Not only did the nation's top junior league see its two top teams begin their showdown for the Clark Cup, but also Team USA picked up an impressive victory in the IIHF World Championship and three of the four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have American captains.
Let's start in the USHL, where the Green Bay Gamblers hosted Games 1 and 2 of the Clark Cup Final at the Resch Center. The best-of-five confrontation started in somewhat surprising fashion Saturday night, as the Waterloo Black Hawks edged the home side 2-1 with regular-season leading scorer Taylor Cammarata (Minnesota) assisting on both goals. Goalie Stephon Williams (Minnesota State-Mankato) turned away 37 shots in his ninth win of the postseason.
Williams was just as good Sunday but he was outdone by Green Bay counterpart Ryan McKay (Miami), who denied all 22 Waterloo shots in helping the USHL regular-season champs to a 2-0 series-squaring win. Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Alex Broadhurst (Nebraska-Omaha) batted home the rebound of Sam Herr's shot nearly seven minutes into the third to provide all the scoring the Gamblers needed. Broadhurst, a USHL sophomore, leads all playoff scorers with eight goals and 14 total points.
So now the venue will shift to Waterloo's Young Arena this Friday and Saturday for Games 3 and 4, with each team just two wins away from snatching the Clark Cup. For full coverage of the USHL's championship series, including postgame video interviews with coaches and key players, visit USHL.com!
|Jimmy Howard has been strong for Team USA at |
the IIHF World Championships (Photo: Detroit Red Wings)
The United States is now 3-2-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) for a total of 13 points in the Group A standings, three points behind first-place Canada and one point ahead of both defending champion Finland and Slovakia, who are tied for third. While the USA has locked up a top-four spot in the group (and thus a trip to the quarterfinals), it can still overtake Canada for first with a regulation win Tuesday vs. Switzerland and a Canada loss to Belarus.
No matter what happens Tuesday, the USA will begin the "knockout" stage of the Worlds Thursday in Helsinki, Finland at a time to be determined. Follow the progress of the Stars & Stripes at IIHF.com and watch all of America's remaining games on the NBC Sports Network! Click here for the 13 USHL alumni, including Muskegon native Justin Abdelkader, who are representing their country at this premier international event.
Of course, most hockey fans' eyes are firmly locked on the ongoing NHL postseason, where the Stanley Cup pursuit has been reduced to four teams: Phoenix, Los Angeles, New Jersey and the New York Rangers.
|Grand Ledge's Matt Greene skated for Green Bay|
to conclude his junior career. (Photo: LA Kings)
When you're watching the action, impress your friends by knowing that the Kings' Alec Martinez (Cedar Rapids), Trevor Lewis (Des Moines) and Matt Greene (Green Bay Gamblers) all are products of the USHL. Greene might be a familiar name for local hockey followers, as the 29-year-old L.A. assistant captain grew up in the Lansing suburb of Grand Ledge.
Also in the Western Conference, 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner, Michigan native and former USHL sniper Andy Miele (Cedar Rapids, Chicago) is on the Phoenix roster. If you're looking for someone to root for in the Eastern Conference Final, Devils forward Ryan Carter (Green Bay) is a USHL alumnus and defenseman Andy Greene is from Trenton, Mich.
Until next time Lumberjacks fans, enjoy the hockey!