CHICAGO – Four Score…After the first hat trick of his USHL career during opening weekend, Sioux Falls Stampede forward Zeb Knutson had to outdo himself the next game by scoring four goals. His big night came in the 6-5 victory over the Indiana Ice on Friday in which his fourth tally proved to be the game-winning goal. The last four-goal game in the USHL came almost exactly a year ago when J.T. Stenglein accomplished that feat for the Youngstown Phantoms in the 9-6 win over Waterloo on October 5th, 2012. Knutson is the third Stampede player all-time to net four goals in a game, joining Robbie Vrolyk and Thomas Vanek, and is the first Sioux Falls player to record hat tricks in consecutive games since Matt Ford did so in January 2004.
Good Start…The Muskegon Lumberjacks are off to a 3-0-0 start to the regular season after picking up a pair of weekend victories. They have won all three of their games by a single goal, including two that have gone past regulation. Scott Pooley, an Indiana native, scored in overtime of Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Indiana Ice. Eric Scheirhorn made 42 saves in the contest to collect his first USHL victory. It was the most saves in a League game so far this season. C.J. Smith scored a goal in both weekend contests, including his first USHL tally in Friday’s 5-4 win against Team USA, one of five Muskegon players to score in the game. 16-year-old Cooper Marody also netted his first USHL goal in the win for the Jacks.
That’s a Plus…Defenseman Charlie Curti took the ice for his first USHL game on Friday and helped the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders earn a 6-3 victory over the Lincoln Stars. The 17-year-old posted a plus-five rating in the contest, a League season high. He also dished out a pair of assists for his first points in the USHL, and followed up with another assist in Saturday’s loss to Sioux Falls.
In Defense…The defending Clark Cup champion Dubuque Fighting Saints started off their season with a pair of victories. On a night when they raised their championship banner, they earned a 3-2 win against the rival Waterloo Black Hawks on Friday. Karson Kuhlman led the way with a pair of goals. The following night, goaltender Christian Frey earned his first USHL career shutout as he stopped all 20 shots in the 4-0 win over the Sioux City Musketeers. Four different players scored their first regular season goal in a Saints uniform during the win – Shane Eiserman, Jacob Benson,Shane Kavanagh, and Robby Darrar.
Extra, Extra…The Green Bay Gamblers and Youngstown Phantoms twice needed more than 60 minutes to decide the outcome of a game over the weekend. On Friday, Nick Schmaltz netted his second goal of the game 3:17 into the overtime to lead the Gamblers to a 4-3 victory. The next afternoon, Alex Smith gave the Phantoms some revenge has he netted his first of the season 1:52 into overtime of a 3-2 win. Green Bay scored late goals in regulation on both days to force overtime. Kevin Irwin netted a goal with 1:39 remaining in the third period on Friday to even the score at 4-4, and then Ryan Siroky scored with only 26 seconds left in regulation on Saturday as Green Bay had the goalie pulled for the extra attacker.
Balancing Act…It was a total team effort for the Omaha Lancers as they won both games to open their 2-0-0 season. While goaltender Cole Brunscollected back-to-back shutouts, 13 different skaters collected a point over the weekend. On Friday, 12 different players registered a point, including five different goal scorers in the 5-0 win against the Fargo Force. Brian Williams and Louis Rowe each tallied a goal in the first period during their USHL debuts. In Saturday’s 4-0 victory against the Des Moines Buccaneers, Tyler Vesel scored shorthanded for his first USHL tally, and veteransGage Hough, Jake Randolph, and Luca Frigo each scored their second goal in as many nights.\
Lighting it Up…Team USA has scored 35 goals combined over their first six games of the season, averaging a League best 5.83 goals per contest. The Under-18 squad posted a huge 8-0 win over the Chicago Steel on Sunday as Blake Weyrick stopped all 25 shots he faced for his first USHL career shutout. Dylan Larkin scored the first and last goal of the game, his second two-goal effort in three games, while Ryan Hitchcock recorded four points (1g, 3a), his third multi-point effort in three USHL games this season. For the Under-17 squad, they scored seven goals total as they split a pair of weekend contests. Luke Kirwan has scored a goal in all three games this season, while the first USHL goal for Dennis Yan was the game-winner in Saturday’s 3-2 victory against Chicago.
Storm Starting…It was a big night to start the 2013-14 season for the Tri-City Storm as they earned a 2-1 shootout victory over the Lincoln Stars on home ice. They victory helped the Storm improved to 5-0-1 over their last six home openers. Chase Berger scored his first USHL goal in regulation before Robbie Payne and Chris Wilkie converted in the shootout. Wilkie became the first Nebraska native to play for the Storm. Jacob Johansson made 37 saves and stopped 2-of-3 in the shootout to record his first USHL victory which came in front of 3,250 fans at the Viaero Event Center.
Following the Lead…After experimenting with a number of rule changes in the preseason, the NHL has adopted “hybrid icing” to be implemented for the 2013-14 regular season. The rule was first created by Scott Brand, former USHL Referee-in-Chief, and first put in place by the USHL for the 2005-06 season. It was later adopted by NCAA hockey. The purpose of the rule is to avoid dangerous collisions near the end boards during races for the puck on icing plays. The “hybrid icing” still allows for such races but the officials can whistle an icing infraction as soon as the defending player reaches the end faceoff dots, thus avoiding play near the end boards.
In the Show…As the 2013-14 NHL season gets underway, a number of USHL alumni will be suiting up on hockey’s biggest stage. A total of 78 players are listed on NHL opening rosters as 28 of the 30 NHL clubs have at least one USHL alum. The San Jose Sharks lead the way with six USHL alumni on their opening roster, while the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, and Tampa Bay Lightning each have five. The Omaha Lancers lead all USHL teams with 11 former players on NHL rosters, followed by the Green Bay Gamblers with nine, and eight each for the Des Moines Buccaneers, Lincoln Stars, Sioux City Musketeers, and Team USA. A number of USHL alumni will be making their NHL debut this season, including recent USHL graduates Zemgus Girgensons (Dubuque Fighting Saints, 2010-12) with the Buffalo Sabres and Jacob Trouba (Team USA, 2010-12) with the Winnipeg Jets. Both were first-round selections in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Noteworthy…Indiana Ice forward Joe Sullivan netted two goals, his first in the USHL, in Friday’s 6-5 loss to Sioux Falls while teammate Dwyer Tschantz scored a goal in each weekend contest for the Ice…Judd Peterson tallied two goals for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on Friday before teammate Alec Marsh scored two goals on Saturday…Tom Marchin, John Simonson, and Magnus Hoff each scored their first USHL career goal for the Lincoln Stars on Friday during the team’s opener.
With official press release