Kearney, Neb. — The Lincoln Stars opened up the 2019-20 preseason against a familiar foe in the Tri-City Storm on Saturday night at the Viaero Center.
With plenty of new faces fighting for spots, the action started early and often for both teams. The Stars drew first blood 8:57 into the opening frame with a goal from center Brayden Nicholetts. The Spruce Grove, AB native deflected a shot from defenseman Dalton Norris that fooled Storm goaltender Noah Giesbrecht.
Less than three minutes later, the Storm were able to strike back on the power play shortly after Stars forward Ty Glover went to the box for cross-checking. Center Cody Sherman knotted things up at one goal apiece, but the Storm weren’t done yet. After a shot from defenseman Nicholas Donato careened off the end boards, right wing Nick Capone beat Stars goaltender Shamil Shmakov to a loose puck for a 2-1 Storm lead.
With all the momentum on Tri-City’s side after two quick goals, an innocent shot from the right point from Stars forward Ty Glover eluded Giesbrecht 46 seconds after Capone’s tally. The Stars were outshot 16-14 by the Storm in the first period.
The second period emulated the first as the Storm and the Stars traded goals several times once again. Sherman’s second goal of the night came at 4:07, while Norris joined the party at 6:24 with a tight-angle drive that squeaked through Giesbrecht. John Lundy’s shot from the right circle at 10:27 trickled off the glove of Shmakov and in for a 4-3 Storm lead, which chased the Russian netminder. Jacob Mucitelli entered the game in his place; Shmakov allowed four goals on 24 shots. Christophe Fillion answered back for the Stars under four minutes later after an impressive individual rush from Josh Groll to tie the game at four.
The offensive outburst didn’t stop there, however, as Andruis Kulbis-Marino maneuvered around a defender and sniped one past Mucitelli for a 5-4 Storm lead with 4:42 left in the second period. Tri-City registered 18 shots in the middle frame while Lincoln had eleven.
In the third period, the goaltenders took center stage as Giesbrecht and Mucitelli made big-time stops. Ross Mitton dropped the gloves with Nick Capone at 6:41 of the final frame of regulation, but the Stars were unable to capitalize off of the momentum. Tri-City’s Carter Mazur added an empty-net goal, sealing the victory for the Storm. Lincoln was outshot 18-7 in the third period and 44-32 in the game. Mucitelli made 18 of 19 saves in relief. In terms of special teams, the Stars were 0-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Lincoln is back in action against the Storm next Saturday (September 14th) in Omaha at Ralston Arena in the I-80 Showcase.