Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Southwest Players in the USHL Playoffs

Here's a look at Southwest based players that will be playing the United States Hockey League Playoffs which begin tomorrow night. I will provide a short showing of what the different players and showing their chances of skating with the USHL Clark Cup Championship this year. The Playoffs will begin tomorrow night.

This year, the Southwest has 6 prominent players that are teammates on the Omaha Lancers, Fargo Force and the Indiana Ice for this year's post-season and they is high hopes that we have players on the top 2 seeds in the West Division plus the defending champion Indiana Ice.

Here's the first Round Matchups

East Division

#1 Green Bay Gamblers VS. #4 Waterloo Blackhawks

#2 Cedar Rapids Roughriders VS. #3 Indiana Ice

West Division

#1 Omaha Lancers VS. #4 Tri-City Storm

#2 Fargo Force VS. #3 Sioux Falls Stampede

Omaha Lancers

F: Ryan Daugherty: http://ushl.stats.pointstreak.com/playerpage.html?playerid=2288314&seasonid=4429

Hometown: Allen, Texas

2009-2010 Season Stats: 52 GP 33 PTS (18G 15A)

College/Pro Path: Northern Michigan University

Ryan is a physical forward with an increasing scoring threat during his 2 seasons with the Omaha Lancers. From just 6 goals last year, he's been able to increase has goal scoring ability to 17 this season. He's also been fantastic at getting the tough goals right in front of the net in front of traffic and, being able to clear pathways for his teammates to help out players like Seth Ambroz and Matt White who just missed winning the scoring title by one point over Tri-City's Jaden Schwartz.

Last year he had to take a much bigger load defensively as this turned out to be a bit of a weaker spot in his game. But he has shown that he can be a strong defense, however, he increased the number in penalty minutes from 52 last year to 111 this year. He's also been able increase his ability on the power play where he had no points with the man advantage last year, this year the Lancers forward was able to get 14 of his 33 points (9G 5A) on the power play. He also notched 4 game winners.

He does have a tendency to be a bit streaky this season. Going into the playoffs where he has 6 points in his final 7 games, including a 2 goal game against Fargo back on March 17. Unfortunately, earlier this season he had a 7 game scoreless streak around Thanksgiving and shortly their after. Also a minor knee injury where he missed 7 games in early and mid Feb also affected his pace for most of Feb. and in early March.

After St. Patricks Day though he was able to get back up to his normal pace and if he can keep this point streak going into the playoffs, he may be able to have a big playoff run to help the Lancers and to show the coaching staff at Northern Michigan that he deserves to play a big role with NMU when he starts up their next year.

D: C.J. Ludwig: www.pointstreak.com/prostats/playerpage.html?playerid=2288310&seasonid=4429

Hometown: Little Elm, Texas

Season Stats: 58 GP 24 PTS (7G 17A)

College/Pro Path: Northern Michigan University

C.J. Ludwig has become a double threat at his time with the Omaha Lancers. In his 2 seasons, he was known for delivering the hits as he has racked up triple digit penalty minute totals in both season in Omaha (130 in 2008-09, 152 in 2009-10). He's not afraid to fight either as he has racked up 8 fighting majors this season, including games against the Green Bay Gamblers and Sioux Falls Stampede with 21 & 32 penalty minutes in different performances this season.

He's also been able to increase his scoring ability. He was 2nd in defensive scoring on the team with 24 points, only behind Dennis Brown with 31 points. However, he did have more goals with 7 while Brown only had 4. Because of his combo of being both a physical presence and bringing a scoring punch, he was named to the USHL West Division All Star Game for the Event that was played in Indiana back in January.

Helping to get involved with the scoring, not giving up goals has also improved greatly as well as he went from a +7 last season to +15 this season. His ability to help improve his puck moving abilities to help set up the teams top forwards like Erik Haula and Matt White who both finished in the top in league scoring this season.

He's also going to be able to tune up his team game with teammate and fellow D/FW Native Ryan Daugherty who will continue to be teammates at Northern Michigan University after their junior career ends this season.

Omaha's Playoff Hopes: The Lancers have loads of playoff experience with the leadership and guidance of Omaha Lancers Head Coach Bliss Littler. Also with Seth Ambroz who has been improving rapidly during his first two seasons and is expected to be a highly converted pick when he is up for the 2011 NHL Draft next year.

Omaha is looking for their 2nd championship in 3 years after beating Sioux City, Lincoln and Waterloo for the Championship back in 2008. Their chances of getting back to the Championship are great and this team maybe one of the few will be able to challenge Green Bay's size with their speed.

Fargo Force

F: Chase Grant: www.pointstreak.com/prostats/playerpage.html?playerid=2288285&seasonid=5158

Home Town: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

2009-2010 Stats: 59 GP 50 PTS (28G 22A)

College/Pro Path: Minnesota State University

Chase Grant leads a well balanced offense attack which has 8 players with double digit goals, 6 of which had 20 or more. Grant lead the team with 28 goals and when he gets going, he's very hard to stop, he had a steady hand as he had numerous point scoring streaks which included his best hockey of the season where he had a point in 12 of 13 games which started in late January through Early March as he scored goals in 10 of that time span.

