Photo by Hickling Images
The 2017 USHL Fall Classic was underway, and there was plenty to take away from the three games that were played today at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, PA. Below are five takeaways from Day 1 of the 2017 USHL Fall Classic.
Veterans Stepping Up
Fargo goaltender Ryan Bischel set the tone early in the Force's win, stopping all 12 shots he faced. Force fans will recognize Bischel from last season's solid rookie campaign. Colin Swoyer, Jaxon Nelson and Matt Quercia all scored for Sioux Falls, and Eric Esposito and Curtis Hall found the back of the net in Youngstown's victory over Waterloo.
Strong Penalty Kills
It’s early in the season. Hockey fans are accustomed to struggling power plays and strong penalty kills early in the year. Teams killed a combined 26 of 29 man advantages on Wednesday. With more time to find chemistry, power plays will find their stride soon enough.
Drury Does Work
It was a great night for Waterloo's Jack Drury, who picked up a goal and two assists in the Black Hawks 5-4 loss to the Youngstown Phantoms. The Harvard commit leads all USHL players with six points (2G, 4A) so far in the preseason and will look to carry over that success into the 2017-18 regular season.
Berdin Shines Bright
Winnipeg Jets prospect Mikhail Berdin was the goaltender for Sioux Falls in the Stampede's 5-3 victory over the Green Bay Gamblers. Berdin stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced in his preseason debut and looked strong between the pipes. He will look to continue to play well and replicate his strong rookie season, where he posted a 2.73 GAA and .925 SV% in 31 appearances.
West Was Best
The Western Conference had the upper hand in a set of intra-conference matchups. Fargo defeated Cedar Rapids 4-1 and Sioux Falls knocked off Green Bay 5-3. Youngstown was the lone Eastern Conference team to pick up a win on the night, as they defeated the Waterloo Black Hawks in a 5-4 overtime thriller on Zach Metsa's winner.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five 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.