A recap of Saturday night action in the USHL.
Team USA 3 @ Youngstown Phantoms 6
Kyle Connor recorded his first USHL career hat trick to help the Phantoms snap a 10-game winless skid (0-7-3). Team USA’s Under-17 squad got on the scoreboard first when Colin White tallied shorthanded midway through the first period, but Connor would respond a little more than a minute later to even the game. Luke Kunin put Team USA back up three minutes later, but Youngstown countered with a goal by J.J. Piccinich, his 19th of the season, and Tyler Spezia converted on a penalty shot. Connor added his second goal in the opening minute of the second period to make it 4-2. Auston Matthews netted a power play tally to bring Team USA within a goal, but Connor would complete the hat trick late in the period to again make it a two-goal lead. Spezia closed it out with an empty net goal in the final moments, his third goal of the weekend. Goaltender Seam Romeo made 35 saves to earn his first victory since mid-October.
Muskegon Lumberjacks 1 @ Indiana Ice 4
Denis Smirnov netted two goals as the Ice wrapped up their five-game homestand with a 3-1-1 record. Muskegon would get on the scoreboard first as Matt Mendelson tallied a goal for the third straight game midway through the first period, but it would be all Ice after that. Smirnov scored just 26 seconds into the second period and Brian Pinho added a late goal in the period, his third of the weekend. Patrick Newell opened up the third period by scoring just 59 seconds into the frame before Smirnov added a late power play tally to finish off the 19th win of the season for Indiana. The Ice outshot the Jacks 48-15 for the night and Jason Pawloski made 14 saves to secure the win while Eric Schierhorn stopped 44 shots in the loss.
Sioux City Musketeers 2 @ Chicago Steel 3 (OT)
Danny Fetzer scored in overtime to lead the Steel to their fourth straight win on home ice. After no scoring in the first period, John Ernsting scored midway through the second frame for Chicago and Joe Snively responded a minute and a half later for the Musketeers. Waltteri Hopponen scored his second goal in as many nights early in the second period for Sioux City, but Victor Bjorkung evened the game for Chicago midway through the frame in his first game back from injured reserve. The game headed to overtime and Fetzer found the net with 1:21 remaining in the extra session to give the Steel the victory. Chris Nell made 35 saves to earn the win while Kyle Hayton stopped 46 shots in the loss for Sioux City.
Des Moines Buccaneers 1 @ Waterloo Black Hawks 3
Three different players scored and Cal Petersen stopped 20 shots to lead the Black Hawks to their ninth straight win and 25th overall for the season. Peter Krieger started things for Waterloo just under seven minutes into the game, his 10th of the season. Playing just his second game since returning from injury, Jake Horton scored late in the second period to make it 2-0. Liam Pecararo added his fourth goal of the weekend a little over seven minutes into the third. Des Moines would finally get on the board a minute later as defenseman Corey Schueneman netted his second of the season. Petersen extended his win streak to eight games with the victory while Billy Christopoulos made 49 saves in the loss for the Bucs.
Sioux Falls Stampede 6 @ Tri-City Storm 4
Dennis Kravchenko recorded the first hat trick of his USHL career to help the Stampede snap their four-game losing streak. He opened the game with a power play goal midway through the first and C.J. Franklin netted his 45th USHL career goal to make it 2-0. Nolan Aibel scored his first USHL goal early in the second to get the Storm on the board, but the Stampede scored the next three as Dakota Joshua and Kravchenko tallied goals 1:25 apart and defenseman Ed McGovern scored late in the period. The Storm battled back with three straight goals in the third period as Garrett Cecere and Austin Poganski each converted on the power play and Ryan McMurphy scored his fourth goal over the last five games to pull them within one. Kravchenko would bury an empty netter late to seal the victory and complete the hat trick. David Jacobson made 28 stops to collect the victory for Sioux Falls.
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 3 @ Omaha Lancers 5
Five different players scored a goal as the Lancers earned their 25th victory of the season. Jake Randolph started things for Omaha with his 16th goal midway through the first, but the Riders responded four minutes later with a goal by Corey Petrash. Early in the second, defenseman Nash Worden netted his second goal over his last four games and Tyler Hynes tallied his eighth of the year to make it 3-1 in favor of the Lancers. From there, Andrew Oglevie got Cedar Rapids back into the game as he scored on the power play late in the second and then again early in the third. Defenseman Matt Nelson then netted the game-winner for the second straight night and Tyler Vesel added an empty netter to close out the victory for Omaha. Goaltender Cole Bruns stopped 24 shots to pick up his 15th win of the season.
Green Bay Gamblers 2 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 5
Shane Eiserman netted the game-winner and Karson Kuhlman added a pair of tallies to lead Dubuque to their 13th win of the season on home ice. Following a scoreless first period, Drew Best scored just 32 seconds into the next period, his third goal of the weekend for the Gamblers, but Dylan Gambrell responded just 20 seconds later to even the contest. Kuhlman then scored late in the period to put Dubuque ahead. Kevin Irwin netted his 14th of the season for Green Bay early in the third but Esierman countered just 28 seconds later to put the Saints up for good. Max McHugh added a late goal and Kuhlman finished it with an empty netter in the final seconds. Making his USHL debut, goaltender Kevin Reich stopped 18 shots to earn the victory for Dubuque.
Fargo Force 1 @ Lincoln Stars 2 (SO)
Dominic Sacco was the lone player to convert in the shootout and goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped all three attempts he faced to give the Stars their third straight victory. Following a scoreless first period, Max Humitz scored early in the second, extending his goal streak to three games. Fargo got the equalizer just under eight minutes into the third as defenseman Christopher Buchanan scored his third of the season and forced overtime. After no scoring through the five-minute period, Sacco converted on his attempt in the first round and Bitzer did the rest of the work to give the Stars the win. Bitzer 28 saves to go along with his three shootout stops and Brendan Jensen had 30 stops in the loss for Fargo.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 12th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2013-14. A record 32 players were chosen in the 2013 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season have committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive). Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).
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