Thursday, March 02, 2006

Southgate's Kuhn finds home in Sioux City

By Brian McDonough
USHL Director of Communications

There's no hotter team in the USHL right now than the Sioux City Musketeers. A youthful bunch that started the season slow, the surging Musketeers are right back in the Clark Cup playoff picture after winning eight games in a row and nine of their last 10.

"I think we're playing with a lot of confidence and we're come together as a team," said Musketeers goaltender Jerry Kuhn, who was named the league's defensive player of the week after backstopping Sioux City to four of those wins.

The Musketeers' recent tear has catapulted them into a tie with Tri-City for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. Both Sioux City and the Storm are only two points behind third-place Lincoln entering the final month of the regular season.

Kuhn, 19, points to a two-game sweep of Chicago Jan. 27-28 that got the ball rolling for the Musketeers.

"I think that weekend turned it all around," said Kuhn, who won both games against the Steel. "I started gaining conference and I've been playing with a lot of confidence since. The team is playing well in front of me, too."

The club followed that up with a loss in Lincoln the following Friday, but rebounded the very next night with a 5-3 win over East Division power Des Moines, in which Sioux City goaltender Beau Erickson turned aside 42 shots.

"We just need to stick together as a team and keep working hard," said Kuhn, whose .914 save percentage ranks seventh in the league. "And never quit, even when we're down."

Good thing for the Musketeers Kuhn didn't quit hockey. After starting the season with the Wasilla (Alaska) Spirit where he was seeing a lot of minutes, the NAHL club brought in a 20-year-old goaltender in October, immediately demoting Kuhn to the No. 2 role. It didn't sit well with Kuhn, who asked for his release.

"I wasn't too happy about it," he said. "I didn't understand why."

Kuhn retuned home to Southgate, Mich., and waited to see if any other junior team was interested in his services. If not, he was going to hang up the pads and go to school.

That's when Musketeers assistant coach Bobby Kinsella, whose club was struggling to find any consistency between the pipes, seized the perfect opportunity.

"After a week of being home, Bobby called me and asked if I'd like to come out," said Kuhn.

And his arrival has translated into a rejuvenated Musketeers club who would like nothing more than another crack at the Clark Cup, the prized trophy they fell one win short of last season.

"We don't want to lose, it's not acceptable anymore," said Kuhn.

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