2022 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders vs Muskegon Lumberjacks

USHL What To Watch For: Lumberjacks Host Riders, Musketeers Raise Banner

USHL What To Watch For: Lumberjacks Host Riders, Musketeers Raise Banner

USHL writer Jordan McAlpine details some of the best games to watch on FloHockey this weekend.

Oct 5, 2022 by Jordan McAlpine
USHL What To Watch For: Lumberjacks Host Riders, Musketeers Raise Banner

Week two of the USHL schedule features 10 games and a slate full of rivalries. Without further ado, here’s a look at the week ahead.

Tri-City (2-0-0) at Omaha (1-0-1) Friday, Oct. 7, 7:05 p.m. CT

Let’s try this again… Tri-City and Omaha were set to play last Friday in Kearney. However, that game was postponed due to ongoing work at the Viaero Center. The Storm have actually been making a two-hour drive each way for practice because of it. Tri-City has been skating at the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center in Lincoln for much of the past month.

Friday will mark the first 10 battles between the two Western Conference rivals. Omaha sits at 1-0-1 as the Lancers dropped their season-opener to Team USA in overtime, 3-2, and responded with a 3-0 win over Dubuque at the Fall Classic.

Michael Hrabal has been the story for Omaha so far. The UMass commit has one of the USHL’s best save percentages (.959) and has stopped 70 of the 73 shots he’s seen. As for the Storm, Tri-City still sits tied atop the west with Lincoln, Fargo and Sioux Falls. But the Storm have played one fewer game.

Tri-City kicked off the 2022-23 campaign with a 4-1 win over Madison and a 6-4 win over Muskegon. Goaltender Sebastian Wraneschitz backstopped the Storm to the win over Madison with 29 saves and will likely get the nod in Omaha. Friday night’s game could be an early-season preview of two of the west’s top contenders.

Cedar Rapids (1-3-0) at Muskegon (1-2-0) Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 8, 7:10 p.m. ET

Their records may not look appealing through four games. However, this weekend’s games in Muskegon carry a lot of intrigue. As always, back-to-back games can be interesting in the USHL. Especially if anything spills over into the back half.

The RoughRiders scored 11 goals over their two games against Team USA, including eight in their Game 1 victory. Zaccharya Wisdom leads Cedar Rapids with three goals, including a pair in the 8-3 win. Ryan O’Connell netted a pair of goals against the USNTDP as well. While goaltender Bruno Bruveris turned aside 16 of the 19 shots he saw. 

Muskegon split its first two games of the season against Sioux Falls and Tri-City. The Lumberjacks also fell to arguably the USHL’s most talented team last Friday - Chicago. Jake Richard (Buffalo Sabres) has scored a goal in all three games so far this season and rookie Sacha Boisvert (2-1-3) has made an immediate impact.

Muskegon and Cedar Rapids are currently fifth and eighth in the East. Four pivotal early-season points are on the line in western Michigan.

Sioux Falls (2-1-0) at Fargo (2-1-0) Saturday, Oct. 8, 6:05 p.m. CT

One of these teams will extend its win streak to three if they can secure two points in this big Western Conference matchup Saturday.

The Force are coming off a 4-1 win at Green Bay last Friday where four different Fargo skaters—Anthony Menghini, Verner Miettinen, Kyle Smolen and Tanner Walos—found the back of the net. Goaltender Anton Castro turned aside 39 of the 40 shots he saw, leading Fargo to its second win of the season, which earned him USHL Goalie of the Week honors.

As for Sioux Falls, the Stampede picked up a big 3-2 win at Lincoln last Friday. Samuel Harris, the USHL’s leading scorer, found the back of the net again to bring his season total to five. Harris has scored in all three games so far for Sioux Falls. But Eric Rud’s group has gotten contributions up and down the lineup as well, as nine different Sioux Falls skaters have found the back of the net.

Sioux Falls’ power play continues to click too as the Stampede netted another pair of power-play goals in the win over Lincoln. Sioux Falls is a league-best 45.5% (5-for-11) on the man advantage this season.

News and notes

  • Sioux City (0-2) will host Des Moines on Saturday at the Tyson Events Center. It will be the Musketeers’ first action since the USHL Fall Classic, but more importantly Saturday will be banner night in Sioux City. The Musketeers will celebrate their Clark Cup championship in front of the home crowd before turning the page and putting the focus back on this season. The team has a lot of fun activities planned for fans, with a pre-game party and much more to give this Saturday-night contest the festive feel it deserves after Sioux City ended its 20-year Clark Cup drought.
  • The USHL announced a series of schedule changes Tuesday afternoon involving seven teams. For more, click here.
  • After this weekend, Youngstown (1-1-0) will be the lone USHL team yet to play since the Fall Classic.
  • Chicago will play back-to-back nights for a second straight weekend. The Steel beat Muskegon last Friday, 5-1, but fell at Green Bay on Saturday, 2-1. Chicago will host Dubuque this Friday and travel to Madison on Saturday.
  • Omaha and Tri-City will both face another Western Conference rival on Saturday. The Lancers play at Lincoln while Tri-City heads to Waterloo.
  • The USHL named its players of the week Wednesday morning. Finn Brink of the Madison Capitols was named forward of the week after a two-point effort in the Caps' first win of the season. U.S. Under-17 Team blueliner Will Skahan earned defenseman of the week honors for a three-point weekend on the road at Cedar Rapids. Finally, Fargo's Anton Castro was named goaltender of the week for his 39-save effort in a win over Green Bay.