Monday, November 25 – Junior Hockey Update

Jumping right into news from around the league, forward Brendan Brisson, defenseman Noah Beck, and goaltender Erik Portillo were all named players of the week for their respective position. Brisson played two games and scored twice while assisting two goals as well for a -2. Beck played two games and scored two goals and two assists for a +4. Portillo had a great week having played in two games and boasting a .99 GAA and .956 SV%. 

Team USA selected their roster for the World Junior A Challenge as they look to repeat. Included are 21 players from the USHL and three players drafted in the 2019 NHL Draft. Forward Rhett Pitlick, defenseman Michael Koster, and goaltender Ethan Haider.

Roster updates from around the league include the Lancers trading forward Will Dineen to the Stampede for a 2020 6th Round Phase I Draft Pick. The Gamblers also traded Dylan Wendt to the Lumberjacks in exchange for defenseman John Prokop.

Sioux City had a tough draw last week as they took on Team USA’s U17s twice. In the first game, the Musketeers tried to gain momentum by scoring early in each period. In the first period, Ryan Taylor scored 1:47 in, and Sam Strange added one 23 seconds into the third period. Strange scored his second goal of the night at the 12-minute mark to force the game to overtime where they eventually fell, 4-3. Ethan Haider was in net where he made 35 of 39 saves. 

In the second game, there were four first-period goals scored, two by each team. Christian Jimenez and Sam Strange scored one apiece in the first frame but the Musketeers fell silent until the third when they got three goals from Sam Antenucci, Ryan Taylor, and Sam Strange. Ethan Haider was again in net where he was 40 of 45. The Musketeers fell again to Team USA 6-5 in overtime. 

Youngstown opened the weekend at home against the Stampede. For the Phantoms, John Beaton scored a second-period goal which tied things at 1. Josh DeLuca added a late third-period goal to tie the game at two but they eventually fell in overtime although they outshot the Stampede, 31-21. Dominic Basse was in net saving 20 of 23 shots.

After Friday night’s loss, the Phantoms looked to rebound, and rebound they did. After a first-period goal from John Beaton, Matthew Cassidy scored the team’s second goal just 33 seconds into the second period. This gave the Phantoms a 2-0 lead. Avenging their loss from the night before, the Phantoms’ Trevor Kuntar padded the teams lead and Cassidy added his second goal of the night with two minutes remaining. The Phantoms won 4-2 and Colin Purcell made 18 of 20 saves.

The Lumberjacks had a tough weekend in Omaha as they fell in both games at the hands of the Lancers. Danil Guschin scored a first-period goal just under five minutes into the game. However, the Lumberjacks played catchup the rest of the was as they gave up four unanswered goals to love 4-1. Jack Williams made 17 of 21 saves.

In game two, AJ Hodges and Christophe Fillion scored two goals in the first period but after giving up a goal with under one minute remaining, they headed into the second period with a 2-1 lead. The Jacks struggled to recover after giving up the late first-period goal and went on to give up four more unanswered goals to lose 5-2. In net was Noah Giesbrecht who was 32 for 37.

Team USA
For the U17s, they found themselves trailing early against the Musketeers until Jeremy Wilmer scored to tie things up just past the midway mark of the first-period. Jack Hughes scored the lone goal in the second period to make it 2-1. Two third period goals allowed the Musketeers to take a late lead but another Jack Hughes goal with under three minutes remaining tied things up to head to overtime. The overtime goal was scored by Chaz Lucius with just five seconds remaining. Gibson Homer was solid between the pipes making 26 of 29 saves for the 4-3 overtime win.

In another close game, Team USA came out on top against the Musketeers, 6-5 after again heading to overtime. Two early first-period goals by Jeremy Wilmer and Dylan Duke tied the game at two apiece with the game heading to the second period. Two goals in the second period by Colby Saganiuk and Dylan Duke gave Team USA a 4-2 lead. One more goal in the third by Tyler Boucher meant things were all knotted up and the fans got some free hockey as the game headed to overtime. Ethan Straky scored the game-winner 1:37 into overtime for the victory. Kaidan Mbereko was the netminder and made 21of 26 saves.

The U18s’ Eamon Powell scored a second-period goal to tie the game at one as they took on the Storm. They struggled throughout to find the net as they only put up 16 shots. A late goal by Jacob Truscott made the loss a little better as they fell 4-2. Noah Grannan made 17 of 20 saves.

Picking up a victory in their second game of the weekend, the U18s avenged their loss from the night before against the Storm. Brett Berard scored the game’s first goal with 10:51 into the first frame. Jake Sanderson secured Team USA’s win by scoring an empty-netter with one minute remaining. The final was 2-0 and Drew Commesso was perfect between the pipes stopping all 28 shots faced.

