12 Different Omaha Skaters Register Point as Lancers Remain Atop West
Omaha, Neb. - The Omaha Lancers scored two goals in the game's opening minute and never let up off the accelerator while Thatcher Demko earned his first career USHL shutout as the Lancers dismantled the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 7-0 Friday evening in front of 3,277 fans at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. With the win, Omaha improved to 26-13-3 on the year and now leads the Western Conference with 55 standings points. The seven-goal winning margin was the greatest of the season for the Lancers who improved to 12-2-2 following a loss this year. Omaha has now registered five or more goals 14 times this season.
Omaha grabbed the game's opening goal just 32 seconds into the tilt when Michael Ferrantino sent a left wing shot up and over the glove of Cedar Rapids starting goaltender Jake Hildebrand for his seventh goal of the season. Matt Gaudreau earned the only assist on the even strength goal, which marked the 22nd time in 42 games this season that the Lancers have scored first. Omaha wasted little time doubling its lead as just 14 seconds later Max Vallis lifted in his 12th goal of the season. Kevin Schulze and Kenney Morrison assisted on the goal, which marked the fastest two goals scored by the Lancers this season. The goal also marked the end of the night for Hildebrand who was lifted after just 59 seconds of crease duty and zero saves on two shots. Meanwhile, Omaha's defense limited Cedar Rapids to a season-low two shots on goal in the opening period of play - both of which were denied by Demko.
The Lancers stretched their lead to a 3-0 advantage 7:17 into the second when, while operating on a five-on-three power play, Vallis sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Anthony Hamburg on the left wing who made no mistake in one-timing home his sixth goal of the season. Victor Newell garnered the secondary assist on Omaha's seventh five-on-three man-advantage marker tallied this season. Hamburg netted his second of the game 16:43 into the middle stanza when he won a race for a loose puck before chipping it up and over RoughRiders netminder Matt McNeely. Vallis and Demko assisted on Hamburg's seventh goal of the year.
Omaha then put the game away with a trio of goals in the final period. First, Ben Ostlie netted his first career USHL marker 2:17 into the third period with a blast from the right point. Then, Tanner Lane scored his seventh marker of the year 6:54 into the final period off a beautiful set-up in the slot from Nolan Zajac. Finally, Kenny Gillespie tallied his third goal of the season 12:21 into the period after winning a battle for a loose puck atop the Cedar Rapids goal crease. All tolled, 12 different Lancers registered a point while six different Omaha skaters recorded multi-point games.
Demko earned the victory in goal after turning aside all 22 RoughRiders shots he faced for his first career USHL shutout. With the win, Demko improved to 7-3 on the season. Meanwhile, Hildebrand suffered the loss despite appearing in goal for less than a minute. The veteran goaltender is now 11-12-4 on the year. McNeely suffered a no-decision after 22 saves on 27 shots.
The Lancers are back in action tomorrow evening when they welcome the Indiana Ice to the Omaha Civic Auditorium for the first and only time this season. Puck is scheduled for 7:05 PM.