SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – The run for the top spots in the USHL conference races remains intense, as eight points separate the top four teams in the Eastern Conference and ten points are between the first and fourth-place teams in the West after this weekend’s action.
Omaha is the top team in the USHL overall with 54 points on a record of 25-6-4, but second place Waterloo (25-5-1) remained the hottest club in the league and the Black Hawks are only three points behind the Lancers in the Western Conference standings, all in four fewer games.
Both teams won a pair of contests this weekend. Omaha defeated Tri-City 5-3 Friday and Cedar Rapids 5-3 Saturday, while Waterloo ran its current winning streak to nine games after an 8-3 win Friday at Sioux Falls and a 3-1 home victory against Des Moines on Saturday.
The nine consecutive victories equal the longest winning streak in the USHL this season, as Sioux City won nine in a row between Oct. 11 and Nov. 8. The Waterloo streak started Dec. 13.
The ‘Hawks head east for a four-game road trip that begins this weekend in a Friday game at Youngstown and a Saturday contest against Team USA in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Lincoln is a team that has been struggling this year and is currently seventh in the eight-team Western Conference. But the Stars have found recent success in a three-game winning streak which continued Saturday in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Fargo Force at the Stars’ Ice Box Arena.
Lincoln also edged the Force Friday in a 5-4 decision, as Fargo has now gone winless in 13 games.
Meanwhile in the East, Indiana iced Muskegon 4-1 to take a four-point lead over Dubuque at the top of the standings.
Denis Smimov scored a pair of goals for the Ice against the Lumberjacks.
“I am trying to shoot more and be in front of the net,” commented Smirnov after he scored Indiana’s first and last goal. “I am looking for rebounds.”
Dubuque rolled to a 5-2 victory over Green Bay Saturday night on the Fighting Saints’ home rink. Shane Eiserman’s goal nearly three minutes into the final period provided the game-winning goal for the Fighting Saints. Karson Kuhlman scored twice for Dubuque.
ETC: Muskegon has gone to the major junior Ontario Hockey League for a boost in its roster, adding forward Chase Hatcher of the Petersborough Petes. Chase is the son of former NHL player Derian Hatcher, who played 16 seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, Dallas, Detroit, and Philadelphia.