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USHL Weekly: Week 4

10/19/2016, 4:45pm CDT

Auston Matthews makes big first impression, second consecutive Big Ten sweep for USHL alumni and news around the league.

USHL Headlines:


Players of the Week: Esposito and Alftberg earn first weekly honors, Stezka wins second of the year after another shutout

Recent College Commits: Marc McLaughlin | Jacob Hamacher | Jeremy Swayman | Kasper Kotkansalo | Henry Bowlby | Ben Copeland

David Keefer Shines in Home State: Buccaneers forward has great weekend in Michigan, has big goals for season

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NHL Alumni News


Auston Matthews (Team USA) leads all NHL rookies in scoring after his four-goal performance on opening night for the Toronto Maple Leafs… Zach Werenski (Team USA), Ryan Hartman (Team USA) and Tyler Motte (Team USA)…  Nick Schmaltz (Green Bay Gamblers) scored the first goal of his NHL career in the Chicago Blackhawks win last Saturday over the Nashville Predators… Kyle Connor (Youngstown Phantoms) and Michael Matheson (Dubuque Fighting Saints) earned their first career points.



NCAA Alumni News


Last season’s Clark Cup MVP Wade Allison (Tri-City Storm) picked up a hat trick on Friday night to help Western Michigan come back to defeat Bowling Green 5-4 in overtime… Anders Bjork (Team USA), Mitchell Fossier (Sioux City Musketeers), Joe Gambardella (Des Moines Buccaneers) and Dylan Sikura (Chicago Steel) are all in the top six in NCAA scoring… Fossier, Trent Frederic (Team USA), Marc Michaelis (Green Bay Gamblers) and Joey Anderson (Team USA) all sit in the top five in freshman scoring… 13 of the top 17 freshman scorers are USHL alumni, as are eight of the top 10 NCAA point leaders who are also NHL Draft picks…  Ottawa Senators prospect Joey Daccord (Muskegon Lumberjacks) and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Kris Oldham (Omaha Lancers) earned their first collegiate wins over the weekend with Arizona State University and the University of Nebraska-Omaha, respectively.



NCAA Award Winners


For the second consecutive week, USHL alumni swept the Big Ten weekly honors, with freshmen Jake Slaker (Bloomington Thunder), Trent Frederic (Team USA) and Peyton Jones (Lincoln Stars) picking up awards… Tyler Kelleher (Team USA) and Mitch Fossier (Sioux City Musketeers) earned Hockey East weekly awards… Adam Johnson (Sioux City Musketeers), Will Butcher (Team USA) and Wade Allison (Tri-City Storm) all picked up their first NCHC weekly awards of the season…  Michael Bitzer (Lincoln Stars) and Parker Tuomie (Sioux Falls Stampede) took home WCHA awards.



Bloomington Thunder


Last’s Week Record: 0-1-1-0

Overall Record: 1-3-2-0 (4 PTS, T-7th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 vs. Muskegon, Saturday, 10/22 vs. Cedar Rapids


The Thunder dropped a 4-1 decision to the unbeaten Chicago Steel on Friday before earning their only point of the weekend with a hard-fought, 1-0 overtime loss on the road in Green Bay. But despite having only one victory on the season, Bloomington only sits four points out of a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference. It was a successful weekend for Thunder alum Jake Slaker, who had two points, including his first collegiate goal, in Michigan’s 2-1 victory over Ferris State on Saturday. He joined fellow Thunder alum and Wolverines teammate Hayden Lavigne by receiving a Big Ten weekly award. As for the current Thunder roster, they will look to get back to .500 this weekend with a pair of home contests with Muskegon and Cedar Rapids.



Cedar Rapids RoughRiders


Last Week’s Record: 0-2-0-0

Overall Record: 0-6-1-0 (1 PT, 9th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 vs. Chicago, Saturday, 10/22 at Bloomington


Last Thursday was a proud day for RoughRiders forward Marc McLaughlin, who announced his commitment to Boston College. McLaughlin will join fellow RoughRiders and former Cushing Academy teammate T.J. Walsh on Chestnut Hill starting with the 2018-19 season, as announced by the RoughRiders. 16-year old goaltender Drew DeRidder has been a bright spot for Cedar Rapids early in the season. The Fenton, MI native has 93 saves in three games, including a 34-save performance last Saturday against the Des Moines Buccaneers. The RoughRiders will face off with two Eastern Conference foes over the weekend as they host Chicago on Friday before heading to Bloomington on Saturday.



