By Lexi Obrycki, Jim DenHollander and Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
The USPHL takes a region-by-region overview of the recent action, looking at the results for those teams with victories over the last week.
Great Lakes Division
Last weekend in the Great Lakes, we saw a two-game series between the Metro Jets and the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones. The Cyclones had a hard fighting weekend but the Jets were able to finish the weekend off with winning both games.
Game 1 took place on home ice for the Jets, which was also their season opener. They were
able to come out of the game with a 6-2 win. They had goals from six different goal-scorers: Joey Mocknik, Alex Schaumburger, Yarne Vaerewyck, Bryce O’Rourke, Josh German, and Braydin Lewis, who is fresh back to the team off cancer treatment.
Freddy Soderberg was in net for the Jets in game one and had 17 Saves. On the Cyclones side of things, Kyle Burke put up both goals for Cincinnati, getting assists from Brady Talaski. John Rampe was in net for the Cyclones and made 43 saves.
Game two was in Cincinnati, where the Jets came home with another win. Joey Mocknik added to his points this game getting three goals and an assist, Alex Schaumburger added two goals and an assist, and goalie Rocco Stolz made his junior hockey debut making 12 saves and getting his first win.
Jordan Winrod scored the lone goal for the Cyclones and John Rampe was in net again in this game, making 71 saves.
- The Jr. Cyclones’ goaltenders John Rampe and Blake Mitchell are both in the top 10 for shots against in the league, joining the Hampton Roads goaltenders in that category as the only teams with two representatives in the top 10.
- The Jets improved to 5-0-0-0 in season openers, and have won their last four in regulation after originally defeating the former Lansing Wolves 2-1 in their first-ever USPHL game that opened the 2018-19 season. The Jets reached the National Championship game for the first of two times that year – the second was this past March.
Midwest West Division
It may be the newest team in the division but at least for the next few days, the Minnesota Squatch are enjoying the view from the top of the Division heap. Six of the division’s nine teams entered the fray this past weekend and it couldn’t have been a better start for the Squatch after opening its schedule with back-to-back wins at the Furniture-and-Things Community Event Center in Elk River.
In both games, the Squatch busted out of the gate with a flurry of first period goals but the team also needed late rallies to pull out the victories.
A wild first night saw the Squatch score twice in the final period to pull out an 8-7 win. The following night at the same site, the Squatch scored four first period goals on its way to a 5-4 edge against the Moose.
Henri Mustonen fired the game winner for the Squatch with 4:49 to play and Daniel Ellingson led the charge with two goals and an assist. Kolten Kane scored a natural hat trick +1 for four goals in the second period. Trevor Ripley also notched a pair.
Jake McAlpine scored two against the Moose, Jack Pojar added a goal and two assists and Blake Bakey collected three helpers.
- The Squatch’s 2-0 start as an organization is impressive, but it has a long way to go to catch up to the WBS Knights’ 13-0 start last year in their first season.
- The Squatch’s eight goals in their inaugural game is the most since the Long Beach Shredders opened their existence with seven on the board in 2021-22. Fort Wayne’s 11-3 win on Sept. 14, 2019, remains the record for most goals by a new team (not counting the inaugural USPHL Premier Tier III season of 2017-18).
- Kane’s performance marked the second year in a row the Outlaws franchise (previously known as the Rum River Mallards) had a player score at least four goals in their season-opener. Cooper Brodzinski scored six in his first game last year, a single-game high mark that remained throughout the entire season.
- The Mallards have registered five or more goals in each of their last four season openers – but their 8-7 loss to the Squatch was the first time they’ve scored that many in an opener and not won.
Steele County Blades
In other Midwest West Division action, the Steele County Blades knocked off the defending division champion Minnesota Blue Ox, 5-2, at Coon Rapids Ice Center on Friday night.
The Blades broke a 1-1 draw open, scoring three middle period goals and carrying a 4-2 lead into the final 20. Noah Lafleur paced the Blades with a hat trick and Brody Ward scored the other two. Levi Preugschas stopped all but two of 41 shots he faced in goal.
- The Blades won their season opener for the second year in a row, and also defeated the Blue Ox in the teams’ first meeting of a season for the second year in a row. The Blue Ox turned the tables in all the remaining meetings of last year.
A Zamboni issue denied the Mullets a chance to open its season on Saturday night against the Blue Ox, but they hit the ice Sunday afternoon for a close win against the Blades. It wasn’t settled until Tyler Ortega sank an empty netter with 68 seconds to play. Both teams scored in the opening period and Jack Eckholm scored the GWG.
- The Mullets celebrated their first win in a season-opener since defeating the Dells Ducks, 4-2, on Sept. 13, 2019.
- For the fourth straight season, the Mullets had three or more different goal-scorers in their season-opener. Their 2018-19 season opener was the last time they had a multi-goal scorer in Game 1.
Midwest East Division
Motor City Gamblers
The Motor City Gamblers were the only Midwest East team in action this past weekend, spending four games at the USPHL Southeast Showcase in Virginia. It was a tough go for a few of their games, but they did earn their first win of the year, a 5-4 shootout victory against the Atlanta MadHatters.
Brian Bell, Jake Mulliins and Shaun Zatelli all scored in the shootout, with Zatelli registering the winner.
- It marked the second time in team history that Motor City had to score three times in a shootout to earn a win. The last was Oct. 21, 2017, when they defeated the Decatur Blaze 5-4 in a shootout (another coincidence).
- That 2017 game also marked the last time Motor City scored a shootout goal until this past Thursday. They only had one other shootout since then, going through three entire seasons (2018-21) without a shootout. They lost 5-4 to Decatur on Oct. 29, 2021, in a shootout and did not score any goals in the 1-on-1 session.