Storm invited to play in USHL prospects game

HOUGHTON – Laurium native Ben Storm is one of four members of the United States Hockey League’s Muskegon Lumberjacks invited to the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The contest will be held in the Lumberjacks’ home rink Jan. 23.

“I am very thankful for this opportunity to showcase my talents in front of all the NHL teams,” said Storm in a press release from Lumberjacks. “I have been working hard on my game all season long, and being nominated to play in this game means that my goals of playing in the NHL are beginning to grow.”

Storm, a 6-foot-6 defenseman who has committed to play college hockey at St. Cloud State, has four assists and is a plus-one in 22 games with Muskegon. His most recent point was a primary in Muskegon’s 6-5 overtime loss at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

The Lumberjacks are second in the USHL’s Eastern Conference with a record of 19-12-3. They play Friday at Cedar Rapids (Iowa).

Former Calumet High School teammate Levi Erkkila scored his fourth goal of the year for the Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League Sunday in an 8-1 home blowout of Johnstown (Pa.)

Erkkila also had an assist in the game for the first multi-point outing of his NAHL career. It also ended a pointless streak that extended back into November.

Erkkila now has four goals and four assists in 31 NAHL games.

The Warriors have won five straight but remain in eighth place in the NAHL’s North Division with a 13-18-5 record. They play a home-and-home with Kalamazoo this weekend starting Saturday in Flint.

That Kalamazoo team features another Copper King, defenseman Jesse Junttila. Junttila has played in 27 games for the Jr. K-Wings and averaged more than a shot per game. He has two assists and a plus-one rating in that span.

His K-Wings are faring a little better in the standings, third in the North Division with a 21-13-3 record.

Devin Kero of Hancock has played in eight games for a Coulee Region squad struggling in the NAHL’s Central Division with a 9-20-5 mark.

Ben Johnson and the Windsor Spitfires will try to break a seven-game losing streak in Ontario Hockey League play tonight with a home game against Brampton.

Despite the team’s struggles, Johnson is producing in his second year of Major Junior play, scoring twice in an 8-5 defeat at Sarnia Friday night.

Johnson, now an assistant captain, was the No. 3 star.

Johnson also scored at Saginaw Dec. 29 and has nine goals and eight assists through 39 games.

Windsor, which has made several deals ahead of today’s OHL trade deadline, is fifth in the West Division of the Western Conference at 14-19-1, though it has games in hand on every team in the conference.

Shifting gears to basketball, Hancock alumna Maria Almquist and the Northern Michigan women are 5-3 in GLIAC play entering a game tonight at Grand Valley State.

Almquist posted five points and three rebounds off the bench in a 68-63 home win over Lake Erie College Saturday in Marquette.

Almquist drew a tremendously tough assignment Thursday, as she guarded Ashland’s Kari Daugherty, the reigning GLIAC player of the year, throughout the second half. She still had a chance to collect seven points and three rebounds in the game.

Almquist is averaging 7.4 points and 2.5 rebounds for the Wildcats.

Houghton alumna Taylor Dillinger has played in all 11 games for Minnesota Duluth.

The freshman has averaged 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in spot duty for UMD, which is 8-3 overall and 5-2 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play after a pair of home wins over Minot State and University of Mary in league play last weekend.

UMD is at Sioux Falls Friday night.

Several local products are contributing to the basketball programs at Gogebic Community College.

Wednesday, Ewen-Trout Creek alum Jordan LaPlant had 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting as GCC dropped Hibbing Community College 78-71.

The women routed Hibbing 100-38 with help from 12 points from L’Anse’s Autumn Swanson and 10 from Dollar Bay’s Adeline Kariainen on 4-for-4 shooting from the field.

The Gogebic men are 12-3 and women 14-3. The men are in action next this weekend in a tournament at UW-Marshfield, while the women play at UW-Marinette Wednesday.