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USHL Rink Report: Storm keep winning, Phantoms on a roll,and Waterloo at Fargo headlines busy upcoming week

Storm run win streak to eight, Phantoms sweep Gamblers and best in the west set to square off in Fargo

Fargo forward Tanner Walos (13) celebrates after scoring against the Des Moines Buccaneers Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, at Scheels Arena. Fargo owns the USHL's best home win percentage at .792. The Force will host Waterloo for three games this Thursday through Saturday.
Eli Swanson / The Rink Live

The Rink Live’s Jordan McAlpine provides the USHL’s Rink Report. Take a look back at the weekend that was, what’s ahead and various other news and notes from around the USHL.

Weekend review

*Home teams in bold*

Thurs. March 2
Youngstown 3, Green Bay 2

Fri. March 3
Youngstown 5, Green Bay 4 SO
Dubuque 4, Muskegon 3 OT
Tri-City 5, Des Moines 4
Lincoln 5, Omaha 1
USNTDP 8, Madison 5
Fargo 4, Sioux City 3
Waterloo 3, Sioux Falls 2
Cedar Rapids 3, Chicago 1

Sat. March 4
Tri-City 4, Des Moines 2
Lincoln 4, Omaha 3 SO
Fargo 5, Sioux Falls 4
Cedar Rapids 1, Waterloo 0
Muskegon 4, Dubuque 3 OT
USNTDP 8, Madison 1


Sun. March 12
Sioux Falls 4, Sioux City 2

Stick taps

Jaksen Panzer, F, Sioux Falls
The North Dakota commit scored four goals and added two assists over three games last week. He was also a plus-4 and registered 11 shots on goal over Sioux Falls’ three games. Panzer scored twice in Sunday's road win over the Musketeers.

The Grand Forks native has 11 goals and 19 points in 47 games this season. His 11 goals are tied for fourth on the Sioux Falls roster.

Panzer racks up six points in three games while Cedar Rapids goaltender Sam Scopa records his first USHL shutout

Graham Gamache, F, Tri-City
Gamache is second on Tri-City’s roster with 16 goals. His latest was a huge one as Gamache netted the game-winner with 36 seconds left Friday night in Des Moines. Tri-City climbed back from a 3-0 deficit in the win.

The Minnesota State commit scored twice on Friday and added an assist on Saturday, giving him 44 points through 47 games. Tri-City has won eight straight and the Storm have a nine-game point streak. The Storm come into this week fourth in the Western Conference, just two points behind Lincoln.

Zam Plante, F, Fargo
Plante endeared himself to his new squad Saturday night with two goals and an assist. Plante also picked up his first point in a Fargo sweater Friday night with an assist. The UMD commit has played four games with the Force since being acquired on Feb. 27.

Sam Scopa, G, Cedar Rapids
Scopa made 35 saves in a 1-0 win at Waterloo on Saturday and recorded his first USHL shutout in the process. The rookie goaltender has stopped 74 of the 76 shots fired his way over his last three starts. He’s 2-0-0-1 in that stretch.


What’s on tap

The week starts early once again as two games are on the schedule Thursday; Waterloo at Fargo, and Youngstown at Dubuque. This weekend’s slate features 20 games overall, finishing up with a trio on Sunday.

To view the complete schedule, click here. To view the current USHL standings, click here.

Without further ado, here’s a look at some of the top games on the docket.

Waterloo (31-16-1-0) at Fargo (35-8-2-3), Scheels Arena, Thurs. — Sat. March 16-18, 7:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m. and 6:05 p.m.

The top two teams in the Western Conference will meet three times this weekend in Fargo. The Force are the lone USHL club to clinch a playoff spot and currently hold a 12-point lead atop the Western Conference.

Fargo has points in 15 straight (13-0-2-0) games. However, the two blemishes are a pair of overtime losses to Waterloo.

Waterloo has won two of the previous three matchups between the two teams this season and the Black Hawks come in with points in seven of their last 10 (6-3-1-0).

Youngstown (29-15-4-1) at Dubuque (25-17-5-1), Dubuque Ice Arena, Thurs. and Fri. March 16 & 17, 7:05 p.m. both nights


Two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference will also meet this weekend in northeast Iowa. Dubuque has points in seven (5-0-2-0) straight while the Phantoms have won eight of their last 10. Dubuque is also 8-2-0-0 in its last 10 at home.

