Monday, April 14, 2008

1st Annual Unofficial USHL Blog Awards

Since the USHL released their awards and I had a few doubts, I decided to hand out some Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog Awards. I'll leave the current awards alone and add in some of my own for fun. I will also have the Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog's Player of the Year. It won't be Jason Gregoire, since he already won the "official" awards. I will also be doing All-First, All-Second, and All-Rookie teams. These players will not be the same as the USHL's official award winners.

Defensive Forward of the Year: Brent Gwidt - Indiana Ice
Brent isn't the flashiest player out there, but he knows how to be responsible in the neutral zone as well as his own zone. He is probably one of the better defensive forwards I have had the pleasure of watching in the past few years, and it's my honor to recognize him for the work he does on the other side of the puck.

Runner Up: Matt Thurber - Omaha Lancers.

Defensive Defenseman of the Year: Matt Crandell - Sioux City Musketeers, Ross Henry - Lincoln Stars, and Keir Ross - Omaha Lancers
This decision was far too tough to just give it to one player. All three of these young men are how you'd want to model a defenseman. They are physical and don't make many mistakes. They were all at the top or near the top of the +/- chart for their teams. Though that doesn't tell the whole story, it is a good indicator.

Tim Ferguson Most Points Award: Jack Connolly - Sioux Falls Stampede and John Kemp - Indiana Ice
It took a big night to cap off the regular season for Kemp to share this award. Both players are very deserving and are extremely dangerous on the ice and fun to watch. Connolly is just a rookie, but didn't take long to adjust. Jack is extremely quick and a very big threat every time he's on the ice. Kemp is one of the best passers I have ever witnessed in the USHL. This kid can get the puck through some only dream they could do.

Rod Taylor Trophy (Most Goals): Jason Gregoire - Lincoln Stars
What more can you say about Gregoire? He does it all and is Lincoln's MVP. Jason can be a scoring threat or drop down to block a shot in his own zone. He's one of the most complete players this league has seen, and will eventually make the USHL proud. Jason notched 37 goals this season, 3 more than Indiana's Paul Carey. Gregoire won this award, despite playing in 52 games.

Tim Ferguson Trophy (Most Assists): John Kemp - Indiana Ice
As mentioned previously, John Kemp is an amazing passer. He has great vision and ran away with this award. Kemp amassed 59 assists on the season, 13 more over 2nd place finisher Jack Connolly. Kemp's 59 assists were better than the leading scorer of Cedar Rapids, Ohio, Green Bay, Sioux City, Tri-City, and Des Moines.

Ryan Ronkowski Trophy (Most PIM): Pierre-Paul Lamoureux - Tri-City Storm
Though playing in 50 of the 60 possible games, Pierre-Paul ran away with this award this year. Lincoln tough guy, Brandon Bollig, was outdone this season by 33 PIM. Lamoureux had six games with double digit PIM totals. Lamoureux averaged nearly 5 PIM per game this season for the Storm.

Dan Ellis Award (Most Shutouts): David Reekie - Lincoln Stars
David Reekie came to Lincoln and has been nothing short of amazing. Reekie helped the Stars become a contender and posted 6 shutouts. Eric Hartzell came in 2nd, with 5 shutouts on the year. David also led the league in GAA (2.01) and save percentage (93.5%). Reekie has been one of, if not the best, goalies this year.

Jeff Lerg Award (Most Goalie Wins): Drew Palmisano - Omaha Lancers
Palmisano won 32 games this season in 45 appearances. Scott Darling finished 2nd with 27 wins. Palmisano was a big part of why the Lancers were so successful this season, as he ranked 2nd in the league in GAA at 2.02. Palmisano played in the most games this season among the goalies, but still fell well short of the USHL record. Eric Pfligler owns that crown with 56 games played in a single season.

Ticket King Most Improved Player (Most Improved in MY opinion only): Patrick Wiercioch - Omaha Lancers
This kid had a ton of hype when Mike Hastings first added him to the team. At the Fall Classic, I didn't know what people saw in this kid and thought he wasn't very good. The only time I remember him doing something was when he skated off the ice holding his wrist. Patrick missed some time due to an injury during the season, but came back and has been a completely different player. He's out on the ice a lot and is put on the first PP unit for Omaha. He looks way more confident out on the ice and it shows in his game.

