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Omaha's second-period flurry too much for Force

RALSTON, Neb.-Fargo's fast start Sunday night ended with a flurry of three Omaha goals in less than nine minutes as the Lancers defeated the Force 6-3 in Game 2 of their United States Hockey League Western Conference semifinal series.Omaha's vict...

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RALSTON, Neb.-Fargo's fast start Sunday night ended with a flurry of three Omaha goals in less than nine minutes as the Lancers defeated the Force 6-3 in Game 2 of their United States Hockey League Western Conference semifinal series.

Omaha's victory before a Ralston Arena crowd of 3,014 evened the best-of-five series at 1-1 as the series heads to Fargo for Games 3 and 4 Tuesday and Wednesday at Scheels Arena. If necessary, a decisive Game 5 would be played at Ralston Arena Friday at 7:05 p.m.

"We started just playing faster, playing better, making plays, getting better offensive zone entries," Lancers head coach David Wilkie said. "We did a really good job with the puck, not giving them too many free plays, and defensively we were pretty solid."

Fargo rightfully was feeling good after keeping the Lancers scoreless in the first period for the second consecutive game. But after again scuffing through the opening 20 minutes, the Lancers found their offensive groove midway through the second and took charge the rest of the way.

"We made some mistakes and they pounced on them," Fargo coach Cary Eades said. "They're a good hockey team, and they capitalized on some very good chances."

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The Force scored first when a shot by Fargo defenseman Jonathan McDonald bounced off the stick of a Lancers defender. Center Grant Hebert grabbed the loose puck and put it in the small opening between the left post and Lancers goalie Vinnie Purpura's right arm to give the Force a 1-0 lead.

That lead held up through the first intermission before the Lancers tied the game at 4:29 of the second. Tampa Bay draftee Nick Perbix sent a shot from the right circle that bounced off the pads of Fargo goalie Strauss Mann.

Waiting, uncovered, on the edge of the right goal crease was Omaha right wing Jack Randl. The Michigan recruit chipped the puck in for his first goal of the playoffs and 21st of the season.

That equalizer held up for just 39 seconds because Fargo right wing Sammy Steele got behind the Omaha defense and scored his 12th goal of the season to put Fargo back in front 2-1.

The remainder of the period belonged to the Lancers. Omaha scored three goals in the final 10:13 before the second intermission to take, and build on, its first lead of the series.

Right wing Brenden Furry got the Lancers even again with the first of his two goals. This one was a goal over Mann's left shoulder at 9:47.

Omaha then took the lead for good just under six minutes later. Center Ryan Savage created a turnover, gained possession of the puck and began racing toward the Fargo goal.

Streaking down the right side, the Miami (Ohio) recruit ripped a one-timer that whistled over Mann's left shoulder to give Omaha a 3-2 lead. Creating another turnover gave Omaha a two-goal lead with 1:18 remaining before the end of the second period.

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Right wing Cole Gallant poked the puck away from a Fargo forward deep in the Force's zone. Three steps later Gallant had secured the puck and put it top shelf over Mann for the 4-2 lead.

"We had a good start, we were playing our game, and we got off-track," Eades said.

Furry put Omaha ahead by three just over two minutes into the third period. The Niagara recruit skated toward the right boards to evade two Fargo defenders before racing to the front of the goal crease-in front of two more Force players-to score Omaha's fifth goal and chase Mann from the game.

Fargo responded with its final goal at 4:45. It was a power play conversion on a sharp shot from the left point by Ty Farmer. Spencer Meier and former Lancer William Fallstrom were awarded the assists.

Omaha closed the scoring with Gallant's second goal on a give-and-go from Furry that whipped past Fargo goalie Ryan Bischel at 6:00.

"We've got a series, a best-of-three series," Eades said. "We need to raise our level, it's as simple as that."

FIRST PERIOD: 1, F, Grant Hebert (Jonathan McDonald, Mark Senden), 6:12.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, O, Jack Randl (Nick Perbix, Cole Gallant), 4:29. 3, F, Sammy Steele (Ben Meyers), 5:08. 4, O, Brendan Furry (Ethan Price, Noah Cates), 9:47. 5, O, Ryan Savage (Perbix), 15:42. 6, O, Gallant (unassisted), 18:42.

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THIRD PERIOD: 7, O, Furry (Price), 2:03. 8, F, Ty Farmer (Spencer Meier, William Fallstrom), 4:45. 9, O, Gallant (Furry, Jesper Peltonen), 6:00 (power play).

SAVES: Fargo, Strauss Mann (19 shots, 14 saves), Ryan Bischel (6 shots, 5 saves, 16:12); Omaha, Vinnie Purpura (20 shots, 17 saves).

GAME THREE

USHL best-of-five series

Who: Omaha at Fargo Force

When: 7:05 p.m., Tuesday

Where: Scheels Arena

Related Topics: HOCKEYUSHL
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