For the first time in nearly a decade, the Lincoln Stars failed to tally at least three goals in a season opener. They countered with lock-down defense and their second shutout to begin a season in the past three years.
First-year Stars head coach Cody Chupp helped build a winning culture on home ice at Green Bay's Resch Center last season, as the Gamblers posted a league-best 23-5-2 record.
That culture has quickly transitioned to the Ice Box with solid defensive play in a system the Stars have bought into.
"We just needed to finish off (last Friday's season-opening win over Muskegon) doing the little things," said Devlin McCabe, who scored the Stars' lone goal. "Getting the puck out, getting it deep and playing hard."
Despite just the one-goal result, the Stars showed grit on defense. Wyatt Aamodt and others lay their bodies on the ice numerous times in the third period to block shots. That is something the Stars must do to beat the Des Moines Buccaneers, who spoiled Lincoln's postseason chances last season, and celebrated their own at the Ice Box.
"That is what you have to do to win hockey games and especially in tight hockey games," Chupp said. "Those are winning habits and something we preach all the time.
"Late in the game we have to have winning habits. Seeing guys do whatever it takes to get a block in game one of 60, that is a credit to those guys and a credit to our leadership. Getting the blocks, protecting our goalie and getting the puck out, that's leadership."
Lincoln and Des Moines play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Ice Box.