The Lincoln Stars' slow start was as frigid as the Ice Box on Friday in a 5-3 losing effort to the Madison Capitols, resulting in Lincoln's fifth-straight loss.
Lincoln has outshot every opponent amid the five-game skid, including Friday as the Stars outshot Madison 36-26.
“Madison was a team willing to work and outwork us,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “They showed up willing to do whatever it took and we didn't.
“As well as we played last weekend, tonight was the opposite of that. I put the blame on myself that we weren't ready or prepared. It wasn't a matter of how we were playing or execution; it was flat-out we weren't willing to work as hard as they were.”
The Stars were able to heat up in the middle half of the first period with back-to-back goals from Casey Dornbach and Collin Peters to knot the score 2-2.
Dornbach's goal was his 10th of the season, giving him 24 points in 24 games.
Collin Peters was able to cash in on his first goal of the season to tie the game 17 minutes, 24 seconds into the first period.
“(Peters) has been working and creating opportunities,” the coach said. “You look at the chances we had, 5-on-5, a lot of our chances were from his line.”
After the Stars held the offensive zone for most of the second and third periods, Madison made quick work of its chances.
The Capitols scored just past the 4-minute mark short-handed and Anthony Callin later gave the Caps a two-goal advantage, working the left boards to beat the Stars defense and slip the puck past Lincoln goalie Tomas Vomacka.
After the Stars knotted the score, Madison responded with a shot from the blue line to give them a 3-2 lead with 58 seconds left in the second.
“They had more guys continue to work then we did,” Chupp said. “Our inability to communicate and our inability to sort in our own zone was a major difference on top of that."
Madison added a goal to take a 4-2 lead before Austen Long gave the Stars hope with 1:02 left in regulation to cut the Caps' lead to 4-3. Madison closed out the scoring with an empty-net tally just 30 seconds later.
“It's the great thing about our game, to put a performance out on the ice like we did tonight, we get another chance at redemption tomorrow,” Chupp said. “For us, it's decision time in our locker room and the conversation we had in the locker room after the game, I'd be very surprised if everyone doesn't show up and be ready to play tomorrow.
“Tomorrow will be very telling about our character.”
Lincoln gets a crack to right the ship Saturday at the Ice Box, hosting the Sioux City Musketeers at 7 p.m.