The Lincoln Stars are one of the youngest teams in the USHL. That inexperience snowballed into a 5-1 loss to Tri-City on Saturday at the Ice Box.
Tri-City surged to three consecutive power-play goals after Aidan Thompson's opening goal for Lincoln 48 seconds into the game.
The Stars were expecting to see a pushback after handing Tri-City two losses over the past eight days.
“We saw exactly what we thought we were going to see from them,” Lincoln coach and general manager Chris Michael said. “(A) desperate, hungry group that was not too thrilled about their last two previous results against us. They were out to prove a point, and they sure proved a point tonight.”
After Thompson scored his third goal of the season to put Lincoln on the board, the Stars spiraled out of control, allowing Tri-City's first goal 2 minutes, 48 seconds later to knot the score 1-1.
Cole McWard netted the Storm's first of four power-play goals, part of five straight goals over the course of the first and second periods. Lincoln took four penalties in the first period and watched as Tri-City scored with ease on three of the chances. The Storm went 4-for-9 on the man advantage, and held Lincoln to 0-for-7.
“There will be a change in personnel,” Michael said. “It's killing us right now. The power play and the penalty kill. … (Tri-City) didn't do anything that we didn't know that was coming, and that is the frustrating part.
“We showed our age tonight and we are going to have to grow and learn how to get through this. When we are in adversity the message is always the same. The true measure of a man is when adversity is right in front of his face.”
Guy Blessing made his second appearance in net for Lincoln, relieving Ryan Ouellette in net for the final period, and stopped all seven Tri-City shots he faced. Blessing's last time in net came Dec. 5 in a 6-2 Stars' loss at Fargo, North Dakota, when he was pulled after the first period.
“It wasn't from No. 30 in white (Ouellette),” Michael noted. "No. 1, good for him, Guy Blessing. He's had a tough stretch this year to begin, but he is an unbelievable kid and he is working through his adjustment period in our league. I'm really disappointed for our two goaltenders. They were left out to dry (Saturday) by the guys in front of them.”
Blessing made a highlight-reel save, stopping a Tri-City 3-on-1 advantage early in the third period.
“Honestly, I closed my eyes on that,” Blessing said. “I got lucky on that, but when you see something like that it helps you settle down a little bit. I had a bunch of support from my teammates tapping me on the pads, and it was nice to know they were there for me.”
The Stars and Storm return to the Ice Box at 7 p.m. Wednesday.