Josh Nodler, Fargo Force (courtesy Hickling Images)
Below is a recap of Friday's USHL games:
A two-goal night from Dalton Messina was the difference for the Youngstown Phantoms as they defeated the Madison Capitols 4-2. The teams traded goals in the first period, with Chase Brand and Matthew Barnaby finding the back of the net for their respective teams just 33 seconds apart. Barnaby's goal was his first since joining the Phantoms. Messina's first goal of the game was the only tally of the second, giving Youngstown a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame. 23 seconds into the third, Messina's second goal of the contest extended his team's lead to 3-1 before Brand found the back of the net for the second time to cut the Madison deficit to two. Youngstown was able to hold off the Capitols for the remainder of the game, and the Phantoms added an empty-net goal from Jack Malone to secure the victory. Trevor Kuntar dished out a pair of assists and Vinnie Purpura made 19 saves on 21 shots for a win in his first start as a member of the Phantoms.
The Muskegon Lumberjacks scored eight goals for the second straight game, this time taking down the Green Bay Gamblers 8-3. The Lumberjacks jumped out to a 3-0 lead 12 and a half minutes into the game, thanks to a James McIsaac tally and a pair of Egor Afanasyev goals. Noah Prokop got Green Bay on the board less than two minutes after Afanasyev's second goal, making it a 3-1 game through 20 minutes. The teams alternated two goals each in the second period, as Bobby Lynch and Danil Guschin scored for Muskegon, while Jesse Tucker and Paul Maust found the back of the net for Green Bay, making it 5-3 contest going into the third period. Muskegon scored three times in the final frame, courtesy of McIsaac, Alex Yakovenko and Alex Gaffney. Yakovenko now has six goals in his last four games and leads all USHL defensemen in goals with seven. Afanasyev (2G, 1A) and Lynch (1G, 2A) had three-point nights, Yakovenko (1G, 1A), Guschun (1G, 1A) and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Mikael Hakkarainen (0G, 2A) recorded two points each, and Brandon Bussi picked up his seventh straight victory with a 28-save performance.
Des Moines moved to 12-5-1-1 with a 4-3 victory over the Lincoln Stars. The Buccaneers held a 2-1 lead through one period of play, thanks to goals from Mac Welsher and Rylee St. Onge. Josh Lopina scored the lone goal for the Stars in the first period and opened the scoring 67 seconds into the middle frame, giving him two goals on the night, three in his last three games and evening the proceedings at 2-2. Shane Pinto gave Lincoln their first lead of the game four minutes later thanks to his 11th goal of the season, tied for the most among USHL rookies. It remained a 3-2 game until late in the frame, when Reed Lebster tied the game at three with just over four minutes to play in the second. The game stayed tied until 12:41 into the third, when Scooter Brickey found the back of the net for the third time this year, giving Des Moines the eventual 4-3 victory. TJ Walsh dished out a pair of assists and Anaheim Ducks prospect Roman Durny made 17 saves for his 10th win of the season.
Tri-City remains atop the Western Conference standings thanks to a 3-0 shutout of their in-state rival Omaha Lancers. Following a scoreless first period, the Storm scored twice in the second, thanks to Colby Ambrosio, his fourth goal in his last two games, and Blais Richartz. The Storm's solid defense held for the remainder of the game, and Asa Kinnear added an empty-net goal to complete the scoring. Isaiah Saville stopped all 19 shots he faced to move to 9-2-1-0 and earn his third shutout of the season.
Chicago extended their winning streak to four games with a 3-1 triumph over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Cedar Rapids' Aidan McDonough gave his team a 1-0 lead 1:11 into the game, but Christian Sarlo tied the game at 15:40 of the first period, making it a 1-1 game through 20 minutes. The Steel scored twice in the middle frame of the sticks of Neil Shea and Travis Treloar and held off the RoughRiders for the remainder of the contest, giving them the 3-1 win. Luke Reid tallied a pair of assists and Justin Robbins made 12 saves on 13 Cedar Rapids shots for his third straight victory between the pipes.
The Fargo Force battled for a 2-1 overtime victory over the Sioux City Musketeers at Tyson Events Center to earn their second straight win. The teams were scoreless through the first two periods, with Fargo outshooting Sioux City 11-10. Most of the third period was scoreless as well until Josh Nodler broke the scoreless tie 14:20 into the final frame. Sioux City tied the game with just 26 second remaining in regulation, thanks to Albin Nilsson, sending the teams to overtime. 2:43 into the extra frame, Nodler found the back of the net for the second time in the game, giving the Force the 2-1 road overtime victory. Ryan Bischel stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced for his fourth win in his last five starts.
A pair of third period power play goals gave the Central Illinois Flying Aces a 2-1 win over Team USA's U18 team. Following a scoreless first period, Michael Gildon scored the only goal of the second period, giving the U18s a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes. Colby Enns tied the game at 3:51 of the final frame, and Lynden Breen picked up the game-winning goal with just over two minutes to play in the game. Breen added an assist for a two-point night, Ryan Siedem dished out a pair of helpers and Ryan Snowden made 29 saves on 30 Team USA shots to move to 9-2-0-0 on the season.
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.