After a sluggish start through 20 minutes of play, the Lincoln Stars (2-0) awoke for three second-period goals and an empty netter from Gustaf Westlund in the waning moments of the third for a 4-2 comeback effort against the Des Moines Buccaneers on Friday at the Ice Box.
Clinging to a one-goal lead, the Stars took advantage of the lock-down defense they have showed early in the season.
Keeping the puck from getting deep in the Stars' zone, Westlund was able to get the puck past the Stars' blueline on a Des Moines 6-on-5 advantage and walk the puck into Des Moines' empty net for the 4-2 lead.
The Bucs were ahead 2-0 after 20 minutes, controlling the tempo and slipping two pucks past Lincoln goaltender Tomas Vomacka. Des Moines netted the first of the contest just six minutes in and added the second four minutes later
“We all realized we weren't impressed spotting them two in the first period,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “We did a great job coming out with our first shift in the second period and kind of impose our speed.”
Ashton Colder's first goal of the season just 73 seconds into the second period sparked new life for the Stars. Paul Cotter added his first in his rookie season just 2 minutes later to even the score.
With momentum of their side, Austen Long added the go-ahead goal for the Stars just before the midway point of the period for his 15th career goal and first for the assistant captain in the regular season since being traded from the Chicago Steel.
“We were very direct in our intermission talk. Stick to our game plan and find a way back into this game,” Chupp added.
After matching Des Moines with 10 shots apiece in the first, Lincoln's intensity in the offensive zone picked up with 20 shots while limiting the Bucs to just six. That intensity carried over into the third-period with a 12-6 advantage in shots.
Vomacka stopped 20-of-22 Buccaneers shots, moving him to 2-0 in net.
Lincoln and Des Moines play again Saturday at 7 p.m. on the Bucs home ice.