Junior Hockey Update Heading into Winter Break

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While the holidays are a special time for many, it doesn’t mean that hockey stops. Around the USHL and in other junior hockey news, there are some teams shaking things up heading into the winter break.

World Junior A Challenge

For starters, the World Junior A Championship came to a conclusion last week and it was Russia who came out on top. They defeated Canada East 2-1 in double overtime in the gold medal game. The United States took home the Bronze with a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in single overtime. It was Sean Farrell who gave Team USA the 1-0 advantage, but they gave up a goal with only 4.2 seconds left which tied things up at 1. Thankfully, Trevor Kuntar was on team USA as he scored 2:14 into overtime to seal the victory. Ethan Haider was stellar as he made 37 of 38 saves.

Madison Capitols and Des Moines Buccaneers Make a Trade

The Capitols acquired forward Patrick Schmiedlin and goaltender Christian Stoever from the Buccaneers in exchange for Kristof Papp, a fifth-round pick in the 2020 Phase I draft, and a sixth-round pick in the 2021 Phase II draft. In addition, the Capitols released Garrett Mackay to make room for the incoming players. 

Papp was tied for the most goals scored and second total assists on the Capitols for a total of 19 points, second only to Carson Bantle. Papp made his mark early in his first game with the Bucs by notching three assists and has 22 points on the season, good enough for second only behind Joey Strada

Patrick Schmiedlin has had a relatively pedestrian year with his three points, but it may be a change of scenery that he needed to help turn his game around. The addition of Stoever also provides a huge boost as he is one of the league’s premier goaltenders. Let’s just hope for the Capitols sake that they can limit the number of chances they’ll be giving up. 

Sioux City Musketeers and Muskegon Lumberjacks Make a Trade

The Musketeers acquired David Gucciardi and a 2020 Phase I ninth-round draft pick from Lumberjacks in exchange for a 2020 Phase I fourth-round draft pick and a 2021 Phase II fifth-round draft pick. Gucciardi is in his second year of the USHL and has two more years before he heads off to Michigan State to play college hockey.

Players of the Week

The players of the week for the last time for several weeks are forward Nicholas Zabaneh of the Green Bay Gamblers who played in two games, scored three goals, and had two assists for a +5. Defenseman Braden Doyle of the Dubuque Fighting Saints played in two games and had three goals and one assist for a +2. Goaltender Nicholas Grabko of the Gamblers allowed 1.5 goals per game and boasted a .974 save percentage in his two games last week. 

Top Junior Hockey Skaters and Goalies

Points Leaders:
Matty De St. Phalle, Chicago Steel, 30
Sean Farrell, Steel, 30
Christian Sarlo, Lincoln Stars, 27

Goals Leaders:
Matty De St. Phalle, Steel, 16
Joey Strada, Buccaneers, 15
Riese Gaber, Saints, 15

Assists Leaders:
Sean Farrell, Steel, 21
Ty Jackson, Saints, 19
Xander Lamppa, Black Hawks, 18

Goalie Wins Leaders:
Victor Ostman, Steel, 13
Erik Portillo, Saints, 12
Cole Brady, Fargo Force, 11

Save Percentage Leaders:
Logan Stein, Waterloo Black Hawks, .938%
Nicholas Grabko, Gamblers, .931%
Erik Portillo, Saints, .912%

Goals Against Average:
Logan Stein, Black Hawks, 1.58
Erik Portillo, Saints, 2.05
Nicholas Grabko, Gamblers, 2.15

Although junior hockey may not be as exciting as the AHL or NHL, many of the players in the USHL are the future of both leagues. Knowing who they are now and what their potential is, shows your fanhood and you can sound smarter talking to your friends and other fans.

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