KEARNEY, NE. – After sweeping the Fargo Force in the opening round of the 2022 Clark Cup Playoffs at home earlier in the week, the Lancers will face what will most likely be their toughest test of their playoff run. Going up against the 2021-22 Anderson Cup Champion, Tri-City Storm on the road.
The Storm also come into this Western Conference Semi-Final round very well rested as they earned the first round bye due to finishing at the top of the western conference standings.
But the Lancers hope the momentum they established against Fargo in the Western Conference Quarterfinals will fuel them enough to come out on top.
The first period did not go the Lancers’ way as Cole O’Hara and Kieran Cebrian both netted goals for the Storm within the first five minutes of the game.
Omaha goaltender, Kevin Pasche made the original save on the first shot in Tri-City’s first scoring play, but the Lancers defense was unable to clear the rebound as O’Hara made his way around a laid out Pasche to make it 1-0.
Just a minute following the first goal, Vinny Borgesi found Cebrian on the back door as he dropped the shot for the far side of Pasche’s net, making it a 2-0 game with still over 15 minutes remaining in the period.
The Lancers seemed to stop the bleeding after the second goal of the night, as the period concluded with a 2-0 Tri-City lead. However, the Storm continued the dominate play as they outshot the Lancers 12-4 on the period.
The second period started much like the first as the Storm tacked on two more goals in the opening five minutes from Victor Czerneckianair and Ilya Nikolaev as they doubled their lead and made it a 4-0 game with over 15 minutes left to play in the second period.
As nearly half of the period passed, the Lancers finally got going on the power-play as Alex Bump moved the puck out the Morgan Winters at the point, who found Evan Werner on the opposite side of the zone.
Werner waited for traffic, and thread the needle to find the top shelf over the blocker hand of Storm goaltender, Arsenii Sergeev, cutting Tri-City's lead to 4-1.
The three goal gap did not last long as Nikolaev hammered home a rebound off the original shot from Jeremy Wilmer, pulling the Storm back up to a four goal advantage. A 5-1 Tri-City lead, just over the halfway point in the game.
Just under a minute later, Werner netted his second of the night on a one-timer off a feed from Jared Wright, followed by a goal by Alex Bump from the right side face-off circle, to cut the lead to 5-3, which is what the second period concluded as.
Cam Mitchell and Evan Werner picked up assists on the Bump goal, giving Evan Werner a three point night through 40 minutes.
Once again in the third, Tri-City struck early.
Mitchell Miller lead an offensive rush for the Storm and beat Pasche short-side, top shelf to take the 6-3 lead with 15:15 left to play in the final period.
Nikolaev picked up the primary assist to earn himself a four point night as his evening on the score sheet had concluded following the goal by Miller.
Just over the halfway mark of the third period, Werner completed his hat trick, and four point game with a goal he stuffed short-side on Sergeev off a pass from Vincent Salice, pulling the Lancers back within two goals, making it a 6-4 game.
The final goal of the game was an empty netter scored by Josh Eernisse from the opposite side of the red line, capping off a 7-4 game one victory for Tri-City.
The Storm also lead in the final shot count, 41-23 over Omaha.
The Lancers will be looking to even up the series and force a game three as they will host the Storm for game two on Sunday, May 1st for a 4:05PM CST puck drop. That game can be caught on HockeyTV and Mixlr.