Five different goal scorers, three different offensive lines.
The Lincoln Stars' depth shined Friday in a 5-3 victory over Sioux Falls at the Ice Box, snapping the Stars' three-game losing streak with their fourth win over the Stampede in four games this season.
Josh Groll, back on the same line with Travis Treloar and Christian Sarlo, put the Stars ahead 1-0 1:43 into the first period. Owen Michaels cushioned that lead with a goal just past midway in the period.
“Tonight was a complete group effort,” Lincoln coach Cody Chupp said. “That was kind of our message after the game. Hopefully we learned something about ourselves tonight and that is, when we play hungry to score the next goal, we are capable of doing that. When we play on our heels and are afraid to give up the next goal, we are capable of doing that, too.”
But it was the Stars' offense that answered the pressure from Sioux Falls.
Spencer Smith continued his red-hot offensive production, scoring for the second time in as many games to put the Stars ahead 3-1 in the second period. With Smith's goal, the Stars' fourth line helped carry the offensive production. Michaels added an assist for a two-point night, and linemate Dominic James added an assist to make it four points coming from Lincoln's bottom line.
“We saw the group that has the ability to score and anybody can score,” Chupp said of the Stars. “Then we saw the group a little bit from last weekend that was hesitant to make plays, that started to bring things back and play on our heels a little bit.
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“To rebound and to get back to our game during that course of a little stretch where we started to leak some oils was big for the group.”
Matt Barbolini put Lincoln ahead 4-1 60 seconds into the third period, but the Stampede roared back to cut it to 4-3.
Earning his first win since returning from a six-game suspension, Jacob Mucitelli made 22 saves on 25 shots, including nine saves in the third period that killed the Sioux Falls momentum.
“He was huge for us, and if you look at the second period, I think we gave up seven shots — five or six of them were breakaways,” Chupp said. “From a team standpoint, it's unacceptable. We went from moving the puck efficiently (and) quickly, to wanting to hold on to it a second longer.
“From that standpoint 'Moose' was the difference-maker, especially in that second period when you needed him to be. It's huge for his confidence … it's great to have him back.”
Brock Bremer closed out the game with the Stars' fifth goal, but Chupp commended Bremer and the Stars on another area. For the second time in three games, the Stars did not have a minor penalty.
“It's a huge credit to our games to use emotion to fuel our game,” Chupp said. “It's not about them, and the retribution comes at the end of the night if you work for it.
“One guy to point out in that is Brock Bremer. Bremer plays on the edge and I love that he plays on the edge. Sometimes he crosses that line. We were very up front with Brock in practice in front of the entire team. He took it well and responded well to it the entire week of practice. To me he was the epitome of that discipline tonight.”
The Stars and Stampede meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Ice Box.