Runner Up: Scott Darling - Indiana Ice.

Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog Player of the Year: Brian O'Neill - Chicago Steel
Who? Some of you may be asking that question. O'Neill has quietly been one of the best forwards in the league this season. He doesn't get much publicity due to him playing in Chicago. He was paired on a line with Andy Miele and that definitely helped boost his stats, but he kept up the pace all season long, even after Miele left for Miami of Ohio. O'Neill is a gritty forward and isn't afraid to mix it up, and also led the league in +/- for forwards.

Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog All-First Team:
G - Brady Hjelle - Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
D - Keir Ross - Omaha Lancers
D - Matt Crandell - Sioux City Musketeers
F - Billy Maday - Waterloo Black Hawks
F - Ryan Kretzer - Lincoln Stars
F - Chris Connolly - Omaha Lancers

Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog All-Second Team:
G - Matt DiGirolamo - Waterloo Black Hawks
D - Ross Henry - Lincoln Stars
D - Tim Buttery - Chicago Steel
F - Simon Olsson - Chicago Steel
F - Brett Olson - Waterloo Black Hawks
F - Joey Miller - Sioux City Musketeers

Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog All-Rookie Team:
G - Scott Darling - Indiana Ice
D - Patrick Wiercioch - Omaha Lancers
D - Greg Pateryn - Ohio Junior Blue Jackets
F - Mike Cichy - Tri-City Storm
F - Andrew Miller - Chicago Steel
F - Stephane Da Costa - Sioux City Musketeers
F - Chris Forfar - Lincoln Stars


Anonymous said...


Great topic and great nominees.

My only add would be honorable mention for most goals scored to Andy Meile with 31 (?) in just over half a season.

Otherwise, a solid list of young men that deserve recognition.

Wahoo, NE

Anonymous said...

Who is Ryan Ronkowski?

Doesn't Chad Staffaucher hold the league record for most penalty minutes in a season?

Anonymous said...

Can you do a Post on who the next coaches are going to be in Sioux City,Des Moines,Green Bay,Tri-City,Omaha and Indiana.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ryan

Anonymous said...

I believe GB's next coach will either be Luke Strand or Mike Corbett.


Anonymous said...

where is Bliss Littler going?

Anonymous said...

How is Jack Connolly not on any of your all USHL teams?

Anonymous said...

Because he disappeared in the playoffs?

Anonymous said...

If we're counting playoffs why would he be posting his all ushl players 3 games into the playoffs?

Anonymous said...

I was being sarcastic, genius.

This is Ryan's blog...he can do whatever he wants. I believe the point of these awards is to highlight some of the lesser known "stars" of the USHL. Sorry you don't agree.

Anonymous said...

Who is Ryan Ronkowski...
Ryan played for Lincoln and then Omaha 4 or 5 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Jeez...the people who come on here just to kiss Ryan's ass. I like Ryan and have met him. This is a blog that has a comment section. I left a perfectly respectful question. How does a rookie who led the USHL in points not even make it on any of Ryan's teams? I just wanted his reasoning. No name calling or disrespect.

Ryan said...

If you read the top before the awards started, I said this..

"I will also be doing All-First, All-Second, and All-Rookie teams. These players will not be the same as the USHL's official award winners."

The point of my awards was to recognize additional players that had great seasons, but were not named in the USHL's official awards.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I think people also forget that Ryan provides his email address at the top of the page. If the question meant that much to you anonymous SF fan, you could have just emailed Ryan directly, instead of crying about it.

Anonymous said...

Okay. From now on I'll just post "Great blog Ryan".

What's the point of a comment section? I'm not a sewer falls fan by the way.

Anonymous said...

Okay. From now on I'll just post "Great blog Ryan".

Best news I've heard all day. Quality over quantity.

Yeti said...

I hate to interrupt the cat-fight, but it's nice to see Chris Forfar on your All-Rookie list, Ryan. He's a player who often goes unnoticed on the Stars. Big kid, fearless in the corners, and has soft hands around the net. The jealous fan in me wants him to return next season.

Great list, btw. It's hard to argue against any of those choices.

Anonymous said...

Great question about who will be coaching where. Here are my predictions....

Reg Simon - Sioux City

Bliss Littler - Omaha

Luke Strand = Green Bay

Matt Romaniski - Des Moines

Wild Cards....

