SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Goaltenders have been pretty stingy in the early moments of the USHL season. A total of nine shutouts have been recorded through three weekends of the league’s regular season.
One-third of the no-no’s have come from one goaltender; Omaha Lancer goalie Cole Bruns. The Prairie Grove, Ill. native earned his third shutout in as many games Friday night in a 4-0 victory at Sioux Falls. The Lancers did not play on Saturday.
Bruns has also shut out Des Moines (4-0) and Fargo (5-0) in the early going.
Bruns’ play has led the Lancers to a 3-0-0 record and second place in the USHL Western Conference standings. The Lancers six standing points are two behind Sioux Falls, which has played two more games than the Lancers.
Not to be outdone, Dubuque backstopper Christian Frey has a pair of shutouts in as many appearances this season. Frey, a native of Arlington, Tex., has 4-0 results against Green Bay and Sioux City. His victory between the pipes against Green Bay came last Friday on home ice for the defending Clark Cup champions.
Of the other three shutouts posted by USHL goalies this season, Jacob Johansson got his first USHL career shutout for the Tri-City Storm Saturday evening at Des Moines in a 1-0 victory. Johansson is a native of Stockholm, Sweden and has a 2-0-1 record with Tri-City.
Fargo goaltender Cameron Johnson earned his first USHL career shutout in a 2-0 victory against Muskegon Saturday evening. The Troy, Mich. native is committed to play college hockey at the University of North Dakota, under former Sioux City coach Dave Hakstol.
Johnson made 34 saves in the win, but Muskegon coach Todd Krygier told MLive.com after the game the Lumberjacks should have put more rubber on the Force net.
“I’m not exactly sure why they weren’t shooting the puck,” Krygier said. “We had plenty of chances to shoot the puck and we didn’t, so that hurts over the length of the game. In general, we just struggled as a team.”
Team USA leads the Eastern Conference with a 6-2-0 record, thanks to the offensive leadership of second-year forward Ryan Hitchock.The native of Manhasset, NY has no fewer than two points in three games this season for the Red, White, and Blue. That includes a four-point performance (1G, 3A) to open the year Sept. 29 against Chicago during an 8-0 victory in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Hitchcock is committed to Yale for his college hockey.
Sioux City gave new coach Jay Varady his first USHL coaching victory in Friday’s 2-1 shootout victory at Tri-City. Adam Johnson scored in regulation, followed by goals from Avery Peterson and Jared Thomas in the shootout.
In Case You Missed It….Des Moines forward Ryan Galt has committed to play college hockey at the University of Nebraska-Omaha after his USHL career is done. The native of Omaha, Neb. is in his second season with the Buccaneers and has scored 18 goals for 29 points in 61 career games over two seasons. Galt earned a three-goal hat-trick in Des Moines’ 6-4 season-opening victory Sept. 21 against Sioux Falls. Galt is one of five current USHL players set to move on to UNO, led by long-time college coach Dean Blais, who also coached in the USHL in Fargo and was USHL Coach of the Year in 2009.
USHL.com lists 78 former players who suited up for opening night in the NHL.
Omaha led the USHL list with 11 former players on NHL rosters for opening night, followed by Green Bay with nine. San Jose leads the NHL with six former USHL players on its opening night roster.
In addition to that, Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston and Tampa Bay Lightning bench leader Jon Cooper have spent time coaching in the USHL; Rolston with the USA Hockey National Team Development program and Cooper with the Green Bay Gamblers.
Both are starting their first full seasons with their NHL teams.