This weekend's USHL games mark the end of the first month of the season, and each team will be looking to gain some momentum this weekend and carry it over to November. Each week, USHL.com will preview five games from around the league and take a look at the matchup and storylines surrounding each contest.
1. Friday, Oct. 20, 7:05 PM CT - Central Illinois Flying Aces at Dubuque Fighting Saints (HockeyTV Free Game of the Week) and Saturday, Oct. 21, 3:07 PM CT - Dubuque Fighting Saints at Central Illinois Flying Aces
This Eastern Conference home-and-home series an opportunity for both teams to right the ship after a tough weekend. Dubuque fell 5-3 at the hands of the Chicago Steel on Friday, while Central Illinois dropped games to Madison and Cedar Rapids last weekend. Max Andreev has been the big story for the Flying Aces early in the season, as the Cornell commit is currently tied for the USHL lead in scoring with eight points (1G, 7A) in five games. He has at least one point in every game he's played this season and is coming off a three-assist performance in his two games last weekend. Dubuque's offense has struggled early in the year, scoring two goals or fewer in each of their first five games in 2017-18. There's plenty of talent on the Fighting Saints roster, however, to have that trend continue for much longer. Players like Santeri Virtanen, Quinn Preston and Cole Guttman have shown to be dynamic offensive players in the past and will look to get back to their scoring ways starting on Friday. Friday night's game will be free for fans to watch in HD at USHL.HockeyTV.com.
2. Friday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 28, 7:05 PM ET - Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at Team USA
Friday night will see the U18 team host Cedar Rapids before the RoughRiders take on the U17 squad on Saturday at USA Hockey Arena. Cedar Rapids is coming off a pair of impressive wins last weekend against Lincoln and Cedar Illinois. Marek Valach and Nathan Smith have both recorded six points each in their first five games to lead the RoughRiders, reigning USHL Defenseman of the Week Chase Blackmun is looking to keep it going after a three-assist weekend and Blake Pietila, along with Vegas Golden Knights prospect Jiri Patera, picked up a win between the pipes last weekend.
Team USA is the hottest story in the USHL right now, as they are the only unbeaten team remaining in the league.
The U18s will be playing in their second USHL game of the season, while the U17s are coming off a weekend sweep of the Green Bay Gamblers. Five of the top seven rookie scorers are playing for the U17 team, including Jack Hughes, who scored a highlight reel goal on Sunday afternoon. Cole Caufield scored three times in the sweep over the Gamblers. The U18 team has only played one USHL games but their top players played well in that contest, including top NHL Draft Prospects Oliver Wahlstrom (3G, 1A) and Joel Farabee (2G, 0A). Both team's goaltending has been strong, too, as Spencer Knight, Cameron Rowe and former RoughRiders goaltender Drew DeRidder have all picked up wins for Team USA.
3. Friday, October 27, 7:35 PM CT - Lincoln Stars at Tri-City Storm
This will be the second time in six days that the Stars and Storm will face off, and Lincoln will be looking for revenge after Tri-City won 3-0 last Saturday. Tri-City will once again to look to reigning USHL Goaltender of the Week and Detroit Red Wings prospect Filip Larsson, who stopped 50 of the 51 shots he faced on the weekend, including all 25 on Saturday in a 3-0 win over Lincoln to give him his first USHL shutout. Lincoln is coming off a pair of tough losses over the weekend and will be looking to rebound against the team that handed them their latest defeat. Rookie Devlin McCabe is leading the way for the Stars offensively, with five points (2G, 3A) in his first five games, putting him in a tie for third in USHL rookie scoring. Lincoln's goaltending has also been solid with Tomas Vomacka, who currently sits in the top 10 among all USHL netminders in both GAA (2.01) and SV% (.935).
4. Friday, Oct. 27, 7:05 PM CT - Chicago Steel at Sioux City Musketeers
The last time these two teams squared off was arguably the most exciting, drama-filled game in USHL history, as the Steel knocked off the Musketeers 2-1 in overtime in Game 5 of the 2017 Clark Cup Final, giving Chicago the team's first ever championship. While many of the players who participated in that game have moved onto college hockey and elsewhere, it is still an intriguing matchup on both sides. The Steel seem to hardly be skipping a beat, as the defending champions are off to a 4-1-0-0 start, thanks in part to Jack Dugan. The Vegas Golden Knights prospect hasn't slowed down, as he is tied for first in the USHL in goals (6) and points (8). He has scored in each of his first five USHL games and has recorded multiple points in three of those contests. The Musketeers will be looking to get back to .500 with a win in this game and will lean on leading scorer Sampo Ranta (3G, 1A) along with goaltender Matt Jurusik, who comes into the weekend sporting a 2.56 GAA and .903 SV%.
5. Sunday, Oct. 29, 3:05 PM CT - Sioux Falls Stampede at Green Bay Gamblers
Both teams are looking to rebound after a tough pair of games last weekend. The Stampede dropped home games to Des Moines and Waterloo, while Green Bay lost a pair of contests in Plymouth against undefeated Team USA. Sioux Falls will look to leading scorers Adam Dawe, Reid Stefanson and Nolan Walker (6 points each) to get their club back on the right track, and Green Bay will lean on veterans Josh Dunne (5 points), Matt Jennings (4 points), Rory Herrman (4 points) and Nolan Moyle (4 points) to carry the offensive load. The goaltending matchup in this contest is set to be outstanding as well, as it has a chance to feature a pair of NHL prospects in Mikhail Berdin (Winnipeg Jets) and Maksim Zhukov (Vegas Golden Knights).
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.