SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Musketeers came into their annual New Year’s Eve game against Omaha after a six-goal performance against Fargo on Tuesday.
But Omaha’s defense provided a different test for the Musketeers as the Lancers had allowed only 31 goals this season coming into the contest, the second-fewest in the USHL.
The Musketeers had their chances with 29 shots on goal to Omaha’s 21, but even with limited chances, the Lancers were able to fend off the Musketeers for a 4-1 victory on New Year’s Eve at the Tyson Events Center.
“Omaha packs it in, they play tight, they play to have a hard defensive game. I don’t think we got to the goalie the way we needed to,” Musketeers coach Luke Strand said. “In turn, he’s a talented guy. So if you are going to let him see pucks, not have traffic and find rebounds, he’s going to look as he did. That’s part of what we have to fix. The beauty is we have to play them again on Saturday.
“Great crowd, great to be back home and I am excited to have that much electricity in the building.”
Defensively, the Musketeers gave up four goals, two of which were scored in the final two minutes.
Sioux City gave up 10 shots on goal and one goal in the first period but the Musketeers held the Lancers offense in check the next two periods, allowing only nine shots on goal and a goal before the final two minutes of the game.
The Musketeers were four-for-four with their penalty kill before Omaha got two power play goals in the final two minutes.
Sioux City's offense was 0-for-3 in power play chances.
“I thought we had a slow start defensively but then we didn’t give up a lot for a big majority,” Strand said. “Then at the end there, there’s two sides. There’s guys trying to go for the offensive side and try and press and they put us in a moment to press.
“The penalty kill was good and the guys did a nice job with that. Against a tight team in a tight game, you have to be great with special teams and we didn’t score when we had our chances.”
Sioux City started strong with a few shots on goal but the game was scoreless after the first eight minutes.
With a little under nine minutes left in the first period, Omaha’s Nikita Tarasevich fired a shot on goal with a couple of players in front of goalkeeper Alex Tracy. The puck found the front corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Musketeers only had three more shots on goal the rest of the first period and one of them was on a 2-on-1 shorthanded attempt. Omaha goalkeeper Jakub Dobes stopped the slap shot as the Lancers stayed up 1-0 at the end of the first period.
Sioux City missed on a couple of power plays in the second period but did tie the game with under seven minutes left.
Brian Carrabes went wide and Ben Steeves found him. Carrabes skated in a bit and his shot got past Dobes for the goal to make it 1-1.
However, a minute later, Sam Antenucci, a former Musketeer, got free and scored to put Omaha back up 2-1.
The Musketeers had 11 shots on goal in the second period compared to only four for the Lancers but Omaha was able to keep the lead.
The Musketeers dominated play on Omaha’s side of the ice for the first half of the third period but they couldn’t get the tying goal. Omaha then started to limit Sioux City’s chances.
With less than four minutes left, Omaha went on its fifth power play of the game and for the first time, the Lancers were able to convert as Ryan Lautenbach found the back right corner of the net for a 3-1 lead with 1:45 left.
Omaha then put the game out of reach when on another power play, Karpa scored his second goal of the game, this time with 25 seconds left, for the 4-1 win.