Same home ice, same result, different goalie.
The Omaha Lancers continued their trend of keeping opponents off the scoreboard at home as they posted their fourth shutout in as many games.
On Saturday night, it was Tri-City’s turn to leave the Ralston Arena ice without a goal as the Lancers (8-1-1) earned a 2-0 victory in front of 2,849 fans.
The only difference was in net. Omaha’s usual starting goaltender, Cole Bruns, who entered the night second in the USHL in goals against average, was given the night off. In his place stepped Hayden Hawkey for his second start of the year. Hawkey responded by turning away all 22 Tri-City shots for his first shutout of the season.
Lancers coach Brian Kaufman said Hawkey looked confident between the pipes.
“A lot of the time with goaltending, the easier it looks, the better job you are doing,” Kaufman said. “A lot of the highlight-reel saves happen because (the goalie) messed up and had to recover somehow. I thought he made a lot of hard saves look easy tonight.”
The Lancers’ dominance against the Storm (2-5-2) was in stark contrast to Omaha’s defensive struggles just a night earlier. On Friday, the Lancers coughed up a two-goal lead three times in a 6-5 overtime loss to Sioux City.
Kaufman said he challenged his team to play a complete game and, in the end, the first-year coach said he was pleased with the Lancers’ energy and leadership on the ice.
“We have to learn from everything — good, bad or indifferent,” he said. “Tonight we learned how to play with a lead, because last night we did not do that.”
On offense, Omaha started quickly with two first-period goals.
Jake Randolph added to his league-leading scoring total with a goal 4:21 into the game. Randolph cleaned up a loose puck in front of the net for his 20th point of the year.
Later in the period, Luca Frigo broke through the Storm defense and dropped the puck to a wide-open Tyler Hynes in front of the net for a goal.
The Lancers are scheduled to host Muskegon at 5:05 p.m. Sunday for their third game in three days. After Hawkey’s performance on Saturday night, Kaufman said his coaching staff was going to make a tough decision about who would start in net against the Lumberjacks.
“Both guys have done a great job. It’s a decision every coach wants, but it’s a tough one,” Kaufman said. “Do you take the guy who just had a shutout, or do you put in Cole who has played good for us all year? It’s a challenge. We will talk about it tonight and go from there.”
Tri-City (2-5-2) ........... 0 0 0—0
At Omaha (8-1-1) ...... 2 0 0—2
First period: 1, O, Jake Randolph (Niklas Folin, Jimmy Schuldt), 4:21. 2, Tyler Hynes (Luca Frigo) 12:17.
Shots on goal:
Tri-City ......... 12 5 5—22
Omaha ......... 12 11 5—28
Power plays: Omaha 0 for 2, Tri-City 0 for 3.
Penalties-minutes: Omaha 4 for 11, Tri-City 3 for 9.
Goalies: Omaha, Hayden Hawkey (22 shots, 22 saves, 60:00). Tri-City, Jacob Johansson (28 shots, 26 saves, 60:00).
Three stars: Hawkey, Hynes, Randolph.