Photo by Hickling Images
Below are five takeaways from Friday's USHL games:
5. Muskegon Hangs On
The Muskegon Lumberjacks picked up a 5-4 victory over the Central Illinois Flying Aces on Friday night in an entertaining, back-and-forth affair. Muskegon held a 2-0 lead six minutes into the game thanks to tallies from Jachym Kondelik and Emilio Pettersen. Central Illinois' Jeremy Davidson put the home team on the board with just 26 seconds remaining in the opening frame, but Anthony Del Gaizo responded with his USHL-leading 34th goal of the season with just eight seconds left in the period, giving the Lumberjacks a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. Brady Meyer and Matej Pekar found the back of the net for their respective teams in the second period, making it a 4-2 game heading into the final frame. Alex Barber scored twice in the span of 3:24 in the first seven minutes of the third period to even the score at four, and it looked that the momentum was heading in Central Illinois' direction, but Wyatt Bongiovanni scored his 14th goal of the season to give Muskegon a 5-4 lead, which they were able to hold on to for the remainder of regulation. Colby Bukes dished out two assists and Keegan Karki made 20 saves in the victory. With the victory, the Lumberjacks moved into third place in the Eastern Conference.
4. Chicago Quiets Sell-Out Crowd
It was a sell-out crowd at Ralston Arena as the USHL-leading Omaha Lancers hosted the Chicago Steel, but the visitors were able to keep the heat off and walk away with a 2-1 victory. Chicago opened the scoring at 13:17 of the opening period as Aaro Vidgren produced a tremendous individual effort, splitting a pair of Omaha defenders and finding the back of the net to give his team a 1-0 lead through one period of play. Spurred by the home crowd, the Lancers evened the proceedings in the second period thanks to Nick Perbix's third goal of the year, a power play tally. The game remained tied heading into the final frame, but that didn't last long. Vidgren scored his second goal of the game and 18th of the season just 27 seconds into the third period, giving the Steel a 2-1 lead and the eventual victory. Oskar Autio was solid between the pipes, stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced to help his team remain five points clear of the Madison Capitols for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
3. RoughRiders Require Shootout
The in-state, intra-conference rivalry between the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Waterloo Black Hawks resumed on Friday night, and the contest required a shootout to determine a winner. Bobby Trivigno scored the only goal of the first period, giving Waterloo a 1-0 lead. Both teams scored twice in the middle frame, making it a 3-2 Black Hawks advantage heading into the third period. Tyler Jubenvill tied the game just 22 seconds into the frame, Hank Sorensen regained the lead for the Black Hawks just 40 seconds later, and Marek Valach made it a 4-4 game 1:20 after Sorensen's tally. The game stayed even at four through the remainder of regulation and the overtime period, sending the teams to a shootout. Marek Valach scored the only goal in the shootout, giving the RoughRiders the hard-fought victory. Vegas Golden Knights prospect Jiri Patera made 32 saves for his eighth victory of the season.
2. Stampede Surge Past Sioux City
The Sioux Falls Stampede scored three times in both the first and third periods to dispatch of the Sioux City Musketeers by a score of 7-2 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Six different players found the back of the net for The Herd in the victory. Nolan Walker, Reid Stefanson and AJ Villella found the back of the net in the opening frame, Yale commit Jack St. Ivany scored his sixth goal of teh year in the second period, and Artem Ivanyuzhenkov picked up two tallies in the third period, and Colin Swoyer scored his third goal of the year. Winnipeg Jets prospect Mikhail Berdin made 20 saves to move to 18-8-2-3 on the year.
1. Stars Shut Down Saints
The Lincoln Stars remain the hottest team in the USHL, with five wins in their last six games, thanks to a 4-2 road victory over the Dubuque Fighting Saints. The teams traded goals in the opening period, with Wyatt Aamodt and Matt Stoia finding the back of the net for their respective teams. Aamodt's goal gave him seven points in his last eight games and Stoia's tally was the first of his USHL career. Ashton Calder reached the double-digit mark with his 10th goal of the year, the only goal of the middle frame, giving Lincoln a 2-1 advantage through 40 minutes. It remained a 2-1 game through most of the third period until Josiah Slavin and Paul Cotter found the back of the net 1:28 apart late in the frame to break the game open. Adam Tisdale scored with 3:15 remaining in regulation, but 4-2 was at close as Dubuque could get. Casey Dornbach dished out two assists and Nashville Predators Tomas Vomacka stopped 32 of the 34 Fighting Saints shots he faced for his 18th victory of the season. Lincoln is now two points clear of Sioux City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
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.