January 3 Game ReCap
Des Moines, Iowa - Des Moines had lengthy sustained pressure in the first period but not only did Omaha withstand that flurry, they picked up a goal in transition; after a strong shift that had Lancer heads spinning at times with Alex Gaffney chipping a puck high out of the defensive zone to give his goaltender a breather but he found Liam Devlin behind the Buccaneers' defense with that pass and Devlin took it in on a partial breakaway and scored on his forehand at 6:03 of the first. Just over three minutes later Des Moines would draw even when Los Angeles Kings' draft pick Alex Laferriere weaved through neutral ice and set up shop on the inside of the right circle where he snapped a shot that kissed off the far goalpost and in at the 9:04 mark of the period. The Lancers would get the last goal of the first though when an Aiden Dubinsky shot deflected off a Buccaneer and the first USHL goal for the defenseman gave the visiting Omaha squad a 2-1 lead going into the second period.
Des Moines really buckled down defensively in the 2nd period, only allowing four shots on goal in the middle frame and outshooting Omaha 8-4. The Bucs would pick up the only goal of the period when Paul Davey raced to a puck below the goal line and peeled it off the end board and fed a pass backwards between his legs that Lucas Mercuri skated onto. Mercuri then curled around the goaltender and patiently out waited goalie Grant Riley and once Riley dove and was down on the ice Mercuri slid the puck into the yawning net to tie the game at 12:19 of the middle period.
After establishing themselves in the second period Des Moines rolled that into momentum in the third and it was all Buccaneers in the final period as they scored just 3:52 into the third when defenseman Trevor Mitchell got his first USHL goal after being fed from below the goal line by Paul Davey and ripped a wrist shot through a slew of traffic that somehow came out the other side cleanly and into the back of the net. Des Moines would double their first lead of the game exactly a minute and a half later as Laferriere lead a 2-on-1 from the left wing side and saucered a pass to Matt Choupani who roofed it over the outstretched glove of Riley. Choupani came into the game trailing Tanner Latsch for the team lead eight goals and would regain that title after he scored a MidAmerican Energy power play goal after using a give-and-go from Mercuri and one-timing it past the blocker of Riley with under 37 seconds left in the game to make it a 5-2 final for the Buccaneers.
Des Moines outshot Omaha every period and 30-18 for the game while securing a victory for goalie Josh Langford who made 16 saves on 18 shots on goal and got his first USHL victory in his first decision. The win improved the Buccaneers to 9-8-1 on the season and the two points allowed Des Moines to leapfrog Omaha for sole possession of second place in the Western Conference. Up next for the Buccaneers is a home-and-home with the Lincoln Stars; after traveling to The Ice Box in Lincoln, NE this coming Friday the Bucs host the Stars on Saturday, January 9th, with puck drop at 6:00 pm, it will be a Mitten & Hat Toss night! Bring a new pair of mittens or hats and toss them when the Bucs score their first goal and we will donate them to children in need at Children & Families of Iowa! Tickets are on sale at Bucshockey.com or Hyveetix.com. The Bucs will return to Buccaneer Arena on January 30!