WATERLOO — Omaha came into Young Arena Saturday night as an especially dangerous opponent.
After being officially eliminated from playoff contention Friday night, the Lancers were looking to inflict a little damage to the Waterloo Black Hawks with just three games remaining in the regular season.
Waterloo struck first as Kyle Haskins put a wrap-around attempt on net that was knocked away, but Vladislav Firstov was in the right place at the right time as he grabbed the puck in front and notched his 25th goal of year just 49 seconds into the game.
The Black Hawks never surrendered that lead as they picked up two critical points in the battle for second place in the USHL’s Western Conference.
“This was a big win for us because they came in with not much to play for,” said Waterloo coach P.K. O’Handley. “They came in to play for fun and play freer and I thought our guys handled that situation very well. We had to fix some things internally and our guys came out and created a lot of chances.”
Patrick Guzzo gave the Hawks a little breathing room with his sixth tally of the year on a give-and go-to Wyatt Schingoethe.
The Lancers closed the gap with a power play goal to end the first period.
“Omaha is a good team and I am actually shocked that they are not in the playoffs,” said O’Handley. “Right now we know we are in and we just have to take it one game at a time, like we discussed at the beginning of the year. In this league if you play right you get rewarded and if you don’t, you don’t.”
The game was still up for grabs at 2-1 after a scoreless second period and goaltender Evan Fear made sure is stayed that way with a great stop in goal.
With 9:30 remaining in the game and the Lancers on a power play, Fear fought off a 3-on-2 break. He ended up on his back after the initial save, then when Jan Kern fired a point blank shot back in Fear’s direction, he reached with his glove and snared the shot in the crease.
“I think that game preparations helped me on that one,” said Fear. “It is definitely different during the penalty kill and you count on your reactions more I think. I saw the second shot and was able to get to it, but it comes down to game awareness at that point.”
The Hawks finally got a break late in the game as Hank Sorensen gave his team a bit of a cushion with a soft goal that snuck between two defenders and slipped into the net. An empty netter by Griffin Ness sealed it.
Waterloo 4, Omaha 1
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SCORE BY PERIODS
Omaha 1 0 0 — 1
Waterloo 2 0 2 — 4
FIRST PERIOD — 1. Waterloo, Firstov (Haskins), :49. 2. Waterloo, Guzzo (Schingoethe) 6:51. 3. Omaha, Nelson (unassisted), pp, 12:09. Penalties — Szmagaj-Wat. (interference) 10:49, Hilsendager-Oma. (fighting, misconduct) 12:32, Engum-Wat. (fighting, misconduct) 12:32, Marooney-Wat. (hooking) 12:32. Roy-Oma. (hooking() 13:46, Decker-Oma. roughing) 17:49, Long-Oma. (roughing) 17:49, Lamppa-Wat. (roughing, cross-checking) 17:49, Silver-Oma. (tripping) 19:48.
SECOND PERIOD — No scoring. Penalties — Bengtsson-Wat. (interference) 2:32, Drkulec-Wat. (roughing) 7:46, Blumel-Wat. (high-sticking) 11:04.
THIRD PERIOD — 4. Waterloo, Sorensen (Haskins, Engum), 15:17. 5. Waterloo, Ness (Marooney), en, 16:29. Penalties — Lagerback-Wat. (goalie interference) 2:12, Plucinski-Oma. (elbowing) 8:02, Szmagaj-Wat. (hooking) 9:04, Kern-Oma. (holding) 10:36.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Omaha 11 7 9 — 27
Waterloo 16 12 12 — 40
Power-plays — Omaha, 1-for-7. Waterloo, 0-for-4.
Goaltenders — Omaha, Schmid (39 SOG, 36 saves). Waterloo, Fear (27 SOG, 26 saves).
Officials — Referees, Jackson, Martin. Linesmen, Aronson, Karabetsos. Att. — 2,647.