The Lincoln Stars began with a piece of history Friday, but ended in defeat, snapping a five-game win streak at the Ice Box.
Yu Sato made the starting lineup as the Japanese national anthem was played before the game, but Tri-City spoiled the night with a 5-3 victory. Lincoln's eight-game point streak also came to an end. Sato is the first Japanese-born player to take the ice for the Stars.
“It was a great moment for the guys on the bench, but it was a great moment for Yu,” said Chris Michael, the Stars head coach and general manager. “I can't say enough about the kid. He's done everything I've asked him to do. All our import players this year, we'll play their national anthem in the final home games of the year as a tribute to them.”
It was not just the national anthem that gave Sato and the Ice Box a jolt. The Saitama native left the penalty box after serving a five-minute major, streaked across the ice on a breakaway and got the puck past Tri-City's Todd Scott to put Lincoln ahead 1-0 early in the first period.
Sato was not the only Star to find the penalty box. Lincoln was called for 15 infractions and 41 penalty minutes, allowing Tri-City to capitalize on three of the Storm's eight power-play chances. Tri-City held Lincoln to 0-for-4 on the power play.
“It was nice to see (Sato) get the goal on that first one after a questionable (penalty),” Michael said.
The Storm scored three of its next four goals on the man advantage, including Cole McWard's tally that tied the game 1-1.
In the second period, the Stars accumulated 18 penalty minutes, including bench-minor warning on Michael that created a 4-on-3 situation. Tri-City's Matthew Knies cashed in on the eventual game-winning goal.
Tri-City added a short-handed goal early in the third before Dominic James and Jake Beaune made things interesting late in the third period with back-to-back Lincoln goals. The Stars also held a 5-on-3 man advantage for 1 minute, 8 seconds with under 4 minutes to play in regulation but failed to capitalize.
The Stars get another crack at Tri-City at 7 p.m. Saturday in Kearney.