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USHL Update - Week 24

03/04/2014, 12:00pm CST
By bwerger



Triple Force…The Fargo Force put an end to a 10-game winless skid (0-9-1) in grand fashion as they won all three of their games during the week.  It was the longest win streak of the season for the Force and the first time they have won consecutive games since October.  Fargo put together a huge effort on Wednesday, out-shooting the Sioux City Musketeers 51-30 on the way to earning a 4-3 overtime win.  Andrew Zerban netted the winner in overtime and scored a goal in the next two contests to extend his goal streak to four games.  Alex Jackstadt also scored on Wednesday before recording a season high three points (1g, 2a) in Sunday’s 4-3 victory against the Tri-City Storm.  Tyler Hynes scored in both weekend contests, including the game-tying goal in the third period on Saturday to force overtime against the Storm.  C.J. Hayes had the lone tally in the shootout on Saturday to lead the Force to just their second win in six contests that have gone to a shootout this season.  Brendan Jensen made 36 saves on Saturday before stopping all five attempts in the shootout to collect his first win since late November.  Mathias Israelsson was net for the other two games during the week and made a combined 60 saves to post two victories.  Michael Babcock had a point in all three victories and now has seven points (2g, 5a) during his four-game point streak.

Heart Attack Jacks…The Muskegon Lumberjacks put an end to a three-game losing streak with a pair of dramatic victories over the weekend.  After trailing the Des Moines Buccaneers 4-0 early in the second period on Friday, they scored the next four goals to force overtime where Cooper Marody tallied his second of the night to complete the comeback victory.  Matt Iacopelli netted two goals in the third period, giving him seven goals over his last six games and push his USHL-leading total to 35 goals.  It was more extra time on Saturday against Waterloo as they went to the shootout that was eventually decided when Harald Egles converted in the seventh round, the only player to convert in the extra session.  It was the first shootout tally in three attempts this season for Egles.  The victories keep Muskegon within striking distance of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Crowded House…The Indiana Ice hosted their annual “Pack the House” night on Saturday as 12,100 fans filled Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to see the Ice earn a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Steel.  Denis Smirnov led the Ice with a pair of goals and Hayden Stewart made 19 saves to improve to 7-0-0 since joining the team.  Stewart has posted a stellar 0.72 GAA and .968 SV% in those games.  It was the 10th consecutive season that the Ice have hosted the event as portions of the ticket proceeds benefit local charities.  Saturday was the largest attendance for Pack the House since 2011 as the Ice won for the fourth time in the last five years of the event.  Over the 10 years of Pack the House, the Ice have welcomed a total of 125,545 fans.

Ice Chips…A pair of weekend victories for the Indiana Ice wrapped up a four-game homestand and improved their record to 8-1-1 over the last 10 games, the best record of any USHL team during that stretch.  Their 32 victories are third most in the League and their eight regulation losses are the fewest.  Forward Brian Pinho scored three goals over the two wins and has netted seven goals over his last eight games.  The 2013 NHL Draft pick of the Washington Capitals is now tied for second on the Ice with 18 goals this season, and the team is 13-1-1 in games in which he has scored a goal.  Scott Conway tallied his team-leading 20th goal of the season in Friday’s 6-2 win over Waterloo and was a combined plus-three over the weekend.  He is tied for fourth overall in the USHL with a plus-30 rating while defensemen Austin Kosack (+35) ranks and Josh Jacobs (+28) is sixth.  Jacob Pritchard dished out an assist in both weekend games, extending his point streak to six (2g, 6a).

All-Time Helper…Team USA forward Jeremy Bracco has been lending a helping hand all season long and racking up the assists.  He dished out an assist in each period of Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints, his second three-assist game over his last four USHL contests.  His third assist that game was his 51st of the season for Team USA’s Under-17 squad in 46 games combined between USHL, international, and junior exhibition contests.  It set a new season record for the NTDP, breaking the record of 50 assists shared by Patrick Kane (58 games in 2004-05) and Andy Hilbert (67 games in 1998-99) prior to the program joining the USHL as a full-time member.  Both Kane and Hilbert established that mark during their Under-18 season.  Bracco, who turns 17 later this month, has dished out 21 of his assists during 26 games of USHL play, including eight assists over his last four games in the League. 

Extra, Extra…The Des Moines Buccaneers have been putting in some extra time as of late, including a pair of overtime contests over the weekend.  They have now played four straight contests that have gone past regulation, five of their last seven, and seven of their last 10.  Danny Elser scored twice in a span of 1:44 of Friday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Muskegon Lumberjacks and added another in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win against the Youngstown Phantoms.  Jack Jenkins scored twice in the third period on Saturday, including the game-tying goal with just 53 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.  Jake Jackson then netted the winner with 57 seconds remaining in the overtime session, finishing the night with three points (1g, 2a).  The extra time has guaranteed the Bucs points in the standings as they are 4-2-4 over their last 10 games.

