SIOUX CITY -- Saturday's not the only night for fighting.
Two fights and another near brawl occurred in a span of 67 seconds midway through the second period as the Sioux City Musketeers and Lincoln Stars resumed their bitter rivalry Friday night at the Tyson Events Center.
Six penalties were also called with three minutes left in the third period on a heated exchange near the Musketeers goal.
Fighting with Omaha for first place in the United States Hockey League's Western Conference race, rough-and-tumble Lincoln erased a 2-0 first-period deficit while rallying for a 4-2 victory in front of 1,891 booing fans at the Tyson Events Center.
Lincoln (31-15-4) took a 3-2 lead on a controversial Logan Smith goal at the 12:04 mark of the second period, fueling a fight 12 seconds later. In the third period, the Stars' Zach Aston-Reese, one of the three Lincoln players involved in the second-period melee, flipped rookie Musketeer forward Josh Erickson where no call was made.
Eight seconds later, Aston-Reese assisted on Vinni Lettieri's goal with 11:32 remaining in regulation. Prior to Lettieri's second goal of the season, Sioux City (22-28-1) had outshot the Stars 8-1 in the first 12 minutes of the final period.
"They run over our goalie, blatant goaltender interference for the third goal and they absolutely run Josh Erickson from behind, take him out and three officials on the ice can't see it," remarked Musketeers Coach Brett Larson. "I'll have to take a look at the video.
"Right now, we're stunned with what happened. It was a physical game. We outplayed them in the first period, they outplayed us in the second. And, in the third period, I thought we were taking it to them for the first 10, 12 minutes."
Winners of their last four games, all on the road, the Stars scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the second period. Sioux City, which had won its last two starts, got first-period red-lighters from Cody Marooney and David Goodwin.
Goodwin, who has scored in eight of his last nine games, burned past Smith for a shorthanded goal that gave the Musketeers the two-goal margin.
Twelve seconds after Smith's goal, fists were exchanged between two of the league's more physical defensemen, the Musketeers' Alexander Kuqali (6-2, 220) and Lincoln rookie Mike McKee (6-4, 230). At about the same time, Aston-Reese provoked Musketeers' goaltender Matt Skoff, which sent the USHL's defensive player of the week, Michael Holland, to the charge.
Aston-Reese was charged with cross-checking while Holland went to the penalty box on a roughing call. A short time later, Erickson and Lincoln's Brad Hawkinson fought near the Lincoln penalty box.
Late in the second period, Lincoln's Brent Tate was assessed a holding penalty when he and defenseman Cliff Watson jawed at each other near the Sioux City pipes.
Tate, who grabbed the jersey of defenseman Dan Molenaar with 26 seconds remaining before the second intermission, also had cross words with a pair of teenage Musketeer fans (after the holding penalty). One fan was pounding on the penalty-box glass, action which prompted two Sioux City policemen to talk briefly with the pair.
Sioux City (45 points) remains in fifth place in the Western Conference, but Tri-City (22-29, 44 points) moved into a sixth-place tie with idle Des Moines after a 5-1 win over Fargo. The Musketeers will host Sioux Falls (14-30-5) tonight.
"Our guys showed character, they showed a lot of heart and, they battled hard," said Larson. "It's a 60-game season. Stunned and as disappointed as we are right now, the only thing we can focus on is to come out with our best effort tomorrow night so we can salvage the weekend."
Lincoln 4, Sioux City 2
First period: 1, Sioux City - Cody Marooney (Josh Erickson), 6:47. 2, Sioux City - David Goodwin (Alexander Kuqali), shorthanded, 17:26. Penalties: Kuqali, SC, tripping, 8:40; Holland, SC, roughing, 10:21; Suter, L, hooking, 13:41; Marooney, SC, tripping, 16:20.
Second period: 3, Lincoln - Bob Kinne (Will Suter, Brandon Carlson), 7:11. 4, Lincoln - Kevin Roy (Matt Friese), 8:12. 5, Lincoln - Logan Smith (Roy, Jared Hanson), 12:04. Penalties: Roy, L, too many men bench minor, :59; McKee, L, fighting major, 12:16; Kuqali, SC, fighting major, 12:16; Aston-Reese, L, cross checking, 12:16; Holland, SC, roughing, 12:16; Hawkinson, L, fighting major, 13:23; Erickson, SC, fighting major, 13:23; Tate, L, holding, 17:17.
Third period: 6, Lincoln - Vinny Lettieri (Zach Aston-Reese, Brad Hawkinson), 8:28. Penalties: McKee, L, checking from behind, 5:38; Lettieri, L, unsportsmanlike conduct misconduct, 15:51; Aston-Reese, L, roughing, 16:19; Friese, L, delay of game, 16:19; LaDue, L, roughing, 16:19; Gaudreault, SC, grabbing facemask major, 16:19; Gaudreault, SC, grabbing facemask major misconduct, 16:19; Skoff, SC, roughing, 16:19.
Score by periods:
Lincoln 0 3 1 -- 4
Sioux City 2 0 0 -- 2
Shots on goal:
Lincoln 10 14 10 -- 34
Sioux City 8 9 9 -- 26
Power play: Lincoln 0 for 3, Sioux City 0 for 6.
Goaltenders: Charles Williams, Lincoln 26 shots, 24 saves; Matt Skoff, Sioux City, 34 shots, 30 saves.
Referee: Patrick Turcotte. Linesmen: Ryan Madsen, Scott Zingerman.