Mark Carlson will leave CR.

Ohio coach will be available.

JRBJ said...

ohio coach will be available for a long time...

Anonymous said...

I wonder where the Bliss Littler to Omaha rumor gets all its steam. Everyone seems to think that this going to happen, but there is no rumor around the Lancers indicating that Hastings stepping down is even a possibility. Even if Hastings where to just GM and not be head coach, I would think there are several choices in front of Littler. Doc DelCastillo (Recently fired at Alaska and former Lancer and UNO assistant) would seem to be a very logical choice if Hastings where to step down. Current Lancer Assistant Leigh Mendelsen has been a head coach in the ECHL and the NAHL. At some point, I think that former Lancer and NHL player Dave Wilkie (now UNO grad asst. & Jr. Lancers head coach) will be added to the Lancers staff.

Wahoo, NE

Anonymous said...

i hope carlson leaves CR

Anonymous said...

and isn't Littler under contract? Didn't he just sign an extension?

Anonymous said...

If Omaha is smart, they wouldn't pursue Littler. Look at the runaway train he "coached" this season. No adjustments. Omaha can do a LOT better.

Anonymous said...

Um.........Blake Kessel? Your hate for the Black Hawks has been evident all season long.

Timmy Jo. said...

love it...

DOc fired @ alaska, which he obviously was....

Anonymous said...

or bryce aneolski?

Anonymous said...

Leigh Mendelson? A head coach in the USHL? Bahahaha!!!!

Do you know why he's been with so many different teams in so many different countries and leagues? He's a bridge burner, and an asshole...

He's the biggest two faced back stabbing asshole you'll ever meet in person. Guaranteed.

Anonymous said...

Okay here are a few names that have recieved quite some interest from USHL teams...

Regg Simon- former Des Moines head coach

Doc DelCastillo- former Alaska (CCHA) head coach

Joe Shawhan- former Soo (NAHL) head coach & Lake State (CCHA) Assistant Coach

Jon Cooper- current St. Louis (NAHL) Head Coach

Wil Nichol- former Chicago (USHL) Head COach and current Wisconsin Stevens- Point Head Coach

Luke Strand- former GB assistant and current Houston (AHL) assistant coach.

Mike Corbett- former SF assistant and current Air Force (AH) assistant. former Butte and Billings head coach (AWHL)

Kevin Patrick- former GB assistant and current finalist for the Alaska job is currently the assistant at Wisconsin (WCHA)

**I also have information about Ohio that i cannot disclose at this time but lets just say, its what everybody has already been expecting.

Anonymous said...

Mendelson is a grade A douchebag who will end up sharpening skates for some peewee league at some rink in some town nobody has heard of. He rode the USHL gravy train as long as he could, but everyone is on to him now.
Littler will be the next coach in Omaha. I guarantee it.
There is only one team in the USHL that would hire an NAHL coach, and that is Des Moines. They will and they will be bad. Corbett is a great coach, but wants a LOT of money. Not the time to shop that kind of resume in the USHL. Ohio is gone. Fact. Done. Don't have to "wait to see." Rumor is they are moving to Youngstown. WRONG. RIP Jr. Bluejackets, Scarecrows, Heartland Eagles, Crude...........

Anonymous said...

Ohio better not fold - they traded future draft picks at one point this season. Not a very good faith effort if true - and I can't see the league saying - "oh, sure, you can have the picks from a team which doesn't exist."


Anonymous said...

rumor is Ohio moving to Muskegon, Michigan

Anonymous said...

I heard Muskegon is a different ownership and an expansion team....if it happens.

Anonymous said...

youngstown turned the sale down. coaches in ohio were told to look for new jobs. rumor is if there are no takers, they will fold up shop.

Anonymous said...

Well, I can't see the USHL competing with the IHL in Muskegon. (At least I hope not)

So, if the Muskegon team leaves, does that open up Fort Wayne, Bloomington, etc, as well?

I can't see a FOUR team IHL.


Anonymous said...

i have heard Muskegon is close to signing a lease agreement with the USHL. there would be no more IHL there so not going to compete with them...will just have to try and win over some fans

Anonymous said...

Doc won't be coaching anywhere for awhile!! Text messages to coeds get you in big trouble!