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Ziegelmann and Lamoureux


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BYMARKDEROWITSCH / Lincoln Journal Star

Two goaltenders are almost never better than one, especially in the stressful arena of playoff hockey.

Quick, name an NHL Stanley Cup winner in the last 20 years that alternated goalies game after game. How about on the college level?

Even in the Tier I United States Hockey League, employing a platoon system between the pipes rarely produces a championship.

The USHLClark Cup champion generally rides the back of one goaltender throughout the playoffs.

But the Lincoln Stars believe they can buck the trend. Coach Steve Johnson has split time between Philippe Lamoureux and Nate Ziegelmann, and has no plans to change the rotation for the time being.

The Stars aren't too worried about it, either, despite what history says on the matter. Actually, for the Stars, two goalies are much better than one.

"Maybe we'll be the first to win it with two," Ziegelmann said. "I think we can. We have the talent to do it."

Johnson would like nothing more than to take out his lineup card and pencil in the same goaltender as the starter night after night. That's what he did when the Stars won their first, and only, Clark Cup, back in 1997. That season, Jason Braun started 14 straight playoff games, winning 12, to lift the Stars to the USHLchampionship as an expansion team.

The situation this year is different. Much different, actually.

Lamoureux and Ziegelmann, who both grew up in Grand Forks, N.D., played equally well during a first-round sweep of Tri-City. Ziegelmann worked games one and three, sandwiched around Lamoureux's only start.

They effectively split time during the final months of the regular season, too, and that worked out pretty well. Lincoln won the Anderson Cup, finishing with the league's best record (37-14-9), to earn home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

Lamoureux finished with 22 wins and a 2.17 goals-against average; Ziegelmann had 15 wins and a 2.58 average.

"It hasn't been tough to pick one," Johnson said. "We'll keep going like it is until someone steps up. We won't make that decision, they'll make it. They'll make it by playing absolutely fantastic or by dropping the ball a little bit."

Johnson won't name a starter for the opening game of the semifinal round against Cedar Rapids, which will be played Friday at the Ice Box. It's Lamoureux's turn, and the conventional wisdom is that he'll get the nod.

Ziegelmann blanked Tri-City 6-0 to wrap up the first round, and his reward could be a seat on the bench.

"As long as the team keeps winning, it really doesn't matter who plays," Lamoureux said.

Ziegelmann knew coming into the season he'd have to fight for every second of ice time. When the Stars opened camp, there were three goaltenders on the roster:Lamoureux, Ziegelmann and Ross Cherry.

Lamoureux and Cherry were given new leg pads in matching Stars colors. Ziegelmann was handed the same ones he wore the previous season.

Johnson discussed sending Ziegelmann to either Tri-City or Waterloo, two teams searching for a top-end goaltender. Ziegelmann wanted to stay.

Even if it meant less playing time.

"You look at the guys we have here, and you could tell this team had a chance to do something special," Ziegelmann said. "I wanted to be a part of it."

Cherry was eventually traded, and Ziegelmann settled into his battle with Lamoureux.

Despite the fierce competition between them, the goalies support each other off the ice.

As the Stars mobbed Ziegelmann after blanking Tri-City, Lamoureux skated onto the ice to pick up the puck. He then handed it to Ziegelmann.

"We have a mutual respect for each other," Lamoureux said. "We both deserve to play more."

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