The Lincoln Stars showed why they are the hottest team in the USHL right now. After falling behind 2-0 in the second period, they fought back to claim a 3-2 victory at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
The first period was hard-fought on both sides with the Roughriders defenseman Steve Burgess finding the back of the net with only 9 seconds left in the period to put CR up 1-0 going into the break.
Things got a little goofy in the second period. The Riders opened the scoring on a beautiful cross-ice pass from Joey Gasparini to Shawn Vinz who took it the length of the ice, switched it over from right to left and shot it off of Lincoln goalie Nate Ziegelmann’s right pad. The rebound went straight to hard-charging Chase Watson who scooped it into the empty net for a 2-0 Cedar Rapids lead. The Stars answered with one of the strangest goals ever. Chad Hontvet tried centering a pass to John Snowden while on a power play. The puck hit Snowden in the helmet bounced over Rider goalie Bobby Goepfert and into the net to bring Lincoln within one at 2-1. Goepfert said, “It’s a game of bounces and we didn’t get many tonight, I never saw the puck hit him (Snowden) and go over me.” Towards the end of the second it resembled a football game more then hockey. Riders Winger Nate Meyers took the puck and drove right through Ziegelmann with a take out block that would make any fullback jealous. With Ziegelmann pinned down in the back of the net the Stars piled on Meyers when the other CR winger Kevin Brooks went in to even up the odds a little. Brooks was hit with a match penalty for pulling hair in the pile and thus was ejected.
The third period was all Lincoln. While still on a power play for the Brooks penalty, Lincoln took a tripping call to make it a four on four. Just 15 seconds later Stars defenseman Ryan Swanson let loose a blast from just over the blue line that beat Goepfert low to the stickside to tie it up at 2-2. Lincoln wasn’t done yet though, Winger Gino Guyer got a bounce off the end boards and put away the rebound to break the tie and give Lincoln its first lead of the night with only 1:04 remaining. With Goepfert pulled for an extra attacker Lincoln once again took a penalty giving the Riders a 6 on 4 advantage but the Riders couldn’t get anything going as time expired.
The win was Lincoln’s 16 straight victory and making them the team no one wants to face in the playoffs. The loss also drops Cedar Rapids out of first place in the east, one point behind Green Bay. In the young history of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders this sets up arguably the best hockey game to this date.“This arena has been up for 27 months now and we are in position to win our first division title and that’s pretty exciting.” Coach Mark Carlson said after the defeat. Defenseman Steve Burgess said, “We knew we were going to have to beat Green Bay anyway. We’re gonna come out loose and have fun and leave our hearts on the ice because there is nothing to save it for now.”