Chicago Steel


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-0-0

Overall Record: 6-0-0-0 (12 PTS, 1st in East)

Upcoming Games: Wednesday, 10/19 at Green Bay, Friday, 10/21 at Cedar Rapids, Saturday, 10/22 vs. Omaha


The Steel picked up a pair of wins on the weekend, moving them to a still perfect 6-0-0-0 mark. Goaltender Ales Stezka returned from injury and posted his second shutout in as many starts as he stopped 35 shots in Saturday’s victory over the Madison Capitols en route to being named CCM USHL Goaltender of the Week. With the shutout, Stezka is only one shutout away from tying the Chicago Steel individual record for most in a season. Veteran forward Walker Duehr has also been a nice addition for Chicago. A Clark Cup champion last season with the Tri-City Storm, Duehr has scored three goals this year, two of which that have turned out to be game-winners. Arizona State University commit Johnny Walker has also provided a big spark offensively. Walker now has a three-game goal scoring streak dating back to October 8th, the third longest active streak in the league. Chicago will look to keep their perfect record in tact with three games this week – Wednesday at Green Bay, Friday at Cedar Rapids and Saturday vs. Omaha.



Des Moines Buccaneers


Last Week’s Record: 1-1-0-0

Overall Record: 5-1-0-1 (11 PTS, 2nd in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 vs. Lincoln


After a tough 1-0 loss on Friday night, the Buccaneers responded with a dominant 5-1 victory over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. The Buccaneers have not picked up a point in only one game this season, and they now sit just a point out of the top spot in the Western Conference. NHL Central Scouting listed forward Isaac Johnson was impressive on Saturday, scoring three points. Johnson now has eight points in seven games so far this season, tied for first on the team along with Julian Napravnik, David Keefer and Kobe Roth. Yale commit Nick MacNab picked up the win on Saturday to move his record to 2-0-0-0. He has made 59 saves in those two starts, good for a 2.00 GAA and a .932 SV%. Des Moines will look to seek revenge for Friday’s defeat as they host the Lincoln Stars.



Dubuque Fighting Saints


Last Week’s Record: 1-1-0-0

Overall Record: 3-4-0-0 (6 PTS, T-5th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 and Saturday, 10/22 at Youngstown 


The Fighting Saints split their pair of games over the weekend and remain merely a single point out of the top-four in the Eastern Conference. Three players picked up multiple points in a 5-3 road victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede on Friday – Colin Theisen, Dallas Gerads and Zach Solow. Mike Robinson also made one of the best saves of the season in that victory. Jacob Hamacher had himself a good week off the ice, as he recently announced his commitment to play his college hockey at RIT. Former Saints suiting up in the NHL also had a successful week. Michael Matheson picked up the primary assist on an overtime game-winner to give the Florida Panthers their first victory on the season, while former teammates Zemgus Girgensons and Johnny Gaudreau faced off in Calgary. Girgenson scored his first of the year, but Johnny Hockey got the last laugh in overtime with a primary assist on the game-winner. As for this season’s Saints, they will look to get back over the .500 mark this weekend with a Friday-Saturday series at Youngstown.



Fargo Force


Last Week’s Record: 0-2-0-0

Overall Record: 3-4-0-0 (6 PTS, T-7thin West)

Upcoming Games: Thursday, 10/20 and Friday, 10/21 at Sioux City


Despite a pair of losses over the weekend, things are looking up for the Fargo Force. One of the main reasons why is Jack Adams. Adams, a Union College commit, is sixth in the USHL in scoring with nine points. His five goals are good for fifth in the league, and he also leads the team in scoring. Special teams are also a big reason for optimism in Fargo. The Force are a perfect 27/27 on the penalty kill and are fourth in the league with a 22.2% power play conversion rate. Adams has four goals on the power play to lead the league. Hank Crone is also off to a nice start for Fargo. He has assists in his last three games, tied for the longest active streak in the league. The Force will travel south to Sioux City for a Thursday-Friday series with the Musketeers.



Green Bay Gamblers


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-0-0

Overall Record: 5-2-0-0 (10 PTS, T-2nd in East)

Upcoming Games: Wednesday, 10/19 vs. Chicago, Friday, 10/21 and Saturday, 10/22 at Sioux Falls


The Gamblers are now one of the hottest teams in the USHL. Green Bay is currently on a four-game winning streak, tied for the third-longest active winning streak in the league behind Chicago and Waterloo. They knocked off in-state rival Madison 4-1 on Friday before Jared Spooner scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 overtime victory over the Bloomington Thunder. He is now second on the team in scoring behind Casey Mittelstadt, who has eight points (3 G, 5 A) on the season. Josh Dunne picked up his first goal of the season on Friday. The St. Louis AAA Blues product was listed on the NHL Central Scouting Preliminary Players to Watch List. Green Bay will look to continue their winning ways with three games in the next five days – at home against the unbeaten Chicago Steel on Wednesday and a Friday-Saturday series at Sioux Falls.



