Photo by Ashley Chase
Below are observations and recaps from day one of the 2017 USHL Fall Classic Youth Tournament (all 16U games).
The biggest upset came from the team that traveled the longest distance to Pittsburgh. The Alaska Oilers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to the favored Honeybaked squad, to force overtime and grab a 3-2 win in overtime. Honeybaked took a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by defenseman Mitchell Miller and forward Owen Pietila. Forward Skylar Gutierrez cut the lead to one with the Oilers’ first of the game, with three minutes to play in the second. Defenseman Colin Hedland found the back of the net for the game-tying goal midway through the third, helping Alaska force an extra frame. That’s where Dylan Abbott became the third defenseman to score in the game, potting the game-winner 2:52 into overtime.
The day started out with some upset-minded action. The hometown Pittsburgh Penguins Elite team opened the tournament with a 2-1 victory over Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Pittsburgh and Shattuck both took a lead on goals in the final minute of a period. Shattuck took a 1-0 lead in the first on a goal by Brendan Brisson with 55 seconds remaining. Pittsburgh responded quickly when Dominic Schimizzi scored to tie the game less than two minutes into the second. The Penguins tallied a last minute goal of their own as Jon Tokarczyk put home a power play goal with 56 seconds remaining in the second period, the eventual game-winner.
Alaska’s win over Honeybaked in extra time wasn’t the only overtime bout of the day. The Colorado Thunderbirds and Fox Motors dueled to overtime with zeroes on the board. Alexander ‘AJ’ Hodges scored the game-winner for Colorado 2:42 into overtime. Cal Sandquist claimed the shutout in goal for the Thunderbirds.
The Dallas Stars put the ‘lit’ in Elite to open their tournament run with a 4-2 win over the St. Louis AAA Blues. The Stars took a 3-0 lead before the Blues got on the scoreboard late in the second period. Cross Hanas, Jackson Nieuwendyk and Jack Quinn posted the first three goals of the game, before Ryan Taylor closed the gap to 3-1 for St. Louis heading to the third. Dallas held the Blues off until Cole McWard made it a one-goal game with 34 seconds to play. But it was too little, too late, as Ryan Robinson popped home an empty-netter to close out the win for Dallas.
A pair of games at Colonials Arena featured fast-paced, high-scoring, back-and-forth action with teams trading leads throughout. The Anaheim Jr. Ducks skated away with a 4-2 victory but it was the second period that told the story, with five goals scored in a span of 10:17. The Ducks jumped out front with a goal by Thomas Cody Sherman, but Minnesota quickly responded with a tally by Cole Hansen just 29 seconds later. The Blades took the lead with 6:43 left in the second, this time it was Mason Hendrickson who lit the lamp. But Anaheim snatched momentum after pressuring Minnesota hard in the final minutes of the second. Ryan Green scored to tie the game with 2:05 remaining and Joshua Groll got the go-ahead goal a minute later. The third period was a battle but no one could get past either Minnesota’s Jon Howe or Anaheim’s Ethan Lahmon. Groll scored his second of the game on an empty-netter with 41 seconds left to wrap up the 4-2 win for the Ducks.
In the final game, Chicago Mission and Belle Tire traded leads (and a few shoves) in an exciting end to day one. Belle Tire struck first with a goal by Jake Veri, but Chicago answered a few minutes later as John Johnson tied things up 1-1 at the end of the first. Mission came out swinging in the second, with Landon Slaggert and Jacob Perreault scoring a pair of goals less than three minutes apart to make it 3-1 Chicago. Belle Tire pulled within one on a goal by Adam Beauvais to make it 3-2 at the end of two. Belle Tire tied it up on a Sam Rudin goal with 7:49 to play in the third, but 1:03 later, Chicago fired home back to back goals just 27 seconds apart to regain the lead 5-3 and hold on for the win. Wyatt Schingoethe scored the go-ahead goal at 6:46 and Slaggert tallied his second of the game to seal the deal with 6:19 to go. Belle Tire’s goalie Marco Duronio had his work cut out for him, making 28 saves as Chicago Mission outshot Belle Tire 33-16.
On the Olympic sheet, Little Caesars went down to the wire with the Jersey Hitmen. Laker Aldridge scored the game-winning goal with 5:55 remaining for the first goal of the game, to put Little Caesars ahead 1-0. Despite a 28-save performance from Jersey’s John Werber, the Hitmen couldn’t put the puck past Joseph “Tucker” Tynan and Little Caesars held on for the win.
The Badger State was well-represented in Team Wisconsin’s 5-1 victory of Compuware. Five different goal-scorers led a balanced onslaught through the first two periods. Wisconsin jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with goals by Jack Rhode and Chad Larsen in the opening two and a half minutes. Barrett Brooks, Sam Techel and Cade Lemmer all lit the lamp in the second frame to put Wisconsin up 5-0 before Compuware’s Barak Braslavski scored their lone goal.
Game 1 – Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 2, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 1
Game 2 – Colorado Thunderbirds 1, Fox Motors 0 (OT)
Game 3 – Dallas Stars Elite 4, St. Louis AAA Blues 2
Game 4 – Anaheim Jr. Ducks 4, Minnesota Blades 2
Game 5 – Alaska Oilers 3, Honeybaked 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Team Wisconsin 5, Compuware 1
Game 7 – Little Caesars 1, New Jersey Hitmen 0
Game 8 – Chicago Mission 5, Belle Tire 3
3 pts. – Chicago Mission
3 pts. – Anaheim Jr. Ducks
0 pts. – Belle Tire
0 pts. – Minnesota Blades
3 pts. – Dallas Stars Elite
2 pts. – Alaska Oilers
1 pt. – Honeybaked
0 pts. – St. Louis AAA Blues
3 pts. – Team Wisconsin
3 pts. – Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
0 pts. – Shattuck-St. Mary’s
0 pts. – Compuware
3 pts. – Little Caesars
2 pts. – Colorado Thunderbirds
1 pt. – Fox Motors
0 pts. – Jersey Hitmen
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five 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.