AROUND THE LEAGUE
Packing Them In…Arenas were packed throughout the USHL last weekend as over 50,000 fans attended games. That included a sellout crowd of 4,815 at the Sioux Falls Arena on Saturday, the largest home crowd to ever see a Sioux Falls Stampede game. The Fargo Force (3,929) and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (3,460) both had their second largest crowds of the season on Friday while the Lincoln Stars (4,152) surpassed the 4,000-mark for the seventh time this season. Saturday night was even bigger as the Tri-City Storm (4,025), Omaha Lancers (3,902), Dubuque Fighting Saints (3,406), and Des Moines Buccaneers (3,338) all recorded their highest attendance of the season.
Seven Up…The Sioux City Musketeers twice needed some extra time to earn victories over the weekend, but were able to extend their winning streak to seven games. They now have 30 wins this season, the most victories for the team since recording 31 during the 2010-11 season. After tying the game late in regulation on Friday, defenseman Garret Cockerill netted his second of the night when he scored the winner in overtime of the 3-2 victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede. Sam Saliba then converted in the sixth round of the shootout on Saturday, giving the Musketeers a 6-5 shootout win against the Des Moines Buccaneers. It was the first USHL career shootout attempt for Saliba. Brandon Hawkins scored a goal in both games and now has a team-leading 23 goals this season. Collin Olson, a 2012 NHL Draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, was in net for both weekend contests, stopping a combined 67 shots to extend his personal win streak to four games.
Upward Trend…The Chicago Steel earned five of six points in the standings over a three-game weekend, moving into fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They have earned points in six straight games (5-0-1) and in 10 of their last 11 contests (8-1-2). C.J. Smith scored a goal in all three games and now has 20 goals this season. Robby Jackson scored a goal in each period of Saturday’s 7-3 win against the Youngstown Phantoms for his first USHL career hat trick. He also tied a USHL season high when he finished the night with a plus-five rating. Frederik Olofsson scored two goals on Saturday while Chris Nell made 41 saves, extending his win streak to four games and posting his third consecutive game with at least 40 saves.
Clinchers…After having their consecutive streak of playoff berths halted at 23 seasons last year, the Omaha Lancers became the first USHL team to clinch a spot in the 2014 Clark Cup Playoffs. They earned five of six points in the standings over three games to take over first place in the Western Conference and secure their postseason berth. The team has points in seven straight contests (6-0-1), a span in which they have successfully killed off 20-of-21 opponent power play opportunities. Hayden Hawkey became the fourth USHL goaltender this season to record shutouts in consecutive starts as he blanked Dubuque on Friday and Waterloo on Saturday. Luca Frigo scored three goals over the weekend, including two in the 5-0 win against Waterloo. USHL leading scorer Jake Randolph added his 20th of the season on Saturday which helped the Lancers earn their League-leading 19th home win.
Shutout and a Goal…Green Bay Gamblers goaltender Jared Rutledge accomplished a rare feat on Saturday as he posted a shutout and got credit for scoring a goal. After stopping his 26th shot of the night, the puck he directed to the corner was picked up by a Youngstown Phantoms player whose pass to the point missed everyone and ended up going into the empty net at the other end of the ice. The last USHL goaltender to get credit for a goal was Jon Gillies of the Indiana Ice during a similar situation on April 14th, 2012. The last USHL goaltender to directly shoot the puck into the net also happened in Green Bay as Ryan Massa of the Fargo Force fired a puck into the empty net during the final moments of Game Two of the Clark Cup Final series on May 1st, 2010.
He Scores Everywhere…Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Matt Iacopelli scored in both weekend contests for his team, extending his goal streak to five games and giving him 33 goals for the season to lead the USHL. The 19-year-old has netted 10 goals over his last 10 games. When he scored in the 7-3 loss at Chicago on Saturday, it marked the 13th USHL city he has scored a goal in this season, representing every city he has played in thus far. He has a chance to make it a 14th city when the Lumberjacks visit the Tri-City Storm in March.
