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USHL Weekly: Week 21

02/16/2017, 10:15am CST
By Kevin Meyers, USHL

USHL team news, NHL alumni updates and USHL weekly previews.


USHL Headlines:


Players of the Week: Messner, Karow, Ruzicka earn weekly honors


Recent college commits: Jackson Charlesworth | Linus Weissbach


Weekly podcast: The U-Show Subscribe on iTunes


USHLTV: Subscribe to watch nightly highlights



NHL Alumni News


Joe Pavelski (Waterloo Black Hawks) tallied four points (2G, 2A) on Wednesday against the Florida Panthers and is second on the San Jose Sharks in scoring with 52 points (20G, 32A)…  Auston Matthews (Team USA) scored twice against the New York Islanders on Wednesday and is third among rookies with 46 points (27G, 19A)…  Matthew Tkachuk (Team USA) and Zach Werenski (Team USA) both sit in the top-10 in NHL rookie scoring…  Christian Dvorak (Chicago Steel) has five points (4G, 1A) in his last four games… 



NCAA Alumni News


78% (7/9) of the goals scored in the Beanpot final between Boston University and Harvard University were scored by USHL alumni…  USHL alumni were credited with 86% of the points in the game (19/22)…  Zach Aston-Reese (Lincoln Stars) has overtaken the college hockey scoring lead with 52 points (24G, 28A) in 30 games…  Mike Vecchione (Tri-City Storm) and Tyler Kelleher (Team USA) are just one point behind Aston-Reese with 51 points each…  Denis Smirnov remains the freshman scoring leader with 34 points (14G, 20A) in 26 games…  Charles Williams (Lincoln Stars) leads all goaltenders with a .942 SV%...  Michael Bitzer (Lincoln Stars) leads all college hockey netminders with a 1.70 GAA… 



NCAA Award Winners


Conor Andrle (Sioux City Muskteers) and Phil Boje (Dubuque Fighting Saints) earned Atlantic Hockey weekly awards…  Denis Smirnov (Fargo Force), Nate Sucese (Dubuque Fighting Saints) and Tyler Sheehy (Youngstown Phantoms) swept the Big Ten Three Stars…  Ryan Donato (Omaha Lancers) was named ECAC Player of the Week…  Dennis Gilbert (Chicago Steel) was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week…  Sheldon Dries (Green Bay Gamblers) and Luc Snuggerud (Omaha Lancers) were named NCHC weekly award winners…  Robbie Payne (Chicago Steel) was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week…



Bloomington Thunder


Last’s Week Record: 0-2-0-0

Overall Record: 17-19-3-2 (39 PTS, 6th in East)

Upcoming Games: Saturday, 2/18 at Sioux Falls


The Thunder dropped their pair of games to the Youngstown Phantoms over the weekend. Vladislav Dzhioshvili is now sporting a five-game point streak thanks to a pair of assists in his two games last weekend. In those five games, the University of Vermont commit has tallied seven points (3G, 4A). He has also registered at least one point in 13 of his last 17 contests. Ben Mirageas, who participated in January’s USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, picked up his first goal of his USHL career on Thursday. The Newburyport, MA native is committed to Providence College and has 10 points (1G, 9A) this season. The Thunder will look to rebound with a game in Sioux Falls against the Stampede on Saturday.



Cedar Rapids RoughRiders


Last Week’s Record: 0-2-1-0

Overall Record: 7-32-2-1 (17 PTS, 9th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 at Omaha, Saturday, 2/18 vs. Lincoln


Cedar Rapids picked up one point on the weekend with an overtime loss to the Madison Capitols on Friday night. Scott Perunovich, Dalton Messina and Steven Agriogianis all picked up goals for the RoughRiders last weekend. Agriogianis and Jordan Timmons are both playing well in their first seasons in the league and are among the top-20 in USHL rookie scoring with 14 points each. Agriogianis has tallied four goals and added 10 assists, while Timmons has scored three goals and dished out 11 helpers. Cedar Rapids will play in Omaha on Friday before hosting Lincoln on Saturday.



