AROUND THE LEAGUE
Four For One…There is just remaining spot for the 2014 Clark Cup Playoffs and four teams in the Eastern Conference are still battling for that berth heading into the final week of play. The Muskegon Lumberjacks currently sit in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference with 63 points and two games remaining. The Green Bay Gamblers also have two games remaining and sit with 62 points. Team USA has earned 61 points with two games remaining on their schedule while the Chicago Steel have 60 points and three games remaining, including a game on Wednesday night.
Seeking Anderson…The race for the Anderson Cup as the USHL team with the best regular season finish has come down to a pair of teams – the Waterloo Black Hawks and the Indiana Ice. Both have already clinched their respective conference titles for the regular season and both have won 40 games in a season for the first time in their USHL history. Heading into the final week of play, Waterloo has posted a 42-11-5 record (89 points) with two games remaining while Indiana has posted a 40-10-7 record (87 points) with three games remaining on their schedule. There has been a tie for the Anderson Cup just once in USHL history when the Omaha Lancers and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders both earned 89 points in the standings during the 2004-05 season. Waterloo has won the Anderson Cup once (2006-07) while Indiana is seeking their first regular season title.
Buzzer Beater…With the Muskegon Lumberjacks looking to secure a spot in the playoffs, every point in the standings helps and forward Jack Rowe has been providing plenty of late-game heroics to help the club earn those points. Muskegon was trailing 4-2 to the Lincoln Stars in the third period on Saturday when Rowe scored two goals in a span of 1:05 to force overtime. His second goal came with just eight seconds remaining on the clock. It was the 35th of his USHL career. The Lumberjacks also trailed by a goal late in Sunday’s contest to Team USA and pulled the goaltender in favor of the extra attacker. Rowe scored the equalizer with just 13 seconds remaining in the period to force overtime. He also converted his shootout attempt in Friday’s 3-2 win against Omaha. All three weekend contests for the Lumberjacks went to a shootout and the team earned 5-of-6 available points in the standings.
That Was Fast…Lincoln Stars forward Christian Lampasso accomplished a lot in a short amount of time on Saturday. After scoring late in the first period against the Muskegon Lumberjacks, he scored just seven seconds after the ensuing faceoff and broke a USHL record in the process. Lampasso’s two goals in a span of seven seconds broke the previous record of eight seconds set 27 years ago by Wayne Berlinquette of the Thunder Bay Flyers on January 4th, 1987. The second goal for Lampasso on Saturday was the 30th of his USHL career.
This Is 40…Just before Lampasso netted his two quick goals, Matt Iacopelli scored his League-leading 40th goal of the season for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Already the single-season goal leader the Lumberjacks, Iacopelli became just the third player in the USHL Tier 1 era (2002-present) to reach the 40-goal mark in a season. He joins Kevin Roy (52 for Lincoln Stars) and Daniil Tarasov (47 for Indiana Ice) who accomplished that feat during the 2011-12 season. Iacopelli has scored a goal against 13 of the 15 USHL teams he has played against this season.
Leading Lancer…Omaha Lancers forward Jake Randolph netted three goals over a pair of shootout losses during the weekend. It pushed his USHL-leading point total to 84 (26g, 58a) through 58 games this season. It is the most points scored by a Lancers player in the USHL Tier 1 era (2002-present) and is seven points shy of the team record of 91 recorded by Angelo Ricci during the 1989-90 season. The 58 assists by Randolph broke a team season record of 55 that has been in place since 1991 and is one shy of the USHL Tier 1 era record held by John Kemp (Indiana Ice, 2007-08).
Crease Control…Waterloo Black Hawks goaltender Cal Petersen made 30 saves in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over the Green Bay Gamblers to earn his 26th victory of the season, tying for the League lead. It was also the 50th win of his USHL career. He has earned wins against every other USHL team over his career with the Black Hawks, including 13 of the 15 clubs he has faced this season.
