SIOUX CITY | Those comeback kids called the Sioux City Musketeers have certainly played exciting hockey over the last two weeks.
Still, it has been since the season-opening 3-2 win over Fargo when the Musketeers scored the game’s first goal. And, it’s also been a long time since the Musketeers allowed four first-period goals.
Coach Luke Strand’s Musketeers scored three second-period power play goals, but it wasn’t enough as the Lincoln Stars posted a 5-3 United States Hockey League win Saturday night at the Tyson Events Center.
“It’s disappointing, obviously with the hole we dug ourselves into,” said Strand, whose 2-5-2 squad for the first time in the last two weeks, didn’t come from behind to tie the game.
“We were patient with the power play and getting back on the scoresheet. Then you have to stay to the process and a plan and we got off to our individual selves. Lincoln played behind us. They played big. They won battles. They won races. We found ways to ignore the hard stuff. When you ignore stuff, that’s what happens with the score.”
Lincoln (4-4), which entered with a four-game losing streak, scored three of its four first-period goals in the final seven minutes before the first intermission, including Devlin McCabe’s power-play goal with 44 seconds left.
Sioux City hadn’t allowed more than two first-period goals in its previous eight games. But, for the first time this season, the Musketeers scored three second-period goals.
Lincoln was whistled for eight second-period penalties. Samuel Salonen’s first goal of the season for the Musketeers came about a minute after University of Wisconsin recruit Cole Krygier was assessed a five-minute major for slashing. The Stars’ Wyatt Aamodt was charged with a five-minute major for tripping and after receiving a game-misconduct call, was ejected.
Keegan Mantaro and Cole Koepke scored back-to-back power play goals about a minute apart with McCabe sitting in the penalty box for Aamodt. Incidentally, Aamodt, who had a goal and an assist in the first period, was a high school teammate of Koepke’s, the two of them part of the 2016 Hermantown squad that won the Minnesota Class A state championship.
Sioux City scored as many power play goals in the second period than it had in its previous eight games. Five Musketeers racked up assists on those goals.
“There were good points on the power play,” said Strand. “I like the part about getting pucks through. Different guys got looks at it. But at the same time, we had a power play in the third to maybe even this thing up and we didn’t get it done. In moments of truth, that’s when we have to shine.”
Losing goaltender Ben Kraws (0-2), after struggling in the first period, made 29 straight saves before yielding an Ashton Kalder goal with 1:17 left.
Sioux City has scored just one first-period goal in its last six games. Saturday night’s three goals ties a single-game high for a club that’s tied with Muskegon for last in the USHL with 18 goals.
“We have to be in pursuit of being better every single moment,” said Strand. “You have to earn wins in this league. Tonight, we didn’t earn enough to get a victory.”
The Musketeers will play at Sioux Falls Friday night, then will return to the Tyson Events Center to host Fargo Saturday.