USPHL Premier Through The Numbers: Midwest Region

Week of Oct. 20, 2022.  Records Shown Are For Games Played Between Oct. 13-18

By Lexi Obrycki, Jim Den Hollander and Miles Regan

Great Lakes Division 

Toledo Cherokee (2-0) 

Toledo opened their weekend on Friday night in a contest against Cincinnati that was dominated by Toledo, who jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one period and never looked back. Brett LoGelfo and Nicklas Millhorn each had a hat trick and Collin Preston had two. Alexander Atchison got the lone goal for the Cyclones in the third period. 

On Saturday night, Cameron Reel scored for the Cherokee four minutes into the game. The game was very competitive until the end of the first, where Seve Litz scored for the Jets tying it up. At the end of the second, the Jets went on the power play and Andreas Fleutot was able to find the back of the net taking the lead for the Jets. The game was looking like Metro was going to come away with the win, but with a minute left to go in the game, Preston tied it up for the Cherokee sending the game into overtime. 

Just 1:31 into the overtime, Justin Lang took a pass from Brett LoGelfo to put in the deciding goal in the 3-2 win. Frank Murphy earned the win for the Cherokee with 38 saves on 40 shots. 

  • LoGelfo’s 3-2-5 weekend is part of a larger 4-5-9 scoring streak he will carry into his next game. With a 4-3-7 line, Preston has scored in all five of his games played this year so far. Getting in on the scoring streak action, Lang also has 2-3-5 in his last four. 

The Road Ahead: Last year, the Columbus Mavericks and Toledo Cherokee matched up seven times, including two in the playoffs. The series throughout the year between the two teams went decidedly the way of Toledo, who won six of seven and scored 25 goals in the series. Columbus did pick up an OT win on Dec. 4, 2021, 4-3. 


Metro Jets (1-0-1) 

The Jets came away from last Friday with a decisive win against Columbus ahead of their razor-tight match-up against Toledo that, as seen, went the way of the Cherokee in overtime. The Jets have scored five or more goals against each of their opponents not named Toledo so far, while scoring four and three, respectively, in their two games against the Cherokee. 

  • Freddy Soderberg remains undefeated in regulation for Metro, after moving over from the MJDP squad last year. He is 2-0-0-1 with a .936 save percentage and 1.98 goals against average. 
  • Third-year Jet Alex Schaumburger’s scoring streak survived the loss to Toledo, as he stands with 2-5-7 through his last four games. Schaumburger’s five goals this season put him into first all-time for the Jets’ USPHL existence (since 2018-19) with 55 in his career. 
  • Second-year Jet Chad Noetzel has scored in every game so far this year, at 3-8-11 in seven contests. 

The Road Ahead: The Jets have only their first-ever game against the Battle Creek Kernels coming up on Friday evening. This will be both teams’ first non-division game. 


In Other Action 

The Cincinnati Cyclones came back from their loss to the Cherokee to defeat the Buffalo Stampede in the first of a two-game series. The Stampede won the second. 

Cincinnati finished off their 6-2 win thanks in large part to the scoring heroics of USPHL Premier veteran Jordan Winrod, who put up a 2-2-4 line in the game. Winrod has skated in 125 Premier regular season games and has 65 points. 

Sunday’s game was quieter with the scoring for Cincinnati with their only goal coming from Nicholas Sprague early in the third period. Lex Roldan and Anthony Domagola got the three goals for Buffalo, helping them to their 3-1 win.

The Road Ahead: Cincinnati is off from game action until Oct. 29, when they face Columbus on the road and then the next night, they have Toledo at home. 


Midwest West Division 

While most contests in the Midwest West Division this past weekend excited fans of high-powered offense, two classic defensive battles stuck out. Three of four games on Friday (Oct. 14) saw 11 goals scored with the numbers coming down slightly in four more games Saturday. Bucking the trend was a classic defensive battle between the division leading Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings and the host Steele County Blades, the Riverkings capturing thrilling 2-1 edges on the road on both nights.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was the expansion Minnesota Squatch who racked up another 16 goals. The Squatch sit at 5-2 on the season so far with 56 goals scored and 28 allowed.


Isanti Outlaws (2-0)

The Outlaws hit the road to Wisconsin Dells last weekend and counted on some spectacular goaltending to help them get by a hungry Dells team two nights in a row, winning 6-5 in OT and 5-3.

On Friday, the Outlaws held leads of 1-0, 2-1, 4-2 and 5-4 and the Ducks came back on every one, until Easton Parnell (‘03) buried the game winner 1:47 into overtime.

Keanu Mcclanahan (‘05) scored twice in the first game and added another pair, including the game-winner in Saturday’s win. The win pushed the Outlaws to 4-3 on the season after dropping three of its first four.

For the Ducks, Jack Kopfstein (‘05) scored twice on Saturday and Bryce Jacobsen (‘02/Deforest, Wis.) notched a pair Friday. The team’s point collected Friday is the first against a Midwest West Division opponent since Jan. 10, 2021, a 3-1 win against the Outlaws’ predecessor, the Rum River Mallards.

