One-third of the way through the USHL season, we've been able to find one thing out: The Green Bay Gamblers are the class of the league so far.
Green Bay is now 17-3-1 after completing a two-game sweep of the Ice at the Pepsi Coliseum, winning 4-2 Sunday afternoon.
The Ice led 2-0 after Cody Gyllyng and Sean Kuraly scored 1:24 apart in the first period. Gyllyng's goal was set up by Christian Hilbrich and Kuraly, then Kuraly scored unassisted with the Ice down a man. Despite Peter Maric scoring a couple of minutes later to cut the lead to 2-1 with 6:02 left in the first, the Ice led even though Green Bay held an 18-13 shot advantage in the first.
But the Gamblers took a lead quickly in the second. Alex Broadhurst scored his 13th goal of the year 54 seconds into the period, then Nicholas Schilkey scored his fourth at 3:20 to give the Gamblers a 3-2 edge. The Ice killed off three power plays to keep the deficit at one, but were unable to solve the Green Bay net. Nolan LaPorte sealed the game with an empty-netter.
Kuraly's two-point game extended his scoring streak to five games, with nine points in those five games. He has 10 goals and 21 points in 16 games so far.
Jon Gillies made 32 saves for the Ice in the loss. Green Bay's Ryan McKay made 21 saves for the Gamblers in the win. Both were playing their second game in as many days.
With 24 points and an 11-7-2 record, the Ice are in fourth in the USHL Eastern Conference, 11 points back of the Gamblers, who have taken three of the four meetings between the two teams this season. The Ice have played GB as tough as just about anyone -- two of the meetings have gone to OT, which the teams have split, and today's contest was a one-goal game until the end.
The Ice are five points back of Dubuque -- who visits the Pepsi Coliseum twice this weekend -- and three back of Youngstown.
1. Nicholas Schilkey (GB), GWG, +1, 5 shots
2. Sean Kuraly (Ice), goal, assist, SHG, +1, 6 shots
3. Ryan McKay (GB), win, 21 saves, 2 GA.