By: Jim DenHollander
The highlight game on the second day at the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) Midwest Showcase pitted the Steele County Blades against the Motor City Hawks.
The Blades entered the contest having snapped an eight-game losing streak the previous afternoon with a 7-5 win against the Decatur Blaze. The Hawks entered its third game of the tournament and second game of the day having fallen to the Ironwood Fighting Yoopers 7-4 on Wednesday (Dec. 20) and were also shutout 7-0 by the Wisconsin Muskies earlier on Thursday.
The Blades grabbed control of this one scoring just 36 seconds into the contest and never looked back grabbing its second win of the tourney with a 7-3 edge.
The Blades continued its fast start, owning a 3-0 lead by the game’s five-minute mark and the Owatonna squad carried a 4-1 cushion into the second half.
Offensively, the team’s leading scorer Zach Bettmeng, 19, from Sioux Falls, SD led the way, collecting two goals and setting up three others for the Blades. Santeri Piha, 18, from Helsinki, Finland also scored twice while Brian Romero, 19, from Frisco, TX and Luukas Kallioinen, 17, from Laukaa, Finland both added a goal and assist. The other goal came from Kaleb Combs, 19, from West Valley City, UT with single assists for Zak Von Ruden, 19, from Northfield, MN; Kyle Wadden, 20, from Des Moines, IA and Jake Friese, 18, from Evanston, IL.
The Blades split the work in goal, Vinnnie Capezza, 18, from Hammond, WI getting the start and turning aside nine of 12 through 33:33 before Nick Mizen, 20, from Newcastle, Australia took over stopping all 11 shots he faced through the final 16:27.
Matt McCumber, 18, from Port Huron scored twice for the Hawks, Morgen Gray, 18, from Livonia, MI adding the other. Daniel Ealy, 20, from Warren, MI; Kyle Banks, 19, from Detroit, MI and Renars Slisans, 19, from Tukums, Latvia each picked up an assist.
Koby Kebbe, 19, from Chesterfield, MI started for the Hawks, stopping a couple of shots through the opening five minutes before Nathan Norkevicus, 19, from Pittsburgh, PA came on, handling 39 of 43 the rest of the way.
Game 6 – Kalkaska Rhinos 4 Hudson Havoc 6
The Rhinos and Havoc were both coming off opening day defeats as the Rhinos fell to the Wisconsin Muskies by a 5-2 score and the Havoc started out the tournament with a 3-1 loss against the Dells Ducks.
The Havoc put together likely its best period of the season, exploding for four unanswered second half goals to turn a 4-2 half-time deficit into a 6-4 win in this one.
Alec Will, 19, from White Bear Lake, MN playing in his 10th game this season scored his first three goals of the season wit the first and the final two of the contest. Other Hudson goals came from Brennan Fink, 19, from Lakeville, MN; Maximillian Wigfield, 18, from Oak Park, IL and Wyatt Knipfer, 19, from Cottage Grove, WI.
Caleb Dusek, 17, from Dallas, TX set up Will on a pair of goals with other assists for: Alex Chroman, 18, from Apple Valley, MN; Case Moioffer, 19, from Somerset, WI; Dylan Marty, 17, from New Richmond, WI; Nicholas Mandia, 19, from Utica, NY and Benjamin Lamm, 19, from Ludington, MI.
Leighton Desjarlais, 18, from Kekino Metis, AB fired three for the Rhinos, bringing his season total to 18 while Georgy Samodelkin, 18 from Moscow, Russia scored the other goal and added two assists. Pavel Simak, 18 from Czech Republic also set up a pair for the Rhinos with a single assist for Jan Sokolik, 18, from Brno, Czech Republic.
Cal Ambrose, 18 from Wayzata, MN picked up the win in goal for Hudson with a 17 save effort while Josh LaBuda, 19, from Niles, IL collected eight assists in relief as well. Brenden Williams, 19, from Berlin, NH made 20 saves for the Rhinos.
Game 7 – Motor City Hawks 0 Wisconsin Muskies 7
Both teams opened play at the Chicago Showcase yesterday, the Hawks dropping a 7-4 decision to the Ironwood Fighting Yoopers while the Muskies began with a 5-2 edge against the Kalkaska Rhinos.
This one as all Muskies though as the Spooner, WI went north of the .500 plateau for the first time this season with a 7-0 shutout win.
Muskies carried a 3-0 lead into the second half and padded it to a touchdown gap with four more.
