Brett Murray, Youngstown Phantoms (courtesy Hickling Images)
Below is a recap of Friday's USHL games:
The Waterloo Black Hawks earned their 12th victory over the season, a 5-3 win over Team USA's U17 team in Plymouth. Waterloo held a 3-0 lead through 20 minutes of play, thanks to goals from Matt Koopman, Griffin Ness and Joe Cassetti. Koopman scored his second goal of the game late in the second frame, but it was sandwiched by Team USA tallies from Chase Yoder and Landon Slaggert, making it a 4-2 game heading into the third period. The teams traded goals in the final frame, with Matej Blumel and Jacob Truscott scoring for their respective teams, giving Waterloo the 5-3 victory. Ethan Szmagaj dished out a pair of assists, and Jared Moe made 27 saves on 29 Team USA shots for his sixth victory of the season.
Cedar Rapids has won back-to-back games thanks to the RoughRiders' 4-2 victory in Des Moines. The visitors led 2-0 through one period of play, thanks to goals from Andrei Bakanov, his first in the USHL, and Aidan McDonough. The Buccaneers responded in the middle frame, as Kaden Bohlsen and Matt Brown tied the game in the first seven minutes of the second. It remained a tie game until Jack O'Leary's sixth goal of the season tied the game with just 49 seconds to play in the period, giving Cedar Rapids a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes. A Jason Polin empty net goal sealed the victory for the visitors. Blake Pietila stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced to move to 9-6-2-0 on the year.
Tri-City won their fifth straight game with a 7-3 victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede at the Viaero Center. The teams alternated two goals each in the first period, as Filip Forsmark and Jake Crespi scored for the Storm, while Brian Chambers and Jami Krannila found the back of the Stampede. Tri-City then scored twice in the first two minutes of the second period, thanks to Crespi and Keaton Pehrson, and twice in the first nine minutes of the third period, courtesy of Colton Kalezic and Chase McLane, to take a 6-2 lead. Sioux Falls' Artem Ivanyuzhenkov answered on the power play at 16:32 of the final frame, making it a 6-3 game, before Ronnie Attard added an empty-net tally to complete the scoring. Crespi (2G, 1A), Forsmark (1G, 2A) and McLane (1G, 2A) registered three-point nights, and Isaiah Saville made 28 saves for his sixth consecutive victory.
Muskegon picked up their USHL-leading 16th win of the season with a 4-2 victory in Green Bay over the Gamblers. The Lumberjacks led 1-0 after the first period with a Nolan Sullivan tally and extended their lead to 3-0 through 40 minutes thanks to goals from Sullivan, his second goal of the game and 10th of the season, and Andrei Golikov, his first USHL marker. Green Bay's Nick Leitner got his team on the board 3:44 into the third, and Noah Ganske made it a one-goal game with just over three minutes to play in the game. The visitors were able to hold off the late push and add an Alex Yakovenko empty-net goal to secure the victory. Sulivan added an added for a three-point night and Brandon Bussi recorded his USHL-leading 16th victory with a 22-save performance.
Lincoln picked up their first victory of the season over heated rival Omaha, as the Stars doubled up the Lancers 4-2. Goals from Shane Pinto and Christian DiCesare had the teams locked in a 1-1 tie through 20 minutes of action. Lincoln scored the next two goals, tallies from Caleb Rule and Devlin McCabe just under four minutes apart, to take a 3-1 lead before Austen Long's first goal of the season made it a 3-2 game heading into the final frame. It remained a 3-2 game until late in the contest, when Matthew Barbolini added an insurance goal for Lincoln and gave his team the 4-2 victory. Max Ellis added an assist in his first game with his new team and Tyler Johnson picked up win number two on the year with a 40-save outing.
A Brett Murray goal with just under a minute to play in overtime gave the Youngstown Phantoms a 3-2 victory over the Fargo Force, the first meeting between the two teams since Game 4 of the 2018 Clark Cup Final. After Hank Crone got Fargo on the board 8:18 into the game, Youngstown responded with goals from Murray and Craig Needham, the latter coming with just one second remaining in the frame, to give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. The Force tied the game with a Michael Mancinelli tally 7:48 into the second, and the remainder of the game was a scoreless affair, sending the sides to overtime, where Murray's goal, his second of the game and eighth of the season, gave the home team the extra point and the 3-2 win. Murray added an assist for a three-point night, Liam Dennison dished out a pair of helpers and Vinnie Purpura made 19 saves on 21 Fargo shots for his second win as a Phantom.
In a back-and-forth affair between in-state rivals, the Chicago Steel knocked off the Central Illinois Flying Aves 5-4 for their sixth consecutive victory. Central Illinois' Stephen Halliday opened the scoring at 4:47 of the opening period, but Chicago scored the next three goals of the game - first periods tallies from Nick Abruzzese and Adam Robbins, and a second period goal from Uula Ruikka - to take a 3-1 lead just over five minutes into the middle frame. The Flying Aces responded with a Chad Hillebrand goal just over 90 seconds after Ruikka's goal and a Philippe Lapointe tally with just 15 seconds remaining in the second to tie the game at three heading into the third period. Ryan Doolin and Matteo Pietroniro found the back of the Steel four minutes apart to give Chicago a 5-3 lead, and despite a Cal Kiefiuk goal with 27 seconds remaining in the game, Chicago hung on for the 5-4 win. Justin Robbins made 16 saves for his fifth straight win between the pipes.
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.