The Phantoms have a surprise Wednesday game in Dubuque and a weekend pair at home versus Muskegon.Surprise, we're in Dubuque. - The Phantoms have a surprise Wednesday game in Dubuque and a weekend pair at home versus Muskegon.
Welcome to the new normal. If you are reading this, I managed to get this preview out in short order. The USHL announced Monday that one of the postponed games against Dubuque would be made up on Wednesday, not allowing me much time to get this prepared. So this week we're taking a sudden mid-week trip to Iowa to face the Dubuque Fighting Saints (11-15-2-0), then back home to face the Muskegon Lumberjacks (19-11-1-2)

What to say about the Fighting Saints? I did not have a lot of information prior to the start of the season and after a pair of in-person viewings in January, I still feel like I don't really know enough to give a good preview. Robert Cronin is their leading scorer with 12g, 10a. Last season he was more of a role player, a valuable asset on the PK, but this season he's taken on a more offensive role. Connor Kurth is a rookie to keep an eye on. The '03 forward is described as a "wide framed" (5'11", 214lbs) "down low" player who can really run a defense ragged grinding and fighting for the puck. In his rookie season so far he has 10g, 12a. Just a step behind them is Daniyal Dzhaniyev, a former NTDP player who followed up his 2 season in Plymouth by staying in the USHL, initially to play for the Madison Capitols, and now wears a Saints uniform. The small, skilled forward has great vision and IQ, not to mention excellent skating , and has 11g, 10a this season.

Defense is where I start running into issues, I know the names and have seen a few of them more than twice but I don't really have an opinion on them. Brayden Doyle is a servicable veteran defenseman. He's responsible on defense and can contribute on offense as a playmaker, 3g and 11a on the season. Ian Pierce, Michael Feenstra, and Evan Stella are all experienced Saints blueliners. It's not that I feel Dubuque has a bad defensive core, I just feel they could be a a lot better.

The weekly previews return and the Phantoms are off of a 2 week hiatus!We're back! - The weekly previews return and the Phantoms are off of a 2 week hiatus!
Well, I'm back with a preview. I'll be honest with you, I'm not even sure what week to call this, what with all the postponements and games not played. This has been the hardest season to try and track the league, and the past couple months my work schedule and home life have not let me even begin to worry about it. With so few updates from the league it's not easy to jump back in but I'll give it a shot. This week the Phantoms (6-14-2-1) hit the road and head to Muskegon (16-11-1-2) for a pair of games then return home to face the league leading Chicago Steel (21-7-2-0).

We meet the Lumberjacks in Muskegon while they are on a 5 game skid, only managing 1 point in a shootout loss to Green Bay. Back for the 'Jacks is Danil Gushchin, the San Jose Sharks prospect, now in his 3rd season for the 'Jacks. He was not expected to play in the USHL this season but the pandemic has thrown the OHL season into chaos and he was "loaned" back to Muskegon for the season. Gushchin has 17g, 22a on the season to lead the team in scoring. Not far behind him is Cameron Berg with 17g, 20a on the season and a little bit of a drop off between 2nd and 3rd with Tanner Kelly and his 12g, 15a on the season. 

On defense, the 'Jacks have a very promising '03 in Jacob Guevin. With 6g, 17a Guevin leads all rookies, forwards and defensemen, in total points and assists. He is also 3rd overall in defensemen scoring. In addition to his offense, he has not sacrificed anything on defense, he's second on their blueline in +/- and +9. Speaking of the most hated stat, the plus/minus, Alex Gange has an impressive +22 while adding 3g and 13a.

Woo! It's always cause to celebrate when you hit a milestone. With this week's article, I have doubled my number of blog entries. I joke, of course. I got some great feedback and future suggestions from last week's article. Some suggestions were good, some were made by people that don't realize that I do this in my free time. For free. So short of starting a Patreon, those suggestions will remain a fantasy. 

In the future, this will be where the updated numbers from the previous weekend will be discussed. But since the Phantoms haven't played a game since the Truman Administration, we're a week away from that feature being added. So we'll look at the current Eastern Conference rankings. 

Week of 2/15/21