Photo by Hickling Images
Below are five takeaways from Friday's USHL games:
5. Gamblers Get Shootout Win
The Green Bay Gamblers have now won four of their last five games and are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference thanks to a 3-2 shootout win over the Chicago Steel. The teams traded goals in the opening period, with Michael Underwood scoring for Green Bay and Tyler Gratton finding the back of the net for Chicago, to make it a 1-1 game through 20 minutes of play. The Gamblers lit the lamp for the only goal of the second period, the 15th of the year for Nolan Moyle, to take a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame. The contest looked headed to be going the Gamblers' way in regulation until late in the third, when Vegas Golden Knights prospect Jack Dugan tied the game with just 1:10 remaining, after Chicago had pulled goaltender Justin Robbins, to send the game to overtime. After a scoreless extra period, the teams headed to a shootout, where Brock Caufield scored the only goal to give the Gamblers the victory. Jake Begley and Maksim Zhukov split time between the pipes, with both netminders making 19 saves on 20 shots.
4. Stars Keep Shining
The Lincoln Stars picked up a huge win on Friday, knocking off the Fargo Force 4-2 to remain just two points out of playoff position in the Western Conference. Tristan Ashbrook scored two first period goals, Casey Dornbach picked up his team-leading 18th goal of the season in the middle frame, and Josiah Slavin added his ninth of the year, an empty-net tally, to seal the victory for the Stars. Nashville Predators prospect Tomas Vomacka was stellar between the pipes, stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced for his 14th victory of the season and sixth win in his last eight appearances. The Stars are hoping this win gives them momentum heading into Saturday, when they will take on the Waterloo Black Hawks and hope to earn a weekend sweep and continue to gain ground in the Western Conference standings.
3. Larsson Looking Good
The big story for the Tri-City Storm all season long has been the play of goaltender Filip Larsson, and Friday night was no different. The Detroit Red Wings prospect stopped all 32 shots he faced to lead his team to a 1-0 victory over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, a win that epitomized the 2017-18 Tri-City Storm to this point in the season. The game remained scoreless until late in the second period, when Filip Forsmark's sixth goal of the season broke a scoreless tie. The Storm were able to hang on for the final 25 minutes of the game to earn the 1-0 victory. Tyler Ward and Ronnie Attard added helpers on Forsmark's goal, and the shutout for Larsson marked his league-leading seventh whitewash of the season.
2. Team USA Triumphs Again
Fresh off their win at the 2018 U18 Five Nations Tournament, Team USA's U18 squad showed no signs of rust, as they knocked off the Central Illinois Flying Aces 4-1. The U18s lead 3-0 after the first period thanks to tallies from Cole Caufield, Jake Wise and Jonathan Gruden. Caufield's goal was his 19th of the season, an impressive number considering his has scored that many times in just 22 USHL games. Cam York picked up his first USHL goal in the middle frame and Max Andreev got the Flying Aces on the board with just under 90 seconds remaining to complete the scoring. Drew DeRidder made 25 saves on 26 shots in a victory that saw Team USA move to 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 USHL contests and take the outright lead atop the Eastern Conference.
1. Stampede Sink Saints in See-Saw Shootout
The craziest game of the night was played at the Mystique Ice Center in Dubuque, where the Sioux Falls Stampede gave up a 3-0 first period lead but were able to escape with a wild, 7-6 overtime victory at the expense of the Fighting Saints. The Herd held a 3-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game, thanks to goals from Kevin Conley, Kirill Panyukov and Reid Stefanson. The teams then traded the next three goals, two coming from Dubuque, to make it a 4-2 Sioux Falls lead after just 20 minutes. The Fighting Saints controlled the middle frame, scoring three times courtesy of Jacob Semik, Dalton Hunter and Tyce Thompson. Artem Ivanyuzhenkov scored late in the period for the Stampede to make it a 5-5 game heading into the third. The teams then traded goals in the third period, with Nolan Walker and Adam Tisdale finding the back of the net for their respective teams, to make it a 6-6 game at the end of regulation and send the teams to overtime. Just over a minute into the extra frame, Walker scored his second goal of the game and 15th of the season to give Sioux Falls the win in one of the craziest games of the year. In all, 20 points from the two teams earned at least one point. Jaxson Stauber picked up the win in relief with 14 saves after Mikhail Berdin stopped 24 of the 29 shots he faced through 25 minutes of action. The Stampede remain the hottest team in the USHL and have eight wins in their last 10 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.