By Jim Den Hollander, Lexi Obrycki and Miles Regan / USPHL.com
(Records are for games from Oct. 19-25)
Midwest West Division
(Summaries By Jim Den Hollander)
The Hudson Havoc may have arrived a little late to the USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division party this season, starting in October, but the team hit the floor with all the right moves and can dance in celebration after a near flawless start to the campaign. The team is not only off to a perfect 4-0 on the season – doubling with wins over Steele County and the Minnesota Mullets – but it also put up a shutout span of 210:38. They only just allowed their first goal halfway through Saturday’s 6-1 win their home opener at Hudson Sports and Civic Center.
As a result, the Havoc will enter the division’s first Showcase event of the season in Blaine – the USPHL Midwest Showcase – through the upcoming weekend as the division’s lone undefeated squad.
Hudson Havoc (2-0-0-0)
Nate Gulsvig (‘02) handled the work in the blue paint in both games for Hudson, picking up his second shutout along with his second and third wins of the campaign. He has teamed up with Paul Cassin (‘03/Horner Glen, Ill.) to combine on the four wins.
- The Fargo, N.D., native Gulsvig is No. 1 in the Premier among goalies with at least 180 minutes played, as he has posted a 0.33 goals against average and a .977 save percentage.
- The Havoc collected two wins on successive Saturdays against the Mullets and were 4-1 against them in regular season play last season, also taking two of three in the postseason. Dating back to the 2020-21 season, the Havoc have an edge of 11-2.
The Road Ahead: The Havoc start out the with facing the top two Mountain Division teams in the Utah Outliers and Ogden Mustangs – both for the first time. Both are formidable, as Utah is 9-0-0-1, and the Mustangs are 8-2-0-0. As if that wasn’t enough, they face Midwest West and in-state Wisconsin rivals the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, who stand at 7-2-0-0. The Riverkings hold a commanding 16-2-1-1 series lead against Hudson all time.
Minnesota Moose (2-0-0-0)
The previous weekend may have been a turning point for the Moose who have built on a big win against the Minnesota Blue Ox with a pair of wins this past weekend, against the Mullets on Friday and the Blades on Saturday, both on the road.
A 16-goal weekend saw eight different goal scorers including three each for John Becker (‘03) who fired the opening goal in both contests; Norway’s Teodor Benno Vaage (‘02), who fired a hat trick against the Mullets; and ‘03 Cameron Dunn. Benno Vaage and Charlie Krause (‘02) collected the game-winners and the Moose boosted their overall record to 6-3.
- Both the Blades and Mullets were facing off against the Moose for the first time this season. In recent seasons, the Moose have a record of 10-2 against the Mullets and they have 20 straight wins against the Blades dating back to the 2018-19 season.
- Logan Lake (‘02) has posted a goal and seven assists in scoring over every one of his last four games. The fourth-year Moose already leads the organization all-time in defenseman points (77) and games played (115).
- First-year Moose Ryan Mulrenin (‘02), who brings prior season NCDC experience to the Moose, is on a red-hot 5-5-10 point streak over his last four games.
The Road Ahead: The Road Ahead: Similar to the Havoc, the Moose draw the Utah Outliers and Ogden Mustangs, in addition to the first-year Idaho Falls Spud Kings, all first-time match-ups for the Moose.
Minnesota Squatch (2-0-0-0)
The division’s highest scoring squad took on the struggling Ducks who entered the series with just 11 goals scored in seven games. The mighty Squatch did take a series sweep but in the opening contest, but got a tougher test from the Ducks than may have been expected. In the opening contest, the Ducks held leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before the Squatch took over and
pulled away, turning a 4-4 tie late in the second into a 9-5 win.
On Saturday, the Squatch held the Ducks off the board until the final period and cruised to a 7-2 victory.
- The wins stretched the latest streak to four games for the Squatch who now sit at 7-2 overall.
- The Squatch were led once again by ‘02 Shoreview native Jake McAlpine with six goals to push his now league-leading totals to 25 goals and 36 points, including goals in all nine contests.
- Not far behind is ‘03 Osseo-born Daniel Ellingson, who had four goals on the weekend and is second in league scoring with 30 points; and fellow Osseo native Jack Pojar, an ‘02 who sank three goals.
The Road Ahead: The Squatch have a Showcase showdown in Blaine against the Dells Ducks, in the middle of first-time match-ups against the Idaho Falls Spud Kings and the Battle Creek Kernels.
Isanti Outlaws (1-0-0-0)
The Outlaws played just once on the weekend, an impressive 6-3 win against the Riverkings in the lone division contest on Sunday. The Outlaws never trailed in the contest, its fourth straight win. Easton Parnell (‘03/Cambridge, Minn.) and Keanu McClanahan (‘05) both scored twice in the contest, McClanahan’s goals coming 22 seconds apart in the third period and the first one standing up as the game-winner.
