SIOUX CITY, IA. – The Lancers hit the road to start the three-game weekend with a matchup against the Sioux City Musketeers. Omaha is currently 2-2-0-1 against the Musketeers with the most current meeting ending in a 3-2 victory for the Lancers back on New Year’s Eve.
Heading into tonight (1/14), the Lancers sit in second place in the western conference standings at 36 points, with Sioux City sitting back in third place with 34 points. So, the battle for the second place spot was still on the line.
Even with a Sioux City regulation win, the Lancers would still hold the second place spot, as they would still hang onto a higher winning percentage. But this game was a prime opportunity for the Musketeers to close the gap in points.
The first period brought a boatload of action, it just took our Lancers a hot minute to get going offensively.
Just over three minutes into the game, the top two point-getters for the Musketeers got to work as Owen McLaughlin found Charlie Schoen in the slot area. And what looked like a save between Kevin Pasche’s legs, ended up as a goal as his backwards momentum lead him right into the back of his own net, making it a 1-0 lead for Sioux City early.
It only took three minutes for the Lancers to bounce back as Michael Cameron took the puck away from the Musketeer defense at his attacking blue line, came in on a breakaway and beat Sioux City goalie Axel Mangbo glove side on a forehand to backhand move to tie the game 1-1.
It took Dylan James only 90 seconds to regain the lead for the Musketeers as he picked up a beautiful feed from McLaughlin on the man-advantage and beat Pasche glove side on a one-timer, to take the 2-1 lead.
After five minutes of 2-1 hockey, Sioux City made it 3-1 as Tabor Heaslip hammered home a rebound off a shot from Garrett Slukynsky, making it a two goal game with 7:24 left in the opening period.
Finally, with under a minute left in the period, Peteris Purmalis got booked for a tripping minor, giving Omaha their first power-play of the evening.
A quick faceoff win got the puck back to Garrett Wright, who fed Matt Basgall at the point. With a shot through traffic from Basgall, Cameron was able to redirect the shot over the blocker side of Mangbo to close the Sioux City lead to just one goal heading into the intermission.
In the second period, it took nearly 10 minutes for someone to find the back of the net.
9:45 into the period, Dylan James scored his tenth goal of the season and his second of the night off feeds from Mikey Adamson and Ben Steeves to regain a two goal lead, making the score 4-2.
Just under five minutes later, Hunter McDonald scored his third goal of the year off a one-timer passed the blocker hand of Mangbo with Jared Wright picking up the lone assist. That cut the lead down to just one goal, as we had ourselves a 4-3 game with 5:42 left in the second.
Then, in the closing minutes of the period, Bennett Schimek redirected a shot by Pasche’s glove side shoulder off a shot from Dylan Gratton to make it a 5-3 lead for Sioux City heading into the third.
The third period brought nothing but two more goals for Sioux City.
The Lancers kept racking up shots, but with most coming from far distances and odd angles, made a lot of saves easy for Mangbo.
5:25 into the period, Griffin Ludtke scored his fourth goal of the season off a play set up by McLaughlin and Ralf Bergmanis, giving McLaughlin his third assist of the evening. That goal made it a 6-3 lead for the Musketeers and ended the night for Kevin Pasche as Tommy Heaney was put in for the remainder of the game.
It took ten minutes for Sioux City to score again, and Nick Pierre found Heaslip in the neutral zone all alone, leading to a breakaway goal as he beat Heaney blocker side to extend the lead to 7-3, which held on to be the final score.
Sioux City now ties Omaha for second place in the western conference at 36 points, but the Lancers continue to have a higher winning percentage, allowing Omaha to have the leg up in the standings.
The Lancers will be heading up to Sioux Falls to take on the Stampede tomorrow night (1/15), for a 6:05PM puck drop at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. That game can be caught on HockeyTV and Mixlr.