5. Winning Wouter
Chicago Blackhawks prospect Wouter Peeters collected his first career USHL win, stopping 38 of 41 saves in the process. Youngstown has been patient with Peeters, giving him time to adjust to North American play. Peeters previously stopped 30 or more shots in his first two USHL appearances, including stopping 30 of 32 in a shootout loss to Muskegon. This time around, Peeters bested the Lumberjacks. The Youngstown offense helped settle the goaltender, scoring five second period goals. Matthew Barry finished with three points, while Eric Esposito was credited with two goals on the night. Max Ellis has continues to be red hot with a five-game point streak including back-to-back multi-point nights. The win puts Youngstown second in the Eastern Conference with 17 points (7-5-2-1).
Last season Dubuque had #SolowStreak, this year it’s #SteeverStreak. Alexander Steeves scored shorthanded to extend his point streak to nine games and his goal scoring streak to three. The Notre Dame commit has six goals and seven assists over those nine games, including a hat trick. The goal, paired with a Quinn Preston tally was not enough to defeat Waterloo as Jackson Cates and the Black Hawks forced a shootout and would eventually take the win. Cates finished the night with two goals, his second multi-goal performance of his career and first this season. Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matej Tomek stopped 21 of 23 in addition to all three shootout attempts for his fourth win of the year.
3. Never A Gamble
Maksim Zhukov stopped 22 of 23 shots to defeat his fellow Vegas Golden Knights prospect Jiri Patera, again. In a nearly identical performance as opening night against the RoughRiders, Zhukov this time had to handle five power play opportunities. The win broke a losing streak for Zhukov, and was the second consecutive game with a .930 sv% or better. Green Bay’s offense made a statement early, scoring four unanswered goals heading into the third period. Trenton Bliss continues to lead the Gamblers offense after scoring a pair of goals, while Josh Dunne and Brock Caufield both finished the night with two assists. Defenseman Jackson Charlesworth also finished with a goal and an assist.
2. Stampeding Again
Despite being an average 4-3-2-1 in their last 10 games, Sioux Falls has been able to string along one of the longest point streaks all season. Now 3-0-2-1, the Stampede continue to collect overtime and shootout loss points while scrapping together close victories. Sioux Falls saw their 3-1 lead after the first period slowly dwindle down to a 3-3 tie against a dangerous Fargo team. Nolan Walker scored a beautiful backhand goal to steer the momentum, but it would be his primary assist on the fourth and final goal that became more crucial. From behind the net, Walker found Adam Dawe for his ninth goal of the year, and fourth game-winner. Goaltender Mikhail Berdin had an opportunity late to score his second goal of the year into an empty net, but settled for the victory after stopping 33 of 36 shots. No crazy celebration this time, but the Winnipeg Jets prospect collected his third straight win to improve to 7-3-2-1.
1. Grand Larssony
It’s almost too easy to write up a goaltender who continues to “steal” games and just so happens to have the last name Larsson. Detroit Red Wings prospect Filip Larsson was coming off of back-to-back shutout performances for the Tri-City Storm. After stopping 25 of 27 shots against the Stars, Larsson leads the USHL with a 10-2-0-0 record, 1.35 GAA and .948 sv%. The Storm offense turned it on late for their goaltender, pumping 26 shots in the final two periods for three goals. Ronnie Attard, Adam Goodsir and Michael Maloney all picked up goals while Chase McLane was credited with an assist against his former Lincoln teammates. With the Storm win, and Fargo loss, Tri-City is now in atop the Western Conference with three games in hand over the Force.
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.