Photo by Hickling Images
DES MOINES BUCCANEERS  at LINCOLN STARS  OT
The Buccaneers clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2007 with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Lincoln Stars. After a scoreless first period, Des Moines took a 2-0 lead midway through the second thanks to a Cameron Orchard tally and a beautiful goal by Braden Costello. The Stars responded quickly, however, with Mike Gillespie's eighth of the year to cut the Des Moines lead in half to 2-1 heading into the third period. Jake Nielsen tied the game five and a half minutes into the final frame before Julian Napravnik's 18th goal of the season put the Buccaneers back up by one. Three and a half minutes later, Jack Doremus tied the game at three goals apiece to send the teams to overtime. About halfway through the extra frame, Kobe Roth's 12th goal of the season gave Des Moines the win and put the Buccaneers in the playoffs. Jan Ruzicka made 27 saves on 30 for his 25th victory of the year.
SIOUX CITY MUSKETEERS  at FARGO FORCE 
Fargo also clinched a playoff berth last night with a 6-1 win over Sioux City. The Force held a 3-0 lead through 20 minutes of play thanks to goals from Jack Adams, his league-leading 35th of the season, Shane McMahan and Hank Crone. Kevin O'Neil stretched the lead to 4-0 2:19 into the second before JC MacLean found the back of the net 10 minutes later to get the Musketeers on the board and cut the Fargo lead to 4-1. The Force then scored twice in the final 20 minutes, courtesy of Brian Hurley and Jacob Paganelli, to make it a 6-1 game and complete the scoring. Paul Washe dished out a pair of assists, and Matthew Murray stopped all but one of the 22 shots he faced for his third straight victory between the pipes.
CHICAGO STEEL  at WATERLOO BLACK HAWKS 
The first two periods between two of the top three teams in the USHL were scoreless, with Waterloo outshooting Chicago 22-17. About five minutes into the third period, Nick Swaney's 24th goal of the season put the Black Hawks up 1-0, and they were able to hold off the Steel for the remaining 15 minutes to pick up the hard-fought 1-0 win. Emil Ohrvall added the lone assist on Swaney's tally, his 18th helper of the season, and Robbie Beydoun stopped all 28 shots he faced for his 23rd victory and fifth shutout of the season. Those five shutouts are tied for the lead among all USHL goaltenders.
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.