2022 Dubuque Fighting Saints vs Youngstown Phantoms

USHL What To Watch For: Fighting Saints, Phantoms Look To Gain Ground

USHL What To Watch For: Fighting Saints, Phantoms Look To Gain Ground

USHL writer Jordan McAlpine runs down some of the key games and prospects to watch in this week's packed slate of games.

Nov 9, 2022 by Jordan McAlpine
USHL What To Watch For: Fighting Saints, Phantoms Look To Gain Ground

It’s an action-packed weekend in the USHL as 16 games will be crammed into three days. Friday and Saturday’s slates both feature seven games, while a pair of games will close out the action on Sunday.

Four back-to-backs, a slew of rivalries and a few rematches litter the schedule. Along with several games that could shift the standings. Without further ado, here’s a look at the week ahead.

Dubuque (5-3-1-0) at Youngstown (4-5-1-0), Nov. 11 & 12, 7:05 p.m. ET

Although Dubuque and Youngstown currently find themselves in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings, this weekend’s games will feature two teams playing well in recent weeks. The Fighting Saints come in winners of back-to-back games, while Youngstown has points in three straight (2-0-1-0).

Dubuque exploded for 10 goals last Friday in a 10-2 rout of Madison, which tied a franchise record. The Fighting Saints beat Waterloo the game before that, 5-2, and now have points in five of their last six. Dubuque has played the fewest games in the USHL this season as well and despite their current sixth-place ranking in the Eastern Conference, the Fighting Saints own the USHL’s fifth-highest winning percentage at .611.

The Phantoms won a pair of road games last weekend- 4-2 at Muskegon on Saturday and a 4-3 shootout win on Friday over the USNTDP. Youngstown had lost to the USNTDP in overtime the previous Friday, 3-2, but it started what is now a three-game point streak.

Dubuque (30) and Youngstown (33) have allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Michael Burchill, F, Dubuque, 2023 draft-eligible

The right-shot winger netted two goals in that 10-2 win and is up to six on the season. Burchill is tied for the team lead and also ranks second on Dubuque’s roster with 10 points. After playing in 53 games last season, Burchill is already over halfway to both his goal (11) and point (19) totals from one year ago. He was graded a C in NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch List last month.

Fargo (7-3-0-1) at Des Moines (5-6-1-0), Nov. 11, 7 p.m. CT

The Force have allowed the fewest goals in the league (24) and are a perfect 4-0-0 on the road this season. Both will be put to the test Friday night in Des Moines. The Buccaneers erupted for seven goals last Saturday - their highest total of the season - in a 7-2 win over Omaha and have won two of their past three on home ice.

Talon Sigurdson netted a pair of goals in the win over Omaha - his first two of the season - and goaltender Max Lundgren stopped 18 of the 20 shots fired his way.

As for the Force, Fargo fell to a struggling Tri-City team last Thursday, 5-4. However, the Force responded with a 4-0 win on Friday to get back in the win column. Matej Marinov made his fourth start of the season and stopped all 21 shots, earning his fourth win and first shutout of the season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ethan Fredericks, F, Des Moines, 2023 draft-eligible

Fredericks netted his second goal of the season last time out and his first since Oct. 1. The 6-foot-1 forward played in 48 games last season and he’s already one shy of his goal total - three - through 12 games. Fredericks, who also leads Des Moines with 27 penalty minutes, put up some gaudy numbers with the Nashville Jr. Predators AAA program prior to the USHL. He was also given a C rating on NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch List last month.

Green Bay (6-5-1-0) at Muskegon (6-5-0-0), Nov. 11 & 12, 7 p.m. ET

Another matchup between the third and fourth-place teams in the Eastern Conference and a rematch from mid-October. The Gamblers swept a pair of games in Green Bay last month, winning 6-3 both nights. Muskegon will look to even the score on home ice.

The Lumberjacks have won three of their four games since, with the one loss coming last Saturday against Youngstown. Jake Richard (Buffalo Sabres) and Ethan Whitcomb gave Muskegon a 2-0 lead but the Phantoms responded with four unanswered goals. Richard and Whitcomb are tied with a team-leading six goals and have combined for 12 of Muskegon’s 44.

As for their opponent, Green Bay fell at Chicago on Friday, 6-3, but responded with a season-high seven goals in their win over Cedar Rapids Saturday. Two of those seven goals came off the stick of defenseman Artyom Levshunov, who has been among the league's top rookies all season. Green Bay has earned points in four of its six road games this season (3-2-1-0) heading into this away series at Muskegon.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Gavin McCarthy, D, Muskegon, 2023 draft-eligible

The Boston University commit has points in seven straight games and is third on the Muskegon roster with 10 points. McCarthy is also a plus-5 through 11 games. The 2023 draft-eligible defenseman was also given a C in NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch List. He’s off to a strong start in his second USHL season.

News and notes

 Omaha will host Lincoln Friday night in a rematch of sorts. The Stars beat the Lancers in Lincoln last Friday, 1-0, earning their second win of the season over their in-state rival. Keaton Peters netted the game’s lone goal while Cameron Whitehead (Vegas Golden Knights) turned in a 30-save shutout. The Lancers have now lost three straight and fallen to sixth in the Western Conference. Lincoln took back the conference lead last weekend with a pair of wins - 1-0 over Omaha and 5-3 at Sioux City.

 Another team that has won two straight, Waterloo will host Tri-City for a pair of games this weekend. The Black Hawks defeated Sioux Falls last Saturday, 4-1, and have climbed to third in the Western Conference. Tri-City split a pair of games at Fargo last Thursday and Friday.

 Sioux City and Sioux Falls will play a home-and-home this weekend, which will mark the fourth and fifth games of the season between these two rivals. The Musketeers exploded for five goals last Wednesday in a 5-1 home win. The Stampede responded with a 4-2 home win on Friday. Sioux City leads the season series, 2-1.

 Four teams will be in action on Sunday as Des Moines travels to Sioux City and Omaha hosts Fargo.

 Chicago’s Jack Harvey became the USHL’s leading scorer last weekend with four goals and an assist. Harvey has a league-leading 19 points and is tied with his teammate - Nicholas Moldenhauer - for the league goal lead with 10. Harvey is also a league-best plus-11.

 Cameron Whitehead has a league-best 2.14 goals-against average among qualified goaltenders. Whitehead is 6-3-0 on the season and has two shutouts.