It seemed impossible early for the Lincoln Stars, who faced a 4-0 deficit nearly 12 minutes into the contest.
But Josiah Slavin's two-goal inspiration gave the Stars life before they lost to Des Moines 7-5 Saturday at the Ice Box.
Eero Teravainen cut Des Moines' lead to 6-5 with 3:30 left in regulation with the Stars second power-play goal before the Buccaneers' Brian Halonen iced the victory for Des Moines with a full-ice, empty-net goal with 1:01 remaining.
The Stars finished 2-for-5 on the power play.
“We went on a Christmas break a little bit early, and then turned our cards around and decided to show up for some of the game,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “It was just a lack of preparation, and we can talk about it as much as we want; we have to focus, we are not on Christmas break yet, but at the end of the day they were more prepared to start this game and we were not.”
Des Moines, which has struggled early in games, scored just 18 seconds into the first period and added two more by 11:50 into frame to force Derek Schaedig to leave the Stars net, replaced by Tomas Vomacka.
Des Moines answered again just 42 seconds later to give the Bucs a 4-0 lead.
Slavin's first goal near the end of the first period gave Lincoln a little life heading into the locker room.
“We were all looking down on the bench and I just wanted to help pick the team up,” Slavin said. “A couple energy shifts and maybe it will start going.”
Slavin tallied another goal in the second period, after Des Moines jumped to a 6-1 lead behind goals from Julian Napravnik and Eric Otto.
“Huge credit to Josiah and as he walked out of the room, I thanked him for showing up,” Chupp said. “For a portion of that game, he was the one that gave our bench hope and he was the one doing things right. We talk about going to the net, we talk about putting pucks there and bodies there. Look at the goals he scored; there was no quit.”
“If we have 20 guys doing it, I like our chances. With one it is going to be a long night for us.”
Slavin and Carter Long helped Lincoln chip away — Slavin's goal sandiched between two by Long — to make it a two-goal deficit at 6-4.
The Stars are off until Dec. 28, when they play the Tri-City Storm at the Ice Box.