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USHL notebook: Mac Swanson, Fargo Force on a tear as showdown in Lincoln nears

Swanson is on a seven-game point streak with 15 points in that span.

20221117_Fargo Force vs. Sioux Falls Stampede Cully's Kids Night_022.jpg
Fargo Force forward Mac Swanson (27) skates towards the puck after a face-off while Sioux Falls Stampede defenseman Max Rud (25) looks on in the first period Thursday, November 17, 2022, at the Moorhead Sports Center.
Eli Swanson / The Rink Live

The USHL is firing on all cylinders of late, with all 16 teams playing on the same night last Saturday. That will happen again Friday night for just the second time this season.

Speaking of hot, the Fargo Force takes their eight-game point streak on the road to Lincoln, where the Stars host their Western Conference foe in a battle of two of the top-three teams in points. The Force are 6-0-0-2 during their eight-game run and 7-1-0-2 over its last 10. Lincoln is 12-6-0-0 overall but just has two wins in its last five contests.

Mac Swanson of the Force is on a seven-game point streak with 15 points in that span. But Fargo isn't getting it done just offensively. The Force and Waterloo are the only two teams ranked among the top five in the league in goals for and goals against per game, with Fargo ranked second in both categories and the Black Hawls fifth in goals per game and first in goals against.

Fargo's split-net pairing of Matej Marinov (7-0-0-2, 2.16) and Anton Castro (5-3-0-1, 2.34) are second and third, respectively in goals-against-average in the league. Five weeks ago, Marinov was at 1.92 and Castro at 1.39. Both goaltenders trail GAA leader Jack Spicer of Waterloo, who is a perfect 6-0 on the season and has allowed just eight goals in seven games and sports a 1.27 GAA.

Those three goaltenders are just part of the Western Conference dominance so far as eight of league's top 10 goaltenders are Western Conference players. Fargo, Waterloo and Sioux City each have two netminders in the top 10.

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Not letting it hurt

Lincoln is the third-highest team in the league with 19.9 penalty minutes per game but lead the league in penalty kills at 85.3%. The Stars have allowed just 11 power-play goals this season. Omaha, which leads the league in penalty minutes per game, is second in penalty kills at 84.2%. Tri-City is second in penalty minutes and is at 74.7%, just slightly below the league average of 75.6%.

MORE USHL COVERAGE:
Force and Stars swap players, Cedar Rapids adds Jack Musa and Des Moines makes a pair of deals
The Omaha Lancers deal a pair of NHL picks and two of their captains within the Western Conference
Waterloo's Gavin O'Connell and Ben Robertson were named the USHL Forward and Defenseman of the Week after recording six and five-point weekends
First weekend of February features overtime thrillers and Western Conference race heats up
Ryan Conmy has quietly been one of the USHL's top rookies with 23 goals and 35 points for the Sioux City Musketeers
After being traded from Muskegon to Tri-City on Monday, Jake Richard debuted with his new squad Friday night in Omaha
After watching his mom fight breast cancer as a kid, Tucker Shedd created The Mini Sticks Charitable Organization to help those impacted by cancer
The Green Bay Gamblers and the Omaha Lancers make a deal, Muskegon makes a trio of trades, rookies keep scoring and more.
Tri-City bolsters lineup by adding Muskegon's leading scorer and Sabres' sixth-round pick Jake Richard
USHL wins leader Jack Spicer continues strong rookie season and announces commitment to Nebraska-Omaha

Also on fire

Tri-City's Evan Werner has wasted no time getting on the scoreboard for the Storm. Traded Nov. 16 from Omaha, Werner has scored in each game so far since he joined Tri-City. The reigning USHL Player of the Week is on a five-game goal streak and has seven tallies in that span. Werner had six points last weekend in wins over Sioux Falls and Sioux City. As a Lancer, Werner scored three goals in 14 games before the trade and was a minus-13 on the ice.

Tri-City teammate Cale Ashcroft , along with Madison's Andrew Kuzma , are on six-game point streaks.

Werner has 10 goals and has 17 points on the season. The Storm are 8-9-0-1, 10 points behind of Fargo in the Western Conference and have allowed the second-most goals (75) in the USHL this season. Mirroring its overall record, the Storm are 3-3 over their last six games, but that hasn't had head coach Anthony Noreen overly concerned.

“That’s the only thing we’re worried about at this point in the season, is making sure that there’s forward growth, making sure that there’s progress, making sure that our guys are getting better," Noreen told KSNB-TV in Hastings, Neb., this week.

Head east

The Green Bay Gamblers and the Youngstown Phantoms are playing a two-game series, beginning Thursday night, Dec. 1, in Rochester, New York, as part of the second-annual USHL American Cup Powered by Wegmans. The event also includes a youth tournament for 14U, 15U, 16U and 18U.

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Rob Beer is the digital content manager for Forum Communications. A journalist with Forum Communications since 1991, he is the editor of The Rink Live and assists with Northland Outdoors and other content produced by the company.
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