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Omaha Lancers host Offutt AFB Night

U.S. Air Force Col. Mike Manion drops the puck during the Omaha Lancers' inaugural Offutt Air Force Base Night at Ralston Arena, Nov. 11, 2018. The Lancers continued on to beat the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 5-4 (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Col. Mike Manion drops the puck during the Omaha Lancers' inaugural Offutt Air Force Base Night at Ralston Arena, Nov. 11, 2018. The Lancers continued on to beat the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 5-4 (Courtesy photo)

The Omaha Lancers pose for a photo with a group of fans at Peacekeeper Lanes on Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The Lancers recently celebrated Veterans Day by hosting its inaugural Offutt Air Force Base Night at Ralston Arena. (Courtesy photo)

The Omaha Lancers pose for a photo with a group of fans at Peacekeeper Lanes on Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The Lancers recently celebrated Veterans Day by hosting its inaugural Offutt Air Force Base Night at Ralston Arena. (Courtesy photo)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The Omaha Lancers junior ice hockey team celebrated Veterans Day by hosting its inaugural Offutt Air Force Base Night at Ralston Arena where they defeated the RoughRiders from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nov. 11, 2018.

Hundreds of service members and their families with ties to the installation experienced a close game, as the Lancers overcame deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 to beat the RoughRiders with a 5-4 final score.

Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, conducted a ceremonial puck drop, and the Offutt Honor Guard presented the colors before the game.

“This is just a wonderful time for folks to come out and enjoy some very competitive, high-level hockey,” Manion said. “It’s a wonderful arena, it’s a wonderful crowd and the talent out there is fantastic.”

Given the proximity of Offutt to Ralston Arena, the Lancers feel that recognizing the service and sacrifice of military and their families in the form of discounted rates and a military week featuring armed forces-themed jerseys auctioned off for charity after the Friday night game is just a small token of appreciation, said Kirk Luedeke, the team’s director of hockey operations.

Last month, Lancers players attended a bowl with our fans event held at Offutt’s Peacekeeper Lanes, and are looking forward to other opportunities to connect with the military community, Luedeke said.

 “I think the fan base here is so amazing that it makes it even more worthwhile,” said Belinda Stussy, 55th Force Support Squadron Information Tickets and Travel lead. “You know that the guys are supported, you know that we want them to win, we want them to do well, and even when they don’t we love them and support them anyway. The support you guys give us in the military is unbeatable, and we really appreciate what you guys do for us and we hope that we can help out by bringing some more fans into the seats.”

Although military week happens every Veterans Day, the U.S. Hockey League season runs from early October through mid-April, with the majority of games occurring on the weekends. Members of the armed services are able to purchase discounted tickets through the ITT office for all home games along with all of the other programs available through the ITT office.

 “We are thrilled to have so many servicemen, women and families at our games supporting the team and community,” said Lancers owner Anthony ‘Koots’ DiCesare. “The Lancers are grateful for the service and sacrifice of so many in the Omaha area and we are honored to have them in attendance at our games.”

Last season, the Lancers finished with the second-best regular season in the USHL and hope to cap off 2019 with an even better finish in its quest for an eighth Clark Cup title.

Since the Lancers were established in 1986, the team has won seven Clark Cup titles as USHL champions, the highest total of any of the USHL’s 17 member clubs. The team moved to its current home at the Ralston Arena in October 2012. Some of the team’s most notable alumni are current National Hockey League players Paul Stastny, Erik Haula, Ryan Donato and Tucker Poolman.