The Lincoln Stars had all the pieces to the offensive puzzle, but ultimately Des Moines handed Lincoln a 4-2 loss Thursday at the Ice Box.
The Stars outshot the Buccaneers 32-19 overall and 15-7 in the first period, when newly acquired goaltender Samuel Hlavaj, making his USHL and Stars debut, did not face a shot for the first 9 minutes, 30 seconds.
“Outshot them and out-chanced them,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “It's a different game if we capitalize on a couple of those in the first period. We have have to limit our chances against and limit our mistakes and our turnovers, especially against a team like this that transitions so well.”
One of Lincoln's best offensive opportunities came with 2:07 remaining in regulation, trailing 4-2, when Des Moines goaltender Roman Durny received a game-misconduct for kicking. Lincoln's Shane Pinto had just helped the Stars cut into the deficit 4-2 nearly three minutes earlier to help shift momentum as James Durham came in cold off the bench for the Buccaneers.
Pinto's goal, his team leading 16th of the season, continued a 12-game point streak that started Nov. 11 in a 3-0 shutout over Tri-City at the Ice Box.
After the Stars' strong start in the first period, Des Moines thwarted the Lincoln momentum early in the second with two consecutive goals. Caleb Rule was able to get one back for Lincoln, finding the back of the net on a cross-crease pass from Steven Agriogianis that made the score 2-1. The Bucs added another goal late in the frame to push the lead to 3-1.
“We had two good periods on chances that were created,” Chupp said. “In the second, I thought when things started to slip away from us, it was a result of trying to play through guys rather than use our speed and letting the puck do the work.”
Des Moines was credited with just three shots in the final period, but one resulted in a goal by Reed Lebster for his 19th of the season and gave the Bucs a 4-1 lead before Pinto scored.
The Stars finished 0-for-6 on the power play, while Des Moines went 1-for-1.
Both teams are back it Friday at the Ice Box at 7 p.m.