Note: Team records shown in headers indicate recent weekend record only.
Midwest East Division
The new-look Midwest East division held its “soft opening” this past weekend as two expansion teams, the Battle Creek Kernels and Chicago Crush, took the ice for the first time alongside four of the five returning clubs.
MJDP vs. Battle Creek Kernels
If you like defense, Friday night’s game at Mount Clemons Arena was must-see (Hockey)TV.
First blood was not spilt until MJDP’s Robert Grasso (‘04) fired a shot past Battle Creek goaltender Liam Donnelly (‘03) at the 19:20 mark of the second period. Defenseman Jacques Lavrack (‘03) doubled the Jets’ lead with a power play goal at 11:17 in the third before Josh Boze (‘03) added an insurance empty-netter in the game’s final minute. Both netminders looked good in this one. Donnelly stopped 43 of the 45 shots he faced for the Kernels, and MJDP’s Andrew Parmentier (‘04) earned a #ShutoutShoutout with 29 saves. This marked the MJDP’s first-ever season-opening shutout and third straight win to start a season.
Same teams, same time, same place this Friday.
Chicago Crush (1-1)
Fort Wayne got the victory in Chicago’s first-ever USPHL game. Returning leading scorer Noah Maine (‘02) led the charge for the Spacemen, registering 5 points on a hat trick and 2 assists, already building on his 2021-22 All-Star season.
The first installment of the USPHL’s “Chicago Crosstown Classic” was certainly one to remember. Despite being outshot 63-16, the Crush were able to knock off the reigning Midwest East champion Chicago Cougars thanks to an unbelievable 61 save performance from goaltender Liam Rice (‘03).
The Cougars went up early thanks to a goal from ‘05 Kacper Gach at 10:41 in the first, but the Crush quickly responded on the power play. Jonathan Wood (‘04) found the net for the first time in franchise history a minute later, and Finnish-born winger Johan Karjalainen (‘03) put the Crush up 2-1 with a short-handed goal soon thereafter. The Cougars’ Danny Determann (‘02) tied it up in the second, and the game remained 2-2 until just seven minutes remained, when Crush’s Conor Heniff deflected in a shot from fellow ‘05 Spencer Kauke. After Heniff’s go-ahead goal, the Crush rode Rice all the way to the finish line. He made 20+ saves in all three periods.
Where do they go from here? The Crush head east to face the Motor City Gamblers for a pair on Friday and Saturday. The Cougars stay home for three straight against the Decatur Blaze (Friday) and Fort Wayne Spacemen (Saturday and Sunday).
Motor City Gamblers vs. Battle Creek
Motor City walked away with their second victory of the season Saturday night, taking care of Battle Creek in the Kernels’ home opener. This one was close throughout, but Motor City winger Nick Lafornara’s (‘02) was able to score the game-winner with 12 minutes remaining in the thirrd. MCG’s strong offensive output came in thanks to two-goal performances from Shaun Zatelli (‘03), Aidan Canady (‘03), and Jacob Deitsch (‘03). Battle Creek’s Evan Burkle (‘04) kept the Kernels in it by scoring four goals, including the first in franchise history.
As aforementioned, Motor City hosts the Crush and Battle Creek faces MJDP Friday, and then the Decatur Blaze travel in for Saturday and Sunday.
Midwest West Division
Parity has seen frequent lead changes in the USPHL Premier Midwest West Division in past seasons and this year will likely be no different based on results from this past weekend.
Eight of the division’s nine teams have now played meaningful games and after two weeks of play there is only one undefeated team and one winless team out of those eight.
Minnesota Blue Ox (2-0)
The Ox started the weekend at their home Coon Rapids Ice Center. The Outlaws scored the lone first period goal, but the Ox responded with three in both the second and third. Jared Petty (‘03/Elk River, Minn.) scored the first two for the Ox including the game winner, Gabriel Myers (‘04/Des Moines, Iowa) also sinking a pair.
The Blue Ox wrapped up a two-win weekend Sunday at Augsburg University Ice Arena with a 5-2 mark over the Mullets.
Up 1-0 after a period, the Ox got two from Marc Abrego (‘02) 2:19 apart in the middle period to widen the gap to 3-0, the second goal ultimately being the game winner.
- The Blue Ox are much happier with their start this season after going 0-2 their first pair of 2021-22 games.
Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings (2-0)
The season opener for both the Riverkings and Dells Ducks at Lake Delton Ice Arena Friday night saw the Riverkings score two unanswered in the first period and Bryce Cooper (‘04) added the game winner before the Ducks hit the board late in the second of a 5-2 ‘Kings win. Despite the loss, Christopher Mazurek (‘03) kicked out 50 shots in goal for the Ducks.
After the scorefest at their own home opener, the Moose helped the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings open their home schedule with a tighter defensive battle. The Riverkings grabbed a 2-0 first period lead, both teams adding one in the second and the Moose making it interesting with its second goal scored just before the halfway mark of the final period. William Tricarico (‘02) scored the game-winner for the Riverkings 4:17 from the end of the middle period while Lucas Brine (‘02) earned the win in goal, stopping 45 of 47 Moose shots.
