Each week, USHL.com will preview five games from around the league and take a look at the matchup and storylines surrounding each contest.
1. Friday, Nov. 17, 7:05PM ET - Chicago Steel at Team USA (U17) (HockeyTV Free Game of the Week)
Team USA's U17 team is coming off an outstanding showing in the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where they took home the gold medal. The Chicago Steel have been on a tear losing only one game in regulation and one in a shootout, since their rough season opener loss against the U17s and are looking for revenge this weekend. Chicago remains atop the Eastern Conference, possessing an 8-2-0-1 record, with their offense looking to stay red hot. Blake McLaughlin, currently third in the USHL in scoring, recently announced his decision to stay in the USHL for a full season, which will keep his highly-touted offensive skills in Chicago all year, something the Steel are certainly excited about. The U17s aren't without their fair share of high-octane offensive talent, as both Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield sit in the top-three in rookie scoring despite having played in only four USHL games. This game will be free for fans to watch at USHL.HockeyTV.com
2. Friday, Nov. 17, 7:05PM ET - Team USA (U18) at Youngstown Phantoms
The Youngstown Phantoms look to keep their four-game point streak alive when they face off against the Team USA's U18 team. The Phantoms have won three out of their last four contests, including a two-game sweep of the Muskegon Lumberjacks last weekend. Youngstown was led by the stellar play from last week’s USHL Forward and Defenseman of the Week in Curtis Hall and Julian Kislin. Hall recorded six points on the weekend, including a hat trick on Sunday, while Kislin scored his first USHL goal on Sunday en route to a four-point weekend. The story for Team USA has been the dominant U17s, but the U18s look to carry the team’s momentum heading into the weekend. Goaltender Drew DeRidder has been terrific in USHL play, winning all three of his games and sporting a a 1.57 GAA along with a .942 SV% to go along with a shutout. After a slow-start to the 2017-18 campaign, Youngstown will try to stay hot against a very solid U18 squad.
3. Friday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 18, 7:05 PM CT: Muskegon Lumberjacks @ Sioux Falls Stampede
Sioux Falls is looking to get back to their winning ways of earlier in the season after dropping each of their last five contests. Muskegon currently sits at the bottom of a very competitive Eastern Conference, but there are still plenty of positive signs for the Lumberjacks. Despite being in last place, Muskegon still has the talent to go on a hot streak at a moment's notice. Forward Wyatt Bongiovanni tallied a hat trick last Wednesday against Central Illinois and will look for his offensive continue to continue to trend in the right direction. Sioux Falls' goaltender, Winnipeg Jets prospect Mikhail Berdin, has been stellar so far this year, sporting a 2.27 GAA (5th in USHL) and .939 SV% (3rd in USHL). He's put up those numbers despite being awfully busy, facing an average of 34 shots per game, which make his stats that much more impressive. The Stampede will have two chances against Muskegon to get their first win of the season at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center and get back on the winning track.
4. Friday, Nov. 17, 7:35 PM CT - Des Moines Buccaneers at Tri-City Storm and Saturday, Nov. 18, 7:05 PM CT - Tri-City Storm @ Des Moines Buccaneers
One of the top stories of the 2017-18 USHL season has been the unbelievable goaltending of Tri-City's Filip Larsson. The Detroit Red Wings prospect has allowed only 14 of the 269 shots he has faced into the back of the net, leading to a remarkable 1.41 GAA and .948 SV%, both of which are best among all USHL goaltenders in their respective category. His 8-2-0-0 record has helped the Storm to the number two spot in the Western Conference through 11 games. Larsson and the Storm will travel to Des Moines to take on the 5-6-0-1 Buccaneers, who will turn their attention to finding a way to get pucks past Larsson. Nicolas Werbik and Mike Hardman, who lead the team in goals with five apiece, will lead the Buccaneers offense into a Friday-Saturday home-and-home series.
5. Saturday, Nov. 18, 7:05 PM CT - Green Bay Gamblers @ Waterloo Black Hawks
The Green Bay Gamblers will travel to Waterloo for a intra-conference showdown on Saturday. Green Bay is currently tied for second in the USHL in goals against, but with Vegas Golden Knights prospect Maksim Zhukov between the pipes, don't expect that trend to continue. The Gamblers will be facing a Waterloo offense has been struggling to put the puck into the net but has the talent to turn things around. Jared Moe, who recently announced his commitment to the University of Minnesota, is second among all goaltenders in GAA (1.44) and SV% (.946) and will aim to get the Black Hawks above .500. Green Bay’s Trenton Bliss will attempt to remain on the scoresheet and maintain his point-per-game average, as the Wisconsin native has tallied 13 points (5G, 8A) in 13 games to lead the team.
Below is a complete list of USHL games this weekend:
Friday, Nov. 17
TEAM USA (U18) @ YOUNGSTOWN PHANTOMS - 7:05 PM ET
CEDAR RAPIDS ROUGHRIDERS @ OMAHA LANCERS - 7:05 PM CT
MADISON CAPITOLS @ SIOUX CITY MUSKETEERS - 7:05 PM CT
MUSKEGON LUMBERJACKS @ SIOUX FALLS STAMPEDE - 7:05 PM CT
DUBUQUE FIGHTING SAINTS @ WATERLOO BLACK HAWKS - 7:05 PM CT
FARGO FORCE @ LINCOLN STARS - 7:35 PM CT
DES MOINES BUCCANEERS @ TRI-CITY STORM - 7:35 PM CT
Saturday, Nov. 18
CENTRAL ILLINOIS FLYING ACES @ TEAM USA (U18) - 7:05 PM ET
CHICAGO STEEL @ YOUNGSTOWN PHANTOMS - 7:05 PM ET
TRI-CITY STORM @ DES MOINES BUCCANEERS - 7:05 PM CT
MADISON CAPITOLS @ DUBUQUE FIGHTING SAINTS - 7:05 PM CT
FARGO FORCE @ SIOUX CITY MUSKETEERS - 7:05 PM CT
MUSKEGON LUMBERJACKS @ SIOUX FALLS STAMPEDE - 7:05 PM CT
GREEN BAY GAMBLERS @ WATERLOO BLACK HAWKS - 7:05 PM CT
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.