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Tri-City goaltender Patriks Berzins caps off ‘crazy’ week with 19-save shutout in USHL debut

Latvian goaltender impresses new squad and leads Tri-City Storm to 4-0 win in Omaha

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Patriks Berzins recorded a 19-save shutout Friday night in his USHL debut. Berzins shutout was Tri-City's first by a goaltender this season. The Storm registered 45 shots on goal and scored a pair of third-period goals in a 4-0 win in Omaha.
Jordan McAlpine / The Rink Live

OMAHA, Neb. – It’s been quite the eventful week for Tri-City goaltender Patriks Berzins. After being traded from Danbury (NAHL) to Tri-City, Berzins boarded a plane Monday and joined his new team on the ice Tuesday afternoon.

As if getting from Danbury, Connecticut, to Kearney, Nebraska, wasn’t difficult enough, little did he know what the rest of the week had in store.

A blizzard canceled practice on Wednesday, Berzins practiced through an illness on Thursday and his status for this weekend remained up in the air as of Friday morning.

However, you would’ve never guessed it Friday night as the Latvian goaltender pitched a 19-save shutout in his USHL debut.

“It’s been a crazy week,” Berzins said after the 4-0 win over Omaha. “Joining a new organization, new teammates and you’ve got to get used to everything. But it’s been a great start for me and everyone has been so good to me so far. I’m happy to be here.”

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Patriks Berzins looks through traffic during Tri-City's 4-0 win in Omaha Friday night.
Jordan McAlpine / The Rink Live

On a night where his offensive support was plentiful, Berzins had plenty to be happy about. Tri-City fired 45 shots on Omaha goaltender Kevin Pasche and found the back of the net four times, including twice in the third period.

Although it may have been overshadowed by that offense, Berzins was especially good early and kept it a one-goal game. The Maine commit stopped all six shots he saw in the first period and was able to settle in with his new squad from there.

“I’m excited for Pat and any time you get a new player and he makes an impact in his first game it’s a really good way to endear yourself to your teammates,” Tri-City head coach Anthony Noreen said after the game. “Especially in his case when the guys knew he wasn’t feeling great and he went out and competed and had the game that he did.

“At the end of the day everyone in this room wants to win and when somebody comes in and gives you a chance to win it’s really easy to rally around.”

Tri-City acquired Berzins in a trade earlier this week that sent goaltender Karlis Mezsargs and future consideration the other way.

When asked how the trade came about, Noreen said it was something that had been in the works for a while and both sides simply wanted to make a fair deal.

“I give a ton of credit to Danbury for allowing Patriks this opportunity,” Noreen said. “It’s really easy in our game to say you want to do what’s best for a player, but I believe both sides felt it was good for his development. They did a great job developing him there and we’re looking forward to continuing that development with us.”

Berzins was 1-11-1 with Danbury this season with a .917 save percentage. However, he had been seeing over 40 shots on most nights. The Jr. Hat Tricks own the NAHL’s worst record this season at 2-30-3-2.

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“I don’t look back at it as a bad experience at all and it was great for my improvement and development,” Berzins said of his time in Danbury. “Yeah, I wish we would’ve won more games. But it was great preparation for World Juniors and this level.

“Now I’m happy to be here with Tri-City and this win is a great confidence booster for me.”

He joins a Tri-City team that is 15-13-0-3 and after Friday’s win currently sits fifth in the Western Conference, just two points back of fourth-place Sioux City.

Tri-City’s goaltending has also been a bit of a revolving door this season, something the Storm hope Berzins can solidify.

“We’ve got a young group that’s continued to get better this season,” Noreen said. “We’ve gotten some guys healthy but we’ve still got a couple guys out. And we feel if we can solidify the goaltending position and continue to grow around it, we’ll give ourselves a chance every night.”

Berzins Celebration Shutout.JPG
Tri-City goaltender Patriks Berzins celebrates a 19-save shutout in his USHL debut with defenseman Charlie Kinsman. Photo taken Jan. 20, 2023 at Liberty First Credit Union Arena in Ralston, Neb.
Jordan McAlpine / The Rink Live

Ice chips

  • In a wild finish at Fox Valley Ice Arena, the Waterloo Black Hawks extended their win streak to seven with a 5-4 win over the Steel. Waterloo out-shot Chicago 21-0 over the final 20 minutes and scored four third-period goals, including two in the final minute. The Black Hawks have won three straight games that they trailed by three heading into the third period.
  • Waterloo forward Miko Matikka picked up two assists in his Waterloo debut Friday night. Matikka now has 37 points this season, which ranks fourth in the USHL. Quinn Finley , who Madison also dealt last weekend, had a goal and an assist in that game for Chicago.
  • USNTDP forward Teddy Stiga scored twice and added an assist in a 5-4 win over Muskegon.
  • Fargo forward Kyle Smolen also scored twice and added an assist in Fargo’s 3-1 win over Sioux Falls. The Force have now won three straight and have points in nine straight home games (8-0-0-1).
  • Fargo goaltender Matej Marinov remained unbeaten in regulation this season with 31 saves against the Stampede. Marinov is now 12-0-0-2.
  • Dubuque stretched its win streak to four Friday night with a 2-1 win over Des Moines.
  • Omaha has now dropped five straight (0-4-1-0) after Friday’s loss. The Lancers are also 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 on home ice.
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Jordan McAlpine is a junior and prospects reporter for The Rink Live.
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