Five-Star…The Lincoln Stars picked up a pair of wins over the weekend, scoring five goals in each contest.  They have now won six of their last eight games and have scored at least five goals in the last five victories.  Magnus Hoff scored twice on Friday, including the game-winner, in the 5-3 victory over the Tri-City Storm before adding another goal in Saturday’s 5-2 win against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.  Brandon Smith also netted a goal on Friday, giving him a goal in five straight games, while Dominick Sacco tallied his fourth goal in a span of three contests.  John Simonson scored a goal in both contests to extend his point streak to 12 games, tied for the fourth longest streak in the USHL this season.  He has 17 points (9g, 8a) over that stretch and his goal on Saturday was his 20th of the season.  Michael Bitzer was in net for both weekend victories and made a combined 52 saves.  He has won six of his last seven starts. 

Comforts of Home…The Green Bay Gamblers earned home victories on Saturday and Sunday to improve to 3-2-0 on their current nine-game homestand.  They welcomed over 10,000 fans during their three-game week and have seen a total of 18,945 fans come through the gates during the home stretch.  Ryan Lough scored shorthanded on Saturday, which proved to be the game-winner in the 5-2 victory against Omaha.  Each of his last two goals has been scored shorthanded and he is now tied for the USHL lead with four shorties.  Green Bay then scored four goals in the second period on Sunday to propel them to a 6-3 win over Cedar Rapids.  Defenseman Anthony Walsh tallied his first goal of the season during that period, which proved to be the game-winner.  Dawson Cook scored a pair of goals in both weekend victories and now has fourth multi-goal games this season, while Nick Schmaltz dished out five assists to reach 50 points (11g, 39a) for the season.

Herd Happenings…The Sioux Falls Stampede earned a 3-2 win over the rival Sioux City Musketeers on Saturday and have now earned points in seven straight games (5-0-2).  Christian Horn netted the game-winner, extending his goal streak to three games and giving him seven tallies in 11 games since being acquired by the Stampede.  Dennis Kravchenko also scored in the contest, netting the 42nd goal of his USHL career, while goaltender Art Brey equaled a season high with 38 saves to improve to 3-0-1 over his last four starts.

Phantom Points…The Youngstown Phantoms have heated up as of late, picking up points in five of their last six contests (4-1-1).  Despite ranking near the bottom of the League in penalty killing, they have successfully killed off 12 of their last 13 shorthanded situations, including 11 straight.  Kyle Connor has a goal in each of the last three games and now has 60 points (23g, 47a) through 44 games to rank third in USHL scoring.  He is five points shy of equaling the team record of 65 set my Mike Ambrosia during the 2011-12 season.  Luke Stork netted his 25th USHL career goal in Thursday’s 5-4 shootout win against Dubuque while Tyler Spezia scored a goal in both contests during the week for the Phantoms.  Youngstown has won three of their last four games on the road and now gets ready to play six of their next seven away from home. 

Noteworthy…Defenseman Tucker Poolman scored a goal in two of three contests for the Omaha Lancers over the weekend and now has 14 goals in 49 games, equaling his total in 64 games last season.  The 2013 NHL Draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets leads all USHL defensemen in goals and is tied for sixth overall in the League with nine power play tallies…Austin Pooley netted his first USHL goal for the Omaha Lancers in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Chicago…Brock Boeser scored a goal in his first USHL game for the Sioux City Musketeers on Friday, three days after celebrating his 17th birthday…Austin Poganski scored on Friday and Saturday for the Tri-City Storm, giving four goals in a span of four games and giving him 15 total goals for the season…Cody Milan scored a goal on both Saturday and Sunday for the Tri-City Storm, his first two goals since being acquired by the team last month…Luke Kirwan scored three goals over two weekend games for Team USA’s Under-17 squad, including a pair in Sunday’s 5-2 win over Dubuque as he fired 10 shots on goal… Zach Sanford scored three goals over two games during the week for the Waterloo Black Hawks.  The 2013 NHL Draft pick of the Washington Capitals now has 15 goals this season…Shane Eiserman is riding a four-game point streak (2g, 6a) for the Dubuque Fighting Saints and has multi-point efforts in three of those contests…Dylan Steman netted two goals for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in Friday’s 5-2 win over Sioux City, giving him four goals in a span of three games, while defenseman Mark Auk scored on Friday and Saturday to give him goals in three straight games and four in a span of five contests…The first USHL goal for defenseman Jake Bunz proved to be the game-winner for the Chicago Steel in Sunday’s 5-3 victory against Omaha…Robby Jackson scored a goal in both weekend contests for Chicago, giving him five goals over his last four games and 20 total for the season.


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 or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (, twitter (, and YouTube (  Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (

It’s not just hockey. It’s the USHL.

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