Photo by Hickling Images
Fargo Force at Lincoln Stars
Friday: 7:35 pm CST (HD)
Saturday: 7:05 pm CST (HD)
These two teams are coming off a weekend series that was split at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND. The crowded Western Conference standings have been well-documented all season long, and this weekend’s matchup could make or break playoff aspirations. Fargo enters the weekend with a 7-2-1-0 record in their last 10 games, while Lincoln sports a just as impressive 6-3-1-0 mark.
The Force lead the season series 2-1-0-0, mainly due to a well-balanced attack. Fargo has three players currently ranked in the top-10 in USHL scoring, including Jack Adams who is currently third with 36 points in 31 games. Force captain Blake Lizotte is fifth with 33 points, and Hank Crone is tied for seventh with 31 points. 12 different players on Fargo’s roster have a positive +/- rating, including rookie defenseman Clayton Phillips. The Edina High School product is second amongst the team’s blueliners in the category, but it’s his skating and hockey intelligence that has NHL scouts interested.
Another crucial piece to Fargo’s success this year has been the emergence of Shane McMahan in his third season. After beginning 2016-17 with the Aston Rebels (NAHL), McMahan has put together a career season scoring 20 points including three game-winning goals. The Irvine, CA native was rewarded for his breakout season with a commitment to play college hockey at Minnesota State University, Mankato next season.
Lincoln has been a team led by its goaltending, and has found an offensive spark since the turn of the new year. Henry Bowlby enters the weekend on a six-game point streak, and Sam Sternschein looks to extend his six-game point streak at home. Sternschein has scored 20 points in 21 games, including 13 goals, since he was acquired from Cedar Rapids earlier this season. Ethen Frank has also found an offensive rhythm, scoring in five of six games since New Year’s. Frank recently passed his career-best in goals and points scored after putting up a career-high eight-game point streak. Adding to the offense was the return of veteran forward Collin Peters, who already has a point in his first two games back with Lincoln.
Now, to the aforementioned Lincoln goaltending. Cayden Primeau will have fans tuning in to see if he gets a start in net after posting a shutout in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Primeau was the best goaltender at the World Junior A Challenge and USA Hockey/CCM All-American Prospects Game, and now looks to carry the momentum established in the Top Prospects Game into the second half of the season. Also an option in net is Josef Korenar, who ranks second in the USHL with a .932 sv%.
Fargo will most likely match up Matthew Murray in net against the Stars. The University of Massachusetts commit has carried the load in Fargo most of the season, and has started the new year off with a 4-2-0-0 record.
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Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.