• Nate Winans

USHL Players of the Week & Weekly Notebook

This week's edition of the USHL recap is loaded with information for you hockey lovers. The USHL combine dates have been announced, several transactions took place, and the late-season playoff pushes are underway.

USHL Combine Dates Announced

The USHL combine provides an opportunity for players to display their skills to play at the highest level of junior hockey in the country. Although the event is by invitation only, it has produced some of the best players the USHL has come to see. Cole Caufield of the Montreal Canadiens, Trevor Kuntar of the Youngstown Phantoms, and Alex Laferriere from the Des Moines Buccaneers were all selected to participate in the combine and eventually drafted in the USHL draft. If you or someone you know would be interested in taking the next step, this online questionnaire will help.

RoughRiders Acquire Defenseman

The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders recently acquired Spencer Cox from the Fargo Force. In exchange, the RoughRiders send a 2020 draft pick to Fargo. Although Cox most likely won't play until later this season, he'll be a focal point of the defense going forward.

"We look forward to Spencer being a very important part of our organization for the next few years,"

said RoughRiders head coach, Mark Carlson.

Lincoln Stars Send Player to Muskegon Lumberjacks

The Lincoln Stars sent Robert McCollum to the Muskegon Lumberjacks and the return at this time is unknown. McCollum will bring a veteran mindset to the Lumberjacks as they make a late-season run.

Lumberjacks and Force Agree to Deal

The Lumberjacks agreed to a deal that will hopefully provide them with a late-season playoff push. Muskegon sent captain Oliver MacDonald and a 2021 Phase I and II draft pick. In return, they received forward Frankie Carogioiello, defenseman Michael Quinn, a 2020 Phase II draft pick, and a 2021 Phase I draft pick. President of Hockey Operations Steve Lowe had this to say about the deal,

"We have re-tooled and have a lot of things we've done as an organization to move the Jacks into the hunt."

Musketeers Make Several Trades to Bolster Future Stock

The Musketeer's front office has been extremely busy as of late. Their first move was made with the Lumberjacks when they sent Viktor Masilevich, David Hymovitch, and a 2020 Phase II fifth-round draft pick and in return got Aj Hodges, Jake LaRusso, and a Phase II ninth-round draft pick.

"After acquiring Akira Schmid recently, we were obviously in a numbers issue with our imports. Unfortunately one had to go and we're losing a great kid and player in Viktor and I'd like to first thank him for his effort and work he put in for us," said General Manager Andy Johnson.

The second move was made with the Lincoln Stars. Goalie Connor Androlewicz was sent to the Stars in exchange for a 2020 Phase II seventh-round draft pick.

"I want to wish Connor the best of luck in Lincoln going forward. Connor is an outstanding competitor who was a fabulous teammate in our room. We wanted to make sure he landed in a spot where he could play and have success and I think we found that for Andro in Lincoln," said Andy Johnson.

Another deal came when the Musketeers sent defenseman Nolan Krenzen and a 2020 Phase II fifth-round pick to the Omaha Lancers for defenseman John Opilka, forward Bennet Schimek, a 2020 Phase II first-round draft pick, a 2020 Phase II fourth-round draft pick, a 2020 Phase II second-round draft pick, and future considerations. "We were able to improve our draft standings with multiple high draft picks, in addition, to immediately adding a reliable defenseman with USHL experience in John Opilka. We were also able to add high-end forward Bennett Schimek, a Providence commit who is one of the top prospects in the United States for his birth year," said Andy Johnson.

The final deal came with the Stampede when the Musketeers sent Blake Biondi and a 2020 Phase I sixth-round draft pick for Evan Bushy and a 2020 Phase I third-round draft pick.

"Blake was my first draft pick here in Sioux City and is going to be a tremendous player With the uncertainty of whether or not he's going into school next season, we felt like we needed to pursue pieces that have a better chance to be Musketeers for multiple seasons," said Johnson.

USHL Players of the Week

Last week's players of the week include forward Rhett Pitlick of the Lumberjacks, defenseman Jimmy Dowd of the Chicago Steel, and goaltender Victor Ostman of the Chicago Steel. Pitlick scored two goals, recorded five assists, and had a +/- of 4 in two games. This is the first time the Minnesota commit has won the award. Dowd, a Penn State commit also won the award for the first time after recording two goals and three assists for a +/- of 4 in two games played. Ostman is one of the few goalies in the USHL who has multiple shutouts, which is a big reason this is the second time winning the award. Ostman had a 30-save shutout against the Madison Capitols las week and is 18-4-0-0 in 23 games this year.

USHL Standings Update

Currently, the best record in the USHL belongs to the Chicago Steel, but the Waterloo Black Hawks are two games away from claiming that title. In the Eastern Conference, the Steel lead with 61 points while the Dubuque Fighting Saints have 55, Team USA sits at 45, the Green Bay Gamblers have 41, the Muskegon Lumberjacks have 40, the Youngstown Phantoms have 38, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders have 37, and the Madison Capitols have 20.

In the Western Conference, the Black Hawks lead with 58 points, the Omaha Lancers and Tri-City Storm have 45, the Fargo Force have 43, the Lincoln Stars and Des Moines Buccaneers have 41, the Sioux Falls Stampede have 40, and the Sioux City Musketeers have 37.

Top USHL Players

Top USHL skaters are:

Points Leaders:

Ty Jackson, Saints, 47

Sean Farrell, Steel, 46

Dylan Jackson, Saints, 45

Goal Leaders:

Riese Gaber, Saints, 27

Trevor Kuntar, Phantoms, 23

Colby Ambrosio, Storm, 22

Assists Leaders:

Ty Jackson, Saints, 33

Sean Farrell, Steel, 32

Dylan Jackson, Saints, 28

Top USHL goalies are:

Wins Leaders:

Victor Ostman, Steel, 20

Erik Portillo, Saints, 17

Gabriel Carriere, Black Hawks, 16

Save Percentage Leaders:

Erik Portillo, Saints, .922%

Logan Stein, Black Hawks, .917%

Victor Ostman, Steel, .914%

Goals Against Average:

Erik Portillo, Saints, 1.94

Logan Stein, Black Hawks, 2.18

Victor Ostman, Steel, 2.25

As the season continues to forge on, we hope that you'll continue to check back each week to get your weekly USHL news. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Nwinansw.

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