Tristan Ashbrook scored twice in the first period and Josiah Slavin's empty-net tally with 2 seconds left in regulation helped the Lincoln Stars (20-20-1-1) hold off the Fargo Force 4-2 on Friday at the Ice Box.
Fargo started quick with a goal from Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup 27 seconds into the first period, but it was all Stars after that.
“I thought we were good for stretches and in the third period they had a great push,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “The ability to simplify our game and do things right during that push wasn't very good. It's always better to learn a lesson and get two points.
“For us, that is the lesson tonight. When we start to get a little scrambled and the other team puts a push on; how do we react and do things right with the puck? That was the issue for us tonight.”
With usual first-line center Gustaf Westlund out with a one-game suspension, Chupp stuck Ashbrook on the first line and Ashbrook delivered.
The Manistique, Michigan, native tied the game at the 7:43 mark in the first frame, assisted by Dominick Mersch, and gave Lincoln the go-ahead goal later in the first period.
“(Ashbrook) played very well, and it just wasn't tonight,” Chupp said of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute commit. “There has been a consistent trend in his game, which is why he was in that spot tonight. It's good to have decisions like that to put a guy into that spot and play really well.
“It just gives you more options for lines going forward.”
With Westlund returning for Saturday's game at Waterloo, Chupp said it is unclear what the line charts will look like at this time.
Controlling the tempo, Lincoln countered Fargo's quick first-period tally with Casey Dornbach's 18th of the season just 18 seconds into the second period.
Tomas Vomacka did all he could in the final frame before Schmidt-Svejstrup scored his second of the night on a 6-on-5 advantage with 36 seconds left on the clock.
It was the first game back for Schmidt-Svejstrup in nearly two months returning from injury. In the first matchup, the Stars snapped his 11-game point streak in a 3-0 victory Nov. 17.
Vomacka made 22 saves in the victory as the Stars posted just two shots in the final period, including Slavin's empty-net goal with two seconds remaining.
The Stars hit the road to face Waterloo at 7 p.m. Saturday.