The Lincoln Stars 2018-19 season ended Saturday in the same way it began — in overtime.
This time Lincoln fell victim 3-2 to the Omaha Lancers at the Ice Box in a fitting ending to the worst season in franchise history.
Lincoln goaltender Jacob Mucitelli got his glove on the final shot, but the puck ricocheted off his glove and across the goal line 3:08 into overtime as the final horn blew on the Stars' 12-42-8 season.
“I just feel bad for Moose (Mucitelli),” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “It's very difficult not to dwell on the last goal you let in on the season when it goes like that for you. I feel for him, but I don't blame him.”
Daniel Hilsendager skated across the Lincoln blue line and fired a shot from the left circle into Mucitelli's glove. The goal was Omaha's third straight in the its comeback effort.
The first period provided a glimmer of hope as the Stars looked for back-to-back wins for just the third time season. Jordan Power scored his third of the season to give Lincoln a 1-0 lead 5:39 into regulation and affiliate Zach Urdahl added his third at the 11-minute mark.
Both Lincoln and Omaha will miss the USHL playoffs this season.
“The last conversation with your team as a whole is never a fun one,” Chupp said. “Even in years that are frustrating and trying.
“There is a lot of fantastic kids in that (locker) room and some of them wore their Stars jersey for the final time tonight. It's emotional for them, it's emotional for us and you look at guys like TA (Tristan Ashbrook) and Sammy (Niinisaari) among others that could have potentially been traded at the deadline and weren't. They came back and have been professionals about it through the remainder of the year."
Ashbrook, an RPI commit, ended his USHL career with 109 games with the Stars and recorded 30 goals and 22 assists. Niinisaari spent one season with Lincoln, scoring seven goals and added 13 assists in 59 games.
It will be a busy offseason for the Stars as they are expected to have the No. 1 picks in the USHL Phase I and II drafts, along with the Central Illinois dispersal draft.