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Des Moines vs. Lincoln Stars, 3/15

Fans celebrate after Lincoln Stars’ forward Josiah Slavin (11) scores his second goal in the team's 6-4 come-from-behind win over Des Moines in the third period on Thursday at the Ice Box.

FRANCIS GARDLER, JOURNAL STAR

The opponent has been set for the Lincoln Stars in the first round of the Clark Cup Western Conference playoffs; the location is yet to be determined.

Lincoln (34-22-1-1, 70 points) will play the Sioux Falls Stampede (32-18-4-4, 72 points) in the first round, but still has a chance to earn home-ice advantage pending the outcome of this weekend's games. The higher seed hosts the entirety of the best two-of-three series.

"They mean a lot in the sense we want to progress and improve," Stars coach Cody Chupp said. "Continue to fine tune some details that are going to be important for us come playoff time.

"They are also important because we have to make sure we make it through this weekend healthy, fresh and energized with a short turnaround for us whether the playoffs start at home or in Sioux Falls."

The Stars need to win both weekend games, at Omaha on Friday and at Tri-City on Saturday, in regulation or overtime to keep their chances to host. Sioux Falls also would have to lose both to Fargo, or suffer a loss and shootout victory.

The Stampede currently hold the first tie-breaker with 32 regulation/overtime wins to Lincoln's 30. If both teams tie with the first tie-break, Lincoln holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Sioux Falls.

The Stars begin the final weekend of the regular season Friday at Omaha at 7 p.m.

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

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