Photo by Hickling Images
Below are five takeaways from Friday's USHL games:
1. Power (Play) Up
The Fargo Force had their six-game winning streak snapped on Thursday by the Des Moines Buccaneers and were looking for revenge on Friday. They certainly avenged that Thursday defeat, scoring three first period power play goals en route to a 4-0 shutout of the Buccaneers. Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup tallied two of those markers on the man advantage, while William Fallstrom and Griffin Loughran added the final two tallies. Schmidt-Svejstrup extended his point streak to 10 straight games in the victory and now leads all USHL players with 12 goals on the season. Thanks to a 3/4 night on the power play, Fargo is now atop the Western Conference and second in the USHL with a 34.0% conversion rate. Three of the top five players in USHL scoring (Schmidt-Svejstrup, Loughran, Grant Hebert) play on the same line, and all three players sport point streaks of six games or higher. Strauss Mann had himself quite a night between the pipes as well, stopping all 22 shots he faced for his first career USHL shutout. Fargo might be the most dangerous team in the USHL right now.
2. Steel Stymie Saints
One of the more intriguing matchups on Friday featured the Chicago Steel and Dubuque Fighting Saints. The Steel came into the came as the best team in the USHL, while the Fighting Saints entered Friday as one of the hotter teams in the league, winners of their last three contests. Chicago showed why they are the top team in the USHL, overcoming deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to walk out of the Mystique Ice Center with a 3-2 victory and snap the Saints winning streak at three games. Samuel Bucek, Baker Shore and Austin Magera picked up goals for Chicago and Oskar Autio continued his winning ways between the pipes, stopping 28 of the 30 shots he faced. Cole Guttman scored both goals for Dubuque. This has quickly become one of the better rivalries in the USHL over the last couple of seasons, and Friday was another example of a close, entertaining game between Chicago and Dubuque.
3. Bevy of Blanks
Including Fargo's 4-0 victory over Des Moines, there were three shutouts on the night in the USHL. The Omaha Lancers blanked the Green Bay Gamblers 5-0, while the Waterloo Black Hawks went to Kearney and snapped the Tri-City Storm's six-game winning streak with a 1-0 shutout. Omaha saw a balanced offensive attack, getting goals from five different players - Hunter Carrick, Cole Gallant, Tyler Carpenter, Ethan Price and Travis Mitchell. Jack Randl dished out a pair of assists and Zach Driscoll stopped all 29 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season and his second whitewash in three starts. Waterloo picked up a goal from Jackson Cates and made it hold up, shutting down the Storm over the entire 60 minutes to earn the 1-0 victory. Tri-City peppered Jared Moe with 25 shots but the uncommitted goaltender stopped them all for his second shutout and fourth victory over the season. It was a huge win for the Black Hawks, who climbed over the .500 mark with the victory.
4. Keeping It Close
A big story earlier in this USHL season has been the parity in the league and how close all 17 teams are to each other in terms of talent and, in some cases, the standings. That balance was on display on Friday, as four of the seven games were decided by one goal, with two of those contests needing extra time to decide a victor. The Sioux City Musketeers went into Sioux Falls and came out with a 2-1 win in overtime over the Stampede, while the Youngstown Phantoms knocked off the Central Illinois Flying Aces 3-2 in a shootout. Cole Koepke picked up the OT winner for the Musketeers and both Tommy Parrottino and Max Ellis scored in the shootout to give Youngstown the win. On any given night in the USHL, any team can walk away with a victory, and that was on full display on Friday.
5. Capitols Double Up RoughRiders
The Madison Capitols welcomed the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, who have been playing well as of late, to Capitol Ice on Friday and walked away with a 6-3 victory to get back to the .500 mark on the season. The teams were tied after 20 minutes of play, but two goals from Ryan O'Reilly in the second period and three tallies in the third period helped Madison pull away. O'Reilly now has points in four of his last five games, and the Denver commit has six points (5G, 1A) in that span. Mick Messner (0G, 2A), Alec Broetzman (0G, 2A) and Ludwig Stenlund (1G, 1A) added multiple points and Dryden McKay made 27 saves for his fifth victory over the season. The Capitols are right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.
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.