The Riverkings are the lone undefeated team in the division with a 2-0 start, not including the Hudson Havoc, who start their season this weekend.
- The Riverkings have now started their last three campaigns with 2-0 records.
Minnesota Moose (2-1)
The Moose scored the first four and never trailed in their weekend-opening 11-7 win against the Squatch, although the lead was trimmed to 5-4 in the third period. Teodor Benno Vaage (‘02/Norway) continued his torrid season opening pace, scoring four goals for the Moose and set up another pair, but it was a group effort with 13 players collecting points in the contest. After a 3-2 win for the Riverkings, the Moose were back in the W column against the Dells Ducks with a 6-1 victory. The Moose wrapped up their busy weekend at the Lake Delton Ice Arena, jumping in front 3-0 in the opening period on its way to a second weekend win. Zach Hutchinson (‘03) scored two goals 10 seconds apart to open the scoring in the first period, the second goal standing up as the game winner. Bridger Fixmer (‘04), in his second game of the weekend, kicked out all but one of the Ducks’ 29 shots. The Moose improved their overall record to 2-2 with the weekend results
Minnesota Squatch (1-1)
The Squatch fell to the Moose at the latter’s home opener at the Fogerty Ice House in Blaine by an 11-7. Jake McAlpine (‘02/Mounds View, Minn.) also scored to continue his own hot start to the season for the Squatch.
Blades 4 @ Squatch 10
The Squatch collected their third win of the season Saturday at Furniture-and-Things Community Event Center in Elk River Saturday coming out of the weekend as the division leader once again.
The Squatch, who have racked up 30 goals in their first four games, carried a 3-1 win out of the opening period and added three more before the Blades hit for its second early in the final frame. McAlpine played a role in seven goals, scoring six and setting up another and situating himself among the league scoring leaders despite playing fewer contests. The Blades followed up an impressive season opening win against the Blue Ox with three defeats.
- At 13 goals this season, McAlpine is leading the way in the Premier in that important category. His six goals against Steele County matched the most scored by any player last year, when Cooper Brodzinski scored six goals in the former Rum River Mallards’ season-opener.
- With the first-year Seattle Totems also leading the Northwest Division, this marks the second year in a row in which two first-year USPHL teams held division leads as of Oct. 5. Last year at the same time, it was the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in the former Atlantic West and the Lake Tahoe Lakers in the Pacific.
Minnesota Mullets (1-1-0-1)
The Mullets kicked off the weekend playing their third straight game on home ice at Augsburg University Ice Arena, and their second straight against the steele County Blades. The Mullets continued their strong start, moving to 3-0 at the time with a 3-1 edge.
Oliver Craft (‘03) fired the game winner 8:02 into the contest and Alex Falkenhagen (‘02) stopped 39 of 40, collecting the win despite a 40-21 edge in shots for the visiting Blades.
The Mullets’ win streak ended the following night at Isanti Ice Arena, but they still collected a point, playing through 65 minutes of regulation and overtime before the Isanti Outlaws clinched a 4-3 win in their home opener.
Easton Parnell (‘03/Cambridge, Minn.) fired the lone goal of the shootout in the second round. After 41 saves through regulation and overtime, Robert Bymers (‘03/Alexandria, Minn.) added another three stops in the shootout for the Outlaws. Falkenhagen turned in another solid effort as well with 36 saves with one more in the shootout.
- Falkenhagen made his third start of the weekend in goal for the Mullets when they fell by a 5-2 score to the Minnesota Blue Ox. He is ninth in the league in minutes played by a goaltender with 245.
Great Lakes Division
Metro Jets (2-0)
The Metro Jets were able to keep their winning streak on a roll this weekend. They remain one of four teams in the league still perfect after playing at least four games.
They started out the weekend playing their division rivals the Toledo Cherokee. Although it was a hard-fought game for the Cherokee, the Jets were able to pull out on top with a 4-1 win. Ugo Lollier and Steven Miller put two on the board for the Jets in the first period. Yarne Vaerewyck and Josh German got another two for Metro and Jason Crossland got the lone goal for the Cherokee.
The Jets then finished off the weekend with a 5-2 win over the Columbus Mavericks. This game was played with a higher levrel of physicality than we have seen from others so far this season. Goal scorers for the Jets were Joey Mocnik, Jadon Barron, Andreas Fleutot, Josh German, and Braydin Lewis. The Mavericks got both of their goals in the first period both from Brandon Kididis.
- The Jets have started at least 4-0 in each of their five seasons in the USPHL. Their first two years saw them go 5-0 before their first loss of any kind, they started 7-0 in 2020-21, and set the league record for best start at 20-0 last year, losing for the first time in mid-November to then-defending National Champions the Charlotte Rush (who are also currently undefeated).
The second game of the weekend was a clear win for the Cherokee over the Wooster Oilers. Nicklas Millhorn got two for the Cherokee, and Kolin Leduc also scored two himself and had two assists. Jason Crossland had a goal and two assists. Will Holden got the only goal for Wooster in the second period.
Brenden Cobb was in net for the Oilers and faced 63 shots.