Following an emotional, 5-4 overtime victory over Sioux Falls in Thursday's rubber match to advance to the second round of the Clark Cup Playoffs, the Lincoln Stars do not have much time for rest.
They'll face the Anderson Cup champions — Waterloo — in a best-of-five series beginning Saturday in Waterloo, Iowa.
"You don't really have time to think about being tired," Stars coach Cody Chupp said. "(Friday) was a travel day for us where we were able to get a lot of rest and the excitement of a new opponent in a hostile building is fairly easy to get up from that standpoint for the game."
Following a three-game series with Sioux Falls and having one day of rest before the second round starts may sound daunting, but the Stars have been in this position before.
Chupp noted previous instances where Lincoln had three-game sets and a season stretch in which they played six games in nine days.
"The six games in nine days is a form of adversity and finding a way," Chupp said. "Really that is what playoff hockey is about; finding a way when teams are going to be tired and banged up; grinding it out when you don't feel your best. That'll benefit us as for what it takes to be successful, for sure."
Lincoln got to the second round after Paul Cotter scored with 34.8 seconds left in overtime to clinch the series over the Stampede. Lincoln battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period before Cotter ended it in the extra frame.
"It was huge," Chupp said. "I credit it to the culture that has been created here and credit to our guys with the adversity we have come through throughout the season. Really that's what we are preaching on the bench, that we are prepared for this and we've done this before. We put our heads down and go back to work."
The dramatic win for the Stars is something the coach can easily see playing a role heading into the second round.
"The excitement of the game (Thursday) fuels us into the excitement of this next series," the coach said. "It's been awhile and I don't think any of these guys have been past the first round with the exception of the guys who have won it.
"We are excited as a group and the emotions (from the Sioux Falls series) should help us find the energy and legs that we need to."
Lincoln matches up with Waterloo in the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons. The Stars fell 3-1 in a series against the Black Hawks to end the 2015-16 season.
Waterloo won the first two contests of the regular season before the Stars went on to win the final two meetings and split this season's series 2-2.
Saturday's contest is slated for 7 p.m.