Austen Long didn't know what he was going to do once he found himself in front of Omaha Lancers goaltender Keegan Karki.
Long, who refers himself as the Russell Westbrook of hockey, was able to find an opening and put the Lincoln Stars up for good 5-3 Sunday at the Ice Box on his first goal of the preseason.
The win moves the Stars to 2-2 in the preseason, with splits against the Tri-City Storm and the Lancers.
“Growth as a group is what we are trying to see,” Lincoln coach Cody Chupp said. “The way to impress our staff is to play well within the system and do things the right way. That is what we have been preaching to the group and there are some guys that have bought in and have started to find a little bit of success.
“As a team, we have found success when we are playing within ourselves.”
All five goals the Stars scored Sunday came from veteran players.
Carter Long answered to tie the game 20 seconds after Omaha went ahead 1-0 in the first period, and Dominick Mersch added a tip-in goal of Cole Krygier's shot from the point to put the Stars ahead for good.
“We talk about it all the time how important it is to have veteran players in this league and for those guys to find success. Those guys have to be our best players every night; those guys know it, and that allows our young guys to develop and get their feet under them without putting a ton of pressure to be above where they are at and let their development happen.”
Gustaf Westlund put Lincoln ahead 4-1 with two goals before Omaha netted two in the final frame to cut the Stars' lead to 4-3.
That led to Austen Long's breakaway goal late in the third period for the final tally. Chupp had a lot to say about the former Chicgo Steel Clark Cup champion.
“(Austen) is a unique individual that is extremely well liked in our locker room but more than that he is extremely well respected in our locker room. He plays that way in practice and plays that way in a game and is consistent as a player and is committed to it. Our guys respect it and our staff respects it.”
Lincoln wraps up the preseason at the USHL Fall Classic at the Lemieux Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Sept. 27-Oct. 1.