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5 Things: Stars Roll Over Stampede

By Lincoln Stars Staff, 10/09/21, 12:15AM CDT



The Stars collected their first win at the Ice Box in 2021-22, dominating the Sioux Falls Stampede 6-1 on Friday night. Here are five things that happened:

1.) A Night of firsts

Luke Johnson introduced himself to the Stars faithful with his first USHL goal at 14:58 of period one, rifling a shot from the left circle past Isak Posch. Johnson scored 15 goals last season with the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League. 
The 19-year-old added another goal in the second period, roofing a shot from a tight angle on the power play to make it 3-0 Stars. Johnson earned the First Star of the Game for his breakout performance. 

2.) Wahlin’s Goal of the Year

Speaking of firsts, Lucas Wahlin’s first goal in his USHL career will be one he’ll never forget. While on the dying seconds of a penalty kill, Aidan Thompson directed a pass down the right-wing side for a streaking Wahlin. The 20-year-old was tripped by Dan Russell but continued to battle despite sliding toward the crease while prone.
Wahlin swiped at the puck with his stick, elevating it over the right arm of Posch, doubling Lincoln’s lead. The former Kenai River Brown Bear sent the Ice Box into a frenzy with his unbelievable individual effort, increasing the Stars’ advantage to 2-0. 

3.) Three-Point Night for Nelson

Henry Nelson scored Lincoln’s fourth goal of the game and registered two assists in the win over the Stampede, giving him five points through four games in 2021-22. Through ten USHL games in his career, the Maple Grove, MN native has seven points from the blue line. 
His physicality was also on display against the Stampede, who repeatedly tried to drive the net to knock Kaidan Mbereko off his game. Nelson and Dalton Norris got in the faces of their opponents all night long and imposed their will at the other end of the ice. The 18-year-old filled the stat sheet by adding five shots on goal and two penalty minutes.

4.) Power Play Strikes Twice

The Stars wanted to see better rotation and fewer “one-and-done” chances as Stars head coach Rocky Russo described it heading into Friday night’s game. Despite a PPG from Jack Silich in the first period of last Friday’s game against Tri-City, Lincoln failed to generate enough opportunities on the power play to give them a chance to win.
Against the Stampede, Lincoln improved in that regard and took advantage of the visitors’ mistakes. Johnson’s power-play goal came after Nelson shot from the point, leading to a rebound from a tight angle.
Gleb Veremyev’s 5-on-3 tally was a prime example of execution, involving both players up top (Norris and Jo Lemay) before the Penn State commit hammered home a rebound for his first goal of the season. Lincoln’s power play is currently operating at 20 percent (4-for-20), ranked fourth in the Western Conference.

5.) Mbereko Bounces Back

While it may not seem that way when checking the final box score, Mbereko’s play was critical to Lincoln’s win. In the first period, the Stampede had a number of high-danger chances, but the Aspen, CO native shut the door. A sequence that stands out was a chance for Sioux Falls leading scorer Garrett Pinoniemi.
Mbereko was down and out with Pinoniemi streaking to the far post, but the goaltender sprawled with the left pad to deny him on the goal line. He made a couple of tremendous stops in the second period as well, turning in a solid performance en route to Lincoln’s win.
The 6th overall pick in the 2021 USHL Entry Draft made 23 saves in his second victory of the season, reinstating the notion he has the potential to be a top goaltender in the USHL.