The Lincoln Stars drew first blood against Sioux Falls in the team's Clark Cup Western Conference playoff series opener.
And Stars coach Cody Chupp knew the Stampede would push back.
"Our response wasn't good to the push," Chupp said on the postgame radio show.
Sioux Falls had an answer for every Lincoln salvo for a 5-3 win on Tuesday in Sioux Falls.
The Stars raced out from the start as Logan Jenuwine put Lincoln up 1-0 less than 4 minutes into the game. It took nearly 10 minutes for the Stampede to answer, but respond they did, and in a hurry.
Kevin Conley tied the game with just over 7 minutes left in the first period and AJ Villella's goal gave Sioux Falls the lead for good just 26 seconds later.
Chupp said the Stars played uncharacteristically and were lackadaisical in areas of ice that are important, notably the offensive blue line. That gave Sioux Falls free and easy chances. Those self-inflicted things surprised him and he said the team looked young again and a little immature at times.
"It's a tough time of the year to not be yourself," Chupp said.
After the Stampede padded the lead with a goal early in the second period, the Stars cut their deficit to 3-2 when Cole Krygier scored off a feed from Dominick Mersch at the 7:38 mark in the second. But Sioux Falls again had the answer 6 minutes later for the 4-2 lead.
The Stars outshot the Stampede 37-25 but finished just 1-for-6 on the power play, with that goal coming with just 1:30 left in the game. Paul Cotter added the Stars' final tally.
Sioux Falls converted one of two power play chances and added a short-handed goal with just over 10 minutes left in the game for a 5-2 lead. The second game of the best-of-three series is at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Sioux Falls.
"We get another opportunity to mature quickly overnight," Chupp added.
Lincoln Stars forwards Paul Cotter and Jack Gorniak, and defensemen Christian and Cole Krygier appeared in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings.
Gorniak is ranked 87th, which slots him as a potential late third to early fourth round pick. Cotter is ranked 112th for a late fourth to early fifth round possible selection. Cole Krygier is ranked 149th, for a middle to late fifth round projection, and Christian Krygier is ranked 216th for a seventh round projection.
Two Stars affiliate players are also ranked. Sean Comrie is ranked 105th, projecting for the fourth round, and Jack McBain is ranked 35th for a projection of early in the second round.