Two goals from Omaha native Gage Hough and future UNO Maverick Jake Randolph’s 100th career USHL point helped the Omaha Lancers grind out a hard-fought 5-3 win over their Nebraska rivals, the Tri-City Storm, on Friday at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, Nebraska. With the win, the Lancers improved to 24-6-4 overall this season and with 52 points, remain alone atop the Western Conference and overall USHL standings.
A terrific series of shifts to start the game for Omaha gave way to an evenly-contested first period; that is until Connor Light stuffed home his third goal of the season at 19:00 on a feed from Tyler Hynes, a center point laser that made it 1-0 Lancers. A first intermission lead wasn’t in the cards for Omaha however, as Storm winger Dan Labosky stuffed home an equalizing, rebound tally at 19:29 to tie the game at one apiece entering period two.
A seesaw second period got out to a fast start just 38 seconds in, as Tyler Vesel poked a second-effort score, the Nebraska-Omaha recruit’s league-best 26th of the season, past Storm goaltender Jacob Johansson thanks to an initial Tucker Poolman offering. The Lancers extended their lead to 3-1 at 7:16 on Hough’s 15th of the year, assisted by Randolph and Vesel, and after a Joel L’Esperance score at 10:32, a heavy wrister from the blue line less than 20 seconds later from Omaha D-man Matt Nelson bulged the Lancer lead to 4-2.
In the third period, the Storm drew first blood at 2:26, when Garrett Gamez pulled Tri-City within one at 4-3, but Hough’s second marker of the night, a power-play score set up by Randolph and Vesel at 8:07, proved to be the icing on the cake for the Lancers who improved to 7-1-0 against the Storm this season with the victory.
Rookie Omaha goaltender Hayden Hawkey was tremendous on Friday, turning in a career best 37-save performance on a single-game season high 40 shots faced. Friday’s win was Hawkey’s fifth of the season head-to-head against the Storm in just five games played.
Next up for the Lancers, it’s another “$1 Suds & Dogs Night” as the Lancers play host to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at Ralston Arena on Saturday at 7:05 pm, presented by Cox Communications. Full coverage of Saturday’s game begins at 6:50 pm with the “Valpak Pregame Show” on FASTHockey.com with Lancers broadcaster Tony Brown providing the play-by-play.