United States Hockey League (USHL)

USHL Fall Classic: Whitehead Shines For Lincoln, Goals Galore On Day 2

USHL Fall Classic: Whitehead Shines For Lincoln, Goals Galore On Day 2

Chris Peters breaks down highlights from Day 2 of the DICK's Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic.

Sep 24, 2022 by Chris Peters
USHL Fall Classic: Whitehead Shines For Lincoln, Goals Galore On Day 2

CRANBERRY TWP., Pa. – If there was a theme of Day 2 of the DICK’S Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic, it’d probably be goals galore. Every single game featured one of the teams scoring six or more goals on their way to victories. There were 38 goals total scored among the five games, an average of 7.6 goals scored per game. So if you liked scoring, Friday’s games were for you.

Despite all of those goals scored, there were two shutouts as well. Sioux Falls Stampede rookie netminder Jackson Irving stopped 27 of 27 shots against from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders as the Stampede rolled to an 8-0 victory, while Vegas Golden Knights draft pick and Lincoln Stars netminder Cameron Whitehead closed his weekend out with a 30-save shutout of the Green Bay Gamblers.

As we head into the third day of action, and six new teams join us in Pittsburgh for this event, three teams will be heading the other direction with 2-0 records. The Chicago Steel, Lincoln Stars and Tri-City Storm had a perfect Fall Classic.

So let’s get a look at some of the notable performances and highlights from Friday’s action at the USHL’s season-opening showcase.

Cameron Whitehead’s Hot Start Fuels Lincoln

The highest-drafted goalie out of the USHL last season at 126th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights, Cameron Whitehead’s pedigree was never in question. After two games, however, the 19-year-old Ontario native reminded the rest of the league that goals are not going to come easy against the Lincoln Stars.

Whitehead appeared in both of Lincoln’s two games at the Fall Classic and put forth impressive performances. The team played well in front of him to be sure, especially against Cedar Rapids when they allowed just 16 shots on goal, but of the 46 shots Whitehead faced, he stopped 45 of them. His .978 save percentage currently leads the USHL and he is one of only two goaltenders that played the full two games at the Fall Classic.

Committed to Northeastern University, which is expected to lose top goaltender Devon Levi after next season, Whitehead is certainly making Huskies fans more confident about their future in net.

Sioux Falls Bounces Back In Big Way

The Sioux Falls Stampede appeared to be off to a great start to their season Thursday when they got out to a 2-0 lead early on the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Those good vibes did not last long as Muskegon stormed back to score five goals in the first on the way to a 7-4 victory. If the loss deflated Sioux Falls, they didn’t show it Friday.

Sparked by a hat trick from Samuel Harris and solid goaltending from young Jackson Irving, the Stampede rolled past Cedar Rapids to the tune of an 8-0 scoreline. Will McDonough, a 2023 NHL Draft eligible also stayed hot with the goal that opened the scoring just 2:54 into the game before Harris took over with a pair of goals of his own. Forward Ryan Gordon also put up three points and led the team with a plus-5 rating.

Sacha Boisvert Coming As Advertised

A lot of attention has been heaped on Macklin Celebrini as the top 2006-born player in the USHL, but another has gotten himself off to a good start. Sacha Boisvert completed his first Fall Classic with three goals including a pair Friday in Muskegon’s loss to a strong Tri-City squad. Boisvert has some decent size and strength for a 16-year-old and showed that he can play in a league that can sometimes be unforgiving for young players.

Boisvert has shown some good poise and higher-end finish despite his youth. After scoring 51 goals in 56 games for Mt. Saint Charles in the 15U ranks last season, you never quite know how much that ability will translate. The early indication, however, is that Boisvert’s touch has come with him to the junior ranks. A commit of the University of North Dakota, Boisvert is not NHL Draft eligible until 2024.

Tri-City Starts Off On Right Foot

The Tri-City Storm had the best record in the USHL last season before bowing out to eventual champion Sioux City in the second round of the playoffs. If that left a sour taste in the mouths of Tri-City’s returners, they are channeling that disappointment well. The Storm notched a pair of victories at the Fall Classic, beating the Madison Capitols and Muskegon Lumberjacks. 

Graham Gamache, who was on last year’s team, was the Storm’s go-to offensive talent through the first two games as he scored a goal in each and finished his Fall Classic with four point total. Tri-City also got a chance to get both of their import goaltenders in the mix as both Austrian Sebastian Wraneschitz and Latvian Karlis Mezsargs got starts in Pittsburgh. 

The Storm have plenty of new faces on the roster, which is going to make it challenging for them to repeat as Anderson Cup champions as they did last regular season, but getting two wins a long way from home at the Fall Classic is really starting things right.

Celebrini Injured In Steel Win

The Chicago Steel were happy to leave Pittsburgh with two wins, but it wasn't all roses. Prized rookie Macklin Celebrini kept up his great USHL debut weekend by notching a pair of assists. However, he did not take a shift for the second half of the second period and did not dress for the third. 

The Steel need time to evaluate the injury, which is believed to be an upper-body ailment of some kind. It is unclear how serious this might be or if the Steel were just being extra cautious with the 2006-born player who so many are talking about already.

Before the injury, however, Celebrini had been living up to the hype. After scoring in his first game, he was making all kinds of plays in his second game. He assisted on two of the Steel's goals in their win over defending Clark Cup champion Sioux City and was showcasing his elite skill level. At some point over the course of that second period, Celebrini picked up the injury and did not return.

Scores From Friday

Lincoln Stars 6, Green Bay Gamblers 0

Chicago Steel 7, Sioux City Musketeers 4

Sioux Falls Stampede 8, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 0

Tri-City Storm 6, Muskegon Lumberjacks 4

Fargo Force 8, Madison Capitols 1

Saturday Schedule

Dubuque Fighting Saints vs. Des Moines Bucaneers, noon ET

Youngstown Phantoms vs. Waterloo Black Hawks, 2:30 p.m. ET

U.S. National Under-18 Team vs. Omaha Lancers, 5:30 p.m. ET