Photo by Hickling Images
Below are five takeaways from Friday's USHL games:
5. Storm Reach 20
The Tri-City Storm became the first USHL team this season to reach the 20-win mark, as they took down the Youngstown Phantoms 5-1 at Covelli Centre. Mike Regush's seventh goal of the season, with one assist coming from Chase Gresock to extend both player's point streaks to six games, gave Youngstown a 1-0 through 20 minutes. Tri-City stormed back in the next two periods, scoring three times in the middle frame and twice in the third period to walk away with the commanding victory. Blais Richartz, Jake Crespi, Johnny McDermott, Sam Hentges and Ronnie Attard all found the back of the net for the Storm. Richartz, McDermott, Hentges and Attard all added an assist to earn multi-point nights and Jake Barczewski stopped all but one of the 28 shots he faced to move to 6-4-0-1 on the year. Tri-City now sits just a single point out of the top spot in the USHL standings, with three games-in-hand on first place Fargo.
4. Bucs Blank Lancers
The Omaha Lancers have been one of the hottest teams in the USHL as of late, but the Des Moines Buccaneers didn't seem to mind, as they entered Ralston Arena on Friday night and walked away with a 3-0 shutout. After a scoreless opening period, Chase Ellingson broke the scoreless tie just 40 seconds into the second period with his seventh goal of the season. Nicolas Werbik then added his team-leading 14th goal of the season just under eight minutes later, doubling the Des Moines lead to 2-0 heading into the third period. The Buccaneers continued to shut the home team down in the final frame, adding an Eric Otto empty-net tally to seal the victory. 2018 USHL/NHL Top Prospects game participant Jake Kucharski split time with new Buccaneers netminder Roman Durny, and the two goaltenders combined for a 24-save shutout (Kucharski - 17 saves, Durny - 7 saves).
3. Saints Stymie Gamblers
The Dubuque Fighting Saints now sit alone in fourth place in the Eastern Conference thanks to a 3-0 road shutout of the Green Bay Gamblers at Resch Center. The visitors scored once in each period, with Santeri Virtanen, Quinn Preston and Adam Tisdale all finding the back of the net for Dubuque in the victory. Josh Maniscalco dished out a pair of assists to reach the double-digit mark in helpers on the season, and Cole Weaver was stellar between the pipes, turning all 24 shots he faced aside for his first career USHL shutout. The recent Niagara commit has been a revelation for the Fighting Saints in goal, as he currently sits sixth in the USHL in GAA (2.18) and just outside the top-10 in SV% (.903).
2. Surging Steel
The Chicago Steel have now won back-to-back games and three straight contests at Fox Valley Ice Arena thanks to a 6-2 triumph over the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The big names showed up for the home team once again, as Baker Shore (2G, 0A), Blake McLaughlin (2G, 0A) and Jack Dugan (0G, 3A) recorded multi-point contests along with Aaro Vidgren (0G, 2A), Robert Mastrosimone (1G, 1A) and captain Derek Daschke (1G, 1A). Shore and McLaughlin both have five goals in their last two games and are now tied with Dugan for the team lead in goals (16). With his three-assist performance, Dugan is now the USHL scoring leader, as the Vegas Golden Knights prospect now sits with 37 points (16G, 21A) through 26 games. Oskar Autio made 20 saves for his third win in his last four appearances.
1. Wild Night at the Stable
The craziest game of the night was played in Cedar Rapids, as Team USA's U18 team knocked off the RoughRiders 7-6 in a high-scoring affair. The U18s led 4-3 after a first period that featured six lead changes. The teams alternated three goals over the next two periods, as Team USA answered every time the RoughRiders cut the visitors' lead to one, leading to the eventual 7-6 final score. Cedar Rapids captain Marc McLaughlin put fourth a stellar effort in the loss, putting up five points (2G, 3A). Five different members of Team USA recorded multi-point efforts of their own in the victory - Oliver Wahlstrom (2G, 2A), Jack Hughes (1G, 2A), Joel Farabee (1G, 2A), Jake Wise (0G, 3A), Jonathan Gruden (1G, 1A) and Trevor Janicke (0G, 2A). With his three-point performance, Hughes is now up to 25 points (5G, 20A) through 13 games, just one point shy of averaging two points/game. He continues to lead all NTDP players in scoring with those 25 points and, along with Wise, Farabee and Wahlstrom, is one of four Team USA players who is averaging at least 1.50 points/game. Drew DeRidder stopped 16 shots to remain unblemished in USHL competition, moving his record to 8-0-0-0.
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.