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.