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Around the USHL: Week 22

02/25/2016, 12:15pm CST
By Kevin Meyers, USHL

Dylan Larkin continues to impress in rookie season, Kyle Connor dominating NCAA and news around the USHL.


USHL IN THE NHL – Sixes are wild this week for USHL alumni in the NHL. Johnny Gaudreau (Dubuque Fighting Saints) has six points in his last five games, including a three-point outing against the Anaheim Ducks on February 15. His 57 points are tied for sixth in the league. Joe Pavelski (Waterloo Black Hawks) is tied with Alex Ovechkin with 55 points. His 26 goals are also tied for sixth. Blake Wheeler (Green Bay Gamblers) has 38 assists, which is also sixth in the NHL. Dylan Larkin (Team USA) is also in the top ten in the league with a +21 rating.


USHL IN THE NCAA - Kyle Connor (Youngstown Phantoms) continues to produce for the University of Michigan. The freshman phenom leads all of college hockey with 51 points, three ahead of Andrew Poturalski (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), and six and seven points, respectively, ahead of Michigan teammates JT Compher (Team USA) and Tyler Motte (Team USA). Motte’s 28 goals lead all of college hockey, while Compher holds a +35 rating to sit atop college hockey. Compher and Tyler Kelleher (Team USA) have 28 assists each to lead all players. Among goaltenders, Alex Lyon (Omaha Lancers) has overtaken the top spot with a .941 SV% and a 1.51 GAA.


NCAA WEEKLY AWARDS – Justin Kloos (Waterloo Black Hawks) picked up Big Ten weekly honors along with a former pair of Team USA teammates – Hudson Fasching and JT Compher. Another former pair of Team USA teammates – Nolan Stevens and Jordan Greenway – picked up Hockey East weekly awards. Mike Vecchione (Tri-City Storm), Ryan Donato (Omaha Lancers), and Alex Lyon (Omaha Lancers) swept the ECAC weekly awards. Grant Hutton (Des Moines Buccaneers) and Dylan Gambrell (Dubuque Fighting Saints) were named NCHC players of the week. Gage Torrel (Fargo Force) took home WCHA Rookie of the Week honors. Canisius teammates Dylan McLaughlin (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) and Jimmy Mazza (Youngstown Phantoms) took home Atlantic Hockey weekly honors.


PITLICK PRODUCING – What a weekend it was for Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Rem Pitlick, the USHL’s leading scorer. The USHL Forward of the Week tallied seven points in his club’s three games over the weekend. In the Lumberjacks’ 6-5 OT home win over Madison on Friday night, Pitlick added a goal and three assists, including an assist on Collin Adams’ game winner just 30 seconds into overtime. Adams had two goals on the night, and Nathaniel Kallen, Graham Lillibridge, and Tyler Irvine added two assists each. Devin Cooley stopped 31 of 36 shots in the win. On Saturday, despite Madison earning the split with Muskegon by way of a 6-2 victory, Pitlick added a goal for his fifth point of the weekend. However, the University of Minnesota commit wasn’t done yet. In his team’s 5-2 victory over Team USA on Sunday, Pitlick scored his league-leading 30th goal of the season and added an assist on fellow alternate captain Matej Paulovic’s tally. Kallen, Jacob Coleman, and Giovanni Carabelli also lit the lamp for the Lumberjacks. Adams and Derek Daschke posted a pair of assists each, and Joey Daccord earned his 15th win of the year by stopping 42 of 44 Team USA shots. As for Pitlick, he continues to lead the league in goals (30) and points (58). Youngstown’s Cam Morrison sits nine points behind Pitlick with 26 goals and 23 assists.


