AROUND THE LEAGUE
Ice, Ice, Baby…The Indiana Ice won three games in three nights to keep a firm hold on the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They have now recorded points in 13 of their last 14 games (11-1-2). Scott Conway scored with just 1:07 remaining in regulation on Friday to force overtime and then goaltender Jason Pawloski stopped a penalty shot with only 48 seconds remaining in overtime to push the game to the shootout. Denis Smirnov and Dwyer Tschantz converted in the shootout to complete the dramatic win. Hayden Stewart then posted shutouts on Saturday and Sunday, the first Ice goaltender to record consecutive shutouts since Jon Gillies did so in March of 2011. Both Patrick Newell and Tyler Pham had two goals during the three-win stretch. The Ice lead the USHL by giving up just over 24 shots per contest, but twice surrendered more than 30 shots over the weekend, only the fifth and sixth time this season they have done so.
Putting the “O” in Omaha…After scoring eight goals total over their last five contests, the Omaha Lancers put up seven in each of their two weekend victories. They scored six goals in the second period alone of Friday’s 7-1 victory against the Sioux Falls Stampede. It was a repeat on Saturday in the 7-3 win over the Lincoln Stars, led by a pair of goals from Ryan Tait, which included the game-winner to give the Lancers their 30th victory of the season. Tyler Vesel scored a goal both nights, giving him four goals over the last five contests and increasing his USHL-leading total to 31 goals. Jake Randolph also netted a goal in each contest, pushing his point streak to five games (2g, 6a). Brian Williams tallied a goal in each game while Hayden Hawkey was in net for both contests, stopping 54 total shots and increasing his season win total to 15.
Riding High…The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders hit the road over the weekend to earn a pair of wins over Eastern Conference rivals. They have now earned points in nine of their last ten games (8-1-1) and 12 of their last 14 contests (11-2-1). Mitch Maloney scored the team’s lone goal in regulation on Friday, his third in a span of four games and he now has six goals over the team’s last 10 contests. Alec Marsh scored in the shootout, his first career attempt, and Andrew Poturalski also converted his attempt, his first in five USHL career attempts, to give the Riders a 2-1 shootout win against Green Bay. Goaltender Danny Tirone stopped 18 shots to go along with stopping 2-of-3 in the shootout. He has allowed just two total goals over his last four victories. Ivan Provorov then scored the game-winner in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Chicago, the team’s third straight road win.
Blueline Streak…Defenseman Brandon Montour has played a huge part in this season’s success for the Waterloo Black Hawks, and although his team’s record-setting winning streak came to an end, he has continued his torrid scoring stretch. The 19-year-old dished out an assist in each of his team’s three games during the week to extend his scoring streak to 18 games, amassing 27 points (4g, 23a) over that span. It is the third longest scoring streak in the USHL Tier 1 era (2002-present) and the longest by a defenseman. He is 10th overall in the USHL with 40 points (9g, 31a) which is already the fifth highest season point total by a Black Hawks blueliner in the Tier 1 era.
Steel Stopper…Chicago Steel goaltender Cale Morris has continued his hot stretch, winning each of his last six starts. The 17-year-old stopped all 26 shots he faced in Friday’s 1-0 win against the Green Bay Gamblers to record his second shutout of the season. Five of his eight wins this season have been on the road, including three of his last four. He has an overall record of 8-2-0 this year.
Buzzer Beaters…There was no shortage of dramatics on Saturday night when the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Waterloo Black Hawks took the ice. Trailing by a goal late in regulation and on the penalty kill, the Black Hawks pulled their goaltender in favor of the extra attacker and Blake Winiecki scored the equalizer with just five seconds remaining to force overtime. Dubuque would then come out on top as Karson Kuhlman netted the winner with just nine seconds left in the overtime session. The loss for Waterloo ended their winning streak at 16 games, but it continued a stretch of unbeaten in regulation to 23 games (21-0-2). Dubuque has won three of the five meetings with Waterloo this season and is the only USHL team to beat them more than once.