Lincoln Stars


Last Week’s Record: 1-1-0-0

Overall Record: 4-4-0-0 (8 PTS, T-5th in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 at Des Moines, Saturday, 10/22 at Madison


The Stars remained at the .500 mark with a split of their games on the weekend. Despite losing a one-goal game to the Tri-City Storm on Saturday, close contests have worked out will for Lincoln early in the year, as they are 4-1-0-0 in games that are decided by a single tally. Uncommitted forward Justin Richards, son of Todd, had three points (1 G, 2 A) on Saturday, and Cayden Primeau, son of Keith, had a 29-save shutout of the Des Moines Buccaneers on Friday. Kyle Kawamura picked up his first USHL goal on Friday, which was the game-winner in the 1-0 victory. Additionally, Henry Bowlby announced his commitment to Harvard University. Lincoln will head to Des Moines for their second straight Friday meeting with the Buccaneers before visiting Madison on Saturday.



Madison Capitols


Last Week’s Record: 0-2-0-0

Overall Record: 2-4-0-0 (4 PTS, T-7th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 vs. Waterloo, Saturday, 10/22 vs. Lincoln 


It has been a mix of both rookies and veterans leading the way for the Capitols. Veteran Euegne Faydyeyev has been a solid contributor offensively with five points (3 G, 2 A) in his first six games. Those five points lead the team in scoring. Not far behind are Wisconsin native and University of Wisconsin commit Mick Messner as well as rookie forward and Ohio State commit Kamil Sadlocha, both of whom have tallied a goal and three assists in those four contests. In goal, Daniel Lebedeff continues to lead the way with a 2.26 GAA and a .931 SV%. Backup Dryden McKay was also solid in his only appearance of the year, giving up only two goals while stopping 31 shots. The Capitols will host a pair of Western Conference opponents over the weekend as Waterloo and Lincoln come to town on Friday and Saturday, respectively.



Muskegon Lumberjacks


Last Week’s Record: 0-2-0-0

Overall Record: 4-3-0-0 (8 PTS, 4thin East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 at Bloomington, Saturday, 10/22 at Waterloo


Despite losing twice to the Youngstown Phantoms over the weekend, the Lumberjacks still find themselves in a pretty good position, as they hold the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. Veteran forward Collin Adams has been leading the way offensively with four goals and four assists in his team’s first seven contests. Rookie Andrei Svechnikov is also playing well, as he has two goals and four assists in those seven games. He also is sporting a four-game point streak. Former Lumberjacks netminder Joey Daccord had a nice weekend as he picked up his first NCAA win with Arizona State University. The Ottawa Senators prospect had 21 victories in goal for the Lumberjacks last season. Muskegon will look to start a new winning streak this weekend as they head to Bloomington on Friday before traveling to Waterloo on Saturday.



Omaha Lancers


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-0-0

Overall Record: 4-4-0-0 (8 PTS, 5th in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 at Team USA, Saturday, 10/22 at Chicago


It has been quite the turnaround in Omaha, as the Lancers have won their last four games to get back to .500 on the season. Leading the way recently has been forward Pierce Crawford. He had two-goal games both Friday and Saturday in a sweep of the Fargo Force, his third two-goal performance of the season. He is now second in the league in goals with six, and teammate Brannon McManus is not far behind with five tallies of his own. McManus also has a five-game point streak. 16-year old rookie Jack Randl scored his first USHL goal over the weekend. The Michigan commit now has three points in his last four games. In goal, Peter Thome continues to shine, as he sits with a perfect 4-0-0-0 record while making 112 saves in those four appearances. Omaha will travel to Team USA on Friday before heading to Chicago on Saturday.



Sioux City Musketeers


Last Week’s Record: 1-0-1-0

Overall Record: 4-2-1-0 (4 PTS, T-3rd in West)

Upcoming Games: Thursday, 10/20 and Friday, 10/21 vs. Fargo


The Musketeers picked up three out of a possible four points on the weekend as they fell to Waterloo in overtime on Friday before knocking off the Dubuque Fighting Saints on Saturday. Eeli Tolvanen was impressive in the win over the Dubuque. In addition to an assist, the Boston College commit scored on a blister of a slap shot to give him his third two-point game of the season. Those six points (4G, 2A) lead the team in scoring. Former Musketeers forward Jake Guentzel had himself quite the night in his AHL debut, scoring four points on opening night for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Guentzel currently leads all AHL rookies in scoring after his stellar performance. Sioux City will look to build off their hot start with a Thursday-Friday series at Fargo.