STARS IN CONTROL – The Lincoln Stars have been on quite the roll as of late. Chris Hartsburg’s club has won their last five games, including a pair over the weekend – a 3-2 victory over Omaha on Friday and a 5-2 triumph at Sioux City on Saturday. They are 9-1-0-0 in their last 10 games, are now 10 games over .500, and have a four-point cushion atop the Western Conference. Grant Jozefek scored the game-winning goal on Friday with just 59 seconds remaining in regulation. Mike Gillespie and Henry Bowlby added goals of their own, Trevor Hamilton added a pair of assists, and Peyton Jones stopped 23 of 25 shots to earn the victory. On Saturday, five different Stars scored a goal – Hamilton, Jozefek, Dylan Woolf, Tanner Laczynski, and Jack Badini. Gillespie added three assists, Biagio Lerario had two, and Patrik Virtanen stopped 28 of 30 shots for his 13th victory of the year.


STAMPEDING INTO PLAYOFFS – The Sioux Falls Stampede came into the weekend just one point out of a playoff spot in the tightly contested Western Conference. But now, thanks to a pair of wins on the weekend, Sioux Falls sits alone in the 4th and final playoff position out west. In Friday’s 4-3 overtime win at Tri-City, Lean Bergmann, Lawton Courtnall, and Justin Wells helped send the game into overtime before Garret Cecere scored with just 1:38 remaining in the extra frame to give the Stampede the win. Parker Tuomie and Josh Passolt had two helpers apiece, and Stefanos Lekkas turned away 35 of 38 Storm attempts in the victory. On Saturday, a 5-2 Sioux Falls win over Western Conference rival Fargo, Courtnall added two goals, and Csanad Erdley, AJ Vanderbeck, and Jack Becker also scored for the Stampede. Carson Gicewicz and Jack Suter both had a pair of helpers, and Lekkas stopped 30 of 32 shots for his 15th win of the season. Sioux Falls is one point ahead of Waterloo and three points clear of Fargo for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.


GAMBLERS SWEEP – Another team that has a nice run going is the Green Bay Gamblers. They have picked up points in each of their last six games, including a pair of wins over the weekend, and are 6-1-2-1 in their last 10 contests. Nick Poehling, Marc Michaelis, and Brett Gruber all scored in the Gamblers’ 3-2 home win over the Des Moines Buccaneers on Friday. Defenseman Cameron Lee had two assists in the game, and Adam Huska stopped 21 of 23 shots to get the win between the pipes. On Saturday, a 4-1 triumph over the Bloomington Thunder at Resch Center, Sam Saliba, Jason Dhooghe, Ryan Smith, and Joey Marooney all scored in the win. Seven different players had an assist, and Huska stopped 24 of 25 shots to secure his 18th victory of the season. Green Bay currently sits all alone in third place in the Eastern Conference, five points ahead of fourth place Youngstown.


SAINTS SWEEP, TIED FOR TOP IN EAST – For the longest time, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders have sat atop the Eastern Conference and the USHL. However, after this week, the RoughRiders have company – the rivaled Dubuque Fighting Saints. Dubuque has earned at least a point in eight straight games, and they are 8-1-1 in their last 10 outings, including a pair of wins over the Waterloo Black Hawks in games that needed more than 60 minutes to determine a winner, and a regulation win over the Bloomington Thunder. Friday night, Dallas Gerads, Gordon Green, and Shane Kavanagh sent the game to extra time. With just 39 seconds remaining in overtime, Kavanagh scored his second goal of the game to spurn Dubuque to a 4-3 win. Eight different Saints had an assist, and Jaxon Castor stopped 22 of 25 shots in the win.  On Saturday, Colin Theisen and Willie Knierim helped send the game to a shootout, and Gerads scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Saints a 3-2 victory. Hunter Miska stopped 32 of 34 shots through 67 minutes, and he also stopped all six Waterloo attempts in the shootout. Sunday was a relatively less stressful win for the Saints, as they knocked off Bloomington 4-2 at Mystique Ice Center. Casey Johnson, Nathan Sucese, Mitchell Smith, and Petter Makitalo were the goal scorers for Dubuque. Keegan Ford added a pair of assists, and Miska stopped 42 of 44 shots to earn his 24th win of the season. Those 24 wins are tied with Cedar Rapids’ Ben Blacker for most in the league. Dubuque and Cedar Rapids both sit with 61 points, tops in the league. The two teams are three points clear of third place Green Bay.


Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16.  A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.

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