Photo by Hickling Images
Below are five takeaways from Saturday's USHL games:
5. Gamblers Gain Ground
Thanks to their two straight victories and two straight losses by the Chicago Steel, the Green Bay Gamblers now sit alone in second place in the Eastern Conference. Green Bay defeated the Madison Capitols 4-1 in the back half of a weekend home-and-home series, led by a two-goal performance from Josh Dunne. The Clarkson commit has now scored four goals in his last four games. Jesse Jacques and McKade Webster also found the back of the net for the Gamblers in the victory. Nolan Moyle dished out a pair of assists and Maksim Zhukov made 20 saves on 21 Madison shots for his sixth victory in his last eight starts. The Vegas Golden Knights prospect moved to 12-6-0-2 with the victory.
4. Lancers Make It Eight
The Omaha Lancers won their eighth straight game on Saturday, needing overtime to take down the Sioux Falls Stampede 3-2 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. It was a back and forth game, as AJ Villella opened the scoring midway through the opening period for the Stampede before Aleksi Peltonen's first USHL goal evened the score at the end of 20 minutes. Following a scoreless second period, Cole Gallant gave the Lancers a 2-1 advantage with just under six minutes to play in regulation, but Reid Stefanson tied the game at two with just 1:34 left in the third period, sending the teams to overtime. With just over a minute remaining in the extra frame, Filip Suchy scored the game-winning goal, extending Omaha's winning streak to eight games. Suchy now has seven goals and 10 points in his last three games. Zach Driscoll made 22 saves on 24 Stampede shots to move to 7-3-0-4 on the season. The Lancers are now just one point out of third place in the Western Conference.
3. Muskegon Moving Up
The Muskegon Lumberjacks have now won three straight games and sit tied for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 4-2 victory and weekend sweep of the Chicago Steel. After captain Anthony Del Gaizo led the way in Friday's victory, it was another veteran who stepped up for Muskegon on Saturday, as Wyatt Bongiovanni scored twice and added an assist for the Lumberjacks. Collin Murphy added two points (1G, 1A), Colby Bukes dished out a pair of assists and Keegan Karki won his third straight start between the pipes by stopping 38 of the 40 shots he faced to move back to .500 on the season at 5-5-0-0. Things are looking up for Muskegon, who will get even more dangerous after the holiday break with the return of Clayton Phillips, Jachym Kondelik and Adam Brizgala from the World Junior A Challenge.
2. Storm Score Lone Goal
The Tri-City Storm won yet another low-scoring game, this time scoring the only goal of the game in overtime as they knocked off the Dubuque Fighting Saints 1-0 to split their weekend series. Following a scoreless first 60 minutes of play, the two teams headed to overtime, where Filip Forsmark's fourth goal of the season just 36 seconds into the extra frame won the game for the Storm. Tri-City outshot Dubuque 29-26 in the win, while the teams combined to finish 0/5 on the man advantage. Cole Weaver was outstanding in goal for Dubuque, stopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced, but Jake Barczewski was just a little better, making 26 saves on 26 Fighting Saints shots to earn his second win and first shutout of his USHL career.
1. High-Scoring Affair in Lincoln
The Des Moines Buccaneers and Lincoln Stars combined for 12 goals on Saturday night at the IceBox, with Des Moines leaving Lincoln with a 7-5 victory. The Buccaners jumped out to a 4-0 lead, thanks to a pair of goals from Erik Urbank as well as tallies from Brian Halonen and Nicolas Werbik. Lincoln cut the lead to 4-1 late in the opening period, but Julian Napravnik responded quickly for Des Moines with two goals in the opening 3:13 of the second period to extend his team's lead to 6-1. The Stars stormed back, scoring three times in the last half of the second period and once in the third to make it a 6-5 game, but Halonen's second goal of the game, an empty-net goal, sealed the victory for Des Moines. In total, five players scored twice: Halonen, Napravnik, Urbank, Carter Long and Josiah Slavin. Marshall Rifai dished out three assists for the Bucs and Ryan Snowden picked up his third victory of the season with a 28-save performance.
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.