  • Tyler Schmitt, an ‘03 forward for Isanti, is carrying a 6-3-9 scoring line over a five-game scoring streak into this weekend’s game. 

The Road Ahead: The Outlaws have one game this coming weekend against the always tough Riverkings on Sunday. The Riverkings hold a 15-2-0-1 lead in the all-time series.  


Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings (2-0) 

While wide-open offensive battles have been the norm, the Riverkings continue to find success through solid defense and goaltending, with two 2-1 wins over Steele County this weekend being Exhibit A and B. Boosting their record to 6-0, the Riverkings scored eight and seven in earlier games but allowed just 10 goals through its first six games. They remain one of only three teams league-wide undefeated in any situation – regulation, overtime or shootout (joined by the first-year Vernal Oilers and the Metro Jets Development Program). 

Will Tricarico (‘02/East Islip, N.Y.) extended a goal-scoring streak to five games with the first goal Friday and the game-winner Saturday, and Bryce Cooper (‘04/Boise, Idaho) notched the game-winner in the first game.

The games are the first two of the campaign between these two opponents, the Riverkings also taking three of four meetings last season. 

  • The Riverkings are one game short of matching their best start ever, which was 7-0-0-0 in 2017-18. 

The Road Ahead: The Riverkings will stay on the road this weekend with another Friday-Saturday set in Coon Rapids against the defending division champion Blue Ox, who took three of four against the Riverkings last season. In the all-time series, it’s almost dead even, except in points. Both teams have won 11, but the Blue Ox’s 11-9-2-0 record gives them 24 points against the Riverkings’ 11-10-1-0 all-time mark (23 points). 


Minnesota Squatch (2-0)

The Squatch remain monstrous, offensively, putting up 16 goals in two wins – including in a 87-3 win against the defending division champions the Minnesota Blue Ox. After playing four of their first five on home ice, the Squatch hit the road for a pair, but a change of venue had no effect on the team’s explosive offense. It was the second weekend of two straight days in which they’ve posted at least 16 goals (they posted 17 over Sept. 30-Oct. 1). 

On Friday at Augsburg University against the Mullets, the visitors closed in on 70 shots and the offense was led once again by Jake McAlpine (‘02/Mounds View, Minn.), the USPHL Premier’s leading goal-scorer  with 20. Friday was another four-goal night for him and Tanner Weis (‘02/Rogers, Minn.) added two.

On Saturday in Coon Rapids, the Squatch pulled away with three unanswered goals in both the first and second, but the Blue Ox made things closer with the final three of the contests. Daniel Ellingson (‘03/Osseo, Minn.) and McAlpine both scored twice for Squatch, McAlpine running his season total to 20 with at least one in each of the team’s seven games.

  • Like McAlpine, Ellingson also has points in each game, scoring a 7-14-21 line that he’ll bring into the Squatch’s first weekend against the Dells Ducks. 

The Road Ahead: The Squatch take on the visiting Dells Ducks in a pair of games for the first time. 


Hudson Havoc (1-0) 

The Havoc have eased itself into the season, playing just its second game on Saturday, but the squad has been perfect so far, outscoring its two opponents 13-0, including a 5-0 win over the Minnesota Mullets. This is the first year Hudson has ever earned two straight shutouts to open a season. 

This time around, the Havoc got goals from five different shooters and Nate Gulsvig (‘02) stopped all 13 shots he faced.  The busiest player in the contest, by far, was Mullet goaltender Alex Falkenhagen, who stopped 56 shots.

The Road Ahead: The Havoc captured wins in four of five against the Mullets last season (taking one shootout loss), but they have not lost to the Mullets in regulation since 2018-19. The Havoc will put their perfect record on the line this coming weekend on the road against the Blades Friday and finally on home ice against the same Mullets on Saturday.

The Mullets will open the weekend at home against the Moose. 


Minnesota Moose (1-0)

The Moose-Blue Ox rivalry might be the best in the division, matching two teams that are not only geographic rivals, but share some history, entering the USPHL at the same time and never competing anywhere but near the top of the pack.

Both teams have stumbled a bi early on here, by their own standards, but they provided another exciting battle in their first meeting of 2022-23 last Friday, a 6-5 win for the Moose.

The Moose dominated play early scoring three of the first four goals but the Blue Ox cut it to 4-3 by the end of a wild opening period. The Moose win ended a string of three straight wins in the match-up for the Blue Ox last season, the lone Moose win coming in the 2021-22 season opener. Combined with the home loss the following day, that marked the first time the Ox had dropped two in a row since Nov. 19, 2021, at showcase tournament out east.

The Road Ahead: The Moose will look to stay hot with a pair of road tilts against the Mullets and Blades this weekend, while the Blue Ox will have a tough assignment on home ice against the division leading Riverkings. 

