LINCOLN — Omaha had plenty of chances Friday to roll over and start its weekend a little early.
On a night a Stanley Cup champion came back to show the fans how much he appreciated them, the Lincoln Stars wanted to flex for him.
But fortunately for the 31-9-4 Lancers, Brandon Bollig was just one of the 4,327 spectators at the Ice Box. They watched Omaha rally from a 3-0 deficit for a 7-5 USHL victory over Lincoln.
Omaha’s Gage Hough had his first hat trick of the season and defenseman Tucker Poolman scored twice to lead the Lancers back into a tie for first place in the Western Conference. Coupled with Waterloo’s 3-2 loss to Cedar Rapids, the Lancers and Black Hawks each have 66 standings points.
Bollig is a former Lincoln Star who plays for the Chicago Blackhawks. He has his name etched on the Stanley Cup as Chicago won the NHL title in 2013.
To the loudest roar of the night, Bollig performed the ceremonial puck drop before the Stars dropped three goals in less than two minutes on the Lancers.
The first two came before much of the crowd had a chance to settle in. It took forward Christian Lampasso 39 seconds to get the puck past Lancers goalie Cole Bruns.
Jonathan Desbiens followed with his fifth goal of the season at 2:06, and then former Lancer Dominick Sacco made it 3-0 at 9:42 before Hough scored the first of his three goals less than two minutes later.
“That first goal was important,” Lancers coach Brian Kaufman said. “We just told them to calm down, stay focused and stick to the game plan.”
The Lancers listened, and their patience was rewarded with three straight goals in the second period that gave them a lead they would never lose. Poolman, the top-scoring defenseman in the USHL, cut Omaha’s deficit to 3-2 at 7:56 before the Lancers made the last minute of the period a long one for the 12-21-7 Stars.
It started when Lincoln forward Keegan Ward jumped Lancers forward Jake Henderson from behind at 14:45. Ward was ejected from the game and Omaha had a five-minute penalty play.
Hough made the Stars pay with a blast from the left side at 19:13. Henderson then scored the ultimate revenge by putting Omaha up with one second to go before the second intermission with his fourth goal of the season.
“Jake Henderson did a great job of being disciplined when he got jumped,” Kaufman said. “That allowed us to score a goal and completely change the momentum of the game.”
Omaha kept that momentum through the intermission with two goals in the first 3:24 of the third period. First it was Poolman with his second goal 41 seconds after the break followed by Tyler Vesel putting home his league-leading 32nd goal of the season.
Lincoln cut Omaha’s lead to 6-4 at 15:23, but Hough squashed any hopes of a comeback with his third goal of the game 31 seconds later.
The Lancers are off until next Friday when they play at Dubuque before a Saturday showdown with Waterloo at Ralston Arena.