USA Hockey Arena finally hosts USHL playoff game -- and it's a 3-0 winner
For the first time since the OHL Whalers left town, there was playoff hockey in Plymouth. On Saturday at USA Hockey Arena — formerly Compuware — area fans were treated to Game 1 of the United States Hockey League Clark Cup Playoffs. Team USA, behind a sparkling performance from goalie Cameron Rowe and two shorthanded goals, defeated the Chicago Steel 3-0. Game 2 of the best-of-5 series was slated for 3 p.m. Sunday (instead of the original time of 2 p.m.). Rowe (34 saves) was on his game all night, snagging hard point shots with ease and playing positionally strong. And his team gained important momentum thanks to his clutch stops. With about 14:30 left in the game and Team USA up 1-0, Rowe kicked out a dangerous shot taken from the right circle. Moments later down in the Chicago end, defenseman Drew Helleson surprised Steel goaltender Oskar Autio with a wrister from the right half-wall to put the home team up 2-0 with 14:13 left. Forward John Beecher then padded the lead with a shorthanded tally at 10:30, Team USA’s second of the game. Beecher cut in from the left wing and flipped a low shot past Autio (24 saves). Opening the scoring at 5:53 of the middle stanza was forward Owen Lindmark, also during the penalty kill. Lindmark took an outlet pass from Helleson and streaked up-the-gut before sniping a shot over Autio’s trapper. There were several other similar breakouts from Team USA, with players picking off Chicago passes like low-hanging fruit and launching dangerous rushes as a result. The National Team Development Program Under-17 team is playing all USHL postseason games while the U-18 team is in Russia at the 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Championships.