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Best of the USHL: Spectacular finishes to a hat trick and a shootout-winning goal

Let's not forget the teddy bear toss as we look at the best around the league

Burk 2.jpg
Max Burkholder, a Colorado College commit from Chaska, Minn., scored a hat trick for the Dubuque Fighting Saints on Saturday against the Des Moines Buccaneers.
Contributed / Stephen Gassman / Dubuque Fighting Saints

While the rest of the country was stuffing itself with turkey and gravy, the USHL kept its regular season going with a slew of holiday weekend matchups highlighted by the Waterloo Black Hawks' traditional Thanksgiving matchup — this season against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

Waterloo gave the Young Arena fans who skipped nighttime football four goals to be thankful for, going on to a 4-1 win in the 51st Thanksgiving Day game played in Waterloo. The RoughRiders returned the favor on Saturday night, defeating Waterloo 5-3 at home in Cedar Rapids.

How did he do that?

Since we're talking about two other Iowa-based USHL squads, we might as well touch on the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Sitting squarely in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, the Fighting Saints picked up a pair of overtime wins over the weekend against the Chicago Steel — the Eastern Conference leaders — and the Des Moines Buccaneers.

After an upset win over the Steel on Friday, Dubuque got an outstanding score from Chaska, Minnesota, native Max Burkholder in the extra frame on Saturday night against Des Moines to seal a 4-3 OT win. Burkholder, a Colorado College commit playing in his third season of junior hockey, dipped and dodged his way through the Buccaneers' defense before collecting his own rebound and making a move past the goalie to complete a hat trick and score the third game-winning goal of his USHL career.

The hat trick was the first by a Fighting Saints defenseman since 2019.

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Return of the Mack

There's a reason that Macklin Celebrini is viewed as one of the top prospects available in the 2024 NHL Draft. The Vancouver native and Boston University commit showed some of that flash for the Chicago Steel against Green Bay on Saturday, wiring a puck past the Gamblers' goaltender on the power play.

The 16-year-old has 18 points (11 goals, 7 assists) in 13 games played for Chicago so far this season.

Bear-y nice

Who doesn't love a good teddy bear toss? Cedar Rapids' Martins Lavins was the one to bring the ImOn Ice Arena crowd out of hibernation on Saturday night in the RoughRiders' 5-3 win over Dubuque.

The only thing that could have made it better? A goal review .

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It takes a team

After a loss to Lincoln midweek, the Tri-City Storm rebounded to make the road trip count with a win on Friday at Sioux Falls and a shootout win on Saturday at Sioux City. Tanner Adams got the deciding goal, slamming on the brakes in front of the net and depositing the puck in the shootout and Karlis Mezsargs shut the door on the Musketeers to seal a Tri-City weekend sweep.

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The first of Cornforth

This one isn't pretty, but it's one that Gavin Cornforth won't ever forget. The 15-year-old from Boston went to the paint and found a loose puck to open his junior hockey scoring account and double the Dubuque lead on Saturday night against Des Moines.

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