Lincoln Stars beat Omaha again
By BRENT C. WAGNER / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com | Posted: Friday, January 14, 2011 11:30 pm |
They're learning quickly that you can sometimes forget about the records when Lincoln and Omaha play. And even though Lincoln is last in the conference standings and Omaha is third, Lincoln now has two wins against the Lancers in the past six days.
Ryan Dzingel scored two goals, and the Stars beat Omaha 5-2 on Friday. Lincoln also beat Omaha 4-3 last weekend.
A Stars season that has mostly been highs (a six-game winning streak) and lows (a six-game losing streak) but had little consistency is at another high with a three-game winning streak that's come against the other two Nebraska teams in the United States Hockey League.
This was the fifth of eight games this season between Lincoln and Omaha, and the Stars now lead the season series 3-2.
"It's always a close one with Omaha," Stars rookie forward Andrew Schmit said. "They always play us tough, and no matter where either team is in the standings it's always a close one, and that's what a rivalry is like."
The biggest crowd of the season showed up at the Ice Box, with some of the 4,334 fans having to settle for standing-room-only tickets. The crowd roared when Lincoln killed off all six Omaha power plays, but when it was over, the Stars let the fans do most of the celebrating. The players acted like they expected to win.
"There was a lot of energy in the building tonight and I think our guys fed off that as the game went on," Stars coach Chad Johnson said.
"There is a streak that dates back to February 2009 where we haven't beat them in our building, and there was some rumblings, but our thoughts weren't just on that. Our thoughts were on just taking care of things we can control."
Also unique besides the Stars beating Omaha at the Ice Box was the first period, when neither team scored and there were no penalties. That just doesn't happen much when these teams meet.
"That first period was a little different," Johnson said. "We just faced Omaha, but it seemed like both teams were kind of feeling each other out and nobody wanted to make a mistake; nobody wanted to give up that first goal."
Lincoln got rolling with two goals in the opening five minutes of the second period and led 2-0 after the period. Dzingel scored first when he tipped a shot in front of the net. John McCarron then scored with his trademark slap shot.
The work done to clear a ton of Omaha shots in front of the net in the first period paid off, and with the early second-period outburst, the Stars did what was needed to overcome the Lancers' Kenny Babinski and Seth Ambroz scoring goals three minutes apart early in the third period to trim the Stars' lead to 3-2.
"Both teams had chances in the first period," Schmit said. "We want to capitalize on those chances, but just having chances builds your confidence and we were lucky to get out ahead early in the second period."
The Stars' three third-period goals came from Dzingel, Garrett Peterson and Schmit, with an empty-net goal at the finish. Peterson has 10 goals in 17 games after having offseason surgery.