Photo by Hickling Images
Below are five takeaways from Saturday's USHL games:
5. Hentges Leads Storm
Sam Hentges has been one of the offensive leaders of the Tri-City Storm since being acquired from the Des Moines Buccaneers earlier in January, and Saturday night was no different. The St. Cloud State commit scored both goals, including the game winner, in the Storm's 2-1 overtime victory over Youngstown, leading to the weekend road sweep of the Phantoms. Eric Esposito opened the scoring midway through the first period, giving Youngstown a 1-0 through 20 minutes. Hentges evened the proceedings seven minutes into the second period, and the game stayed at a 1-1 tie through the remainder of regulation. Just 18 seconds into the extra period, Hentges found the back of the net, his eighth goal of the season, giving the visitors the victory. In his four games with Tri-City, Hentges has recorded five points (4G, 1A), including multi-point efforts in his last two games. Jake Barczewski picked up wins in both starts this weekend by stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced. The Storm are now on top of the USHL standings with 44 points, one clear of the Fargo Force.
4. Durham's Dazzling Debut
A day after Cole Weaver picked up his first USHL shutout, the Dubuque Fighting Saints chose James Durham to start in his first USHL game. The Grand Rapids, MI native was outstanding in his debut, stopping all 32 shots he faced as Dubuque shut out the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 3-0 at The Stable. The Fighting Saints scored once in every period, as Chayse Primeau opened the scoring in the first period, Jan Kern lit the lamp in the middle frame to double his team's lead and Scott Corbett completed the scoring in the final 20 minutes of play with an empty-net goal. Josh Maniscalco dished out two more assists, giving him four helpers on the weekend. The Fighting Saints now sit alone in second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
3. Borgiel Lifts Lumberjacks
Another goaltender who made his USHL debut on Saturday night was Zach Borgiel of the Muskegon Lumberjacks, and he did not disappoint. The Gratiot, MI native made 21 saves on 22 shots to led his team to a 4-1 victory on the road over the Waterloo Black Hawks. After a scoreless first 20 minutes, Mikael Hakkarainen and Vincent de Mey found the back of the net in the second period, giving Muskegon a 2-0 advantage heading into the final frame. After Will Schlagenhauf extended the Lumberjacks lead to 3-0, Jackson Cates got Waterloo on the board to make it a 3-1 game midway through the third. That's all that Borgiel and his team would allow for the remainder of the game, and Anthony Del Gaizo added his USHL-leading 23rd goal, an empty-net tally, late in regulation to seal the victory. He also added an assist in the win and is now tied atop the USHL scoring race with 38 points.
2. U18s Furious Comeback Sinks Steel
The Chicago Steel looked to be on their way to victory, holding a 3-1 lead over Team USA's U18 team, but the U18s stormed back in the final seven minutes of the game, scoring three times in that span to walk out of Fox Valley Ice Arena with a 4-3 comeback victory. Matteo Pietroniro, Robert Mastrosimone and Blake McLaughlin scored, along with a Jack DeBoer tally late in the first period, to stake the Steel to a 3-1 lead seven minutes into the third period. The U18s cut the lead to one with an Oliver Wahlstrom tally, his 13th of the season, before Ty Emberson tied the contest just two and a half minutes later. The teams looked like they were heading for overtime, until Jack Hughes, who has been the hottest scorer in the USHL as of late, picked up the game-winning-goal with just 51 seconds remaining in regulation, completing Team USA's furious comeback. Hughes and Wahlstrom also dished out assists in the victory, and Jonathan Mor stopped 21 of the 24 Chicago shots he faced for his second win of the year. With the U18s win and the U17s victory over Sioux Falls, Team USA is now five points clear of the Dubuque Fighting Saints atop the Eastern Conference and just three points behind the Tri-City Storm for the top spot in the USHL standings.
1. Caps Continue Winning
The Madison Capitols remain the hottest team in the USHL, as they have now won seven straight games and eight of their last nine contests thanks to a 3-2 victory over the Green Bay Gamblers at Resch Center. The Capitols scored three times in the opening period, with forward Cade Borchardt leading the way offensively. The Minnesota State commit factored in on all three Madison goals, scoring twice and adding the lone assist on Kamil Sadlocha's power play tally. After a scoreless middle frame, McKade Webster and Andy Carroll found the back of the net for Green Bay in the third period, but the Capitols were able to hold on for the 3-2 victory. Dryden McKay continued his solid play between the pipes, making 31 saves on 33 Green Bay shots to earn his 14th victory of the season.
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.