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Lakers fall 4-1 to open series at Omaha

Mark Kuhlmann/Omaha Athletics
Mark Kuhlmann/Omaha Athletics

OMAHA, Neb. – Lake Superior State fell 4-1 against former Central Collegiate Hockey Association rivals Nebraska-Omaha Friday (Dec. 30) in their holiday nonconference series opener.

With the victory, Omaha snapped a three-game losing streak against the Lakers (8-10-1) dating back to the teams' last meeting in 2010. In their last series as conference rivals, held in Sault Ste. Marie, the Lakers earned a weekend sweep, however Friday's win improves the 20th-ranked Mavericks (10-6-3) to 15-9-5 against the Lakers all-time.

The sides skated to a scoreless first period despite plenty of scoring chances by both teams. LSSU held a 14-13 advantage in shots, however went 0-for-3 on power play opportunities. The Mavericks were unsuccessful in their lone attempt with the extra attacker.

The Mavericks controlled play in the middle period and tacked on the game's first two goals. Justin Parizek broke the scoreless tie to open the scoring with a power-play marker 6:48 into the period. Three minutes later, Austin Ortega added to his team-lead with his 13th goal of the season on a one timer set up by Frederik Olofsson at the doorstep to put UNO ahead 2-0.

LSSU went to their fourth power play opportunity of the game with 3:45 remaining in the second period and were once again turned away and were unable to cut into the deficit before the second intermission.

Three minutes into the final period and seconds after killing off a penalty, J.T. Henke cut the Maverick lead in half with a heavy wrist shot while streaking up the ice on a rush for his sixth goal of the season. Freshman Luke Morgan and sophomore Anthony Nellis tallied assists on the goal by Henke.

Seemingly lifted by their first goal of the game, the Lakers added heavy offensive pressure on the Mavericks and looked to have scored the tying goal moments later but Evan Weninger made perhaps his best save of the evening with a one-timer robbing glove save on Jake Hand to preserve the one goal lead.

As quickly as the Lakers gained momentum, the wind came out of their sails on an unlucky bounce off a defenseman's stick, aiding Olofsson in putting the Mavericks ahead 3-1 with 11:33 remaining in regulation. Four minutes later, Tyler Vesel added his eighth goal of the season and the final tally of the night to put Omaha ahead 4-1.

Weninger finished with 28 saves in net for Omaha to improve to 7-3-2 on the season. Gordon Defiel made 39 saves, including 15 in the third period alone, but was tagged with the loss to drop to 8-9-1 on the season.

The Lakers conclude the nonconference series against UNO at 5:07 p.m. ET, on Saturday.