Photo by Hickling Images
Below are recaps of Thursday's USHL games at the 2018 Dick's Sporting Goods Fall Classic.
FARGO FORCE , CEDAR RAPIDS ROUGHRIDERS  (OT)
Hank Crone scored at 1:21 of overtime to secure the Fargo Force the first victory of the 2018-19 season over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
The defending Clark Cup champions scored the only goal of the opening frame when Detroit Red Wings prospect Ryan O’Reilly notched his first tally of the season on a powerplay goal to give the Force a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
The RoughRiders responded halfway through the middle frame when rookie Grant Silianoff scored his second career USHL goal, evening the score at one and giving his team life heading into the third period.
The back-and-forth battle continued into the final frame, as Fargo’s Tyler Gratton scored at 8:39, putting the Force back up by one.
Cedar Rapids stayed the course, continuing to apply pressure and were rewarded when Ben Almquist scored an unassisted powerplay goal with just 3:04 remaining in regulation.
The teams went scoreless for the remainder of the contest, forcing the USHL season opener into overtime.
The OT period was short lived, as Ben Meyers earned his second assist of the game when he found Crone for game-winner, giving Fargo two-points and a well-earned victory to kick off the new season.
Force goalie Ryan Bischel turned aside 21 of 23 shots, earning his first win of the year.
Cedar Rapids gets another chance to bring home their first win of the season on Friday when they face-off against the Lincoln Stars at 7 PM ET.
Fargo looks to get off to 2-0 start to their season as they take on the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Friday at 2 PM ET.
DES MOINES BUCCANEERS , MADISON CAPITOLS 
Reed Lebster recorded a hat trick to lead the Des Moines Buccaneers to a 5-2 victory over the Madison Capitols.
The Michigan State commit opened the scoring at 3:28 of the first period with a powerplay goal off a slick feed from TJ Walsh.
The Capitols responded later just under six minutes later with their first goal of the 2018-19 season, as Chase Brand got his team on the board and tied the game at one heading into the second period.
A four-goal second period was highlighted by Lebster finding the back of the net twice to complete the hat trick and give Des Moines a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes of play.
One final tally for the Buccaneers came with just under a minute remaining, as Connor Senken found the back of an empty Madison net for his first of the new campaign.
Anaheim Ducks prospect Roman Durny stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced to secure his first win of the season.
The Buccaneers return to action on Friday when they face the Chicago Steel at 8 PM ET.
The Capitols face a quick turnaround as well, as they will take on the Tri-City Storm Friday at 4 PM ET.
TRI-CITY STORM , YOUNGSTOWN PHANTOMS 
A three-point night from Benji Eckerle propelled the Tri-City Storm to its first win of the season over Youngstown Phantoms.
Brad Morrissey opened the scoring just five minutes in, putting the Storm on the board for the first time this season with a powerplay goal.
Youngstown responded just five minutes later with a powerplay tally of their own. Liam Robertson found the back of the net on a pass from Gianfranco Cassaro, who let the Phantoms with a three-point night.
Tri-City pulled ahead with a two-goal advantage after back to back goals from Eckerle, who scored in the second and third period, putting the Storm up 5-3.
Youngstown remained resilient however, battling back late in the game to pull within one, after goals from Matthew DeMelis and Cassaro.
Storm goaltender Jake Barczewski held strong in net and stopped the Phantoms comeback just short, turning 29 of 33 shots aside to earn the victory.
The Storm return to action on Friday when they face the Madison Capitols at 4 PM ET.
The Phantoms have a slight break between games, as their second game of the season will be Sunday at 1 PM ET against the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
LINCOLN STARS , CHICAGO STEEL  (OT)
The Lincoln Stars overcame a two-goal deficit in the final two minutes of the third period to force overtime and defeat the Chicago Steel 5-4.
The Stars' Shane Pinto opened the scoring at 8:42 of the first period with a powerplay goal.
The Steel were quick to respond however, as Robert Mastrosimone tied the game at one, scoring his first of two shorthanded goals in the contest.
The team traded goals in the second, including a tally from Lincoln's Caleb Rule, before Chicago pulled ahead with a two-goal lead to start the third, thanks in part to Mastrosimone's second shorthanded tally of the night.
The Stars late comeback was sparked by a goal from Hunter Carrick at the 18:14 mark. A minute later, Pinto tallied his second goal of the night, forcing overtime with just 43 seconds remaining in the contest.
The Stars wasted no time in the extra frame, as Rule earned his second of the night on an unassisted game-winning goal at 1:34.
Stars goaltender and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Wouter Peeters held strong in net through the final minutes, turning away 27 of 31 shots to earn the victory.
Chicago gets another chance to bring home their first win of the season Friday when they face-off against the Des Moines Buccaneers at 8 PM ET.
Lincoln looks to earn a 2-0 start to their season as they take on the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Friday at 7 PM ET.
SIOUX FALLS STAMPEDE , CENTRAL ILLINOIS FLYING ACES  (OT)
The final game of the evening was the wildest game of day one, as the Sioux Falls Stampede overcame a two-goal deficit with just until six minutes to play in regulation to knock off the Central Illinois Flying Aces 6-5 in overtime.
The Herd scored the only goal of the opening period thanks to a Jami Krannila tally. Central Illinois responded with two goals in the first eight minutes of the second, courtesy of Tate Singleton and Max Ellis, to take a 2-1 lead. It remained a 2-1 game until late in the frame, when the Stampede's Andre Lee found the back of the net with just 27 seconds remaining in the period, sending the teams to the final 20 minutes even at two.
Trevor Janicke gave the Aces a 4-2 advantage about midway through the third with two goals in the span of under two minutes. 44 seconds after Janicke's second goal, Sioux Falls' Jared Wescott made it a 4-3 game, but Colby Enns responded just 1:08 later to put the Aces back up by two goals at 5-3.
Sioux Falls rallied in the final six minutes of regulation. Anthony Romano scored at 14:07 to make it a one-goal game before Max Crozier evened the proceedings at 5-5 just over two minutes later, sending the teams to overtime.
3:43 into the five-minute extra frame, Artem Ivanyuzhenkov deflected a Krannila shot past Central Illinois goaltender Mitchell Gibson, giving the Stampede a 6-5 overtime victory and giving the Western Conference a perfect 5-0 record over the Eastern Conference on the day.
Sioux Falls goaltender and Pittsburgh native Chad Veltri stopped 25 of the 30 shots he faced in the win.
Sioux Falls will take to the ice again on Saturday as they take on Team USA at 2 PM ET. Central Illinois will play the Waterloo Black Hawks at 5 PM ET on Friday.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 17th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2018-19. The USHL had a record 45 players selected at the 2018 NHL Draft, more than any junior league in the world, 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.