By Jim den Hollander, Miles Regan and Lexi Obrycki / USPHL.com
Midwest West Division
The latest action in the Midwest-West Division resulted in a change at the top of the division and the final team to start their 2022-23 season, giving us the first weekend to see all nine teams in action. The Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings remain undefeated with four straight wins.
Records Are From The Last Seven Days Only
Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings (2-0)
At 4-0-0-0, the Riverkings’ 2022-23 season pulled into a four-way tie with 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2020-21 for matching 4-0 starts. Over six seasons, this great start has been the norm rather than the exception. In the weekend opener, Friday’s 7-3 win against the Dells Ducks, the Ducks scored one in each period and the difference was three goals for the Riverkings in both the
first and final periods. William Tricarico (‘02) fired a pair and set up two to pace the Riverkings’ attack and Ethan Dominy (‘03) a goal and three helpers. The following night, the Riverkings scored four unanswered third period goals to pull away from the Moose for a second week in a row. Tobias Skogstad-Falkeid notched a pair for the Riverkings, while Cole Cuppolo (‘03) and Great Britain’s Ewan Hill (‘02/Great Britain) both collected three assists.
The Road Ahead: Wisconsin Rapids travels to Owatonna, Minn., to face the Steele County Blades for two Friday and Saturday.
Hudson Havoc (1-0)
The Havoc entered league play Saturday, but looked in midseason form racking up a big shutout win on the road against the Ducks. Returning veterans Patrick Noonan (‘02) and Harout Torosian (‘02) both fired a pair to lead the Havoc and Paul Cassin (‘03) stopped all 17 shots he faced in goal for the Havoc. It was the Havoc’s fourth straight season-opening win, not having suffered an “L” in Game 1 since 2018-19.
The Road Ahead: It’s a single game weekend once more, as the Havoc travel to St. Paul, Minn., for a tilt against the Minnesota Mullets.
Steele County Blades (1-0)
The Blades opened the season with four straight on the road and looked to their home opener as a way to snap a three-game losing streak. Mission accomplished in a 5-1 win against Isanti. Noah Lafleur (‘03) led the charge firing the game’s first two goals, the second standing up as the game-winner. In net, Levi Preugschas (‘03) stopped all but one of 29 Outlaws shots.
The Road Ahead: The home team Blades bring the Riverkings in for a Friday-Saturday series.
Minnesota Blue Ox (1-0)
The Abrego brothers of Anchorage, Alaska, helped the Blue Ox pull away in their 3-1 thriller against the Mullets. Mike Abrego (‘04) broke a 1-1 tie with the game winner 1:44 into the final period and brother Marc Abrego (‘02) supplied some insurance with his goal 5:46 from the buzzer. The win was the third straight for the Blue Ox, two of them coming against the Mullets.
The Road Ahead: The Blue Ox face the Moose away on Friday, and host the Minnesota Squatch on Saturday.
Isanti Outlaws (1-1)
The Outlaws came off the wrong end of a 5-1 score against Steele County Friday to rebound with a 6-2 victory at the Minnesota Squatch’s home rink Saturday. In doing so, they avenged an 8-7 loss against the Squatch in the season opener Sept. 23, led by Tyler Schmitt (‘03) from nearby Big Lake, Minn., who fired all three goals as the visiting Outlaws carried a 3-1 lead out of the first period. His third goal, scored 2:24 from the first period horn, was the game winner. Jake McAlpine scored the second Squatch goal, his 1 th of the season, running his goal-scoring streak to all six games so far this season.
The Road Ahead: The Outlaws visit the Dells Ducks’ Poppy Waterman Arena for two games Friday and Saturday.
Minnesota Moose (1-1)
The Moose rebounded in a big way from their tough defeat against the Riverkings, by putting up a 3-0 shutout win on the Dells Ducks. Both goaltenders dominated this contest – Finn Willson (‘04) kicking out every one of the 36 shots Ducks fired at him, while the Dells’ Cooper Oakes, an ‘04 local product from Reedsburg, Wis., stopped all but three of 45 Moose chances. Willson’s shutout came in his second career junior game and Oakes was making his first start after coming on in relief the previous evening.
The Road Ahead: It’s a big rivalry Friday Night coming up as the Moose face the Minnesota Blue Ox on the Fogerty Ice Arena home sheet.
Midwest East Division
The division table is starting to take shape after another week of action in the Midwest East. Here’s a recap of each squad’s weekend, including their record from the weekend.
Motor City Gamblers (2-0)
Motor City extended its win streak to three games with a weekend sweep of Chicago Crush, improving to a division-leading 4-5-0-0. Defenseman Aidan Canady (‘03) tallied an impressive seven assists over the pair of games four of which came during the Gamblers’ 7-4 victory Friday night. Canady currently leads the team with 10 points (2-8–10) on the season. The weekend’s other key performance came from goaltender Robert Allport (‘03), who got his first #ShutoutShoutout on Saturday, saving all 25 shots he faced.