Like Ryan Daugherty, he's had a strong power play, but he was able to increase has ability on the power play like a bullet from 3 power play points last year to 11 this season. However in his last 9 games since his points in 12 of 13 ended. He's scoring abilities have dried up as he has just 4 points (1G 3A) which dates back to March 12 against the Lincoln Stars, and in his last 4 games, he has 0 points and a minus 7 which is a string as the Force were going toe-to-toe with the Lancers for the top spot in the West Division Playoffs, but losses in 5 of the final 7 games ended those hopes.

He may be just 175 pounds, but hes been working on his hitting ability as he gets ready to head off to Minnesota State University to play in the WCHA. He should be a part of a balanced scoring attack to help his team get back to the Clark Cup Championship before losing to Indiana last year. However, if he can't get out of this slump his team is on, it could be a 1 and done to the Sioux Falls Stampede in the Division Semifinals.

F; Johnnie Searfoss: www.pointstreak.com/prostats/playerpage.html?playerid=2330628&seasonid=4429

Home Town: Colleyville, Texas

2009-2010 Player Stats: 60 GP 40 PTS (21G 19A)

College/Pro Path: University of Nebraska-Omaha

Johnnie Searfoss's job on the team has changed greatly this season. Last season despite getting 34 points last year, he was used mostly as a defensive minded forward. This season, he's been giving the green light to attack a lot more, even though his plus/minus ranking has fallen from +12 to -15 this season, his goal numbers are up to 21 and he's been able to be in his more natural role as a physical forward.

The Penalty Minute numbers were way up to 90 this season, but he's not much of a fighter. Most of the nights were he had the major penalty minute numbers were from nights when he something like a Checking from Behind Misconduct in a game against the Youngstown Phantoms back in January.

For the Force to be successful this year in the playoffs, the Force will need to be able to get out of this funk the team has been in that cost them a shot at the Top Seed. The team needs to allow Searfoss to have his combination of his scoring and hitting ability and being able to avoid the penalty box in the playoffs. Especially against a team like Sioux Falls who has fewest penalty minutes of the West Division Teams that are in the playoffs.

Fargo's Playoff Hopes: Fargo needs to have the ability to pull off another run like they did last year in the team's first year. The Force will need to be able to play a disciplined game against the Stampede and improve the team defense, the team has given up 4 or more goals in 8 of the teams 11 games of the regular season. Reports of internal fighting within the org might have been reported as well and could affect the team's performance as the playoffs get underway.

Also, some secondary scoring needs to start showing up. After the main scoring guys, no one has more then 6 goals during the season, so will fatigue be a growing concern going into the post-season.

Indiana Ice

Both of the Indiana Ice players came-over from different teams this season. First the Tri-City Storm traded Blake Coleman from the Tri-City Storm to the Indiana Ice back midway through the season. Then later in the season, Jacob Fallon left the USNTDP under mysterious circumstances who played just 6 games went to the Indiana Ice.

Blake Coleman: www.pointstreak.com/prostats/playerpage.html?playerid=3200319&seasonid=4429

2009-2010 Stats: 58 GP 28 PTS (10G 18A)

Home Town: Plano, Texas

College/Pro Path: Miami of Ohio University

After a slow start for the Tri-City Storm, he was traded to the Indiana Ice back in December and it has helped him out as he was able to help increase his goal scoring output as he had a 2 goal game in just his 3rd game against the Chicago Steel on New Year's Eve just after the Holiday Break ended. I also think being out of the lime light of being in Jaden Schwartz shadow who won the league scoring title this season with 83 points.

His strength though is a speed game where he can help set up breakaways and set up some of the teams goal scorers like Bryon Paulazzo and Max Cook. If Coleman is going to play a big role in the Ice's playoff hopes, his physical presence has been down played a little bit and be very discplined at the same time as the Ice will be probably be in some close games as 4 of the 5 games ended in 1 goal games.

Jacob Fallon: www.pointstreak.com/prostats/playerpage.html?playerid=3213748&seasonid=4429

2009-2010 Stats: 32 GP 11 PTS (2G 9A)

Home Town: Southlake, Texas

College/Pro Path: Michigan University

Jacob Fallon almost never had a shot at a great season as he played in just 6 games during his time in the USNTDP with very little results as he didn't make his season debut till December. After his 6 games in December where he got just 2 points in his time.

He left under pretty mysterious circumstance's and was out of the league for a few weeks while pondering his future. He decided to go to the Indiana Ice where he made his debut back on 1/22 against the Tri-City Storm. He still had some issues taking over the game where had just 1 goal in his time with the Ice.

For him to help the team in the playoffs, he needs to basically put the regular season behind him and clear his mind to have a strong playoff run this year. He needs to use his speed to join the attack where he's not much of a defensive presence for the Ice. If he can't do those things, it may be a quick ouster for the Ice for the playoffs.

Indiana's Hopes: The Ice have the ability to match up well against Cedar Rapids as 4 of the 5 matchups ended up being one goal games. However, they must keep the scores low as the Roughriders won the only high scoring game. Expect to be a very close series and just like last year, don't be surprised to see this series go the full 5 games in this series.

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