Photo by Hickling Images
Below are five takeaways from Friday's USHL games:
5. Steel's See-Saw Battle
The Chicago Steel had themselves a wild game on Friday night, knocking off the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at 6-5 Fox Valley Ice Arena. Chicago held a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes, thanks to goals from Nick Abruzzese, Jordan Seyfert and Robert Mastrosimone. The RoughRiders, who earned a first period tally from Liam Walsh, answered with four goals in the middle frame, courtesy of TJ Walsh, Marc McLaughlin and two from Marek Valach to take a 5-3 lead into the final frame. Less than two minutes into the third, CJ Walker cut the lead to one and captain Derek Daschke tied the game with just over eight minutes to play in regulation, sending the teams to overtime. In the extra session, Abruzzese's second goal of the game and fifth goal of the year gave the visitors the victory. The Vermont commit also added an assist in the win. Jack Dugan also dished out a helper to become the new USHL scoring leader and the first player to reach 30 points (16G, 14A) in 2017-18. Justin Robbins made 17 saves, and Oskar Autio stopped all 10 shots in relief to pick up the win in goal.
4. Weight Wins It Late
Chicago/Cedar Rapids wasn't the only 6-5 score in the USHL last night. Team USA's U17 team overcame a two-goal third period deficit to defeat the Central Illinois Flying Aces 6-5 at Grossinger Motors Arena. The U17s went into the locker room up 3-1 after 20 minutes, thanks to a Ryder Rolston tally and two goals from Case McCarthy. Central Illinois responded with four goals in the middle frame, and Cole Caufield added his 11th of the season for Team USA to give the Flying Aces a 5-4 lead going into the third period. Just less than nine minutes into the final frame, Rolston's second goal of the game and sixth of the season tied the game, and Danny Weight broke the tie with just over four seconds left in the contest, giving the U17s the comeback victory. Judd Caulfield and Trevor Zegras dished out two assists each, and Cameron Rowe made 33 saves for his third win of the year.
3. Omaha Turns the Heat On
It might have been cold at the Ice Box in Lincoln, but that didn't affect the Omaha Lancers, who have now won eight of their last 10 games with a 6-2 triumph over the Stars. Six different players found the back of the net for the visitors, most of whom are names you've come to expect showing up on the stat sheet - Jack Randl, Ethan Price, Mathieu De St. Phalle, Christian O'Neill, Mick Kohler and Filip Suchy. De St. Phalle dished out two assists, giving him five points (2G, 3A) in his last four games, and Zach Driscoll made 27 saves on 29 Lincoln shots for his seventh win in his last nine starts. He has also now allowed more than two goals in those nine starts, dating back to Nov. 10. Omaha has now earned at least one point in each of their last five games.
2. Dazzling Del Gaizo
The Muskegon Lumberjacks are 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 games, and a big part of that success has been captain Anthony Del Gaizo, who scored two goals and added an assist in his team's 5-3 home victory over the Eastern-Conference leading Green Bay Gamblers. The UMass commit is now tied for third in the USHL in scoring, thanks to his three-point night, with 28 points (18G, 1A) in 28 games. His 18 goals also leads the league. He has recorded at least one point in 10 of his last 11 games dating back to Dec. 2, with 17 points in that span (11G, 6A), including six multi-point efforts. He also has tallied at last two points in each of his last three games. Mikael Hakkarainen added three points (1G, 2A) of his own, Matej Pekar dished out a pair of helpers to remain the USHL rookie scoring leader and Keegan Karki continued his strong play in goal, making 29 saves on 32 Gamblers shots for his 10th victory in his last 13 starts going back to Nov. 25.
1. Madison Not Messner-ing Around
The Madison Capitols have now won five of their last six games courtesy of a 4-1 win over the Waterloo Black Hawks. They were led by Mick Messner, who picked up a hat trick in the victory. The Madison native and Wisconsin commit scored once in the second period and twice in the final frame, including an empty-net tally to seal the victory for the Capitols. T.J. Saggisor added his second goal of the season for Madison. Brendan Walkom and Trey LaBarge dished out helpers and Dryden McKay was outstanding between the pipes, stopping all but one of the 56 shots that came his way. The Minnesota State commit has now won five of his last six starts and has made more than 30 saves in each of his last three appearances.
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.