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USHL Rink Report: Tri-City sweeps Fargo, Phantoms close gap out east and two more teams clinch playoff spots

Storm impress with three-game sweep of Fargo and prepare for pivotal mid-week game in Lincoln, while the Steel and Phantoms battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference

Jacob Fowler.jpg
Youngstown goaltender Jacob Fowler pictured earlier this season during the Cleveland Classic. Fowler leads the USHL in wins (23), shutouts (5), save percentage (.922) and GAA (2.29). The Boston College commit has won 10 of his last 12 starts, including two this past weekend.
Contributed / Youngstown Phantoms, Msfilms

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*

Fri. March 24
Muskegon 4, Cedar Rapids 2
Sioux City 4, Lincoln 3 SO
Youngstown 6, Madison 1
Tri-City 7, Fargo 3
Waterloo 3, Des Moines 2
NTDP 5, Dubuque 2
Green Bay 4, Chicago 3

Sat. March 25
Lincoln 5, Sioux City 2
Sioux Falls 5, Des Moines 2
Omaha 4, Waterloo 0
Muskegon 4, Cedar Rapids 2
Chicago 5, Green Bay 4 OT
Youngstown 3, Madison 1
Tri-City 4, Fargo 0
Dubuque 6, NTDP 1

Sun. March 26
Youngstown 2, Green Bay 1 SO
Tri-City 3, Fargo 2
Sioux Falls 6, Omaha 3


Stick taps

Ryan St. Louis, F, Dubuque
St. Louis netted his first career hat trick with a four-goal night on Saturday. The Brown commit has points in nine of his last 11 games and 17 points (8-9-17) in that stretch.

St. Louis is now tied for fifth in the USHL with 60 points and his 25 goals are tied for 11th.

Daimon Gardner, F, Tri-City
Gardner racked up six points (1-5-6) and was a plus-three in Tri-City’s three-game sweep of Fargo. The Clarkson commit now has a career-high 10 goals through 36 games.

Gardner, a 2022 fourth-round pick (112th overall) of the Vancouver Canucks, also has 27 assists this season and his 37 points rank fifth on the Tri-City roster.

Jaksen Panzer, F, Sioux Falls
The North Dakota commit had a goal and two assists on Sunday in a 6-3 win over Omaha. Panzer’s goal stood as the game-winner and he also finished the day a plus-three.

Panzer has 24 points in 50 games this season, including 10 (5-5-10) over his last six games.

Jacob Fowler, G, Youngstown
Fowler was fantastic in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout win as he made 37 saves in regulation, six in overtime and another six in the shootout. The Boston College commit leads the USHL in wins (23), shutouts (5), save percentage (.922) and GAA (2.29).

Fowler has won 10 of his last 12 starts, including two this past weekend.


Michael Hrabal, G, Omaha
It’s been an up-and-down season for the highly-touted Omaha goaltender. However, Hrabal was dynamite Saturday night as the rookie goaltender recorded a 35-save shutout against Waterloo. It was his third shutout of the season and his first since Dec. 16.

Hrabal stopped 42 of the 43 shots fired his way this weekend as he also faced eight shots in relief on Sunday. He’s now 8-12-4-3 on the 2022-23 campaign with a .904 save percentage and 3.00 GAA.

What’s on tap

Hockey fans will get their fill of USHL action this week as the league has a game on both Tuesday and Wednesday, seven on Friday, a full slate of eight on Saturday, and four games on Sunday. Several of which have implications in the standings.

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

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

Tri-City (29-17-3-3) at Lincoln (31-18-3-1), Ice Box, Wed. March 29, 11 a.m.

The 11 a.m. start might not exactly be primetime, but there’s a lot at stake Wednesday in Nebraska’s capital city. Tri-City is coming off an impressive three-game sweep of league-leading Fargo and has points in nine (8-1-1-0) of its last 10.

