Ryan O'Reilly, Fargo Force (courtesy Hickling Images)
Below is a recap of Saturday's USHL games:
Madison earned a split of their weekend series in Youngstown with a 2-1 victory over the Phantoms. Following a scoreless opening frame, Madison scored twice in the second period, courtesy of Anthony Stark and Kristof Papp. It remained a 2-1 game until midway through the third, when Gianfranco Cassaro cut the Youngstown deficit in half. The Phantoms could not find the equalizer, and the Capitols hung on for the 2-1 victory. Garrett Mackay made 24 saves on 25 shots for his first USHL victory.
Green Bay handed Muskegon just their third loss of the season, as the Gamblers doubled up the Lumberjacks 6-3 to split their weekend series at L.C. Walker Arena. The teams played a scoreless first period, with Muskegon outshooting Green Bay 15-12. The teams traded goals four minutes apart early in the second, with Chris Giroday and Nolan Sullivan scoring for their respective teams, before the Gamblers scored the next five goals. Nick Leitner's first of the year made it a 2-1 game heading into the third period before Jesse Tucker, Nicholas Zabaneh, Noah Ganske and Paul Maust all scored in the first 5:16 of the third period, giving Green Bay a 6-1 lead. Despite late goals from Alex Gaffney and Egor Afanasyev, the Lumberjacks were unable to complete the comeback. Evan Fear was outstanding between the pipes for the Gamblers, stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced for his sixth win of the year.
Cedar Rapids scored twice in each period to earn a 6-2 victory over in-state rival Waterloo. Aidan McDonough, who had a hat trick for the RoughRiders, put his team up 2-0 through 20 minutes with a pair of first period tallies. After Vladislav Firstov reached the double-digit mark with his 10th goal of the year 2:18 into the second to get the Black Hawks on the board, Liam Walsh regained his team's two-goal lead with his seventh goal of the season and McDonough completed the hat trick at 14:47 of the second period, giving Cedar Rapids a 4-1 lead heading into the third period. Firstov added his second goal of the game in the final frame, but Jordan Tonelli and Will Zmolek scored for the RoughRiders, giving them the 6-2 win. Evan McIntyre and Adam Backehag dished out two assists each, Zmolek, Tonelli and Walsh had a goal and assist each and Blake Pietila made 26 saves on 28 Waterloo shots to move to 8-6-2-0 on the season.
The Sioux City Musketeers moved to 8-0-2-0 in their last 10 games with a 4-1 road victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers. Des Moines scored the only goal of the first period, a Patrick Schmiedlin tally at 15:17, but the Musketeers scored the next four goals of the game. Marcus Kallionkieli's 12th goal of the year, a power play tally, was the only goal of the second period, and Jordan Steinmetz, Parker Ford and Bobby Brink all found the back of the net in the final frame, giving the Musketeers the 4-1 win. Brink and Ford had two-point nights (1G, 1A) each, and Brink now leads the USHL in scoring with 33 points (15G, 18A) in 19 games, and has extended his point streak to 10 games, with 20 points (12G, 8A) in those contests. Jake Sibell made 23 saves for his second straight win.
Three goals in both the first and third periods gave the Tri-City Storm a 6-2 road victory over the in-state rival Lincoln Stars and extended their winning streak to four games. Tri-City lead 3-1 through 20 minutes, thanks to goals from Benji Eckerle, Blais Richartz and Jake Crespi. Devlin McCabe scored the lone Lincoln goal in the first period. Logan Britt tallied the lone goal of the middle frame, making it a 3-2 game heading into the third, but goals from Crespi, his second of the game, Filip Forsmark and Michael Colella gave the Storm the 6-2 victory. Colella added an assist for a two-point night, and Isaiah Saville made 27 saves on 29 shots for his fifth consecutive victory.
Fargo has now won three straight games thanks to their 4-3 victory in Omaha over the Lancers on Saturday. The teams were tied after 20 minutes, thanks to goals from the Lancers' Logan Will and the Force's Tyler Gratton. After Brendan Furry gave Omaha a 2-1 lead at 16:47 of the second, Fargo responded with two goals in the final 90 seconds of the frame, courtesy of Carter Randklev and Detroit Red Wings prospect Ryan O'Reilly, to take a 3-2 lead into the third period. Less than 90 seconds into the final frame, Aleksi Peltonen's first goal of the season tied the game at three, but O'Reilly found the back of the net for the second time just over three minutes later, earning the eventual game-winning goal and giving Fargo the 4-3 win. The Southlake, TX native added an assist for a three-point night, Hank Crone and AJ Drobot added two helpers each and Ryan Bischel stopped 23 shots for his third consecutive win.
The Dubuque Fighting Saints moved back to .500 on the year with a 5-3 victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede. The teams traded a pair of goals each in the first period, as Artem Ivanyuzhenkov and Max Crozier scored for Sioux Falls and Ty Jackson and Riese Gaber found the back of the net for Dubuque. The Fighting Saints then scored twice in the second period, courtesy of Gaber and Aidan Fulp, to take a 4-2 lead into the third period. Willie Knierim added his ninth goal of the season to extend his point streak to seven games, and despite a late goal from the Stampede's Tony Follmer, Dubuque hung on for the 5-3 win. James Sanchez dished out an assist on Knierim's goal to extend his own point streak to seven games, Logan Pietila added a pair of helpers and Aaron Randazzo stopped 19 shots for his fourth victory in his first six starts of the season.
Chicago's winning streak is now at five games, as the Steel knocked off the Central Illinois Flying Aces 4-2. Despite a first period Robert Mastrosimone goal, the Steel trailed 2-1 after one period of play, as Tate Singleton and Jon Panisa found the back of the net for the Flying Aces. Chicago went on to score the next three goals of the game. Uula Ruikka's third of the year was the only tally of the second period, tying the game heading into the third. Matteo Pietroniro gave the visitors the lead with a power play goal at 11:26, and Mastrosimone completed the scoring with his second of the game and 11th of the year at 17:57, giving Chicago the 4-2 victory. Pietroniro and Ruikka had a goal and assist each and Justin Robbins stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced for his fourth straight win.
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.