After Friday's offensive explosion, it was the Lincoln Stars' defense that was prevalent in a 3-1 victory against Sioux City on Saturday at the Ice Box.
Jacob Mucitelli picked up back-to-back victories for Lincoln (20-16-5) after making a combined 34 saves on 36 shots against the Musketeers in the two-game weekend series. Lincoln won Friday's game 5-1. The Stars are 9-9-1 at the Ice Box and earned their first series sweep at home this season.
“For us it starts on how well we work up the ice and that includes our defensive group,” Lincoln coach Cody Chupp said. “When our 'D' are working up the ice and are staying on top of their checks, we spend a lot of the game skating forward. It's easier to match speed and that is something we have worked a lot over the last couple of weeks.”
Zach Urdahl gave the Stars some breathing room late in the first period with his seventh goal of the season as Lincoln led 1-0 at intermission.
Brock Bremer added two goals, including the eventual game winner, an unorthodox bounce on the penalty kill that found the crease and hit the back of Sioux City goalie Ethan Haider that gave Lincoln a 2-0 cushion in the second period. Bremer added an empty-net goal with 2:07 remaining in the game before receiving a 10-minute misconduct.
The Stars killed off both Musketeer power plays and have not allowed a power-play goal in their opponents' last 11 chances.
“It's always tough to predict, and I've talked a lot about special teams and how if you can stay on a steady increase either way you are doing something right,” Chupp said. “Over the course of the couple of weeks we are starting to do more things right and our penalty kill is simply a commitment to work with all four guys on the ice on the same page and understanding their responsibility."
The Stars return to action Friday and Saturday, traveling to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to take on the Stampede in a two-game series.
Sioux Falls is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games, and the Stars are going to have to be prepared to battle, Chupp said.
“They are a confident group,” Chupp said. “We have to be ready to go and sort of punch them in the mouth right off the bat so we can start to establish our game. We've had success in the (Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.) I think our group is built for a little bit larger ice surface like that. I'm looking forward to the challenge.”
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