Steel are playoff bound for a seventh consecutive season while the Stars look to make a deep run

Across the ice, the Stars have been equally as hot with points in six straight (5-0-0-1) and eight (6-2-1-1) of their last 10. The Stars (third) have a two-point edge on Tri-City (fourth) in the Western Conference but Tri-City has played one fewer game.


As both teams jockey for playoff positioning, two huge points will be on the line Wednesday.

Waterloo (34-18-1-0) at Lincoln (31-18-3-1), Ice Box, Fri. March 31 & Sat. April 1, 7:05 & 6:05 p.m.

These games matter for the same reason, except this time it’ll be the team Lincoln is chasing. On top of trying to stay above Tri-City, the Stars are also just three points behind second-place Waterloo.

The Black Hawks are coming off a disappointing loss to Omaha but Waterloo is still 6-4-0-0 in its last 10. Waterloo is also 6-3-1-0 in its last 10 road games and the Black Hawks earned a 6-2 win at the Ice Box earlier this month.

Waterloo has won all four previous matchups this season too.

Green Bay (28-20-2-4) at Dubuque (27-20-5-1), Mystique Community Ice Center, Fri. March 31, 7:05 p.m.

Green Bay and Dubuque enter this weekend separated by two points in the Eastern Conference. Green Bay is currently fourth with 62 points while Dubuque is right behind with 60. The Fighting Saints also have played one fewer game.

The Gamblers picked up a point in all three of their games last weekend (1-0-1-1) against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference while Dubuque split a pair of games against the NTDP.


The two teams will also play Saturday night in Green Bay. The season series is currently tied 3-3.

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NTDP U18 (32-17-1-2) at Chicago (34-16-3-1), Fox Valley Ice Arena, Sat.-Sun. April 1-2, 7:05 & 3:05 p.m.

It’ll be a collision of arguably the two most talented USHL lineups Saturday and Sunday in Chicago. Macklin Celebrini, Jayden Perron and Jack Harvey against Cole Eiserman, Gabe Perreault and Will Smith. Take your pick and the names go on.

It’s also an important pair of games for both sides in the standings. Chicago has seen its lead dwindle to just one point atop the Eastern Conference while the NTDP is currently third with 67 points, just five behind Chicago.

Both sides have points in seven of their last 10 and the Steel have won five of their last seven.

Ice Chips

  • Tri-City forward Trevor Connelly recorded an assist in all three games last weekend, extending his point streak to 14 games. Connelly has 39 points (16-23-39) in 48 games this season. However, he's racked up 24 of them (10-14-24) during his current streak.
  • Youngstown can clinch a playoff spot with a Muskegon loss Tuesday night or any type of point this weekend. The Phantoms are currently second in the East with 71 points, which Muskegon can still mathematically tie.
  • The Phantoms will host Muskegon for a pair of games this weekend. Youngstown is 9-1-0-0 in its last 10 at the Covelli Centre and has won three straight. Six of Youngstown’s final eight games will be on home ice. The Phantoms are coming off a three-game weekend sweep.
  • Tri-City forward Tanner Adams was handed a three-game suspension by the USHL. Two games for fighting under the five-minute mark and one game for instigating.
  • Fargo defenseman Jakob Stender was also suspended one game for kneeing. Stender served his suspension on Saturday.
  • Chicago’s Macklin Celebrini recorded another multi-goal game with two on Friday, bringing his season total to 43. Celebrini has points in four straight and 12 of his last 15.
  • Dubuque forward Jake Sondreal announced his commitment to Boston College on Monday. Sondreal has 34 points (11-23-34) in 50 games this season.
  • Tri-City’s magic number is two heading into this week. The NTDP’s is four, which can be reached by wins or Muskegon losses.
  • Green Bay, Dubuque and Cedar Rapids can also trim their magic numbers as well. The three teams have 62, 60 and 58 points respectively and are fourth, fifth and sixth in the east.
  • Seventh-place Muskegon has 51 points with 10 games left. The Lumberjacks play Tuesday at the NTDP.

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