Chicago Steel


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-0-0

Overall Record: 27-10-1-3 (58 PTS, T-1st in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 at Team USA, Saturday, 2/18 at Muskegon, Sunday, 2/19 vs. Muskegon


With wins in Sioux City and Sioux Falls last weekend, the Steel are once again tied atop the Eastern Conference standings. Brannon McManus had himself a nice weekend, tallying a goal and dishing out two assists, including a game-winning goal. Graham Lillibridge was the hero for the Steel on Saturday night, as he scored the game-winning goal in Sioux Falls with just 0.3 seconds remaining in overtime. The Yale commit is now tied for seventh among all USHL defensemen in scoring. Ales Stezka backstopped both Chicago victories this weekend, giving up just two goals and stopping 48 of the 50 shots he faced. Stezka is now eighth among all USHL goaltenders in GAA (2.30) in sits in the top-15 in SV% (.913). Chicago will play three games in three days over the weekend. The Steel will play at Team USA on Friday before a Saturday-Sunday home-and-home series with the Muskegon Lumberjacks.



Des Moines Buccaneers


Last Week’s Record: 3-1-0-0

Overall Record: 25-14-1-3 (54 PTS, 3rd in West)

Upcoming Games:  Friday, 2/17 at Tri-City, Saturday, 2/18 vs. Dubuque


By picking up six of a possible eight points over the last week, including a win on Tuesday in Sioux Falls, the Buccaneers are now alone in third place in the Western Conference standings. Jan Ruzicka led the way for Des Moines, winning both of his starts last week en route to being named the CCM/USHL Goaltender of the Week. In those two games, the Czech netminder stopped 60 of the 61 shots he faced, including putting up a 30-save shutout in Muskegon on Saturday. He also picked up a win on Tuesday over the Stampede. Recent Michigan State commit Reed Lebster has also been on fire recently, as the Michigan State commit has six goals in his last six games. Mario Ferraro continues to play well on the back end. The University of Massachusetts commit tallied three points (2G, 1A) last week and now has six points (3G, 3A) in his last four games. Among USHL defenseman, Ferraro leads the way with seven goals and is fourth in points with 27 (7G, 20A). Des Moines will play at Tri-City on Friday before hosting in-state foe Dubuque on Saturday.



Dubuque Fighting Saints


Last Week’s Record: 0-0-2-0

Overall Record: 26-10-4-2 (58 PTS, T-1st in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 vs. Lincoln, Saturday, 2/18 at Des Moines


Dubuque lost a pair of overtime games to the Madison Capitols over the weekend, but because of the two points they earned, they remain in a tie atop the USHL standings with 58 points. The Fighting Saints boast a trio of players who are currently boasting five-game point streaks in Zach Solow, Cole Guttman and Colin Theisen. Solow tallied three points (1G, 2A) over the weekend and now has nine points (3G, 6A) in his last five games. Guttman also had three points (1G, 2A) on the weekend and has registered six points in his last five contests (2G, 4A), and Theisen tallied a pair of assists in the two games against the Capitols and has four goals and four assists in his last five games. All three players sit in the top-11 in USHL scoring – Solow leads all players with 49 points (13G, 36A), Theisen’s 42 points (24G, 18A) are good for third, and Guttman sits in a tie for 11th in the league with 35 points (18G, 17A). Jaxon Castor continues to be one of the top goaltenders in the USHL, as he is third in the league in GAA (2.08) and 11th in SV% (.914). The Fighting Saints will host Lincoln on Friday and play in Des Moines on Saturday.



Fargo Force


Last Week’s Record: 0-1-0-1

Overall Record: 24-15-2-1 (51 PTS, T-4th in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 and Saturday, 2/18 vs. Madison


By earning a single point over the weekend against the Green Bay Gamblers, Fargo sits in a tie for the fourth and final place in the top-half of the Western Conference. The Force remain the only team with three players among the top-10 in USHL scoring. Jack Adams is second in the league with 43 points (25G, 18A), with his 25 goals leading all players, and Hank Crone sits in a tie for seventh with 37 points (16G, 21A) along with Blake Lizotte (7G, 30A). Fargo will look to get back to their winning ways and move up the Western Conference standings as they face off with the Madison Capitols for the first time this season in a Friday-Saturday series at Scheels Arena.



Green Bay Gamblers


Last Week’s Record: 3-0-0-0

Overall Record: 23-16-2-2 (50 PTS, 5th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 and Saturday, 2/18 vs. Sioux City


It was a huge week for Green Bay, as they swept the Fargo Force before knocking off the Waterloo Black Hawks in overtime on Tuesday, putting the Gamblers just three points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Green Bay is also 4-1-0-0 in their last five games, made even more impressive by the fact that those games have been played against opponents with a combined .630 winning percentage (125-70-10-6). Dante Palecco has been leading the way offensively as of late with seven goals in his last seven games. Chris Grando picked up the overtime winner on Tuesday and now has eight points (3G, 5A) in his last seven games. Connor Mackey dished out a pair of assists in the win on Tuesday, and now is first among defenseman and second among all USHL players with 23 helpers. The Gamblers will look to extend their winning streak over the weekend as they host the USHL-leading Sioux City Musketeers in a Friday-Saturday series.



