Below are five takeaways from Saturday's USHL games:
1. Goalie Goal
Winnipeg Jets prospect Mikhail Berdin had himself quite the night on Saturday. The Sioux Falls Stampede netminder stopped 32 shots to help his team to a 7-4 victory and weekend sweep of the Muskegon Lumberjacks, but that wasn't nearly the best part of his evening. Berdin scored the seventh and final goal of the night for the Stampede, an empty net tally with just over three minutes to play in regulation. In addition to his goal, Berdin moved to 6-3-3 on the season with that 32-save performance. He also sits in the top-five in both GAA (2.47 - T-5th in USHL and SV% (.933 - 4th in USHL). It is the second time in the last two seasons a USHL goalie has scored in a game. Former Muskegon Lumberjacks and current Quinnipiac University goaltender Keith Petruzzelli found the back of the net on February 24 in a win over the Madison Capitols. Goalie goals are an extremely rare occurrence, but it's starting to happen on a regular basis in the USHL!
2. Stellar Stampede
Berdin wasn't the only member of the Stampede to have a successful game. Sioux Falls overcame a 3-0 first period deficit to defeat the Muskegon Lumberjacks 7-4 and sweep their weekend series at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Muskegon held a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes, but the Stampede stormed back, with four goals in the second period and three goals in the final frame, including Berdin's goal. Seven different players added to their goal total in the victory - Jack St. Ivany, Matt Gould, Kevin Conley, Artem Ivanyuzhenkov, Kirill Panyukov, Nolan Walker and Berdin. Sioux Falls came into the two games against Muskegon having lost each of their last five contests, but they are back over the .500 mark on the season with a 6-4-3-2 record after a much needed weekend.
3. U18 Ground Flying Aces
Fresh off an 8-5 road victory over the Youngstown Phantoms on Friday, Team USA's U18 team headed home for a matchup with Central Illinois. They continued their strong play at USA Hockey Arena on Saturday, shutting out the Flying Aces 5-0 to keep the U18s unbeaten in USHL play. Gavin Hain scored twice in the victory, while Trevor Janicke, K'Andre Miller and Patrick Giles also found the back of the net. Janicke (1G, 1A), Hain (2G, 0A), Miller (1G, 2A) and Ryder Rolston (0G, 3A) all added multiple points, once again showing the depth and high skill level of this U18 team. Jonathan Mor was stellar in goal, stopping all 29 shots he faced to earn the win and shutout in his first full appearance of the season. Team USA is now 8-2-0-0 on the season and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
4. Excellent, Ellis!
The Youngstown Phantoms welcomed the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Steel to the Covelli Centre on Saturday and responded from a tough 8-5 defeat to Team USA the night prior with a hard-fought 4-3 overtime victory. It was a back and forth contest, as Youngstown held leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-1 thanks to goal from Alex Barber, Tommy Parrottino and Max Ellis before the defending Clark Cup champions tied the game at three to send the teams to overtime. Just under three minutes into overtime, Ellis scored his second goal of the game and third of the season to give the Phantoms the victory, their third win in their last four contests. In the last two weeks, Youngstown has moved from near the bottom of the Eastern Conference to a tie for third in the standings thanks to some impressive performances.
The longest active point streak in the USHL belong to Dubuque Fighting Saints forward Alex Steeves. The Notre Dame commit has recorded at last one point in each of his last eight games, including the opening goal of the game in his team's 3-2 victory over the Madison Capitols. Steeves, a Notre Dame commit, has tallied a point in all but two of his 11 games this season and has 12 points (5G, 7A) over the course of his current point streak. Steeves is trying to make #SteeverStreak as notable as #SolowStreak was last season, when Zach Solow, last season's USHL scoring champion, former Fighting Saints and current Northeastern University forward, had at least one point in 20 straight games.
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.