The Dubuque Fighting Saints and Sioux Falls Stampede each finished with 45 wins in 64 games while winning United States Hockey League divisional titles.
Dubuque won the Anderson Cup as the USHL’s top regular-season team because it had fewer regulation losses. The Eastern Conference champion Fighting Saints went 45-11-8 in their third season.Sioux Falls won the Western Conference with a 45-17-2 record.
The Fargo Force, Waterloo Black Hawks and Lincoln Stars — all Western Conference members — were packed together with the league’s next three records, finishing at 83, 82 and 81 points, respectively, in the standings to make the playoffs.
The Green Bay Gamblers, Youngstown Phantoms and Muskegon Lumberjacks were the other Eastern Conference qualifiers.
The Waterloo combination of Taylor Cammarata, Justin Kloos and Zach Stepan finished 1-2-3 in the USHL in scoring. Cammarata led in goals (38) and points (93). Kloos led in assists with 58.
Charlie Lindgren racked up a league-high 35 wins while helping Sioux Falls to its division title.Arthur Brey of Dubuque led with a 2.22 goals-against average.Muskegon’s Kevin Lindskoug led in shutouts (8) and save percentage (.923).
CLARK CUP: The USHL moved right into its playoffs, and Lincoln is giving Sioux Falls a tough time in a Western Conference semifinal.Sioux Falls needed Tony Calderone’s second goal of the game, 1:21 into overtime, Tuesday to pull out a 3-2 victory.
However, the Stars evened their best-of-five series on Wednesday when Michael Bitzer made 43 saves, Will Suter scored the first two goals and the Stars killed six Stampede power plays.
Dubuque beat Muskegon, Green Bay topped Youngstown and Fargo downed Waterloo in the other series openers.
ROBERTSON CUP: While six other division semifinals were just getting started Friday night, the defending Robertson Cup champion Texas Tornado was completing a three-game sweep and moving into the South Division finals of the North American Hockey League’s playoffs.
The Tornado brought an emphatic conclusion to the series with an 8-1 romp over the Topeka RoadRunners.
Hunter Leisner allowed just one goal in each game of the series.Scott Conway had a hat trick in the clincher.
The Bismarck Bobcats, Jamestown Ironmen and Soo Eagles each took 2-0 series leads.
Seth Blair had five goals in two games for Bismarck against the Brookings Blizzard in the Central Division.Jamestown is up on the Kalamazoo K-Wings in the North.Soo shook off a goal 14 seconds into Game 2 during a 4-1 win over the Port Huron Fighting Saints in the other North series.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Tyler Marble of the NAHL’s Soo Eagles has committed to Colorado College.Marble, a 21-year-old from Howell, Mich., had five shutouts while winning 30 regular-season games this season.
Austin Bruins forward C.J. Smith has committed to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.Smith, 18, from Richfield, Minn., led the NAHL Central Division champion Bruins with 30 goals.
AWHL STARS: The Helena Bighorns had five of the nine players selected as first-team American West Hockey League all-stars.Goalie Jett Salinas, defensemen Brandon Rumble and Logan Hawgood and forwards Christian Axelsson and Ben Henne represented the Bighorns.
The rest of the first team featured Gillette Wild forwards Taylor Motsinger and Tyler Cavan, Great Falls American defenseman Bill Grillo and Missoula Maulers defenseman Donovan Mattfeldt.
The second team was made up of defenseman Tanner Fricke and forwards Michael Berens and George Splichal from the Yellowstone Quake; goalie Mckinlee Baum and forward Zach Paisley from the Missoula Maulers; defenseman Moco Willis from Gillette; defenseman Nick Rizzo from the Billings Bulls; and defenseman John Petersson from Helena.
QUICK HIT: Alex Tuch and Dylan Larkin scored six seconds apart late in the second period of the regular season finale to help Team USA edge the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 3-2 in a shootout in USHL play.
The effort came within one second of a USHL record for fastest goals by teammates.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Long days, great games and high intensity – it’s tournament time. Gary Cutler is the USA Hockey supervisor of officials in Western New York. He’s officiated countless tournaments at both the local and national levels. Cutler sat down with USA Hockey to discuss teamwork, tournament-time preparation and what officials can do to be selected as postseason officials next season.
USA Hockey: What does your current position entail? What are some key responsibilities?
Gary Cutler: My current volunteer position as supervisor of officials entails many different responsibilities throughout the season. It all starts immediately after national tournament week, with organizing local seminars in the fall, participating in summer camps, and solving any registration issues an official might have. We are also identifying those officials that potentially can work in postseason tournaments, the Junior Officiating Development Program or a USA Hockey summer camp. We also communicate with leagues about rule changes or rule interpretations and solve any issues that arise during the year with officials.
USA Hockey: What do you like most?
Gary Cutler: The most enjoyable part of my position is seeing officials improve their officiating skills from their very first seminar they attended up to the level they are presently officiating at, whether it is getting a postseason assignment, working in the Junior Officiating Development Program, college assignments, international assignments, or even working in professional leagues.
USA Hockey: Tournament time. What is your initial reaction when you hear those two words?
Gary Cutler: Long days. Most postseason tournaments consist of 12- to 14-hour days of being at the rink observing officials and making sure the officiating side of the tournament runs as smooth as possible.
USA Hockey: What are some unexpected duties or responsibilities that come with tournaments that officials might overlook or forget?
Gary Cutler: Throughout the entire tournament, the officiating program is a team more than ever. Every official should be helping their teammates so everyone can do the best job they are capable of. A lot of officials have more than one rulebook in their referee bag. An official should have complete knowledge and understanding of the rulebook that they are using, whether it is a regular-season game or a postseason assignment.
USA Hockey: Do officials tend to feel more pressure during tournaments, especially semifinal or championship games? How should they cope with that and stay focused on the task at hand?
Gary Cutler: Most definitely a semifinal or championship game brings a lot more pressure on the officials that have been selected to work these games. The officials that do these types of games generally have these attributes that give them the opportunity to succeed?
USA Hockey: Can you feel the intensity ramp up during tournaments, from the players, coaches, parents, etc.?
Gary Cutler: When tournament time comes around, everyone’s intensity level is increased. As each day of the tournament passes, the intensity level grows until the conclusion of the championship game.
USA Hockey: What can young officials do to position themselves for consideration as officials for next year’s tournaments?
Gary Cutler: It all starts in the summer. Start a physical fitness program over the summer, so when the season comes around, you are in the best physical shape you can be in. Go to summer development camps. When you attend a seminar, come with a positive learning attitude. Officials have the opportunity to be identified as potential candidates for tournaments at these seminars. During the regular season, work hard at every game, for the entire game. Constantly look into the rulebook/casebook so you have a complete understanding of the rules. Improve your officiating skills every game. This can be done by reading your manuals and reviewing the videos on USA Hockey’s website. If you are evaluated, listen, take notes and implement what the evaluator discussed with you when you are officiating games. The moment you enter the arena, put yourself in the proper position to make the proper call.
Tag(s): Junior Notebooks