The Outlaws also held the Riverkings’ Tricarico off the sheet for the first time in eight contests. • The Outlaws are now fourth in points (10) and fifth in winning percentage (.625), enjoying their best start after eight games since going 6-1-1-0 in 2019-20 as the Rum River Mallards.
- Tyler Schmitt is on a 6-6-12 points streak since Oct. 1, a stretch of six games.
- Goaltender Robert Bymers is on a three-game winning streak in which he has seen no less than 46 shots in any one of those contests. He’s stopped 146 of 154 shots since Oct. 8, good for a .961 save percentage.
The Road Ahead: The Outlaws start with Game 1 of the showcase on Wednesday afternoon against the Minnesota Mullets. Isanti recently defeated the Mullets, 4-3, in a shootout on Oct. 1. The Mullets have a slim 13-7-2-2 lead in the all-time series, while against the Dells Ducks (Thursday’s foe), the Outlaws have won all but two of their 14 all-time meetings. It was Oct. 12, 2018, the last time the Outlaws – then the Mallards – faced the Chicago Cougars, defeating Chicago 5-4 in overtime. Friday will also see their first-ever meeting with the first-year Chicago Crush.
Minnesota Blue Ox vs. Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings (1-1)
Coming off a rare two-loss weekend, the Blue Ox faced a challenge with the division-leading (previously 6-0) Riverkings coming to town.
An exciting series saw the Blue Ox responding to an early deficit with two goals in the second half of the opening period and a clincher in the third to end the Riverkings’ season-opening streak with a 3-1 win.
- Tommy Babb (‘04/Andover, Minn.) fired both the game-winning and insurance goals for the Ox in the first game.
- The Riverkings’ Will Tricarico (‘02/East Islip, N.Y.) kept alive a six-game scoring streak with the lone goal for the Riverkings, also adding another the following night, the overtime game winner.
- The meetings were the first two between the perennial upper half rivals who bring out the best in each other. Since the 2018-19 season the series is nearly even, the Ox with a 10-9 edge. The Ox have also captured wins in four of five playoff contests.
The Road Ahead: The Blue Ox took a 4-1 loss to the Ogden Mustangs at last year’s Islanders Hockey Club Showcase. They’ll have their second meeting against them, and their first against the new Chicago Crush and the Utah Outliers. They also face the Chicago Cougars, against whom they last played on Dec. 23, 2018 and won 5-1.
The Riverkings have the Cougars, Mustangs, Havoc and Outliers on tap for the showcase. They’ve seen the Cougars almost as much as anyone in their own division, and have an all-time record of 11-5-0-0 against the Windy City crew. They have not seen the Outliers and Mustangs before this year.
Great Lakes Division
(Summaries By Lexi Obrycki)
Toledo Cherokee (2-0-0-0)
The Cherokee had a home-and0home weekend sweep against the Columbus Mavericks. This was the first matchup this year between these teams. The last time these teams faced off was last year in the playoffs when the Cherokee knocked the Mavericks out of the running for Nationals.
Friday night’s game showed the competitiveness Columbus can bring to games, Hunter Gents got the first goal of the night, putting the Mavericks on the board first. Ryan Stanley answered for the Cherokee tying the game up. Ten minutes into the second period, Piercen Gargia got another one for Columbus to take the lead. Ryan Stanley got his second for night on the powerplay tying the game up for a second time. Just sixteen seconds after the goal from Stanley, Jason Crossland found the back of the net, scoring the game-winning goal for Toledo. Kyle Diehr was in net for Columbus and had 38 saves for the night.
Saturday night’s game was dominated by the Cherokee, showing the reason why they are in first place for the Great Lakes Division in points with 16 (8-1-0-0). Jason Crossland and Nicklas Millhorn had two goals and two assists apiece. Brandon Kididis got the lone goal for Columbus which was a powerplay goal.
- The second-year veteran Millhorn has shown his leadership through scoring points in every singles game this year, for a 12-9-21 line in eight games, as he looks to continue that streak against the Jets the next two weekends, as well as Cincinnati this Saturday.
- Including their Oct. 15 defeat of the Jets, the Cherokee’s goalie Frank Murphy is on a 3-0 winning streak with a 1.50 goals against average and .931 save percentage.
- Newcomer Collin Preston has registered points in every one of the seven games he’s played, posting a 5-6-11 line, an impressive active scoring streak for the ‘03 forward.
- Also new to the Cherokee, Jacob Ammar (‘03) is on fire with a 4-9-13 line in his last six games. In eight games, he’s missed the scoresheet only once and sports 14 points through eight contests.
The Road Ahead: As mentioned, the Cherokee and Jets will play the next two Fridays, but between those contests, the Cherokee will also face the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones. These teams have played each other twice this year with Toledo winning both of them. In those two games, the Cherokee have averaged 10 goals per game. Toledo owns a 6-0-0-0 record in the all-time series against Cincinnati.
