SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – A battle between the USHL’s two top goaltenders highlighted the New Year’s Eve schedule in the nation’s top junior hockey league. The USHL rang out the old year and welcomed the new year with four games on the schedule Tuesday night. Here’s a look at what happened on New Year’s Eve.
Omaha (2) vs Sioux City (1) – Goaltending ruled the night as the Western Conference-leading Omaha Lancers won their first game against Sioux City this season with Tuesday’s 2-1 victory before a sold-out crowd at the Tyson Events Center. The Lancers remain the top team in the USHL overall standings with a 22-4-4 record for 48 points, five more than Waterloo. All the scoring came in the opening period, as Jake Henderson and Jimmy Schuldt lit the lamp for Omaha before Sam Saliba tallied the only Musketeer goal. Zach Jordan added assists on both Lancer goals. Omaha goaltender Cole Bruns (14-3-4) stopped 29 shots in getting the victory, while Kyle Hayton (16-6-1) made 30 saves in the Sioux City loss. Bruns lowered his league-leading goals-against-average down to 1.86 and his save percentage up to .932. Hayton is second in the USHL in GAA at 2.24 and is second in save percentage at .926.
Lincoln (1) at Waterloo (4) – Hayden Shaw’s first period power play goal became the difference in the game, as the Waterloo Black Hawks scored a 4-1 victory over Lincoln on Tuesday evening. The Black Hawks took a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play, then scored single goals in each of the last two periods for insurance. Waterloo outshot the Stars by a 50-33 margin, including 21 shots in the second period alone. Brandon Montour assisted on two of the Black Hawks’ four goals. Jonathan Desbiens scored the only Lincoln goal. Stars’ goalie Michael Bitzer was lifted after four minutes of the game and two goals scored. Cal Petersen was the winning goalie for Waterloo with a 32-save effort. Waterloo now has the longest active winning streak at five games, dating back to Dec. 13. The ‘Hawks have won six straight home games and were 6-0-1 in the month of December.
Sioux Falls (5) vs Fargo (3) – Keith Burchett’s two goals for Sioux Falls kept the Fargo Force reeling in the Stampede’s 5-3 victory at Fargo. Burchett added an assist for a three point night in leading the Stampede’s offense. His power play goal in the opening moments of the third period became the difference in the game. C.J. Franklin assisted on three Sioux Falls goals. Goaltender David Jacobson stopped 32 shots in getting the goaltending victory for the Stampede, while Cameron Johnson stopped 25 shots for the Force, who got goals from Meirs Moore, Alex Jackstadt, and Mason Morelli. Sioux Falls remained within one point of second-place Waterloo in the Western Conference standings with the win, while Fargo has now lost nine straight games, a streak that started on Nov. 30.
Cedar Rapids (1) at Green Bay (2) – Connor Hurley’s goal at the 6:39 mark of the third period was enough to give the Green Bay Gamblers a 2-1 victory at the Resch Center. The Gamblers moved within one point of first-place Indiana with the victory. Sebastien Weberg opened the scoring for Green Bay in the second period, but Andrew Oglevie’s unassisted goal early in the third tied the game for Cedar Rapids at 1-1, before Hurley netted the game-winning goal. Goaltender Jared Rutledge stopped 26 shots in claiming the win between the pipes for Green Bay, while Danny Tirone also stopped 26 shots, but allowed both goals in net for Cedar Rapids. The win was Green Bay’s third straight victory.
Meanwhile, Monday night, the Muskegon Lumberjacks traveled to Indianapolis, Ind. and came away with an 8-4 victory over the Ice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Lumberjacks took a 3-1 lead after one period and never looked back, scoring three times in the second period for a 6-1 advantage heading into the final frame. Muskegon won the contest despite being outshot by the Ice 40-28.