Ilja Grekov, 18, from Liepaja and Kyle Klatt, 20, from Cloquet, MN both fired a pair of goals, Klatt adding two assists while Grekov picked up one. Cory Kane, 17, from Montreal, QC and Taylor Rooney, 20, from Auckland, NZ scored the other goals. Richard Szabo, 18, from Vrutky, Slovakia collected four assists and Zach Shadick, 19, from Rice Lake, WI had three with singles for Jacob McVay, 20, from Anchorage, AK; Austin Balen, Brendon Beaver, 19 from Littleton, CO and Thomas Mironuk, 18, from East St. Paul, MN.
Sam Gartner, 20, from Denver, CO picked up the shutout win in goal, his second of the season with 15 saves while Derek Dudek, 18, from Livonia, MI turned aside 31 shots in goal for the Hawks.
Game 8 – Ironwood Fighting Yoopers 4 Chicago Cougars 6
Both teams entered this game coming off opening day wins as the Yoopers racked up seven goals to defeat the Motor City Hawks 7-4 while the Cougars grabbed a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Mullets.
Chicago stayed perfect, rallying from deficits of 2-1 at the end of the first half and 3-2 later. The Yoopers battled back to tie the game at 4-4 with 5:28 to go, but the Cougars pulled out the win as Michael Helf, 20, from Chicago, IL fired the game winner about a minute later and then added the clincher into an empty net with 46 seconds to play. Helf also picked up an assist earlier in the game.
Adam Ryffel, 20, from St. Louis MO also scored twice for the Cougars with TJ Dougan, 18, from Elgin, IL adding a goal and assist and the other goal scored by Kurt Lapak, 18, from Marengo, IL.
Joe Bresingham, 20, from Orland Park, IL; Derek Hartmann, 19, from Wonder Lake, IL; Joey Marcuccilli, 19, from Wheaton, IL and Cory Schwarz, 19, from Wood Dale, IL each added an assist in the game and Luke Martinovich, 20, from Streamwood, IL picked up the win with a 20 save effort in goal.
For the Yoopers, Ryan Danner, 18, from San Jose, CA; Adam Rosen, 19, from Calgary, AB and Cale Bowman, 19, from Tomahawk, WI paced the team with a goal and assist apiece and the other goal came from Tyler Morrison, 17, from Wakefield, MI. Ethan Wolfe, 18, from Stone Lake, WI and Dalton Teeter, 19, from Suisun City, CA each added an assist.
Julius Huset, 20, from Oakdale, MN made 20 saves in goal for the Yoopers.
Game 9 – Tri-City Icehawks 0 Minnesota Moose 15
The Icehawks opened its run at the Chicago event in a six-game skid and having just one win in its first 28 games this season. The Moose were also suiting up for the first time and enter the tournament sporting a 21-4-1 record and engaged in a battle for top spot in the Midwest-West Division.
The Moose wrapped up an easy win in its opener, carrying a 5-1 lead out of the first half and piling on another 10 unanswered goals in the second. The domination saw a lopsided edge of 47-8 for the Moose, Ben Belisle, 18, from White Bear Lake, MN picking up the win for the Moose.
Gordon Andrews, 18, from Sault Ste. Marie, MI and Carson Bonk, 20, from Clinton Corners both took a turn in goal for the Icehawks, combining to stop 33 shots.
The Moose spread the scoring out well, 18 of the 19 skaters in the contest collecting at least a point.
Team leading scorer, Dylan Gast, 20, from White Bear Lake, MN led the way with two goals and two assists, Gavin Proeh, 19, from Chicago and Riley Keays, 20, from Brookfield, WI both adding two goals and an assist. Matej Krasny, 19, from Pilzen, Czech Republic and Matteo Menotti, 18, from Chicago, IL both collected a goal and two assists with Jake Castro, 18, from Presto, PA and Brendon Jones, 18, from Pembroke, MA adding a goal and assist apiece. Other goals came from: Jesse Anderson, 20, from Wasaga Beach, ON; Hayden Ripley, 17, from Westchester, OH; Josh Morrison, 19, from San Diego, CA and Justin Sullivan, 19, from Helena, MT. Nate Ackerman, 20, from Willmar, MN; Leon Taberlet, 19, from Morzine, France; Ryan Kelly, 19, from Lombard, IL and Braydin Larson, 19, from Duluth, MN each added an assist for the Moose.
