”
Both teams combined for five goals in the second period as Lincoln's bright spot of the game put them right back into it.
Trailing 3-1 in the second, Michael Colella netted a Lincoln power-play goal to cut the lead to 3-2. The Lancers had previously stopped 30-of-31 opponent power-play chances, including the Stars first of the game. Lincoln went 1-for-3 on the power play, but failed to capitalize on a 6-on-4 man advantage in the third as the Lancers scored their second empty-netter Saturday.
Lincoln looks to regroup with the Team USA U18's coming to the Ice Box Friday and Saturday.