Top Phantom…Youngstown Phantoms forward Kyle Connor scored three of the four goals for the Youngstown Phantoms in a pair of weekend losses to Cedar Rapids. It extended his goal streak to five games as he has netted seven goals over that span. His goal in Saturday’s 4-1 loss was his 30th of the season, becoming just the third player in the Phantoms USHL history to reach the 30-goal mark in a season – Sam Anas scored 37 in 2012-13 and J.T. Stenglein tallied 31 in 2011-12. His 71 points (30g, 41a) in 53 games are currently the second most in the USHL and the most for a Phantoms player in a season, surpassing the 65 by Mike Ambrosia during the 2011-12 season.
Lucky 13…Despite giving up more than two goals in a game for the first time since joining the Indiana Ice, goaltender Hayden Stewart extended his win streak by making 27 saves in Friday’s 5-4 victory against the Dubuque Fighting Saints, his former club. It improved Stewart’s record to 13-0-0 with a 1.08 GAA and .954 SV% as a member of the Ice. Eight of those victories have come on the road, including five of the last six.
Riding High…The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders earned a weekend sweep over Youngstown Phantoms to give the Riders 35 victories for the season, the most since the team won 42 games during the 2010-11 season. Andrew Poturalski netted his 25th goal of the year in Friday’s 4-3 victory. It is the most by a Riders player since the 2010-11 season in which the team captured the Anderson Cup title. It was the sixth time in the last 10 seasons that head coach Mark Carlson has led the team to at least 35 victories. Saturday’s 4-1 win against Youngstown was the 493rd of his USHL coaching career, seven shy of becoming just the fifth coach in League history to win 500 games in the regular season.
Full House…The Sioux Falls Stampede hosted 4,827 fans on Friday in the matchup against rival Sioux City. It was the largest crowd to ever see a Stampede game at the Sioux Falls Arena. With one home regular season game remaining, the Stampede lead the USHL in attendance with 4,239 fans per contest. It is the highest average attendance in the USHL since the Lincoln Stars averaged 4,314 fans per game during the 2008-09 season.
Milestone for Muskies…The Sioux City Musketeers spoiled the night for rival Sioux Falls on Friday when they earned a 2-1 victory, led by the game-winning goal from Joel L’Esperance in the third period and a 41-save effort by Kyle Hayton. It was the 37th win of the season for the Musketeers, their most victories since earning 37 during the 2004-05 season. They are one win shy of equaling their USHL Tier 1 era (2002-present) record of 38 victories set during the 2003-04 season.
College Hockey Impact…Among the schools that have qualified for the NCAA Frozen Four, 56% of the players are alumni of the USHL. The University of Minnesota leads the way with 22 USHL graduates on their roster, followed by Boston College (14), the University of North Dakota (13), and Union College (9). Of the 58 USHL alumni on those team’s rosters, 28 are NHL Draft picks.
What a Team…Spring is a busy time for several college hockey players as both NHL Draft picks and free agents are signing with NHL teams at the conclusion of their college hockey seasons, including a number of USHL alumni. A pair of players from the 2009-10 USHL All-Rookie Team – forward T.J. Tynan (Des Moines Buccaneers) and defenseman Mac Bennett (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) – both recently signed with the NHL teams that drafted them. Their signings mean that five of the six players chosen to that 2009-10 All-Rookie Team are now under NHL contract, joining Anders Lee (Green Bay Gamblers), Erik Haula (Omaha Lancers), and Nate Schmidt (Fargo Force) who all played in the NHL this season.
Noteworthy…Chicago Steel forward C.J. Smith recorded his first USHL career hat trick when ne netted three goals in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Des Moines…Jack Eichel recorded four points (1g, 3a) over two weekend victories for Team USA’s Under-18 squad, giving him multi-points in four straight USHL contests. His goal on Friday was his 20th of the season and he finishes the year with 45 points (20g, 25a) and a plus-20 rating over 24 USHL games…Fargo Force goaltender Mathias Israelsson stopped all 31 shots he faced in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Tri-City. It was his second shutout of the season and gave him five victories over his last seven starts…Forward Sam Kurker, 2013 NHL Draft pick of the St. Louis Blues, scored three goals for the Indiana Ice as they split a weekend series against Dubuque…Christian Horn scored a goal in both weekend contests for the Sioux Falls Stampede, extending his point streak to seven games (3g, 5a) which has included a goal in three of the last four contests…Ryan McMurphy scored the game-winning goal in both weekend victories for the Tri-City Storm. Five of his 14 USHL goals have been game-winners.
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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