  • The Moose are 20-2-1-1 all-time against the Mullets and have won all but one of 25 all-time meetings against the Blades (including two W’s in overtime and shootout). 


Midwest East Division 

The Metro Jets Development Program continues to rule the roost, but the Motor City Gamblers have had one of the best comebacks of any team in the league this year, moving up to first place before taking a recent loss to the MJDP as recently as this past Tuesday night. 


MJDP (3-0-0-0)

The Metro Jets Development Program is perfect through five games. The Jets have three recent victories over Battle Creek, one over Fort Wayne, and one over Motor City to their name. They’ve outscored their opponents 21-7 thus far this season and have been playing their usual brand of well-rounded, disciplined hockey. It took the Kernels three cracks to break the MJDP defense, but they found their stride last Saturday, taking the Jets to overtime before falling 5-4. • Oka Forsberg (‘03) scored the winner for MJDP in that one. The Arizona native has recorded three goals and three assists in his first 5 games as a Jet. He is one of just 3 players on the MJDP roster hailing from outside of Michigan.

  • Goaltending has been the bright spot for the Jets, netminders Andrew Parmentier (‘04) and Taylor White (‘03) have both recorded a shutout against Battle Creek this season. 

The Road Ahead: MJDP will play their fourth of six scheduled matchups against division newcomer Battle Creek on Saturday evening. 


Chicago Crush (2-0)

The Crush are off to a promising start in their first-ever USPHL season. They made themselves known to the division with a 4-2 upset of the Chicago Cougars in their franchise’s second game on October 2nd. Last weekend, the Crush hosted Decatur on Friday and Saturday, and took care of business decisively in both games. Their 8.5 goals per game last weekend silenced any remaining critics of any possible “first timer’s luck” – this team is legit.

  • Finnish-born winger Johan Karjalainen (‘03) currently leads the division in goals scored with seven, and is first in points on the Crush with 11 – six points ahead of his closest teammates. 

The Road Ahead: The Crush host the Chicago Cougars on Friday and Saturday before heading off to the Midwest Showcase in Minnesota next Wednesday. 

  • The Crush beat the Cougars in their first matchup earlier this month on the back of a 61-save performance by netminder Liam Rice (‘03). 


Chicago Cougars (1-0)

The defending division Champion Cougars are off to another solid start in Midwest East play, having accumulated eight points through seven games. Chicago started the season with a pair of victories over Motor City before losing their first-ever matchup with cross-town rivals the Chicago Crush. Most recently, the Cougars defeated Decatur by a decisive measure to remain just two points out of first in the point race, currently enjoyed by the MJDP and Motor City Gamblers in a tie. 

  • Cougar centerman Kevin Maisells (‘02) currently leads the division in points (5-8–13)
  • Third-year Cougar T.J. Haas is on an active four-game scoring streak of 3-3-6, and he’s only missed the scoresheet once this year, racking up 12 points in seven games. Additionally, Cam Schneider is also on a four-game run and has only missed registering offense in one game. He has 3-4-7 and he has shorthanded goals in back-to-back games. 
  • Second-year Premier defenseman Kyle Muhr has assists in his last three straight. Connor Shuckmann has 1-3-4 in his last three straight, 

The Road Ahead: Next up for the Cougars is a Friday-Saturday series at the Crush. They’ll complete their 3-game weekend slate by hosting Decatur on Sunday. Chicago is 2-0 vs. Decatur so far this year after sweeping the Blaze four games to none in the teams’ season series last year. 


Motor City Gamblers (1-1)

The Gamblers sit at second in the division with 10 points through 11 games. This near point-per-game average is the program’s best mark since 2018-19, when they made it all the way to Nationals by way of a 26-18-0-0 record. After making a trip to the USPHL Southeast Showcase in late September, Motor City won four straight games against divisional opponents before dropping Tuesday night’s date with MJDP 5-1. Prior to that, the Gamblers had defeated Fort Wayne, 5-4, in an “instant classic” Sunday evening. 

  • Defenseman Jake Mullins (‘03) scored the winner in that one. He leads the Gamblers blueliners in scoring with 3-9-12 in his 11 games. 
  • Sunday’s victory was Motor City’s first over the Spacemen ever. They were 0-11 in their previous match-ups dating back to 2019. 
  • During their four-game winning streak, the Gambler offense averaged 7.75 goals per game, while their defense surrendered just 3.75 per 60 minutes. 

The Road Ahead: The Gamblers are out of game action this coming weekend, and will play next during a three-game weekend trip to Fort Wayne from October 28-30. 


In Other Action

The Fort Wayne Spacemen (3-2-0-0 overall) started out 3-0, but fell in their two recent games in Michigan against MJDP and Motor City. They’ll hope for better fortunes in Decatur, when they face the Blaze on Friday and Saturday. The Spacemen are 10-1-0-2 against Decatur going back to the 2020-21 season. 

  • Defenseman Noah Maine (‘02) registered a 2-5-7 line in four games against Decatur a year ago. 


Drop The Pucks!