SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – The Sioux City Musketeers have been the hottest team in the USHL of late, despite being defeated by the Sioux Falls Stampede 3-1 before a sell-out crowd of 4,772 Saturday night in Sioux Falls.
The Musketeers, tied with the Stampede for second place in the USHL’s Western Conference standings, had the league’s longest winning streak at nine games stopped in the loss.
The winning skein started Oct. 11 when Sioux City defeated Tri-City, 6-1 in Kearney, Neb.
From there, the Musketeers won five straight home games with victories over Fargo (twice), Green Bay, Omaha and Waterloo.
Sioux City then traveled to Omaha, beat the Lancers 3-2 on Nov. 1, returned home for another win over Tri-City, followed by a 6-5 home victory over Lincoln before Saturday’s loss at Sioux Falls.
During the winning streak, Sioux City was 4-1 against teams with winning records and defeated conference leader Omaha twice.
Jared Thomas has been one of the reasons for the Musketeers’ surge. Thomas has scored 17 points in the Muskies’ last ten games, three goals and 14 assists.
Jared leads the team in points with 19, on four goals and 15 assists. The 15 helpers put him second in the USHL, behind Jake Randolph of Omaha.
Thomas has played parts of the last three seasons in Sioux City. The Hermantown, Minn. native is committed to play next at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
A USHL rookie, Brandon Hawkins has been the hot goal scorer for Sioux City during the streak, with eight goals and ten points.
Four of Hawkins’ goals have come on the power play and two were game-winning goals. A native of Shelby Township, Mich., Hawkins has a college commitment to Bowling Green.
At the crease, Kyle Hayton has led Sioux City with a 7-1-0 record in the team’s last ten meetings. Hayton has fashioned a 2.50 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.
For the year, Hayton overall is 8-2-1 with 2.33 GAA and a .925 save percentage.
A native of Faribault, Minn., Hayton is commited to play next at St. Lawrence University.
TIGHT EASTERN CONFERENCE RACE DEVELOPING: In the Eastern Conference, the logjam has become five teams within four points at the top of the standings.
Team USA still leads the conference race by two points over second place Green Bay and Muskegon.
Defending champion Dubuque is fourth, but only three points behind the leader, and Cedar Rapids is in fifth place with 17 standings points, four in back of Team USA.
Home cooking has aided both Dubuque and Green Bay in their move into the top half of the conference standings. Both teams have won their last six straight home games; the Dubuque streak dating back to Sept. 28 and the Green Bay streak going back to Oct. 5.
ALL-USHL SELECT TEAM EARNS GOLD: Team USA, made up completely of players from the USHL, earned a gold medal in the World Junior A Challenge with a 4-1 victory over Russia in the finals on Nov. 10.
The tournament was held in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. The win was the ninth straight victory in the tournament for Team USA, dating back to its third-place game victory in 2011.
Thirteen USHL teams were represented on the all-USHL roster, which was led by Green Bay head coach Derek Lalonde.
“We’re thrilled to win this tournament,” Lalonde said after the gold medal win. “We stayed focused all week and kept it up today. I thought the difference was our depth.”
Youngstown head Anthony Noreen and Sioux City assistant Mark Abalan were the assistant coaches for the squad.