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After two potential Lincoln Stars goals were waived off in regulation and overtime, the Stars finally broke past Youngstown in a seven-round shootout for a 2-1 victory Saturday at the Ice Box.

“If they call football the game of inches, I don't know what hockey would be,” said Stars forward Paul Cotter, who scored in regulation and in the shootout. “Every faceoff, every shot, every hit; it's all the little things (that) add up throughout the game and you get lucky here and there, but it's the team at the end of the day that is more hungry that gets the 'dub' (win).”

Josiah Slavin finally put the game to rest with a goal to give the Stars a 3-2 win in the shootout. Youngstown's point gained in the extra frame clinched it a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Nearly 120 minutes had passed before Lincoln found the net for the first time in the two-game set Friday and Saturday against the Phantoms. Cotter answered the bell with his 16th of the season at the 18:37 mark of the third period Saturday.

 “I think tonight it was a huge bounce-back night for us — as long as we stick together and stay positive, we are pretty unstoppable as a team," Cotter said.

The Stars bounced back after the Phantoms stifled the Stars 3-0 Friday at the Ice Box, snapping the Stars' 10-game win streak and 12-game point streak.

“We were confident,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “Our message was whatever it takes. Even when we score and then all the sudden there is a penalty call 10 seconds after that, we are on the penalty kill and they score; there was never that feeling on the bench that we were in trouble. It was always that confidence, hearing guys say, 'Whatever it takes — whatever it takes — we got this one,' and you love that as a coach and it says a lot about the group.”

With a playoff berth on the line, Youngstown did not waiver with nearly a minute to play and a 6-on-4 power-play advantage after pulling goaltender Ivan Prosvetov from the crease and a Stars penalty. Tommy Parrottino promptly tied the game again 1-1 with 45 seconds to spare.

Lincoln travels to Fargo, North Dakota, for a two-game set with the Force on Friday and Saturday.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or tgray@journalstar.com.

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