Bucs Bust Out…After scoring just five total goals over a four-game winless skid (0-3-1), the Des Moines Buccaneers busted out with a 7-0 victory over the Fargo Force on Sunday. Six of those goals came in the second period alone, equaling a USHL season high for goals in a period they had established on January 4th. Tanner Karty netted his 30th USHL career goal during that stretch while Danny Elser scored the 20th of his career. Goaltender Ryan Ruck stopped all 26 shots he faced to post his first USHL shutout and earn his 10th win of the season.
Career Nights…The Green Bay Gamblers snapped a three-game winless skid (0-2-1) with a huge effort on Sunday, equaling their season high in goals during the 7-2 win over Dubuque. Nick Schmaltz dished out four assists to set a USHL career high and equal a League season high for assists in a game. He has 33 assists through 36 games this season, one assist shy of his total in 64 games last year. Connor Hurley also had a career night with four points (1g, 3a) and now has 18 points (7g, 11a) in 16 games with Green Bay. Brent Gates, Jr. recorded the first two-goal game of his USHL career while Matt Weis also had a two-goal night to give him three goals over the weekend. Weis now has 15 goals over 33 games, surpassing his total of 13 in 56 games last year.
Muskies Reach 25…The Sioux City Musketeers snapped a three-game losing streak with a pair of weekend wins, giving them 25 wins for the season. The 10th USHL career goal for defenseman Blake Heinrich was the game-winner in Friday’s 4-2 victory over Des Moines. On Saturday, the Musketeers scored four unanswered goals to earn a 5-3 win against the Tri-City Storm. Brandon Hawkins scored two of the four goals while defenseman Garret Cockerill netted a goal during his debut with Sioux City. Waltteri Hopponen, who celebrated his 18th birthday last week, recorded four points (1g, 3a) over the two wins and now has 16 points (8g, 8a) over his last 13 games. Kyle Hayton was in net for both games, earning the victories to increase win total to 19, tied for third most among USHL goaltenders.
Fitting In Nicely…Defenseman Garrett Cecere has already had a big impact since joining the Sioux Falls Stampede. After being acquired via trade in late January, he has recorded seven points (1g, 6a) and a plus-three rating over seven games. He netted the game-winning goal in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Waterloo. Christian Horn has also been a quality acquisition as he scored two goals on Sunday, his second two-goal game in five contests for the Stampede.
World Beaters…Team USA’s Under-17 and Under-18 squads took a break from USHL action recently to compete in their respective Five Nations Tournaments and finished a combined 8-0-0 during international play. The Under-17 Team won games over Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, and Sweden at their Five Nations event in Sundsvall, Sweden. Luke Kirwan scored a goal in three of the four games while defenseman Noah Hanifin dished out five assists during the tournament. Colin White recorded a hat trick and dished out two assists in the 6-4 win over Russia. The Under-17 squad has now finished their international schedule with a perfect 15-0-0 record. It was also an undefeated tournament for the Under-18 Team as they also earned wins over Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Czech Republic at the Five Nations event in Dmitrov, Russia. Jack Eichel recorded seven points (3g, 4a) over the four contests while Dylan Larkin had six points (5g, 1a). It was the seventh time since 1999 that the U.S. Under-18 Team has won the event.
Noteworthy…The goal by Kyle Connor on Friday was the game-winner for the Youngstown Phantoms in the 3-1 victory over Muskegon and extended his point streak to 10 games (6g, 10a)…Lincoln Stars forward Brandon Smith wasted little time in scoring on Friday night as he scored his 11th goal of the season just 15 seconds after the opening faceoff…Lincoln forward John Simonson has netted a goal in each of the last three games. He leads the Stars with 14 goals this season…Playing in just his second game for the Fargo Force after being acquired via trade, Tyler Hynes recorded three points (2g, 1a) in Friday’s 5-3 loss to Lincoln. It was the first multi-goal game of his USHL career…Mikey Eyssimont also scored for Fargo on Friday, giving him a goal in four straight games…Matt Iacopelli scored the lone goal for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in their 3-1 loss to Youngstown on Friday. It was his fourth goal over the last four games and his 29th tally this season…Zeb Knutson has two goals over his last three games for the Sioux Falls Stampede. His next game will be the 100th of his USHL career and he is two goals shy of 50 for his career.
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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