PEORIA — Jakub Lacka and Kris Carlson provided the spark needed to get the Central Illinois Flying Aces back in the win column.
Lacka scored the first two goals and assisted the third, while Carlson turned aside 29 chances as the Aces snapped a four-game skid with a 5-1 win over Waterloo in the second of four "home away from home" games Sunday at Carver Arena.
"We told ourselves that we had to win this game, that was the most important thing," said Lacka, who hails from Bratislava, Slovakia, and was facing a friend from home in Black Hawks goalie Matej Tomek.
Caleb Kiefiuk, Zach Risteau and Drew Elser also scored for the Aces (4-4-0), who salvaged two points in their first three-game weekend. Max Andreev, who had a six-game point streak snapped Saturday, notched his league-best eighth assist.
"We came into this game and we wanted to do it for the team, to feel good and bring some momentum into practice," said Carlson.
Waterloo (4-4-0) spoiled Carlson's bid for the first Central Illinois shutout on Bobby Trivigno's power play goal with 12:18 to play. Tomek faced 28 shots as the Aces dictated most of the action after a sluggish first five minutes.
"We were kind of careless with the puck and we had a conversation as a group after the first five minutes about managing the puck and not leaving Carlie out to dry," said first-year coach Mike Watt. "He made some key, timely saves and that really gave us an opportunity."
Both teams had a player in the penalty box when Lacka forced a turnover in the neutral zone and raced in alone up the right wing, firing a shot over Tomek's glove side shoulder with 10:38 left in the first period.
"It was funny because I was thinking three days ago what I would do in a breakaway (against Tomek)," said Lacka. "I was just thinking the guy behind me must be very close. I just have to skate, skate, skate and I have to score."
Two minutes later, he was in the perfect spot in front of the right post when a puck pinballed directly to him through traffic above the crease for a simple poke that made it 2-0.
Five minutes into the second, Lacka got the puck in the defensive end and threw it out to Kiefiuk, who sneaked behind the Black Hawks defenders on a line change. Kiefiuk converted the breakaway with a backhand around Tomek's glove side and just under the crossbar.
A wave of pressure produced the fourth Central Illinois goal in bang-bang-bang fashion. Tomek blocked Jeremy Davidson's initial shot from the right side and managed to swivel in front to deny Marko Reifenberger's first rebound try. But the second rebound came out to a charging Risteau, who ripped it into the cage for his first USHL goal with 4:18 left in the second.
Seconds after Carlson made a sliding pad save to rob a Ben Copeland one-timer, Copeland sent a circle-to-circle feed to Trivigno for the lone Waterloo tally. Elser iced the victory with an empty netter with 1:14 to play, matching Lacka with a team-high six goals.
"I think this is a good righting of the ship," said Watt. "We'll learn from it and we'll get back to work Tuesday with some good practices."
The Aces wrap up their portion of the "Hockey In the Heartland" showcase in Peoria next weekend with afternoon games Saturday against Des Moines and Sunday against Chicago. The Saturday game is part of a doubleheader with the regularly scheduled Peoria Rivermen game.