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Several teams off to hot starts in the USHL

10/03/2013, 1:15pm MDT
By Tom Robinson - Special to

Cole Bruns and the Omaha Lancers opened the United States Hockey League season with consecutive shutouts.

The Lancers’ defense made sure Bruns faced fewer than 20 shots in each game. The 19-year-old from Prairie Grove, Ill. made 17 saves in Friday’s season-opening 5-0 win over the Fargo Force, then came back with 19 in a 4-0 victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers the next night.

The Lancers aren’t the only team off to a hot start. The Sioux Falls Stampede and Muskegon Lumberjacks are each off to 3-0 starts in the USHL. Meanwhile, Team USA has outscored opponents 35-18 in a 5-1 start while the Tri-City Storm won its only game.          

The Stampede’s Zeb Knutson, who had a hat trick in the Sept. 21 opener, had four goals for Sioux Falls Saturday in a 6-5 win over the Indiana Ice.

Muskegon’s Frederik Tiffels scored in the third period and again during the shootout to help the Lumberjacks defeat the Green Bay Gamblers for their first win ever in Green Bay. Muskegon had been 0-8-2 in Green Bay.

MILESTONE WIN: Nick Fatis, a 37-year-old in his 13th season, has already reached the 500-win mark with the Rochester Ice Hawks of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League.

Jake Kelly scored two goals and Trevor Sabo had a goal and two assists in Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Edina Lakers that lifted Fatis to the milestone.

Under Fatis, the Ice Hawks have made nine USA Hockey National Tournament appearances, including four trips to the semifinals. Rochester has won six Bush Cup titles as Minnesota postseason champion and five Minnesota League regular-season titles.

NOBODY’S PERFECT: The Minnesota Wilderness and Minot Minotaurus ruined the final unbeaten records in the North American Hockey League with home wins Saturday.

Billy Exell scored two goals as Minnesota downed the Fairbanks Ice Dogs 5-2. Minot held the Austin Bruins to 20 shots in a 4-2 win.

FAST START: Alex Bonito scored two goals and assisted on another Saturday when the Boston Bandits defeated the Boston Junior Rangers 5-2 to improve to 5-0 in the Eastern Hockey League.

Bonito helped the Bandits win their first four games despite allowing at least three goals in each. He has points in every game and goals in the last four. Bonito also had two goals in a 5-3 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, giving him six goals and three assists.

COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Several players announced college commitments during the early stages of their junior seasons.

From the USHL, Green Bay defenseman Anthony Walsh has committed to Yale University, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward Casey Jerry is headed to Minnesota State University, and Fargo Force forward Christian Cakebread will play at the University of North Dakota.

Walsh, 18, from Burr Ridge, Ill., scored his first USHL goal on the final day of the 2012-13 season in his 12th game with the Gamblers. Yale is coming off its first NCAA championship.

Jerry, an 18-year-old from River Falls, Wis., was an all-state player at River Falls High School. He scored a goal in his second USHL game.

Cakebread, a 16-year-old from Gilbert, Ariz., scored two goals on opening night. He also had a hat trick during the Fall Classic, the USHL’s preseason event.

From the NAHL, Aberdeen Wings forward Jordan Heller committed to Bemidji State University and Johnstown Tomahawks forward Matthew Meier committed to the Air Force Academy.

Heller, 19, is from Bemidji, Minn. He played all 60 games with the Wings last season, scoring 24 points.

Meier is back for a second season in the NAHL after scoring five points in six games with the Kenai River Brown Bears last season.

ONE-TIMERS: Drake Hunter had a hat trick plus three goals in the other two games when the Alexandria Blizzard won three straight NA3HL weekend games. … Art Brey, who went 24-6-4 in the regular season and 9-1 in the Clark Cup playoffs for the USHL champion Dubuque Fighting Saints, has been acquired by Sioux Falls. … Evan Hauser got the Great Falls Americans off to a 2-0 start in the American West Hockey League with 19 saves in a 4-1 win over Bozeman Ice Dogs and 25 saves in an 8-0 shutout of the Glacier Nationals.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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