The Lincoln Stars hockey team has been better off at times this season when it's faced some pressure.

Here are just a few examples:

* After falling out of a USHL playoff spot in March, despite winning the first 10 games of the season, the Stars won nine of their next 12 games to clinch a playoff spot.

* Of the five games during the regular season that were decided in overtime, the Stars won all five.

* In the regular season, Lincoln had an 18-6-3 record in one-goal games.

* Facing the prospect of falling behind 0-2 in their first-round playoff series against Sioux Falls last week, the Stars won Game 2 with a 4-0 shutout.

On Tuesday, the Stars will face the ultimate pressure situation with a deciding Game 5 in the playoffs. The winner advances to the Western Conference finals. The players on the losing team turn in their equipment and say goodbye to their host families after eight months and 68 games.

After losing Game 1 of the series 3-2 in overtime, coach Chad Johnson said the Stars are happy to have a chance to win the series.

Lincoln won the second and third games of the series by outscoring Sioux Falls 8-1. Sioux Falls forced a Game 5 by winning 2-1 in Lincoln on Saturday.

In his mind, Johnson said Lincoln has what it takes to be a good team in a Game 5 situation.

“There is no question that we can be a good team in a Game 5, because we’re forced,” he said. “There is no comfort level. There’s no cushion. All season when we had a little cushion in the standings, we haven’t been very good. When we had a little cushion on the scoreboard, we haven’t been very good. But now we’re in a position where you win or you go home.”

The Stars had a chance to win on their home ice Saturday, but got off to a slow start. That probably won’t be possible Tuesday.

“We've just got to be focused,” Stars defenseman Paul Ladue said. “We've got to come out and play a full 60 minutes with no lapses. We've got to stay discplined and take it to them.”

Sioux Falls will have the benefit of playing in front of its 2,000-plus fans. But Lincoln has won a game at Sioux Falls this series and won two of the four games played there during the regular season.

“Home ice hasn’t really meant a whole lot, both in this series and in the season series, you know?” Sioux Falls coach Cary Eades said. “Are we glad we’re at home? Yeah. Does it make a difference? I’m not sure. Whoever plays the best 60-minute game is going to come out the victor.”


* Zach Aston-Reese leads the Stars in scoring during the playoffs with three goals and two assists for five points. Defenseman Mike McKee has four assists.

* After Jackson Teichroeb started at goaltender the first game of the series for the Stars, rookie Michael Bitzer played the next three games. He has a 2-1 record and has saved 97 of the 100 shots he’s faced for a league-best .970 save percentage.

* Special teams can be a deciding factor in playoff games. The Stars have been better than Sioux Falls in that department, going 3-for-15 on power plays and holding Sioux Falls scoreless on 13 power-play chances. The Stars also scored one short-handed goal.

Reach Brent C. Wagner at 402-473-7435 or