The Road Ahead: Remaining at their home Big Boy Arena, the Gamblers will take on the Fort Wayne Spacemen Sunday evening at 6 p.m., followed by a Tuesday late night showdown with Detroit-area rivals the MJDP at 9:15 p.m.
Fort Wayne Spacemen (2-0)
Much like Motor City, Fort Wayne also swept a Chicago-based team to extend their win streak to three games over the weekend. The Spacemen opened the weekend with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory against the Cougars, as third period tallies from Noah Takitani (‘03) and Thomas Turgeon (‘04) flipped a one-goal deficit in Fort Wayne’s favor. Both goals were the first of the year for their respective scorer, and Turgeon’s came while shorthanded. Sunday’s matinee rematch saw a 6-5 FWS victory in the tightest game of the season thus far. Fort Wayne led 5-2 after the 1st thanks to goals from RJ Rollman (‘03), Logan Robins (‘02), Antoine Fournier (‘03), and 2 goals from leading scorer Noah Maine (‘02).
Chicago answered with three straight goals, and the game was deadlocked at 5-5 until Antoine Fournier got loose in the slot. The Quebecois centerman threw a shot at the Cougar net which deflected in off of a defender’s skate. Goaltender Nick Reed (‘02) got the Spacemen to the finish line in the third, entering the game for the final 20 minutes and stopped all 10 Cougar shots he saw. Going back to Dec. 10-11, 2021, this was the Spacemen’s second straight weekend sweep of the perennial Midwest East powerhouse Cougars.
The Cougars had opened the weekend with a 6-1 victory over Decatur on Friday. Five Cougars
registered multiple points in that one, and goaltender Sebastian Wigfield saved 32-33
Blaze shots for an impressive .970 save percentage.
The Road Ahead: Fort Wayne is Motown-bound, playing the MJDP on Friday and the Motor City Gamblers on Sunday, a showdown which might decide who’s in first place this time next week.
The Metro Jets Development Program’s second game of the season looked a lot like their first: a 3-0 victory over the Battle Creek Kernels. The team’s leading scorer, defenseman Josh Boze (‘03), was the catalyst offensively Friday night. Boze (2-2–4) broke a 0-0 tie in the third with his second goal of the season before recording assists on the Jets’ other two tallies of the game, which came off the sticks of Lukas Nies and Alek John (‘04). Goaltender Taylor White (‘03) played well in his first start of the season, earning MJDP their second straight #ShutoutShoutout with 25 saves made. The Jets’ penalty kill was a perfect 6/6 against the Kernels.
The Road Ahead: MJDP takes on Fort Wayne Friday, Battle Creek once again on Saturday, and then there’s the aforementioned late night showdown with the Gamblers on Tuesday.
Battle Creek Kernels (2-1)
Battle Creek fell to MJDP 3-0 on Friday before earning their first victory in franchise history against Decatur on Saturday, Oct. 8, and also earned their first weekend sweep. The Kernels defeated the Blaze 4-3 in OT thanks to an unassisted overtime goal from Will Haggerty (‘03). BCK also took Sunday’s rematch with Decatur 7-3. They outshot the Blaze 56-32 in that one, and Max Hoffman (‘03) led a consistent attack with two goals. Homegrown forward Evan Burkle (‘02) leads the team with six points (5-1–6) through five games.
The Road Ahead: It’s only a Saturday game against already familiar foes MJDP at 7 p.m. at the home The Rink at Battle Creek.
Toledo Cherokee (1-0)
The Cherokee faced the Wooster Oilers on Friday night on home ice. It was a big night for Captain Nicklas Millhorn, who finished the game with four goals and an assist. Jason Crossland and Brett LoGelfo had a goal and two assists. Dominik McNamara helped set up some plays and got three assists which helped the Cherokee win the game.
The Road Ahead: First, they play host to the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones on Friday, before renewing their rivalry with the Metro Jets on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Mount Clemens, Mich.
Columbus Mavericks (2-0)
The Mavericks started turning this around this season with getting the weekend sweep. They started off their weekend with their home opener on Friday night. The first period was quiet with one goal coming from Jake LaMaster. The game played out to be a physical one on both sides of the ice but that didn’t stop the Mavericks from putting the puck in the net. Brandon Kididis, who leads the team in goals and points, finished the night with a hat trick. Columbus then traveled to play the Cyclones again on Sunday which was another physical game between the two teams.
Carson Johnston and Piercen Garcia started the game off for the Mavericks in the first. Tyler Mason got one for the Cyclones in the beginning of the second to cut the lead in half for the Mavericks and try and get something going for his team, but Columbus didn’t back down. The scored six more that game with two of them coming again from Carson Johnston and Piercen Garcia.
The Jets played the Cyclones at home on Saturday. This was one of the more physical games that we have seen this season but that didn’t stop the Jets from putting the puck in the net. Yarne Vaerewyck and Ugo Lollier each had two goals, and Alex Schaumburger and Chad Noetzel put up a goal and two assists each.
The Road Ahead: The Jets have the aforementioned Saturday rivalry game with the Cherokee on the docket.