RALSTON, Neb. - The Lincoln Stars (4-1-0) extended their winning streak to four games with a 6-1 shellacking of the Omaha Lancers (2-3-1) on Saturday night at Ralston Arena. Josh Groll notched his first USHL hat trick and Ryan McInchak stopped 32 shots in the victory.
The two teams were under 40 seconds away from heading into the first period intermission scoreless, but Lincoln’s depth scoring took center stage. Jordan Power drove to the right circle and fired a backhand on goal, Lancers goaltender Akira Schmid kicked it out to the left circle and Ty Glover fired home the rebound with 33.9 seconds left in the first set of 20 minutes. It was Glover’s first career goal in the USHL.
Glover’s spotlight lasted all but 21 seconds thanks to Owen Michaels’ goal after Zach Urdahl fed him the puck from behind the goal. Michaels beat Schmid over the right shoulder … for his first career USHL goal. Shots were 10-7 after the first period with Lincoln leading 2-0.
The second period was reminiscent of the first in that there was no scoring through the first 19 minutes. While on the power play, the top line of Christian Sarlo, Travis Treloar and Josh Groll went to work. Groll picked up a pass from the high slot after some good work from Sarlo and launched a laser beam under the crossbar. The fourth goal for the San Diego, California native came with 53 seconds left in the middle frame. After 40 minutes, the score was 3-0 Lincoln, but the Lancers outshot the Stars 22-21. Ryan McInchak was perfect, making 15 saves in the second period.
Omaha broke through on the power play 11:36 into the third period after Cole Kodsi deflected a shot from Hunter Carrick past McInchak. The Lancers also pulled their goalie before the goal, so it was a 6-on-4 advantage. After offsetting minors were assessed to Brock Bremer and Brent Silver less than a minute later, Lancers head coach David Wilkie decided to gamble again by pulling Schmid for the extra attacker during the 4-on-4. Lincoln failed to score, but a neutral zone faceoff forced Schmid back onto the ice, but the Swiss goaltender remained at his own blue line.
Matt Miller took control after a brief possession by Omaha and charged out of the defensive zone, springing Groll for a breakaway while Schmid tried to backpedal back to his crease. Groll finished off the play with a beautiful backhand-forehand move for his second goal of the game to make it 4-1 with 5:58 left in the third.
The Stars found themselves on the power play a little over two minutes later and No. 25 ended up with the puck once again. Power slid the puck across the right point to the left and Groll beat Schmid through the five-hole for his first USHL hat trick. Through five games this season, Groll has six goals and four assists. The University of Michigan commit scored nine goals in 53 games last year with the Chicago Steel.
Zach Urdahl capped off the night with an empty-net tally for his first goal of the season. While a quick glance at the score may indicate the offense stole the show, Ryan McInchak made several show-stopping saves. His best of the night came on Alex Campbell during a Lancer’s power play in the third period. Campbell ripped a shot from the right circle after a pass from the goal line, but the Trenton, Michigan native lashed out his glove to deny him.
McInchak made 32 saves in the victory, improving his record to 2-0 on the season with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.
The Stars will try and extend their winning streak to five games on Thursday night against the Buccaneers in Des Moines. You can watch the game on HockeyTV or listen for free on Mixlr. Lincoln is home next Friday (October 18th) for a two-game series against the Youngstown Phantoms. Get tickets here: https://stars.isportstix.com/order/seats/329/38