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We're through three days at the 2017 USHL Fall Classic, and the hockey is getting better and better with each game. Below are five takeaways from Friday at the 2017 USHL Fall Classic.
GALLANT'S GREAT GAME
The Friday games started with a thriller, as the Omaha Lancers scored 2:41 into overtime to defeat the Fargo Force by a score of 3-2 and earn their first win at the 2017 USHL Fall Classic. Cole Gallant picked up a pair of goals in the win, his second and third tallies of the preseason. Gallant will be looked upon to provide scoring and veteran leadership for the Lancers, and if today's performance was a sign of things to come, Omaha may have a very bright future ahead of the 2017-18 season.
SIOUX FALLS STAYS PERFECT
Sioux Falls stampeded through the Fall Classic with a perfect 3-0 record, capped off by a 5-4 triumph over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. The Stampede showed why they are a threat in the Western Conference this season, as offense was provided by both young players and veterans up and down the lineup. Defenseman AJ Villella found the back of the net twice in the contests, and Kevin Conley, Carson Dimoff and Ryan Johnson also found the back of the net. Nolan Walker added three assists, and nine different Stampede players picked up at least one point.
ZHUKOV'S STELLAR DEBUT
The story of the Green Bay Gamblers vs. Tri-City Storm was Maksim Zhukov, who saw his first USHL action since being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago. The Russian netminder was outstanding, stopping all but one of the 25 shots he faced to earn the victory. Four different Gamblers scored in the team's 4-1 win - Nicholas Nardella, his second goal in as many games, Mac Welsher, Jackson Charlesworth and Noah Prokop. Robert Hermann added a pair of assists and looked strong all game long.
U18 DRAFT PROSPECTS SHINE
Team USA's U18s looked strong in their first game at the 2017 USHL Fall Classic, knocking off the Central Illinois Flying Aces by a 5-2 final. Top 2018 NHL Draft prospects Joel Farabee and Oliver Wahlstrom had a strong performances in front of representatives for all 31 NHL teams. Both players picked up a goal and Farabee also added an assist. The two combined for eight shots and will look to replicate their strong contests on Saturday against the Omaha Lancers.
RANTA SCORES THIRD FALL CLASSIC HAT TRICK IN THREE DAYS
For the third day in a row, a hat trick was recorded at the Fall Classic. On Friday evening, it was the Sioux City Musketeers' Sampo Ranta scoring three times, the second night in a row a Sioux City player recorded a three-goal night. He scored his first goal midway through the opening period, tallied his second of the night at 4:25 of the middle frame, and completed the feat with just over five minutes to play in the second period. Ranta is a prospect eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft and put on quite the show in front of the 250+ NHL scouts in attendance.
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.