Sioux Falls Stampede


Last Week’s Record: 0-2-0-0

Overall Record: 2-4-0-1 (5 PTS, 8th in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 and Saturday, 10/22 vs. Green Bay 


The Stampede boast the leading scorer in the USHL in Austin Albrecht, who had five points (1G, 4A) over the weekend to give him 13 points (3G, 10A) on the season, first on his team by five points and first in the league by one point. Those 10 assists also lead the league. Alex Stevens also has a goal and three assists in his last four games, giving him a four-game point streak. Jeremy Swayman continues to shine between the pipes, and he recently announced his commitment to Maine University. The Alaskan netminder has made 203 saves so far this season, outpacing the next leading goaltender by 34 saves. Sioux Falls will host the Green Bay Gamblers this weekend in a Friday-Saturday series.



Team USA


Last Week’s Record: NO GAMES

Overall Record: 2-4-1-0 (5 PTS, 6th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 vs. Omaha 


Even though Team USA did not play in any USHL games this weekend, it was an eventful week off the ice. Current Team USA defenseman Phil Kemp recently announced his commitment to play college hockey at Yale University. Additionally, three Team USA alumni shined in in the first weeks of their NHL careers. Auston Matthews had four goals on opening night for the Toronto Maple Leafs while Matthew Tkachuk and Zach Wereneski scored their first career NHL goals. Team USA will return to USHL action on Friday as they host the Omaha Lancers at USA Hockey Arena.



Tri-City Storm


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-0-0

Overall Record: 4-4-0-1 (9 PTS, T-3rd in West)



The Storm swept their weekend games to get back to .500 and move into the top three of the Western Conference. Tri-City shut out Cedar Rapids 6-0 on Friday before defeating Lincoln 4-3 on Saturday. Philip Alftberg led the way for the defending champs over the weekend, dishing out a pair of assists on Friday before scoring two goals on Saturday. He was also named CCM USHL Defenseman of the Week. Alftberg now has three multi-point games on the year and leads all USHL defensemen in scoring. He is also second in goals among defenseman. The Storm hopes Alftberg keeps scoring as they are 3-1-0-0 when he records at least one point. Wyllum Deveaux is also lighting it up offensively for the Storm. The Harvard commit leads all 16-year old rookies with three goals. Veteran Alex Limoges currently holds a five-game point streak, tied for the second-longest active streak in the league. The Storm have the weekend off before returning to action next week.



Waterloo Black Hawks


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-0-0

Overall Record: 6-1-0-0 (12 PTS, 1st in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 at Madison, Saturday, 10/22 vs. Muskegon


The Black Hawks are now on a six-game win streak after an overtime win at Sioux City on Friday and a 9-5 win at Sioux Falls on Saturday. Shane Bowers led the way for Waterloo over the weekend. He picked up a goal and assist both Friday and Saturday, including a beautiful assist and the game-winning overtime goal on Friday. Another 16-year old rookie got in on the action as Harvard commit Jack Drury scored his first USHL goal. It was also a notable weekend for Waterloo native Hunter Lellig, who picked up his first career USHL point with his hometown team. Robbie Beydoun continues to thrive between the pipes as he now sports a 0.73 GAA and a .975 SV% in his four starts, all of which have been victories. Waterloo will look to stretch their win streak to seven and potentially eight with games at Madison on Friday and at home against Muskegon on Saturday.



Youngstown Phantoms


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-0-0

Overall Record: 5-2-0-0 (10 PTS, T-2nd in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 10/21 and Saturday, 10/22 vs. Dubuque


With a sweep of the Muskegon Lumberjacks on the road over the weekend, the Phantoms now sit at 5-2-0-0 and in second place in the Eastern Conference. Alex Esposito was spectacular both Friday and Saturday. The Vermont commit tallied a goal and assist on Friday before tallying a hat trick and an assist on Saturday, a performance that earned him USHL Forward of the Week honors. He already has two multi-goal games, which is as many as he had all of last season. Esposito now sports both a six-game point streak and a four-game goal streak. Brett Murray has also been solid for Youngstown. The Buffalo Sabres prospect has 11 points in 7 games, making the Phantoms the only team in the USHL to have two players (Murray and Esposito) with 10+ points. The Phantoms will look to continue their winning ways with a weekend series at home against the Dubuque Fighting Saints.



Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17.  30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts,  and more than 400 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.

Tag(s): Recaps