Ralston, Neb. - The Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) look to get back into the win column this weekend as the team prepares for road contests at the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Chicago Steel.
Omaha (17-15, 34 pts.) suffered a pair of setbacks last weekend as the Lancers were swept in a weekend series at Ralston Arena with the Fargo Force. Jordan Nelson registered three goals on Friday as Fargo claimed the opener with a 4-1 victory before Dominic Toninato tallied the decisive marker midway through the third period on Saturday in a 3-2 triumph over Omaha. Friday's loss marked the first time all season the Lancers have dropped back-to-back games at Ralston Arena as Omaha has now fallen in three straight games at its new home.
The Lancers look to get back to their winning ways this Friday as the team makes its only trip of the season to Dubuque to battle the USHL-leading Fighting Saints. Dubuque (23-6-2, 48 pts.) enters the weekend with the league's highest standings point total and a seven-point edge over the second-place Muskegon Lumberjacks in the Eastern Conference. The Fighting Saints split a pair of games last weekend suffering a 5-4 loss to the Waterloo Black Hawks on Friday before rebounding with a convincing 8-2 victory over the Green Bay Gamblers on Saturday. Friday's loss was Dubuque's first setback on home ice this season as the team has produced an astounding 16-1 record at the Mystique Ice Center. After winning 21 of their first 25 games overall, the Fighting Saints have proven to be more vulnerable in recent weeks dropping four of their last six contests. After hosting the Lancers on Friday, Dubuque concludes its weekend in Cedar Rapids on Saturday against the RoughRiders.
Meanwhile, Omaha wraps up its road weekend on Saturday at the Edge Ice Arena with its first and only meeting of the year with the Chicago Steel. Chicago (13-14-3, 29 pts.) dropped both games last weekend in a home-and-home series with Green Bay. The Gamblers earned a 4-2 victory at home over the Steel on Friday before going into Chicago on Sunday and claiming a 6-3 triumph. All told, the Steel have dropped nine of their last 11 games overall posting a 2-8-1 record during that stretch. Before welcoming the Lancers, Chicago begins its busy weekend Friday with a home contest against the Youngstown Phantoms. The Steel then conclude their three-game weekend back at Edge Ice Arena on Sunday versus Muskegon.
Omaha Lancers - 17-15-0, 34 pts. (6th Western Conference)
- Omaha enters the week in sole possession of sixth place in the Western Conference. The Lancers are just one standings point behind the fifth-place Des Moines Buccaneers and five points behind the Lincoln Stars for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West. Meanwhile, Omaha is two standings points ahead of the seventh-place Tri-City Storm.
- F Robbie Baillargeon and D Matias Cleland are currently tied for the team lead in scoring with 23 points each. Baillargeon has tallied four goals and four assists in six games since joining the Lancers while Cleland remains second among all USHL defensemen in total scoring.
- The Lancers are 9-9 on the road this season and have outscored their opposition 53-51 in 18 prior road contests.
- Omaha is tied for second among all USHL teams in one-goal games played this season (18) and leads all USHL member clubs in one-goal victories this year (12).
- Omaha's power play currently ranks fourth overall at 20.3%. The Lancers are 13-4 when scoring a power play goal this season and currently boast the league's second-best road man-advantage at 22.5% (18-for-80). Meanwhile, Omaha's penalty kill remains the league's top rated unit at 86.5% and is the USHL's best road penalty kill at 90.8%. The Lancers have surrendered just six power play goals against in 18 road games this season.
Friday, January 11 @ Dubuque - 23-6-2, 48 pts. (1st Eastern Conference)
- Friday's contest marks the first of two meetings during the 2012-13 regular season between the Lancers and Dubuque Fighting Saints. The final get-together comes in the last weekend of the year when Omaha welcomes the Fighting Saints to Ralston Arena on Friday, April 12th.
- Dubuque enters the weekend with the USHL's highest standings point total (48). The Fighting Saints are currently three points ahead of Sioux Falls and Fargo in the league standings and seven points up on Muskegon in the Eastern Conference.
- F Mike Szmatula currently leads all Dubuque skaters and is tied for second among all USHLers in scoring with 44 points. Committed to Northeastern University, Szmatula leads all USHL skaters with 21 goals and eight power play strikes this year and enters the weekend having notched 13 points (five goals, eight assists) over his last eight games. Dubuque is 12-2-2 this season when Szmatula finds the back of the net.
- F Peter Quenneville is second among all Fighting Saints and sixth among all USHL skaters with 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists). Committed to Quinnipiac University, Quenneville has registered 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) over his last nine games.
- Dubuque is 16-1 at home this season and has outscored its opponents 83-35 in 17 prior home games.
- Dubuque's power play enters the weekend ranked third overall at 21.9% while the penalty kill for the Fighting Saints is 12th overall at 80.8%.
Saturday, January 12 @ Chicago - 13-14-3, 29 pts. (T-5th Eastern Conference)
- Saturday's contest is the first and only meeting of the 2012-13 regular season between the Lancers and Chicago Steel.
- Chicago enters the weekend tied with the Indiana Ice for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The Steel are presently three standings points behind the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East.
- F Alex Roos currently leads all Steel skaters in scoring with 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists). Committed to Colorado College, Roos has tallied just one point in his last six games and is the only player on Chicago's roster who has produced 20 or more points so far this season.
- Chicago is 5-7-1 at home this season and has been outscored 45-31 in 13 prior games at Edge Ice Arena.
- The Steel's power play enters the weekend ranked 14th overall at 14.1% while Chicago's penalty kill is 15th overall at 77.9%.