Maybe it was a slight case of nerves. Maybe it was having their ultimate goal sitting 10 feet from the ice. Maybe it was the old rope-a-dope. Maybe it was River City’s last burst to get back in the series. For whatever reason, Lincoln weathered the first five minutes of Game 4, emerged unscathed, and went on to dominate the rest of the game to claim the 2003 USHL league championship. Lincoln spent most of the time defending their goal early, including a shot off the post in the first thirty seconds. Then they got rolling.
Danny Irmen potted the first goal of the game in the first period at 16:58. Lincoln got several good chances before Irmen got a good look at plenty of net from the slot and buried the puck. River City’s Drew Miller responded with a shorthanded goal to even the score at 8:29 of the second. Miller’s rebound of his own breakaway shot got up and over Stars goalie Phillippe Lamoureux. Then Lincoln responded with a little shorthanded magic of their own. David Backes stole the puck, raced down the ice, and put one behind Lancer tender Dominic Vicari to give Lincoln the lead for good. Veteran defenseman Ethan Graham added a little breathing room a minute later to give the Stars a 3-1 advantage heading into the third.
Lincoln gave the Lancers a little of their own medicine in the final period. Using the trapping style defense the Lancers have used so effectively, Lincoln was content to send the puck back up to the red line and wait for offensive opportunities. It was rewarded with a goal by Chris Porter, off a nice feed from John Snowden, to make it 4-1 Stars and caused the approximately 1800 Stars fans in attendance to start celebrating early. Stars captain Irmen capped the scoring with an empty netter at 17:21, and the Clark Cup was coming back to Lincoln for the first time since the Stars inaugural season.
Credit should go to the Lancer organization and players. The cup was presented to Lincoln on the ice, with the team looking on after the traditional handshakes were exchanged. The arena then let the Stars skate with the cup for as long as they wished in front of the many Stars fans present. Lincoln fans appreciated the gesture, as they have been waiting a long time to witness it.
The Stars became the first team to win both the USHL regular-season (Anderson Cup) and playoff (Clark Cup) titles in the same season since the Des Moines Buccaneers accomplished it during the 1998-99 season.
HDNET Television produced a broadcast of Game 4. HDNET Television is a business venture of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, with limited viewer access nationwide at this time. The game will re-broadcast at a later date, with details forthcoming. According to the HDNET website, HDNET can be viewed at local Circuit City stores and DJ’s Dugout West in Omaha, as well as Schaefer’s TV and Appliance in Lincoln.
A Clark Cup celebration will be held at the Ice Box on Wednesday, April 30th. Doors will open at 6:30 PM, admission is free. The Clark Cup will be presented at 7:00 PM, followed by autographs and photos on the ice.
Roeder’s Three Stars
1st Star – Phillippe Lamoureux (LIN)
2nd Star – Danny Irmen (LIN)
3rd Star – Ethan Graham (LIN)