The Lincoln Stars fans learned just before the start of overtime that the rival Omaha Lancers were eliminated from the Clark Cup playoffs — and the Ice Box promptly erupted in celebration.
Three minutes later, Waterloo's Jackson Cates quieted that same crowd of 1,600 fans, handing the Stars a 2-1 loss Wednesday with the overtime goal.
“At the end of the day we had two chances right at the end of the third (period) that could have very easily gone in,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “That's kind of hockey.
“You walk out of that saying 'The game should probably be over,' and they find a way when we are starting to sustain a little bit of pressure in overtime.”
The overtime goal also gives Waterloo a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
“We are up against it and our backs are against the wall,” Chupp added. “We are fighting for our lives, and one thing I have a lot of faith about in this group is our ability to respond.
“I expect us to respond in a very big way (Thursday)."
It was the third time in four games the Stars have gone to an extra frame in the playoffs after winning the previous two.
It looked the same as the Stars have played the entire playoffs. Trail early before making a dramatic comeback.
After the first three Lincoln power-play attempts failed to score a goal, it took Paul Cotter and the Stars just six seconds into the man advantage to find the back of the net and knot the score 1-1.
Cotter, who has scored the last two goals in overtime for Lincoln, had a chance at the end of regulation before the Waterloo net minder, Jared Moe, snagged the shot out of the air. The Stars also had a back-door chance before Moe was able to get a piece of the puck out of the reach of Austen Long for the potential tap in goal.
“We were able to establish our game through spurts and sustain pressure and create opportunities for ourselves,” Chupp said. “The quicker we played the game, the more that benefited us.”
The game the Stars liked to play came after a sluggish start in the opening minutes that allowed the Black Hawks to score 1:36 into the first period.
Both Drury and Cates for Waterloo finished in the top-five in USHL scoring this season.
Lincoln and the Black Hawks meet again for game four Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Ice Box.