In the final tilt of their second-consecutive three-game weekend, the Omaha Lancers proved persistent in an unlikely 6-5 comeback win over the stunned Muskegon Lumberjacks on Sunday at Ralston Arena. With the win, the Lancers improved to 9-1-1 overall this season and with 19 points, remain alone atop the USHL’s Western Conference standings and sit tied with Team USA for first-place overall in the USHL.
Looking to deliver Omaha their first home loss of the season, the Lumberjacks started quickly on Sunday, burying a pair of first period goals, both from Scott Pooley, to grab a 2-0 lead heading into the second period. In the middle frame, Omaha chipped away at the Lumberjack lead and eventually leveled the score at 2-2 thanks to a Gage Hough goal, assisted by Tyler Vesel and Jake Randolph, at 10:17 and Omaha captain Tucker Poolman’s first goal of the season, a power-play tally at 14:41 that came on feeds from Randolph and Hough.
Perhaps content with merely tying the game, the Lancers promptly surrendered two more Muskegon goals, from Frederik Tiffels at 15:29 and C.J. Smith at 18:03 on the power-play, to again enter an intermission down by a pair, this time facing a 4-2 deficit on the scoreboard.
In a repeat performance from the prior period, a Lancer response was lightning-quick in coming, as Poolman’s second of the game drew Omaha within a goal on feeds from Hough and Randolph just 38 seconds into the third and Anthony Angello’s second score of the season, coming less than two minutes later, once again lifted the Lancers to a 4-4 tie. In a cyclical game, the wheel of fate once again spun downward for the Lancers at 8:17 of the third however, when Lumberjacks sniper Matt Iacoppeli extended his league-wide season-long goal scoring streak to seven games with his eighth goal of the season to manufacture another Muskegon edge, this time at 5-4.
With time running out in the third and his team down by a goal, Poolman, a future North Dakota blueliner and 2013 NHL Draft selection of the Winnipeg Jets (5th Round, 127th overall), once again took it upon himself to hoist the Lancers out of the trench and at 12:59, he squeezed a center point wrister, through sheer force of will, past Lumberjacks goaltender Eric Shierhorn for his third goal of the game and of the season, a hat-trick tally set up by Steven Johnson and Austin Pooley that tied the game for the third time.
While both the Lumberjacks and Lancers tightened the screws down the stretch and seemed bound for overtime, at long last, a lucky bounce caromed Omaha’s way at 15:43 when St. Cloud State-bound defenseman Jimmy Schuldt found the puck on his stick at the center blue thanks to Angello and Louie Rowe and the Minnetonka, Minnesota native weaved a seeing-eye offering through a maze of traffic in front of Schierhorn and beat the Muskegon keeper for the game-winning goal, his second score of the season.