Below are five takeaways from Friday's USHL games:
5. Stampede Streak Snapped
The Sioux Falls Stampede entered Ralston Arena on a five-game winning streak, but the Omaha Lancers snapped that streak with a 4-1 home victory over the Herd. After Nolan Walker opened the scoring with his ninth tally of the year, the Lancers scored the next four goals, including a three-goal third period, to pick up the victory. Christian O'Neill tied the game four minutes after Walker's snipe, while Brendan Furry, Travis Mitchell and Noah Cates all found the back of the net in the final frame to help their team to the win. Furry, O'Neill and Cates also added assists, Cole Gallant dished out a pair of helpers and Vincent Purpura stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced for his second straight victory between the pipes.
4. Force-ing the Issue
Fargo handed Team USA's U18 team their first loss in USHL competition, knocking off the U18s 6-1 at USA Hockey Arena. The Force saw six different goal scorers in the victory: Griffin Loughran, who now has tallied three goals in his last two games, Logan Jenuwine, Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup, who recorded his league-leading 16th goal of the season, Brian Hurley, A.J. Drobot and Garrett Van Wyhe. Grant Hebert and Mark Senden added a pair of helpers each and Strauss Mann stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced for his sixth victory of the season. Fargo is now 9-2-0-0 away from Scheels Arena and remains alone atop the Western Conference standings.
3. Bucs Blank Steel
The Des Moines Buccaneers welcomed Chicago, who came into the night tied atop the Eastern Conference, to Buccaneer Arena on Friday and sent the Steel home with a 3-0 shutout. It was the Julian Napravnik show for Des Moines, as the German forward was a factor in all three of his team's goals, scoring twice and adding an assist in the victory. The two teams played a scoreless opening frame before Chase Ellingson beat the buzzer at the end of the second period, finding the back of the net at 19:58 of the middle 20 minutes, to give Des Moines a 1-0 lead heading into the third. Napravnik doubled the Bucs advantage at 12:26 and added an empty net goal to seal the victory. Ryan Snowden stopped all 23 Steel shots he faced for his second victory and first USHL shutout.
2. Balanced Black Hawks
The offense showed up for the Waterloo Black Hawks, as they knocked off the Muskegon Lumberjacks 5-4 in a back-and-forth affair at L.C. Walker Arena. Nine different Black Hawks recorded at least one point, and Michael Ferrandino (0G, 2A), Jackson Cates (1G, 1A), Solag Bakich (1G, 1A) and Mason Palmer (0G, 2A) all added multiple-point efforts. Matej Blumel picked up the game-winning goal for Waterloo late in the third period. Jared Moe made 32 saves on 36 Lumberjacks shots, giving the Minnesota commit five wins in his last six appearances. If the Black Hawks offense can keep this pace up, combined with the strong goaltending of Moe, look out for Waterloo.
The Youngstown Phantoms continued their winning ways on Friday, shutting out Team USA's U17 team 2-0 for their fifth straight victory. After a scoreless first period, Chase Gresock opened the scoring midway through the second period. The goal extended Gresock's point streak to four games, giving the Merrimack commit four points (2G, 2A) in that span. Max Ellis added his sixth tally of the season to complete the scoring. The Notre Dame commit has recorded a point in eight straight games, registering 11 points (5G, 6A) in that span. Chicago Blackhawks prospect Wouter Peeters stopped all 24 shots he faced for his fourth straight victory between the pipes and first career USHL shutout. With their fifth consecutive win, the Phantoms now sit alone atop the Eastern Conference standings.
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.