Bonus Bucs…The Des Moines Buccaneers have been playing some extra hockey recently as their games on both Saturday and Sunday were decided in the shootout. Four of their last five games have gone past regulation. Defenseman Corey Schueneman scored with just 59 seconds remaining in regulation on Saturday to force overtime before Des Moines eventually dropped a 6-5 shootout decision to Sioux City. Marcel Godbout scored in regulation and then converted his shootout attempt. Schueneman then had the winning shootout tally on Sunday as the Bucs converted on three of four attempts in the extra session to earn the 2-1 win against Omaha. It was the 10th shootout of the season for the Bucs, tying for the most in the USHL, and they are now 5-5 in those contests.
Star Power…The Lincoln Stars won two of three games during the week and have now won four of their last five contests. After scoring four goals in the third period of Tuesday’s 6-3 win against Dubuque, they scored four more in the first period of Saturday’s 5-4 victory over Tri-City. John Simonson recorded a point in all three games to extend his point streak to nine games (7g, 6a). Dominick Sacco netted two of the four goals during the first period of Saturday’s win. Brandon Smith scored in all three games, giving him four goals in a span of five contests and 15 total goals for the season.
Familiar in Fargo…Waterloo Black Hawks goaltender Cam Johnson stopped all 18 shots he faced on Friday to record his second shutout of the season. It was his 20th USHL career victory which came in the 7-0 win against the Fargo Force, his former club. The 19-year-old is 4-1-0 since being acquired by Waterloo, with two of the wins coming against the Force in Fargo. His counterpart in net on Friday was Mathias Israelsson who was also involved in the January trade that saw the teams swap goaltenders.
Earning One on the Road…The Tri-City Storm put an end to a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win against the Lincoln Stars on Friday. It also wrapped up a six-game road swing for the Storm. Their last road win also came in Lincoln during a 4-3 shootout victory on January 21st. Three of their goals on Friday came in a span of less than five minutes during the second period as Austin Poganski scored before adding another goal only 14 seconds after Garrett Gamez tallied his second goal in as many games. The Storm now play seven of their next eight games at home.
Heading Home…The Youngstown Phantoms won two of their three games during the weekend as the club wrapped up a five-game road stretch winning three of their final four over that span. J.J. Piccinich scored two goals in Friday’s 7-3 victory over Green Bay. His second goal was the game-winner and his 25th goal of the season. Kyle Connor was the hero on Sunday as he scored his 21st goal of the season just 27 seconds into overtime of the 2-1 win against Chicago. Goaltender Colin DeAugustine made a season high 43 saves to record the victory. Conor Lemirande scored in both victories and has netted four of his five goals this season over his last 10 games.
Noteworthy…Forward Tyler Andrew has scored in three straight games for the Indiana Ice while teammate Dwyer Tschantz has five goals over his last five games. Both scored in Sunday’s 5-4 win against Team USA to lead the Ice their 30th victory of the season…When Dylan McLaughlin of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders scored in Friday’s 6-3 win over Muskegon, it was his fourth straight game with a goal and his fifth goal in a span of six games. He had three goals total in 38 previous games this season…Dylan Gambrell scored two goals on Saturday to help the Dubuque Fighting Saints earn a 5-2 win against Cedar Rapids and snap a five-game winless skid (0-3-2). Gambrell has four goals over his last four games, and his second tally on Saturday was the 20th goal of his USHL career…Andrew Zerban scored his first USHL career goal for the Fargo Force on Saturday while teammate Tyler Hynes netted his third goal over his last four games…The 30th goal of the USHL career for Nick Schmaltz was the game-winner for the Green Bay Gamblers in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Youngstown…Christian Horn scored in a both weekend contests for the Sioux Falls Stampede and now has six goals in 10 games since joining the club…Louis Nanne has scored two of his three goals this season over his last three games, including the game-winner for Sioux Falls in Saturday’s 5-3 win over Fargo…Goaltender Ed Minney made 34 saves for Team USA in Saturday’s 4-1 victory against Indiana to collect the 10th win of his USHL career...Chase Berger scored two goals for the Tri-City Storm in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Lincoln, giving him three goals over his last three games…Alex Tuch has netted a goal in each of his last three USHL games for Team USA.
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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