Jared Rutledge of the Green Bay Gamblers had a rare night for a goalie Saturday in a 3-0 win over the United States Hockey League’s Youngstown Phantoms: He posted the shutout and scored a goal.
After making his 26th and final save of the night, Rutledge directed the puck into the corner, leading to an errant pass back to the point by Youngstown. The puck slid all the way into the empty net and, as the last Green Bay player to touch it, Rutledge was credited with the goal.
PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: The West Sound Warriors posted wins Tuesday and Wednesday to open their best-of-five Northern Pacific Hockey League semifinal series with the Eugene Generals. Many players contributed offensively when West Sound won 4-1 Tuesday and 9-1 Wednesday.
Peter Mingus scored the first two goals Tuesday. Then after Eugene closed within 2-1, Mingus assisted on both Jimmy Morgan goals to set up the final score. Joe Glitero had assists on all four goals and West Sound built a 79-12 lead in shots on goal.
Andy Williams had a hat trick Wednesday when Max MacInnis had two goals and an assist and Gavin Nickerson had a goal and two assists.
The top-seeded Bellingham Blazers defeated the Tri-Cities Outlaws 9-1 in Tuesday’s series opener. Mason Wade and Sasha Perron each scored two goals while Scott Hansen and Bailey Shaver had four assists each.
Mac Howey scored two goals Wednesday night when the first Eastern Hockey League playoffs opened with the New Jersey Titans defeating the Washington Junior Nationals 8-2 in a play-in game. Tyler Ralph and Cameron Klein added a goal and two assists each.
The win puts the Titans against the regular-season champion New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in one of the weekend’s best-of-three, first-round series. All 17 teams made the Eastern playoffs.
The Florida Eels, Tampa Bay Juniors and East Coast Eagles each advanced in the United States Premier Hockey League’s Elite Division playoffs with two-game sweeps.
PLAYOFF BOUND: The Omaha Lancers are back in the USHL’s Clark Cup Playoffs. After having their streak of playoff berths end at 23 last season, the Lancers became the first USHL team to clinch this season.
Omaha is 6-0-1 over the last seven games, killing off 20 of 21 opposing power plays in the process, to take a share of the Western Conference lead.
Hayden Hawkey posted consecutive shutouts Friday and Saturday with 22 saves in a 1-0 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints and 30 in a 5-0 win over the Waterloo Black Hawks.
Omaha (33-9-5) finished the weekend tied for first in the conference with the Black Hawks (34-8-3). Waterloo also clinched and has a slight edge in winning percentage with two games in hand.
A total of seven North American Hockey League teams have locked up playoff berths. The Austin Bruins, Bismarck Bobcats and Aberdeen Wings have clinched in the Central Division; the Fairbanks Ice Dogs have clinched in the Midwest; and the Amarillo Bulls, Topeka RoadRunners and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees have clinched the South.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Youngstown Phantoms forward Conor Lemirande has committed to Miami (Ohio) University. Lemirande is one of the USHL’s biggest players at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. The 20-year-old from Janesville, Wis. has 14 points and 119 penalty minutes with four of his five goals coming in the last 10 games.
Hayden Stewart, a USHL goalie who has thrived since a trade to the Indiana Ice, has committed to Cornell University. The 19-year-old from Rockford, Ill. is 6-0 without allowing more than one goal in any game since moving from Dubuque to Indiana. He has a 0.67 goals-against average and .971 save percentage with the Ice.
Three NAHL defensemen announced their commitments.
Sam Piazza of the Wichita Falls Wildcats has committed to the University of Michigan. Piazza is the team’s top scoring defenseman with 26 points in 46 games.
Rio Grande Valley’s Dylan Abood is headed to the Air Force Academy. Abood, 20, from Centennial, Colo., has 16 assists and is plus-20 in 48 games. The former Wenatchee Wild is a veteran of 153 career regular-season and 22 career Robertson Cup playoff games in the NAHL.
