Extending one of the streaks every hockey team covets helped push the Omaha Lancers over .500.
For the eighth consecutive game, the Lancers scored the first goal Wednesday night. Lighting the lamp first helped the Lancers defeat Fargo 2-1 and vault them from sixth place to fourth in the United States Hockey League’s Western Conference standings.
The victory before a crowd of 2,433 at Ralston Arena was Omaha’s seventh in its past eight games. The Lancers have 22 standings points, one more than Fargo and Tri-City.
While it was good to score first, that goal by Tucker Poolman didn’t come until the second period. The Lancers survived a lethargic first period in which they only got off five shots and survived a couple of quality chances from the 8-7-5 Force.
Lancers coach Mike Aikens took his share of the blame for the early struggles.
“I thought that first period we played with no energy and there was also bad coaching by me yesterday,” Aikens said. “Things were too loose at practice and it carried over to the first period. When you’re having success like we’ve been having lately things can get complacent, but that can be corrected.”
Omaha came out of the first intermission more focused than they did to open the game and squeezed off 21 shots while limiting Fargo to eight.
Poolman’s fourth goal of the season came after he won a battle for a loose puck at the side of the net. It also was a power play goal on which Connor Chatham and Drew Melanson earned assists.
Just over four minutes later, Omaha scored what proved to be the winning goal when defenseman Frank Schumacher grabbed the rebound of a shot blocked by Fargo goaltender Cameron Johnson on the right side. Uncovered, Schumacher knocked the puck into the net at 9:00 for his second goal of the season.
“We played hard, and when we played hard, we’re pretty good,” Aikens said. “When we play with no emotion or energy, we’re average at best.”
The Lancers only got off five shots in the third period, but the continued strong play of goalie Alex Lyon and the defense clamping down on Fargo scrambling to get back into the game was fine with Aikens.
“They came out and played with desperation,” Aikens said. “Maybe we were a little tight, but I didn’t think we were terrible.”
Fargo did cut the Omaha lead in half on an unassisted, shorthanded goal by Gabe Guertler 8:29 into the third period. It was Guertler’s 13th goal of the season.
The Lancers will host Lincoln Friday at 7:05 p.m. It will be the Stars first visit to Omaha’s new arena.
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