SOUTHAVEN, Miss – The Omaha Lancers became the lone USHL Western Conference leader at the end of this past weekend.
The Lancers also moved within one point of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP), but have played in four fewer games.
Team USA has 15 points in 12 games, while the Lancers have 14 points in only eight games.
The Lancers recovered in Chicago with a 5-3 victory over the Steel Friday, Oct. 18. and the road swing ended Saturday in Indianapolis with 3-2 victory over the Indiana Ice.
Omaha has one more road game on Friday, Oct. 25, but it will be no farther than Sioux City, Iowa, when the Lancers meet the Musketeers at the Tyson Event Center.
Goaltender Hayden Hawkey gave teammate Cole Bruns some rest in net and picked up his first USHL victory in Saturday’s contest in the Hoosier State.
Hawkey, a Parker, Colo. native, stopped 29 shots and gave up two goals in the Saturday effort.
Gage Hough and Jake Randolph each scored a goal and added an assist on Saturday, as the Lancers ran their record to 7-1-0.
On Friday, the Lancers’ Anthony Angello scored his first career USHL goal to ignite a four-goal third period outburst in Chicago.
Omaha’s race to the top of the standings is due in part to Bruns’ record-breaking five-game shutout win streak to start the season. Waterloo broke the Bruns’ and Lancers’ streak in Thursday’s victory.
Sioux Falls could be in the lead in the West, but for a 3-2 shootout loss at Muskegon Saturday evening. Chad Duchesne assisted on both Sioux Falls goals in the loss, Matt Iacopelli scored the game-winning goal in the shootout, won by the Lumberjacks 2-1.
“Tonight we were down and had to come back,” Muskegon coach Todd Krygier told MLive.com after the game. “You want winning to be a habit and losing can become a habit real quick if you can’t find a way to grind through it.”
Muskegon (5-4-1) would be in second place in the East, except for 7-3 loss Sunday to Team USA. The ‘Jacks are tied with Green Bay for third place at 11 points.
Sioux Falls is one point in back of the Lancers in second place in the Western Conference with a 6-2-1 mark for 13 points.
Defending champion Dubuque finds itself just three points out of first place in the Eastern Conference, thanks to the Saints’ 1-0 shutout victory in Chicago on Saturday. Dubuque goaltender Hayden Stewart made 39 saves in getting his first career USHL shutout for the Rockford, Ill. native. Stewart came to Dubuque after playing his two previous seasons in Muskegon.
Also of note from the weekend, Cedar Rapids’ Jack Rowe scored two goals and assisted on another in the RoughRiders’ 7-4 conquest of the Tri-City Storm on Saturday, Oct. 19 in Kearney, Neb.
Lincoln’s 2-1 shootout victory over Team USA Friday, Oct. 18 in Ann Arbor, Mich. was the Stars’ first victory of the season.
USHL ALUM BACKES REACHES MILESTONE: Former Lincoln Stars forward David Backes, now with the St. Louis Blues, played in his 500th career NHL game over the weekend.
Backes, in his eighth season with the Blues, split his USHL playing time with Chicago and Lincoln. He was in 25 games in Chicago during the 2001-02 year, then went to Lincoln where he finished that season and played the entire 2002-03 year in the Star City.
Backes also played three collegiate campaigns with Minnesota State-Mankato, then was in the AHL at Peoria, before joining the Blues during the 2006-07 season.