Scott Dornbrock of the Minot Minotauros committed to Miami (Ohio). The 20-year-old from Harper Woods, Minn. has 19 points in 50 games in this, his second season with the team.
SEASON AWARDS: The Northern Pacific League presented several season awards.
Greg Sponholtz of the Tri-City Outlaws was named Coach of the Year; Cody Rich of the Bellingham Blazers was named Most Valuable Player – Forward; Scott Hansen of Bellingham was named MVP – Defense; Aaron Zavesky of the West Sound Warriors was named MVP – Goalie; Alex Svoboda of Tri-City was named Student-Athlete of the Year.
ONE-TIMERS: More than 50,000 fans attended weekend USHL games, including 4,815 in Sioux Falls Saturday night and seven other crowds of at least 3,338. … The Sioux City Musketeers used wins in overtime and a shootout to extend their USHL winning streak to seven games. … Matt Iacopelli of the Muskegon Lumberjacks has 10 goals in the last 10 games, giving him the USHL lead with 33. … Austin used a weekend sweep of Aberdeen to regain the NAHL Central Division lead. … Kevin Valenti of the Northern Cyclones finished as the Eastern Hockey League leader in goals (35), points (76) and game-winning goals (seven). … Anders Franke stopped 56 of 57 shots to lead the Flint Junior Generals to 3-1 and 3-0 wins over the Peoria Mustangs in a weekend meeting of North American 3 Hockey League division leaders.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
If you’ve ever called USA Hockey with officiating registration questions, you’ve likely heard the voice of Helen Fenlon. As the manager of officiating administration, Fenlon is the brains behind registration operations. She started working with USA Hockey in 1991 and joined the officiating department in 1993.
Fenlon took a break from readying eager officials for the upcoming season to tell us more about herself and the registration process.
USA Hockey: How did you first get involved with USA Hockey? Did you lace up the skates or make the call on the ice a time or two?
Helen Fenlon: (Laughs) No, I wasn’t a ref or player. I was a mom and I had a child that played. I volunteered at the local association for a number of years and volunteered at USA Hockey. Before I knew it I was employed by them and have been doing this job ever since. It’s nice because I’ve seen the volunteer side and know how the local and state boards work because I did all of that when my kids were growing up.
USA Hockey: What’s a typical day like for you?
Helen Fenlon: I work on the officiating registration. When everyone registers (to be an official) they are mailed out books to do the test and emailed information about doing the test online and ways to sign up for seminars online as well. Then I score the test when they come in for the closed-book test and basically answer all the questions that pertain to the ice hockey refs. I manage approximately 24,000 registrations when from August 1 through March. Once the registration period is over, we start getting ready for next year.
USA Hockey: How has the registration process changed in your 21-year tenure?
Helen Fenlon: When we first started, we used to mail them out the application, have them mail it back with a check and then we would process it. Once that was done, we would mail them a test and they would mail us back their answer sheet when they were done. It was all done by hand back then. Now, for registration, they just go online and pay with a credit card and the test is also done online. It’s much easier for everyone involved.
In the past, we also would just do an open-book test, but it’s evolved into different levels of doing an open-book and closed-book test, and some do a skating exam, too. Also going into place this year, everyone will do an online seminar.
USA Hockey: Officials must be happy to have the process accelerated thanks to online capabilities.
Helen Fenlon: It’s great for people to access the test faster and be able to turn materials around faster so they can start working. To some of these people, it’s a job. Others do it because they want to help kids. People do it for all kinds of different reasons. For me, it’s impressive to see people who stick with (officiating) for so long.
USA Hockey: How have the resources available to officials changed through the years?
Helen Fenlon: Right now, with the new rules and programs in place, the amount of resources available for officials education is improving, but we’re always looking for more ways to help our officials be successful.
USA Hockey: What’s one thing you want to remind everyone about?
Helen Fenlon: It’s always been my goal for everybody across the country, whether you’re in Colorado Springs, New York, California or anywhere in between, to follow the same rules as far as being able to become an official and complete the registration. That’s the fair way, and it’s the best way to ensure the best quality of officiating throughout the country.