The Green Bay Gamblers (14-19-5) defeated the Omaha Lancers (21-12-5) by a 5-4 regulation mark Friday evening at the Resch Center – a winning effort that erased Green Bay’s season-long losing streak of nine games to begin the 2015 portion of its regular-season schedule.
The victory meanwhile improved the Gamblers’ record to 14-19-5 and points mark to 33, which is 12 points removed from the final playoff spot in the United States Hockey League’s Eastern Division with 22 contests yet to be decided on the ice.
“Get rid of that month of January,” said Gamblers head coach Pat Mikesch after the win. “It was tough on these kids, it was tough on us in here. We didn’t stop working, but at the same time, we didn’t get any results. This was good for them, and good for all of us.”
After a scoreless and slow-developing opening period that saw a total of seven shots on goal between both clubs, Green Bay’s forward lines applied pressure in the second frame, tallying 18 shots on goal – most in one period since Jan. 3 – and converting on three of them.
Derek Barach accounted for one of Green Bay’s three goals in the second period Friday evening, along with Aaron O’Neill and Marc Michaelis. Jason Pawloski successfully warded off 17 of 18 Omaha shots on goal by the sound of the second horn, helping the Gamblers to a 3-1 advantage.
“You get (Ryan) Tait and (Joey) Marooney on separate lines, and that’s a lot of speed out there,” Mikesch said. “And then with Derek (Barach) out there on the other line. We’re getting good speed from every line. I thought everyone contributed tonight offensively and played in key situations.”
Lancers forward Anthony Angelo responded to tally his club’s second goal of the evening less than a minute into the third period, trimming Green Bay’s lead to 3-2. Chris Brown netted his club-bet thirteenth goal seven minutes later, however, and the Gamblers’ two-goal lead was once again intact.
Omaha yet again followed suit, scoring two goals (one with an extra attacker) on Pawloski during the back-half of the final period. Sam Miletic’s power play score managed to break up both, but a faceoff in Green Bay’s zone with 18 seconds left open the possibility for another Lancers goal.
Despite a flurry of incoming shots and an extra attacker on the ice, Pawloski remained steadfast between the pipes in the game’s waning moments, which sealed Green Bay’s 5-4 victory. Overall, Pawloski finished the evening going 29-of-33 (.879%) in save opportunities in net.
“I still think we can make things easier on ourselves,” Mikesch said. “We responded well after goals against – we kept coming back. In the past, we’ve got in a little bit of a panic mode in those situations, but we kept pressing. I thought we played a much faster game, and getting (Chris) Brown back in the lineup helps.”