SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – A big night for Tri-City forward Joel L’Esperance, who scored four goals Saturday to lift the Tri-City Storm to a 6-3 victory over the Roughriders in Cedar Rapids.
L’Esperance, a Brighton, Mich. native committed to play next at Michigan Tech, netted season-high totals for goals and points in the victory, the Storm’s sixth of the season.
Tri-City took a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, but the RoughRiders tied the game at 3-3 going into the third period.
L’Esperance scored on the power play 1:09 into the final period with what would become the game-winning goal.
Tri-City used the victory to stay out of the basement in the USHL Western Conference, as the Storm’s 14 points put them two points ahead of the Fargo Force.
The struggling Force were swept by the Omaha Lancers in a pair of games on the Lancers’ home ice this weekend. Omaha used goaltender Cole Bruns’ seventh shutout of the season to a 1-0 victory Friday, then the Lancers outscored Fargo 5-2 in the Saturday rematch.
Omaha coach Brian Kauffman liked his team’s effort on Saturday in particular.
“It was a good effort,” Kaufman told the Omaha World-Herald. “That was the first time in the last three weeks I can say we played a good 60 minutes.”
Garick Gray and John Baiocco scored the only goals of the weekend for Fargo on Saturday night, as the Force dropped to 5-15-2 for the season.
Omaha is now six points ahead of second place Sioux Falls in the Western Conference standings with a 19-3-2 mark, the best record in the USHL.
Jake Randolph was shut off the scoresheet in the Friday victory, but scored a goal and added a pair of assists in Saturday’s win. He remains the league’s point leader with 44.
Tyler Vesel netted a goal and contributed an assist in Saturday’s victory and remains the USHL goal scoring leader with 20.
Bruns paces the USHL’s goaltenders with a 1.72 goals-against-average and a 13-3-2 record. He also leads the league with his seven shutouts.
The Lancers have a five-game winning streak, the longest active win streak in the USHL.
In the Eastern Conference, Dubuque won a wild 6-5 shootout victory Saturday over Highway 20 rival Waterloo on the Fighting Saints’ home rink.
Waterloo took the game to overtime after trailing 4-1 and 5-3 during regulation.
Robby Darrar scored the only goal in the three-round shootout to win the game for the Fighting Saints. Shane Eiserman scored twice for Dubuque in regulation while Drew Melanson scored once and added two assists for Waterloo.
Dubuque has now won three in a row, a streak dating back to Nov. 30. The Saints also have a league-high 11 straight home victories, dating back to Sept. 28.