No whistle, no reason to stop.
That kind of follow-through by forward Luca Frigo was the difference Wednesday night in the Omaha Lancers 5-2 United States Hockey League victory over Cedar Rapids.
Twice when it looked like RoughRiders goaltender Steve Michalek had stopped Lancers shots, Frigo wasn’t finished. Staying with the play allowed the Minnesota-Mankato recruit from Italy to score his sixth and seventh goals of the season, much to the delight of the Ralston Arena crowd of 2,452.
“He’s used to skating on bigger rinks, but since he came back from the World Junior tournament, he’s been really good,” Lancers coach Mike Aikens said. “Even when he wasn’t scoring earlier in the year, he still played hard. Now he’s getting more confidence.”
The moxie displayed on those two scores, as well as many other plays by other Lancers, helped Omaha improve to 19-16 heading into an important weekend doubleheader against fellow Western Conference foe Lincoln.
Frigo got the scoring started with a goal off a rebound of his own shot. Michalek didn’t cover the puck in the crease, and Frigo pounced on it for the first goal at 11:19.
Omaha’s second goal came thanks to a patient play by forward Jake Randolph. With a wide open shot from the left point, Randolph wound up to shoot, then stopped.
He quickly reassessed the situation, let the defense open a bigger hole and he rammed the puck into the net just 1:37 before the first intermission.
Alex Lyon was back in goal for the Lancers after missing the past two games with an injury. His return to the ice started gently as Lyon had to steer away only one shot at the Omaha goal in the first period.
That total quickly grew in the second period — the RoughRiders got off nine shots in the first 10 minutes — and one of those was a goal. Forward Davey Middleton connected for his ninth goal of the season at 7:13, with assists going to Andrew Poturalski and Gerald Mayhew.
Omaha got the lead back to two on Frigo’s goal that brought most fans out of their seats. Cedar Rapids goalie Chris Birdsall had the puck between his legs, but the whistle had yet to blow.
So Frigo used his stick to punch the puck over the goal line with less than two minutes to go before the second intermission.
One area of Omaha’s play that most pleased Aikens was improved play on back checks.
“We’ve been picking people up and just standing next to them,” Aikens said. “Tonight the guys were sticking with them and getting to the puck to get things moving the other way.
David Goodwin’s second goal of the year 8:47 into the third period got Cedar Rapids (15-16-4) back to within one before the Lancers closed things out with a power play goal and short-handed, open net marker with 57 seconds remaining.
“Tonight was a step in the right direction,” Aikens said. “This is a good team that’s known for playing hard, so this was a nice win.”
ICE CHIPS: Lancers forward Ryan Tait has committed to play at Providence College. The Santa Clarita, Calif., native will join the Friars for the 2014-15 school year. Tait has four assists in 28 games this season and is the only Omaha player who hasn't committed a penalty this season… The Lancers moved into fifth place in the Western Conference with the win, one point ahead of Des Moines, which has played two more games than Omaha… Omaha travels to Lincoln for a Friday night game before the Stars make the return visit to Ralston Arena Saturday night. Both games are scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.
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