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USHL Fall Classic East: Day 1 Recap

Bloomington Thunder and Muskegon Lumberjacks get ready for the start of the 2016 USHL Fall Classic East.
Bloomington Thunder and Muskegon Lumberjacks get ready for the start of the 2016 USHL Fall Classic East.

Cranberry Township, Pa. — In a span of only 3:22 just over the midway point of the first period, Casey Mittelstadt showed why he is considered a potential top 10 prospect for next June’s NHL Draft.

The Eden Prairie, Minn. native had a hand in both of the first two goals Green Bay scored en route to a 5-2 win over Dubuque in the first game of the USHL Fall Classic East.

The Minnesota commit assisted on Rory Hermann’s goal at the 10:50 mark. Mittelstadt’s explosiveness pushed possession and had the defense on its heels before Hermann, an Arizona State recruit, scored on a wraparound.

At the 14:12 mark, Mittelstadt picked up the puck near the left wall just inside the blue line. He took a few strides, pulled the puck back and unleashed a rocket of a wrist shot that couldn’t have been placed more perfectly into the far top corner of the net.

And just like that, it was 2-0 Green Bay. The Gamblers allowed Dubuque to tie the score, 2-2, before the halfway mark of the second, but they rebounded with three unanswered for the 5-2 victory.

UMass recruit John Leonard scored on a breakaway with a snap shot that found the top corner of the net. Matt Hudie added the final two tallies for the Gamblers who used two different goaltenders in the game.

Centering Hudie’s line was Jared Spooner, a Minnesota State recruit. His effort in all 200 feet of the ice was notable, making several nice plays on the penalty kill and backcheck.

Left defenseman Patrick Kudla was the bright spot for the Fighting Saints in the loss. The ‘96 from Guelph, Ontario is an Arizona State commit who was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in last summer’s draft. He’s big with a good first step. He’s rangy, covers ground, has a good stick, and has length. He needs to reel it in at times and learn the game more, but his physical tools are impressive.

Adams Sparks Muskegon Win

North Dakota recruit Collin Adams, a New York Islanders prospect, scored two goals, including the game-winner as the Muskegon Lumberjacks defeated the Bloomington Thunder, 3-2, in the opening game of the USHL Fall Classic East.

Adams’ first goal, at the 4:41 mark, helped answer an early score by the Thunder. He took a feed from Ferris State recruit Keegan Howdeshell and quickly fired a wrist shot high into the net.

The decisive goal came with 1:07 left in the second period. After defenseman Grant Gabriele had picked off an errant clearing attempt, Adams retrieved the pass and sent a low wrister that found its way through the five-hole.

Notre Dame recruit Matt Steeves had the other tally for the Lumberjacks.

Bloomington’s top line was buzzing all afternoon. Just 37 seconds into the game, Wisconsin recruit Tarek Baker streaked in towards the net from the right side. After a quick deke, he pushed home a backhander for an early 1-0 edge.

Bemidji State recruit Ethan Somoza helped the Thunder regain its lead, 2-1, at the 13:25 mark of the second period. North Dakota recruit and Calgary Flames prospect Mitchell Mattson got the play started, winning a puck battle in the left corner of his defensive end. He sent out a pass to Jake Durflinger who quickly zipped it to Somoza. The Simi Valley, Calif. native took advantage of the goaltender leaning towards the middle and popped the water bottle with a wrister to the short side.

Adam Brizgala picked up the win for the Lumberjacks. Despite probably wanting the second one back, the Prague, Czech native made 34 saves on the afternoon.

Madison Rallies Late to Sting Steel

When Sacred Heart commit Marc Johnstone gave the Steel a 3-2 lead with 2:44 left in regulation, there wasn’t much hope left for the Madison Capitols.

However, Marcel Godbout scored his second of the afternoon with 12 seconds to play to send the game to overtime. Then, center Eugene Fadyeyev scored the game-winner at the 3:37 mark of the extra session to give Madison the 4-3 win.

The line of Fadyeyev, left wing Mick Messner and right wing Kamil Sadlocha was very good all night. They finished the night a combined +7 with two goals, two assists and eight shots on goal.

Phantoms Finish Strong

For a while, it was looking like Youngstown would be unable to solve the riddle that was Cedar Rapids ‘00 goaltender Drew DeRidder, a recent commit to Michigan State.

Youngstown dominated territorially and had a commanding edge in shots on goal, but couldn’t get one past DeRidder until the 12:39 mark of the second period when Vermont recruit Alex Esposito broke through to tie the score, 1-1.

The score stayed that way until Phantoms tender Max Ellis scored his first goal in a USHL uniform with 6:59 to play in the game. His wrist shot through traffic from the top of the right circle found its way to the back of the net thanks to DeRidder never seeing it.

Buffalo Sabres prospect Brett Murray, a Penn State commit, added an empty netter to give Youngstown a 3-1 win.

Lake Superior recruit Owen Guy scored a power play goal at the 13:44 mark of the first period, but that was the only time the RoughRiders would find the back of the net.