KEARNEY, Neb. – Christian Horn tallied four points, while his center Joel L’Esperance scored his third and fourth goals of the season as the Tri-City Storm (3-5-2) ended their six-game losing streak, defeating the Waterloo Black Hawks (7-3-0) 4-2 on Wednesday night at the Viaero Event Center.
Storm goaltender Jacob Johansson was magnificent once again for the Storm, making 34 saves on a Waterloo team that continued to throw the puck that the net.
Forwards Drew Mayer and Joel L’Esperance put the Storm on the board in the opening period and allowed their team to take control of the game. For Mayer, it was his first goal of the season in his tenth game wearing a Storm sweater.
The Troy, Mich. native took a pass from Horn just over the opposing blue line and wristed the puck over the left shoulder of Waterloo goaltender Mathias Israelsson and into the net to give Tri-City a 1-0 lead.
L’Esperance added to the lead later in the frame on another play started by Horn, who sprung linemate Dan Labosky free in front of the Waterloo net. Labosky then set up L’Esperance, who was all alone and made it count, extending the Storm lead to 2-0.
Midway through the second, Christian Horn joined in on the Storm offensive attack, scoring his first goal of the season to make it 3-0. Horn finished his first game in front of the Kearney faithful with one goal and three assists. Assists on the play were given to Cecere and Labosky.
But the Black Hawks bounced back, scoring two straight goals of their own to make it 3-2. Within two minutes of one another, Alec McCrea and Brandon Salerno each slipped the puck past Johansson and tightened the game up going into third period.
In danger of extending the losing streak, the Storm entered the third period determined to pick up win number three of the season by playing hard nose defense against the Black Hawks.
Waterloo kept it interesting, as they put 16 shots on net, but Johansson came through when his team needed him most.
After a slow beginning to the period, L’Esperance scored his second goal of the night and the Storm never looked back. Once again with assists from Labosky and Horn, the Brighton, Mich. native found the net for the fourth time this season to put the Storm up 4-2 with 8:26 left in the game.
With only minutes remaining, Waterloo pulled goalie Mathias Israelsson and sent six players on the ice in hopes of a comeback. Johansson proved to be too much as he picked up his third win on the young season.
Tri-City will stay at home in Kearney to face the Lincoln Stars on Friday night at the Viaero Event Center. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
Notes: The Storm scratched forwards Austin Poganski, Joey DiBenedetto, Chase McMurphy and Steven Haydon. Forward Ross Olsson was also scratched, serving a four-game suspension.…
Tri-City – Drew Mayer (power play) (Christian Horn, Garrett Cecere) 7:59
Tri-City – Joel L’Esperance (Dan Labosky, Christian Horn) 14:34
Tri-City – Christian Horn (Garrett Cecere, Dan Labosky) 9:42
Waterloo – Alec McCrea (power play) (Ryan Cloonan, Nick Olczyk) 16:07
Waterloo – Brandon Salerno (Nick Olczyk, Ryan Cloonan) 17:28
Tri-City – Joel L’Esperance (Dan Labosky, Christian Horn) 11:34
Tri-City – Christian Horn – (Tripping), 2 min, 4:54
Waterloo – Mark Friedman – (Interference), 2 min, 6:20
Tri-City – Drew Mayer – (Elbowing), 2 min, 11:28
Waterloo – Brandon Montour – (Slashing), 2 min, 15:40
Tri-City – Jalen Schulz – (Interference), 2 min, 2:12
Waterloo – Derek Pratt – (Interference), 2 min, 4:58
Tri-City – Joel L’Esperance – (High Sticking), 2 min, 10:38
Waterloo – Blake Winiecki – (Charging), 2 min, 11:59
Tri-City – Kyle Eastman – (Tripping), 2 min, 15:40
Tri-City – Joel L’Esperance – (Tripping), 2 min, 6:32
Tri-City – Sean Lang – (Holding), 2 min, 15:40
Tri-City – Nolan Gluchowski – (Roughing), 2 min, 19:54
Waterloo – Zach Sanford – (Roughing), 2 min, 19:54
Tri-City – Jacob Johansson – (Roughing), 2 min, 19:54
Tri-City – 1/4
Waterloo – 1/8
Tri-City: 11, 10, 9 = Total: 30
Waterloo: 8, 12, 16 = Total: 36
Tri-City – Jacob Johansson – 34/36
Waterloo – Mathias Israellsson – 26/30