For the Stampede, Gabe Temple scored a first-period goal to secure an early 1-0 lead. Will Dineen scored in the third period to reclaim the lead at 2-1 but it was Temple’s second of the night which sealed the deal in overtime. The Stampede got a much-needed win against the Phantoms on the season as they’ve come few and far between. Grant Adams made 29 of 31 saves.

Unfortunately for the Stampede, the victory celebration was short-lived. After their victory the night before, they came out sluggish to start as they fell behind 2-0 before notching their first goal from the hands of Jared Westcott. It wasn’t until later when Cameron MacDonald scored the Stamps’ second goal of the game midway through the third period but eventually fell 4-2 to the Phantoms. Grant Adams was in net again making 25 of 28 saves. 

For the Lancers, last weekend was a great weekend. Zachary Plucinski scored a first-period goal which came just after the Lumberjacks’ Danil Guschin scored to tie things at one. A big second period led to the win thanks to goals from Grant Anderson, Ryan Sorkin, and Brian Silver. Jakub Dobes picked up the victory with his 23 of 24 save performance.

In game two against the Lumberjacks, after falling behind 2-0 early in the first period, the Lancers’ Ryan Lautenbach netted one with just under one minute remaining to head into the second period down 2-1. The Lancers carried that momentum into the second period a sLogan Will scored just over one minute into the frame. Christian Berger added another goal with under two minutes remaining to head into the third period up 3-2. At this point, the Lancers never looked back as Ross Mitton and Grant Anderson added two third period goals to win 5-2. Kyle McClellan got the start in net but after 15 minutes and a 4 for 6 save performance, he was replaced by Jakub Dobes who finished 16 for 16.

Fargo’s Kaden Bohlsen scored a first and third-period goal which was accompanied by Casey McDonald’s third-period goal. Tristan Bronz scored in the shutout but it was Kaden Bohlsen who scored the winning shootout goal. Cole Brady made 16 of 19 saves for a 4-3 shootout victory.

Fargo got a much-needed boost as they won both games to move to 9-5-1 on the year. Alex Nordstrom found the net first and Cedric Fiedler and Mason Salquist added two goals in the second period to give the Force a 3-2 lead. Joseph Dunlap and Ondrej Pavel added two more goals in the third period to win 5-3 against the Stars. Cole Brady made 32 of 35 saves.

In Des Moines, Logan Anderson scored an early second-period goal to tie the game at one against the Force. Patrick Schmiedlin and Matt Choupani scored two goals in the third which allowed the game to go to overtime and then a shootout. Missed opportunities by Yaroslav Alexeyev and Matt Choupani closed the door on any opportunity to pick up the victory. They fell 4-3. Christian Stoever made 17 of 20 saves.

For their second game of the weekend, the Bucs fell behind 2-0 in the first period but clawed their way back against one of the league’s best teams. Alex Laferriere and Yaroslav Alexeyev were the only scorers for the Bucs but it was enough to push the game to overtime where they eventually fell to the Saints, 3-2. Cameron Rowe made 21 of 24 saves.

With only one game last weekend, the Stars found themselves on the losing end of it. Brad Morrissey and Matthew Barbolini gave the Stars a first-period lead but that would be the only lead they’d hold. Caleb Price added another late goal in the third to lose to the Force, 5-3. Jacob Muticelli made 22 of 26 saves.

The Storm added forward Milan Cernak from the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite youth program to their roster last week. They also took on Team USA’s U18s in their first game of the weekend and won, 4-2. Cole McWard gave the Storm an early lead thanks to his first-period goal. Three third-period goals by Nick Portz, Davis Burnside, and Benji Eckerle helped give the Storm another victory on the season. Joe Sharib didn’t get a lot of action in net but made the most of his opportunities, he was 14 of 16 in the save column.

The Storm dropped their second game of the weekend to Team USA as they fell 2-0. They outshot their opponent 28-16 but couldn’t get things to align to pick up a point. Daniel Allin was 15 of 15 on the night and the Storm now fall to 8-8-2-1 on the year.

Max Sasson had himself a nice Friday by scoring two goals, one in the first and one in the second period. Jackson Jutting also got in on the scoring action with a goal 21 seconds into the third period. Grant Silianoff scored the game-winner in the shootout after Justin Kryckowian and Donte Lawson missed their opportunities. Shamil Shmakov made 36 of 39 saves in the 4-3 shootout victory over the Gamblers.

In their second game of the weekend, the RoughRiders found themselves down 4-0 before Jack Millar scored their first goal of the night in the third period. Jack O’Leary added another goal with five minutes remaining but they ran out of gas to have any shot of a comeback. Derek Mullahy made 30 of 34 saves against the Black Hawks but fell 4-2.

It was a very slow start for the Gamblers as they found themselves down 3-0 with 19 minutes remaining in the game. A quick goal by McKade Webster 2:05 into the third period, Jesse Tucker’s goal midway through the frame, and Ryan O’Reilly’s late goal tied things up with seven seconds left. The game headed to overtime and then a shootout where Jesse Tucker, Nicholas Zabaneh, and Ryan O’Reilly missed on their shots negating what would have been the best comeback thus far in the year. Nichola Grabko made 33 of 36 saves.

