The event began with a pregame show featuring Dan Kmiechick and Lucas Jones of the USPHL Network’s “Dan K Show” as they watched Cody the Cougar test out iFly, Frozemont Park’s indoor skydiving facility followed by Cody and Rowdy the Riverking facing off in an epic bowling contest at King’s Bowling that further underscored the rivalry.
Dan and Lucas later hosted a pregame show and pep rally at Adobe Gila’s that showcased the duo’s trademark wit and insight into the upcoming matchup.
Once the game started, the play-by-play broadcast was provided by the Illinois Media School with sideline commentary provided on Facebook Live with Dan and Lucas.
After the opening puck drop goaltenders Erik Schuette and Luke Martinovich stole the show and matched each other save-for-save, continually frustrating the skaters.
With 7:33 remaining in the first period, James Stiles and Dylan Torres set up Andrew Demacopoulos to put the Riverkings ahead 1-0.
Demacopoulos’ tally proved to be the game-winner, as Schuette and Martinovich continued to stifle the forwards. Both teams played high-octane defense that saw plenty of blocked shots and cut off passing lanes, though the goaltenders were kept plenty busy. Schuette posted a 25-save shutout and Martinovich turned in an excellent 30-save performance.
“[The USPHL Heritage Classic] was such a great experience,” stated Schuette. “Everybody was going really hard; we all wanted to take the win.”
John Schwartz, the owner of both the Cougars and Riverkings, concurred.
“The players definitely get hyped up because they all wanted to play in this game,” he said. “It’s definitely more than just another game and there’s a definite buzz around both teams.”
While the teams battled hard on the ice, they came together for a common cause. The event also featured a silent auction to raise funds for former Chicago Cougars defenseman Matt Olson, whose promising career was cut short due to a spinal cord injury in a game last season.
The United States Premier Hockey League extends its gratitude to John Schwartz, the Chicago Cougars, Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, Illinois Media School, King’s Bowling, Adobe Gila’s, Sugar Factory, and MB Financial Park for all of their help in the production of the 2017 USPHL Heritage Classic.