Lincoln Stars


Last Week’s Record: 2-1-0-0

Overall Record: 23-14-4-1 (51 PTS, T-4th in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 at Dubuque, Saturday, 2/18 at Cedar Rapids, Sunday, 2/18 at Waterloo


With two straight wins in the last week, the Stars have climbed back into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference standings. Prior to Tuesday’s victory in Tri-City, Ethen Frank was sporting a seven-game point streak. The Western Michigan commit has tallied at least one point in 17 of his last 21 games. Henry Bowlby has been on a tear as of late as well, as the Harvard commit is now on a seven-game point streak, with seven points (3G, 4A) in that span. Lincoln will look to solidify their position in the Western Conference over the weekend with three game in three days. The Stars will be on the road all weekend – at Dubuque on Friday, at Cedar Rapids on Saturday and at Waterloo on Sunday.



Madison Capitols


Last Week’s Record: 3-0-0-0

Overall Record: 18-21-1-1 (38 PTS, 7th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 and Saturday, 2/17 at Fargo


It was a spectacular weekend for Madison, as they play three games and won all three contests in overtime. Mick Messner picked up two of the three overtime winning goals en route to being named CCM/USHL Forward of the Week. The Madison native is now sporting a five-game point streak, with six points (4G, 2A) in that span. He has 19 points (10G, 9A) in 37 games this season, good for fourth on the team in scoring. Robbie Fosdick scored the overtime winner on Sunday in Dubuque for his first goal of the season. Dryden McKay continued his stellar play between the pipes, as the Holy Cross commit finished the weekend with a 3-0-0-0 record, a 1.81 GAA, 85 saves and a .934 SV%. He is tied for fourth in the USHL in SV% (.923) and 15th in GAA (2.53). The Capitols will look to keep their winning streak going this weekend with a Friday-Saturday series in Fargo against the Force.



Muskegon Lumberjacks


Last Week’s Record: 1-1-0-0

Overall Record: 25-14-2-1 (53 PTS, 4th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 vs. Youngstown, Saturday, 2/18 vs. Chicago, Sunday, 2/19 at Chicago


With a split of their games on the weekend against the Des Moines Buccaneers, Muskegon sits alone in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. New addition Austin Alger made quite the debut in a Lumberjacks uniform. In his first game for Muskegon on Friday, the Miami University commit dished out a pair of assists in his team’s 5-3 victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers. Alger is third among the Lumberjacks in scoring with 26 points (12G, 14A) in 39 games this season. Muskegon has a great chance to move up the Eastern Conference this weekend with three games against opponents who are ahead of them in the standings. The Lumberjacks will host Youngstown on Friday before taking on the Chicago Steel in a Friday-Saturday home-and-home series.



Omaha Lancers


Last Week’s Record: 1-1-0-0

Overall Record: 16-21-5-1 (38 PTS, T-7th in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 vs. Cedar Rapids, Saturday, 2/18 vs. Tri-City


The Lancers played in a pair of hard fought, one goal games over the weekend, as they knocked off Tri-City 3-2 on Friday before falling 2-1 to Lincoln on Saturday night. Ben Lown scored on Saturday against Lincoln and now has goals in three straight games against the Stars. Filip Rydstrom dished out a pair of assists in Friday’s win over the Storm and now has four points (1G, 3A) in his last three games. Tommy Nappier was solid between the pipes in his two starts last weekend, only allowing a pair of goals both Friday and Saturday while making 51 saves in the process. Omaha will host Cedar Rapids on Friday and Tri-City on Saturday.



Sioux City Musketeers


Last Week’s Record: 2-1-0-0

Overall Record: 26-9-5-2 (59 PTS, 1st in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 and Saturday, 2/18 at Green Bay


With two victories in their last three games, the Musketeers now sit alone atop the USHL standings. New addition Charlie Kelleher has been playing well since joining Sioux City, with three assists in his first four games with the Musketeers. The University of New Hampshire commit is now the team’s leading scorer, with 36 points (11G, 25A) in 44 games. Matiss Kivlenieks continues to take the league by storm between the pipes. The Minnesota State University, Mankato commit leads all USHL netminders in wins (24), GAA (1.74), SV% (.939), and saves (954). Sioux City will travel to Green Bay for a Friday-Saturday series with the Gamblers.