The Saints added defenseman Evan Stella to their roster, a defenseman from the SuperElit League in Sweden. Stella joins one of the league’s best defenses who’s only surrendered 27 goals.

In one of the most anticipated matchups of the season this far, the Saints headed to Waterloo for battle with the Black Hawks. By the end of the night, it turned out that only one of these teams deserved to be considered one of the best in the league. The Saints dominated the game from the moment the puck touched the ice. Matt Kopperud had a hat-trick while Antonio Venuto, Luke Robinson, Riese Gaber, and Dylan Jackson added a solo goal of their own. The Saints won handily 7-1. Erik Portillo showed the league that he is one of the best goalies by making 24 of 25 saves in the contest.

For their second game, Robert Cronin and Matt Cheremeta gave the Saints the early lead they needed. After allowing the Buccaneers to get back into the game in the third period, Matt Cheremeta scored the game-winner in overtime to give the Saints a 3-2 overtime victory against the Buccaneers. Aiden McCarthy continued to excel in net as he made 21 of 23 saves.

Unfortunately for the Capitols, they had to take on the league’s best team in two matchups, the Chicago Steel. These were over before they even started as it was David versus Goliath, just different results. After falling behind just one minute into the game, the Caps were essentially chasing their own tails as they were never able to match the firepower of the Steel. Scoring for the Caps were Ricky Lyle, Stepan Pokorny, Verners Egle, Ryan Kirwan, and Kristof Papp. Garrett Mackay played the first period in net and was 10 of 15 before being replaced for Simon Latkoczy. He was 19 for 25 on the remainder of the game. As they lost 11-5.

Looking to put up a better fight in their second game of the weekend against the Steel, the Caps took to the road and headed to Chicago. It turns out that although the venue changed, the result would not. Falling 7-4, the Caps’ Reid Pabich scored two goals while Ricky Lyle and Carson Bantle added a goal of their own. The Caps now hold the worst record in the league as they sit at 2-15-1. Simon Latkoczy was in net facing 27 shots and saving 21.

Black Hawks
The Black Hawks hosted the Saints Friday night in one of the biggest games of the weekend. Unfortunately for them, they forgot to show up. There isn’t much news to report on this one besides the Black Hawks being down 4-0 before scoring their first goal of the night from Kyle Haskins. The Black Hawks stuck with Gabriel Carriere for the entirety of this one even though he was 33 for 40. The Hawks fell 7-1. 

Avenging their embarrassing loss from the night before, the Hawks got things started when Griffin Ness found the net with 13 minutes remaining in the first period. Connor Caponi and Ryder Rolston added two goals in the second period to take a 3-0 lead into the final frame. Rolston added another goal for good measure to increase the lead to 4-0. Logan Stein was 21 of 23 in the 4-2 win over the RoughRiders.

Nearly everyone could’ve predicted the outcome of the Steel and Capitols, but that’s why we play the game. The league’s top team took on the league’s worst team and things went almost exactly according to plan. Jack Babbage and Erik Middendorf scored two goals to lead the way for the Steel. John Spetz, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, Sam Colangelo, Luke Reid, Sean Farrell, Matt Coronato, and Matty De St. Phalle each scored a goal in the 11-5 thumping. Ian Shane made 24 of 29 saves.

The Steel headed home for their final game of the weekend again against the Capitols. Liam Devlin broke the game open and Tyler Carpenter followed shortly after. Josh Doan added another goal in the third period to tie the game at two. In a shocking moment, the Steel actually found themselves training heading into the third period. However, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, Matt Coronato, Brendan Brisson, and John Spetz added a goal to pave the way for a 7-4 victory. Victor Ostman made 14 of 18 saves and the Steel now sit at 14-3-1 on the year.

Leading Points Scorers:
Sean Farrell, Steel, 28
Matty De St. Phalle, Steel, 23
Sam Colangelo, Steel, 23

Leading Goal Scorers:
Joey Strada, Buccaneers, 13
Matty De St. Phalle, Steel, 12
Sam Colangelo, Steel, 11

Assists Leaders:
Sean Farrell, Steel, 20
Uula Ruikka, Steel, 14
Ty Jackson, Saints, 13

Goalie Wins Leaders:
Erik Portillo, Saints, 9
Victor Ostman, Steel, 9
Cole Brady, Force, 8

Goalie Save Percentage Leaders:
Logan Stein, Black Hawks, .922%
Nicholas Grabko, Gamblers, .916%
Christian Stoever, Buccaneers, .913%

Goals Against Average Leaders:
Logan Stein, Black Hawks, 1.94
Erik Portillo, Saints, 2.06
Victor Ostman, Steel, 2.38

Come back next week to get more USHL news and be sure to follow me on Twitter @Nwinansw. I’ll see you next week.

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