The Stars were victorious in their first preseason game of 2021, defeating the Sioux Falls Stampede 4-2 in Sioux City, IA. Here are five things that happened:
Mbereko played the first 33 minutes of Saturday's game, stopping 19 of 20 shots. He dazzled with a series of three consecutive saves during a flurry by Sioux Falls. However, his best stop of the night came around the nine-minute mark of the second period, denying Sammy Harris with a pad save thanks to a left-to-right extension.
Cameron Whitehead took over shortly after and also provided stability while Lincoln held the lead going into the third. The 18-year-old looked positionally sound, utilizing his 6-foot-3 frame to cut down the Stampede's shooting angles. The former Utica Jr. Comet closed out the game, stopping eight of nine shots.
You could argue the biggest hindrance to Lincoln's game in 2020-21 was their lack of success on the power play (8th-best in the West) and the penalty kill (6th-best in the West).
Today, both units were clicking, killing off all five penalties while scoring a pair of power-play goals. We even saw Stars head coach Rocky Russo and his staff implement new personnel schemes in certain situations. While Lincoln was on a 4-on-3 advantage, the Stars sent out three defensemen: Norris, Michael Mastrodomenico and Jo Lemay. Given Lincoln's depth defensively, this will be a subject to keep a close eye on as the season progresses.
Momentum is a funny thing. Some swear it has the capability to flip results in the matter of nanoseconds. Others say it doesn't exist. When the Stampede cut Lincoln's lead to 3-2 61 seconds into the third period, Stars fans were likely seeing flashbacks to blown leads over the past few seasons.
However, the guys on the bench never wavered, quickly answering in the form of Lucas Wahlin's tally at 3:04. Lincoln outshot Sioux Falls 12-9 in the final period, continuously pushing the tempo and not allowing their opponents any easy chances.
When we look back at the 2021-22 season for Lincoln, today's result may just be forgotten as an exhibition win and nothing more. On the flip side, it could be a sign of what's to come.