Cole Krygier's second-period goal gave the Lincoln Stars (14-18-1) a much-needed breath of life, but two goals by Omaha's Jack Randl sealed the Stars' fate in a hard-fought 2-1 loss Saturday at the Ice Box.
Randl took the opening draw into the Lincoln zone and scored in front of a sellout crowd of 4,310 just 15 seconds into the contest to give the Lancers (21-10-2) a quick 1-0 lead.
It was the first goal the Stars have allowed in the opening period in the past six games, dating back to Jan. 16 against Des Moines at the Ice Box.
Despite the early goal, the Stars responded with a flurry outshooting the Lancers 10-5 in the first frame and an unofficial 37-14 in the game.
“It's not the result we want, which stinks, but it's two different teams that showed up for sure (after a 6-0 loss Friday to Omaha at Ralston Arena),” Stars' captain Dominick Mersch said. “Compared to Friday, if we come to work like we did (Saturday), things are going to turn around for us.”
After Randl tallied his second goal 3:33 into the second frame, Krygier scored his first goal of the season nearly three minutes later.
The Stars defenseman picked up a loose puck after teammate Casey Dornbach poked it near the blue line and took it in himself to score on the backhand, and the crowed erupted.
“This season I haven't scored yet, so I've been jumping up a little more looking for opportunities to put the puck in the back of the net,” Krygier said. “I saw Dorny throw it across, just I jumped in the hole, put it on my backhand and put it on net.”
The Stars came to life with the crowd, pressing in the offensive zone, but could not find the tying goal in the next 34 minutes.
“I thought we were working hard all night,” Mersch said. “Cole buries one, and it was a great by him, the crowd was awesome all night, it was loud and it was fun.
“These are games you get up for and it gave us a little jump. We just have to understand we need to bear down a little bit more, (and) keep getting pucks on net. We know it isn't always going to be pretty, a highlight-reel goal, and we have to understand to do the little things to get us back on track and build off that.”
The Stars return to the Ice Box on Tuesday for a big matchup against the Sioux City Musketeers. Lincoln trails Sioux City by seven points in the USHL Western Conference standings, with the Musketeers currently holding the final playoff spot. Game time is set for 7 p.m.