By Richard Roeder
Ryan Potulny scored 25 seconds into overtime to lift the Lincoln Stars to a 3-2 win and a 1 game to 0 lead in the Clark Cup playoffs. It may not have been pretty, but it was pretty important. Potulny’s shot went off a stick and trickled across the goal line during the first shift of the overtime period. The USHL regular season goal leader is known for flashy moves and pretty goals, but no apologies will be given. They all count the same, and the game winner highlights the fact he is willing to grind out a goal or two to help the Stars achieve the ultimate goal, a league championship.
For the first two periods, the game belonged to the goaltenders. Both River City’s Dominic Vicari and Lincoln’s Nate Ziegelmann made several scrambling saves and left both offenses shaking their heads after good scoring chances were for naught.
After two scoreless periods of hockey, Lincoln’s Matt Hayek lasered home a rebound of a Potulny shot at 6:09 of the third to scratch the scorecard first. Lincoln then extended the lead to 2-0 on a Jeff McFarland goal, off a beautiful pass from defenseman Ethan Graham. But give River City credit, they never backed down. Taylor Jindra finally got one by Zieglemann with 7:00 left, and Mike Howe evened it up with a power play goal approximately two minutes later. The last five minutes was what playoff hockey is all about. Both teams had good chances, and left fans from both teams on the edge of their seats until the end of regulation.
If the rest of the series is played at the level of Game 1, hang on to your hats. Lincoln out shot the Lancers 39-33 officially, but both teams worked hard and neither team dominated play. Lincoln needs to continue to be patient against the strong Lancer defense, and the Lancers will continue to limit Lincoln’s speed by clogging up the neutral zone. The Stars would love to get 40 shots off against Vicari each game. The Lancers would love to continue limit goals to the 2-3 per team range per game. In short, both teams stuck to their game plans, were generally successful, and it made for a very good game 1. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday, April 25th at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA.
Richard’s three Stars
1st Star Ryan Potulny (LIN)
2nd Star (tie) Dominic Vicari (RC)
2nd Star (tie) Nate Zieglemann (LIN)