Youngstown is coming off an impressive three-game sweep of Green Bay and the Phantoms have climbed to second in the standings, just three points back of Chicago.

Youngstown has also played one fewer game. Four pivotal points are on the line in Dubuque this weekend.

Cedar Rapids (24-17-4-3) at Des Moines (18-22-5-3), Buccaneer Arena, Sun. March 18, 3:05 p.m.

Up until this past weekend, the Buccaneers had been on a roll at home as of late. They’ll look to get back on track Sunday afternoon against Cedar Rapids. The Buccaneers are 0-2 against their in-state rival this season.

Des Moines is currently one point back of Sioux Falls and Sioux City, who are tied for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Buccaneers will look to get back in the top six against Lincoln on Friday and a surging Cedar Rapids team on Sunday.

The RoughRiders are 5-0-0-1 in their last six and 6-3-0-1 in their last 10. They’re coming off wins over two of the USHL’s top teams this past weekend too in Chicago and Waterloo.

Owen Mehlenbacher and Zam Plante are two of the Force's latest acquisitions from the in-season trade market.
USHL issues nine suspensions while several teams will try to join Fargo and Waterloo as playoff locks this weekend
Chicago's Harvey becomes franchise goal leader, Waterloo's Croteau continues stellar play with back-to-back wins in Fargo and Green Bay's Artyom Levshunov named USHL DOTW for second time this season
Black Hawks snaps Fargo's 17-game point streak and clinch a playoff spot while the Musketeers put an end to Tri-City's eight-game win streak
Despite preseason unknown, Gamblers turn culture and four core values into success
Storm on the rise, RoughRiders on a roll and top teams set to square off in Fargo
Capitols relieve head coach Corey Leivermann and his staff of their duties. Tom Gilbert, Dominic Zombo and Ryan Galt take over behind Madison bench
Forward Gavin O’Connell becomes Waterloo’s latest Michigan State commit while the USHL announces playoff format and suspensions
UND commit Jayden Perron headlines USHL Players of the Week after nine-point showing for the Chicago Steel
The committee upheld a ruling that Egor Barabanov didn’t play in 50% of the team’s games, a requirement for player postseason eligibility in ice hockey. He had a 10-game stint with Sioux Falls.


Ice Chips

  • Madison announced on Monday that head coach and general manager Corey Leivermann, and assistant coaches Gaven Bickford and Ross Kovacs have been relieved of their coaching duties. Former NHL defenseman Tom Gilbert will take over as the interim head coach for the remainder of this season.
  • The USHL has suspended Omaha forwards Ryan Kusler (checking from behind) and Drew Montgomery (head contact), along with Sioux Falls forward Sam Harris. Both Harris and Montgomery received one game while Kusler’s suspension is still being reviewed.
  • Green Bay forward Jayson Shaugabay was named Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey on Sunday, which is given out annually to the top senior hockey player in the state. Shaugabay posted 96 points at Warroad High School this season. He’s set to join the Gamblers this weekend. Shaugabay played 14 games for Green Bay before his high school season.
    Shaugabay, a senior captain, posted 96 points this season for the Warriors and has over 300 throughout his four years on varsity.
  • Tri-City forward Trevor Connelly and USNTDP forward Ryan Leonard are both riding USHL-best nine-game point streaks. Tri-City forward Dane Dowiak is also on an eight-game point streak.
  • Chicago’s Macklin Celebrini has reached the 70-point mark and continues his phenomenal rookie season. Celebrini has 71 points in 42 games. He also leads the USHL with 40 goals.
  • Youngstown goaltender Jacob Fowler has won 14 of his last 16 starts, including three straight. Fowler leads the USHL with 21 wins. His .921 save percentage is also tied for the league lead.
  • Dubuque forward Max Montes scored twice and added an assist on Friday, bringing his season goal total to 18. Montes’ 18 goals rank second on the Dubuque roster.
  • Lincoln owns the USHL’s best penalty kill at 84.7%. The Stars were a perfect 7-for-7 Saturday in Omaha.

Jordan McAlpine is a junior and prospects reporter for The Rink Live.
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