Sioux Falls Stampede


Last Week’s Record: 0-1-1-1

Overall Record: 16-20-2-4 (38 PTS, T-6th in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 at Waterloo, Saturday, 2/18 vs. Bloomington


The Stampede picked up a pair of points on the weekend with both an overtime and a shootout loss. Young players have been the big story for Sioux Falls. 16-year-old rookie Jaxon Nelson picked up a goal on Tuesday against the Des Moines Buccaneers and now has points in three straight games (1G, 2A). The Stampede also boast a pair of rookies in the top-20 in rookie scoring. Max Johnson is tied for ninth with 16 points (9G, 7A), and Paul DeNaples has 14 points (6G, 8A) in 37 games this year. Sioux Falls will play in Waterloo on Friday before hosting Bloomington on Saturday.



Team USA



Overall Record: 16-19-1-1 (34 PTS, 8th in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 vs. Chicago, Saturday, 2/18 at Youngstown


Team USA recently competed in the U17 and U18 Five Nations Tournaments, with the U18 team winning their tournament and the U17 finishing second. The teams will resume USHL competition this weekend, as they will host Chicago on Friday before playing in Youngstown on Saturday.



Tri-City Storm


Last Week’s Record: 0-2-1-0

Overall Record: 15-21-5-2 (37 PTS, 8th in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 vs. Des Moines, Saturday, 2/18 at Omaha


It’s been a big week for the Storm’s Linus Weissbach. The Swedish forward scored twice in three games going back to February 10, and now has five goals in his last five games. He also announced his commitment to play college hockey at the University of Wisconsin on Monday. Weissbach leads Tri-City and is tied for sixth in USHL scoring with 38 points (16G, 22A). Storm captain Adam Goodsir has dished out two assists in his last three games and is now fifth among all rookies in scoring with 20 points (12G, 8A). Tri-City will host Des Moines on Friday before playing in Omaha against the in-state rival Lancers on Saturday.



Waterloo Black Hawks


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-1-0

Overall Record: 27-12-2-2 (58 PTS, 2nd in West)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 vs. Sioux Falls, Sunday, 2/19 vs. Lincoln


Waterloo earned four of a possible six points in the last week to remain in second place in the Western Conference standings. Nick Swaney continues to be red hot, as he has registered at least one point in nine of his last 11 games dating back to January 15, with 12 points (4G, 8A) in that span. The University of Minnesota Duluth commit remains the team’s leader in scoring and is fifth among all USHL players with 39 points (17G, 22A). Top 2017 NHL Draft prospect Shane Bowers has also been on a tear lately. The Boston University commit is currently sporting an eight-game point streak, with 10 points (6G, 4A) in that span. Newcomer Alex Limoges has fit right in with the Black Hawks, tallying four points (1G, 3A) in his first two games with his new team. Clarkson commit Kevin Charyszyn has also joined in on the offensive fun with nine points (6G, 3A) in his last six games. Waterloo has earned at least one point in each of their last 11 games and will look to continue that trend this weekend with home games Friday and Sunday against Sioux Falls and Lincoln, respectively.



Youngstown Phantoms


Last Week’s Record: 2-0-0-0

Overall Record: 25-13-4-1 (55 PTS, 3rd in East)

Upcoming Games: Friday, 2/17 at Muskegon, Saturday, 2/18 vs. Team USA


With their weekend sweep of the Bloomington Thunder, the Phantoms have won their last four games and moved into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference standings. Boston College commit Michael Karow was named CCM/USHL Defenseman of the Week following a weekend in which he dished out four assists, three of which coming in his team’s 4-3 victory in Bloomington on Thursday. Karow now has 16 points (1G, 15A) in 41 games this season, including six assists in his last three games, good for second among Youngstown defensemen, with his 15 assists ranking first among Phantoms blueliners, and his 16 points rank third among USHL rookie defensemen. Youngstown also picked up a big addition by acquiring forward Pierce Crawford from the Omaha Lancers. In 41 games this season, the Notre Dame commit has 14 goals and 14 assists. Nicolas Werbik has four goals in his last three games and continues to lead the team offensively with 35 points (16G, 19A) in 38 games this season, putting him just outside the top-10 in USHL scoring. Ivan Kulbakov has won six of his last seven starts between the pipes to move his record to 21-9-0-2 on the season. The Belarussian netminder is second in the USHL in GAA (1.97) and eighth in SV% (.917). The Phantoms will look to extend their winning streak this weekend with games Friday in Muskegon and Saturday in Youngstown against Team USA.


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