Metro Jets (1-0-0-0)
The Jets traveled to Battle Creek on Friday to play their first game ever against the first-year Battle Creek Kernels. New to the Jets maybe, the Kernels have already faced the Metro Jets Development Program four times, all ending in MJDP wins.
- The Jets defeated the Kernels 7-0, giving Dylan Eliason his first junior hockey shutout. Eliason is 4-0-0-0 with a 0.84 goals against average and a .968 save percentage, both good for second among goalies with at least 180 minutes played.
- Third-year ‘02 Jet Alex Schaumburger, a third-year center, got two goals and an assist. He is currently the leading goal-scorer for Metro, with eight goals, and he’s posted a 4-6-10 active scoring streak over his last five games.
- When returning Jet Chad Noetzel (‘02) scored the final goal against Battle Creek, he gave himself points in every game so far this year, for a still active 4-8-12 scoring streak through eight games.
- Battle Creek had Liam Connelly and Anders Smith in net for them who combined, faced 80 shots.
The Road Ahead: The Jets and Cherokee get back together again the next two Fridays, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4. They each have a win against each other this year, the most recent being Toledo’s 3-2 win on Oct. 15. The Jets hold a commanding 24-2-2-0 all-time series lead.
Midwest East Division
(Summaries By Miles Regan)
Chicago Cougars (3-0-0-0)
The defending champions once again sit atop the Midwest East. The Cougars gained the upper hand in their crosstown series with the Chicago Crush, defeating their new neighbors on Friday and Saturday. They followed up that two-game sweep by handling the Decatur Blaze squad on Sunday. Chicago outscored their opponents 17-3 this weekend.
- Cougar Centerman Kevin Maisells (‘02) leads the division in points scored by a forward. He’s got 16 (6-10–16) through 10 games.
- Third-year Cougar T.J. Haas (‘03) remains on his hot streak, posting a 4-4-8 line in his last six games played for a total of 14 points in nine games. Cam Schneider (‘04) is also on his hot streak, with 4-6-10 through six contests, carrying that active streak forward. Newcomer Kacper Gach (‘05) is also on a scoring streak of 1-7-8 in five games.
The Road Ahead: The Cougars will spend the coming week in Blaine, Minnesota, competing in the USPHL Midwest Showcase. They’ll play four games against Midwest West teams from Thursday to Sunday
- Chicago won just one game in four tries against their first Showcase opponent, Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, last season. Both teams have recorded 14 points in the standings this year, so expect another tight game between the two.
- They’ll also play another pair of point-per-game plus squads in the Minnesota Blue Ox and Isanti Outlaws. They haven’t faced either team since 2018.
Fort Wayne Spacemen (2-0-0-0)
Another weekend’s worth of wins for the Spacemen. Their road trip to Central Illinois resulted in two exciting victories, defeating Decatur 6-5 in a shootout Friday night, and following that up with a 4-2 win on Saturday.
- Noah Maine (‘02) continues to shine for FWS. His 16 (7-9–16) points lead all Midwest East blueliners, and he’ll look to keep it up against a Motor City squad he recorded five points against in just three games last season.
- Blueliner Sam Tetreault (‘02) registered an assist to extend his scoring streak to all six games he’s played this year and stand with a 2.00 points per game average with a line of 2-10-12.
The Road Ahead: Fort Wayne will spend the coming weekend at their home rink, hosting Motor City from Friday through Sunday.
- The Gamblers got the best of the Spacemen in the teams’ first matchup this season, a 5-4 MCG victory on Oct. 16, Motor City’s first-ever win against the Spacemen in 13 meetings.
- Fort Wayne swept the regular season series 4-0 last season. A sweep this weekend would guarantee at least a tie this year, as the two teams are still scheduled to meet twice in the 2023 portion of the schedule.
The Metro Jets Development Program remains perfect through six games. They visited Battle Creek and got the “W“ over the Kernels in their only game last weekend. Along with scoring 13 goals (their most since 2020-21), they also continue to be incredible on the defensive side.
- MJDP’s defense has been stout as ever this season. They’ve surrendered just seven goals through six games.
- Goaltender Taylor White (‘03) put together a 24-save shutout in MJDP’s sole game last weekend. It was his second clean sheet against Battle Creek this season. He is tied for first in the league in save percentage with a .977 mark.
- Oka Forsberg’s hat trick against Battle Creek doubled his goal total and set him at a goal per game pace this year with a 6-3-9 line in six games.
The Road Ahead: The MJDP will spend the coming weekend at home, hosting the Decatur Blaze on Friday and Saturday.
- This weekend’s games will be MJDP’s first against Decatur this year. The Jets took the regular season series 5-1 a year ago.
Drop The Pucks!