Michael Chapman, 18, from Swartz Creek, MI counted the lone Tri-City goal, unassisted.
Game 10 – Detroit Fighting Irish 0 Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings 3
These are the final two teams to enter play at the Chicago event. The Fighting Irish have won five of its past seven and currently sit second overall, looking to cut into the big gap between them and the Chicago Cougars. The Riverkings are also hot, winning five of its past six, including a 5-2 win against the Division leading Minnesota Blue Ox on Saturday, making the Riverkings the first Midwest team to defeat the Blue Ox in regulation this season.
Thanks to some perfect goaltending from Parker Rutherford, 19, from Fort Wayne, IN who stopped all 22 shots he faced, the Rapids Riverkings wrapped up a shutout with two goals in the first half and one more in the second.
Ray Fleming, 19, from Sammamish, WA picked up a goal and two assists while Alexander Mavrogaiannis, 19, from Dover, MA had an assist on all three goals.
Tom McManus, 19, from Lakeville, MN and Adam Peterson, 19, from Chicago, IL had the other Riverkings markers.
Dean Bucholz, 18, from Dearborn Heights, MI stopped 32 shots in goal for the Fighting Irish.
Game 11 – Dells Ducks 3 Kalkaska Rhinos 2
The Rhinos were entering their third of four games at the Showcase having dropped a 5-2 decision yesterday to the Wisconsin Muskies and then falling 6-4 against the Hudson Havoc this morning. The Ducks won its earlier match against Hudson yesterday 3-1 and enter this game riding a five-game winning streak.
Kalkaska saw another lead slip away as the Ducks rallied for a pair of unanswered goals late in the second half to turn a 2-1 halftime deficit into a 3-2 win.
Alec Scarsella, 19, from Whitelake, MI opened the scoring for the Ducks, from Eric Pristayazhnyuk, 20, from Staten Island, NY and Giovani Mueller, 18, from Beaver Dam, WI 3:08 into the contest.
The Rhinos struck back for a pair before the 10-minute mark, Darwin Ward, 19, from Edmonton, AB notching the first from Leighton Desjarlais, 18, from Kekino Metis, AB and the other coming from Desjarlais with assists for Georgy Samodelkin, 18, from Moscow, Russia and Hendrik Robel, 17, from Berlin, Germany.
Duncan Adams, 19, from Springfield, IL pulled the Ducks even with his goal 9:20 from the final buzzer with assists for Jacob Cameron, 16, from Oregon and Jacob Soderstrom, 20, from Lidkopping, Sweden.
The game winner came with 5:50 to play, the seventh of the season for Mueller with assists for Wyatt Mikkelson, 17, from Sycamore, IL and Jake Bevins, 17, from Batavia, IL.
Zander Zafiro, 20, from Williams Bay, WI played the first 9:24 for the Ducks with Corbin Moore, 18, from Fort Wayne, IN taking over after that. Moore picked up his third straight win with no goals on 25 shots.
Devin Allen, 19, from Leduc turned aside 29 shots for the Rhinos.
Game 13 – Minnesota Mullets 5 Decatur Blaze 1
Both teams had disappointing starts to the event yesterday as the Mullets were edged 3-2 in overtime by the Chicago Cougars and the Blaze came up short against Steele County Blades yesterday 7-5.
The Mullets got on the board about as fast as a team can, Nate Holm, 19, from Hastings, MN scored his first of two unanswered first half tallies just eight seconds into the contest. Tyler Kulas, 18, from Janesville, WI had assists on both first half goals and Tommy Strelow, 20, from Mahtomedi, MN also helped on one.
The Mullets got the second half to a fast start again, this time Jon Hansen, 20, from Twig, MN added a third Mullets goal nine seconds in with an assist for Holm.
Cal Vold, 18, from Ham Lake fired a fourth Mullets goal just past the halfway mark of the period from Kulas and Nolan Fredrick, 18, from Janesville, WI.
Scott Wargin, 19, from Worth, IL put the Blaze on the board with his third goal and sixth point of the weekend, unassisted with 9:35 to play.
Mullets counted one more as Holm wrapped up the hat trick inside of the final three minutes from Trevor Dixon, 19, from Bethesda, MD.
Jack Bostedt, 18, from Janesville picked up his 12th win of the season in goal for the Mullets, stopping all but one of the 15 shots he faced and Lane Timmons, 18, from Gibson City, IL made 24 saves in goal for the Blaze.