Photo by Hickling Images
Friday night saw three teams extend winning streaks to five games or more and a pair of players take a significant leap ahead in the USHL scoring race. Below are five takeaways from Friday's USHL games.
1. Steel Stay Hot
The Chicago Steel extended their win streak to six straight games with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Green Bay Gamblers, and it was familiar faces getting it done once again for the defending Clark Cup champions. Tyler Gratton scored the first two goals for Chicago, Blake McLaughlin and Jack Dugan continued their impressive scoring ways with a goal each and veteran defenseman Derek Daschke picked up the overtime winner to give the Steel another victory. Dugan and McLaughlin were outstanding yet again. Both players recorded four points (1G, 3A) on the night and are now tied atop the USHL scoring race by themselves with 14 points. Graham Lillibridge (0G, 2A) now has eight points on the season (0G, 8A) to lead all USHL defenseman and Oskar Autio remains unbeaten this year with a 31-save performance. Everything is clicking right now for Chicago, and they show no signs of slowing down.
2. Force on Fire
Another day, another win for the Fargo Force, who extended their winning streak to five games with a 5-0 shutout at home over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, who came in as winners in three of their last four games. Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup continues to produce, as the Danish forward scored another goal, his ninth of the season, to extend his point streak to seven games. He has scored a goal in six of the seven games during his current point streak and is tied for third in USHL scoring along with teammate Grant Hebert. Hebert added two points (1G, 1A) in the win and is now on a three-game point streak of his own, with six points (2G, 4A) in that span. Carter Randklev scored his first two USHL goals and added an assist, giving the Minnesota-born forward six points (2G, 4A) in his last two games. Ryan Bischel stopped all 23 shots he faced for his first career USHL shutout and put an exclamation point on a win for a team that looks as strong as any in the USHL right now.
3. Tri-City Triumphs Again
Tied with Fargo atop the Western Conference is the Tri-City Storm, who are now riding a five-game winning streak of their own courtesy of a 3-2 shootout victory in Muskegon. It was a battle all night for the Storm, who overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 before a Hugo Blixt goal tied the game with just 27 seconds remaining in regulation. Following a scoreless overtime period, Filip Forsmark and Adam Goodsir both scored in the shootout to extend Tri-City's winning streak. Detroit Red Wings prospect Filip Larsson continues to impress, stopping 27 of the 29 shots he faced to move to 6-1-0-0 on the season. The Storm keep finding different ways to win and Friday night was another example of that.
4. Other Overtime
Four games on Friday needed either overtime or a shootout to decide a victor. In addition to Chicago and Tri-City's wins in extra time, Team USA knocked off the Youngstown Phantoms in an exciting 5-4 overtime finish, while the Waterloo Black Hawks traveled to Sioux City and defeated the Musketeers 3-2 in overtime. Team USA saw five different goal scorers in their victory - Patrick Giles, Erik Middendorf, Jake Pivonka, Adam Samuelsson and Mattias Samuelsson. Mattias picked up the overtime winner and now has four points (1G, 3A) in three USHL games. Drew DeRidder remains unbeaten in USHL play as he picked up the win in relief with a 11-save performance. Jackson Cates scored the game-winning goal for Waterloo, giving the Minnesota Duluth commit a four-game point streak, with four points (3G, 1A) in those contests. Jared Moe was solid once again between the pipes, stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced for his third win of the year.
5. Saints Flying High
The Dubuque Fighting Saints have now won three straight games and have moved over the .500 mark for the first time this season with a 5-3 home victory over the Omaha Lancers. The offense was clicking yet again for the Fighting Saints, who picked up goals from five different players. Chayse Primeau, Cole Guttman, Logan Pietila, Quinn Preston and Tyce Thompson all found the back of the net in the win. Guttman has now recorded a point in three straight games, with three points (1G, 2A) in that span. "Captain Cali" is continuing to lead by example. Dubuque has scored at least five goals in each of their last three games and the offensive talent up and down the lineup is starting to show consistently.
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.